Impromptu Trip to Wisconsin

When I talked to my parents on the phone on a Thursday and found out my dad had been having some symptoms with his heart and was going to go in that following Monday to have things checked out, I decided I wanted to be up there for him. As of lately, work has been extremely stressful for reasons I could write a novel on, but lately having to travel and do the PC refresh has taken its toll on me, so now I had multiple reasons to just get away.

The Thursday I talked to my parents on the phone, I had actually burned a sick day to relieve some stress and was planning on burning another one to make it a long weekend. Everything going on at work has started to manifest physical symptoms of stress and knowing my family history of heart disease, I knew I had to nip this in the bud.

Instead of taking the additional sick day, I went into work on Friday. I got everything packed the night before and was pretty much ready to go. My boss wasn’t there so I went to his boss, because he comes in earlier. I told him I was going up to Wisconsin to be there for my dad. He was cool with it (which honestly if he wasn’t I may have just walked out). I actually had a large comp time balance from working a bunch of overtime with the PC refresh project and also my vacation balance was starting to get up there again. I think he wanted me to burn that down anyway.

It does really suck my dad was having the symptoms he was and I really wish this kind of stuff wasn’t in the family history or this wasn’t the primary reason why I was taking some impromptu time off. On a positive note, this did allow me to take a much needed vacation I highly doubt would have been approved otherwise (due to fallout from that PC refresh project) and I also got to visit and help out with everything going on.

After I left work in the morning, I headed back to my apartment and then got the final things ready. We have a Roomba we named Herbert that is scheduled for a daily 9am clean. I could see Herbert didn’t want me to go.

Once Herbert got out of the way, my new car was sitting there ready to go.

I was going to keep this a surprise to my parents, but when I got a little north of Waco, I stopped at a rest stop. My mom had emailed me and then I responded letting her know I was coming up. She was excited and we decided we’d keep it a surprise for my dad. After a short stop at the rest stop, I was back on the road.

Now I35 construction seems to be perpetual. I’m not sure if they’re running out of money or something, but I do notice it looks like they are using old recycled light poles that kind of look like hell considering it’s new construction.

Of course, you can’t drive through Fort Worth without a major traffic jam.

After that traffic jam was over, I got to Denton, which also had a major traffic jam.

Lucky my air conditioning works well, because it was starting to get hot.

Every once and a while you see weird things on the road. This guy had his truck rigged to haul pipes.

Eventually, the traffic cleared up and the sky was also a clear blue. As time went on, it started to cool down.

By the time I hit Iowa, it was raining like crazy.

I made it to the Minnesota Welcome Center at about 1:30am. The temperatures had really dropped and there were still a lot of strong storms around.

The next morning, there was still a lot of rain in the area.

I could tell I was getting close to Wisconsin as I saw cheese curds at the gas station I filled up at. There was also a lot of leaves changing.

I made it to my parent’s house and then my parents were working in the basement. I was able to give my dad a big surprise. They soon told me I was in the phone book. I was confused at first until I saw the pictures I had taken for World Buffet that the publishing company asked to use printed in the yellow pages. This was definitely very cool seeing this!

After sitting around a while and visiting, we went into town to run some errands. This included going to Menards and then Festival Foods to buy some pumpkins.

After that, we visited my grandma and then went to Nutz Deep to get something to eat. We had to get cheese curds for the appetizer and I got a Fired Up burger.

Since my dad needed to split wood, we picked up the wood splitter from my cousin’s. Since I wasn’t drinking, I was the designated driver. That was definitely interesting driving 25mph with the hazards on down back roads. When we got back, I had a little bit of time to sit down before I’d meet my friends. Of course Jordy was again excited to see me and she kept me company and entertained as I sat on the couch.

I was originally going to meet my friends at El Mezcal. The plans fell through with some of the group, so we decided on Lindsey Bar. After seeing how busy it was there, we settled on Lefty’s.

After Lefty’s, I met Jake at his parent’s house. We watched a bit of the Badger game and then headed to Five-O-One Sports Bar. I stuck with iced tea.

The next day, I just hung around the house and watched the Packer game. The day after that would be a big day with my dad going in for his procedure. On that day, my mom took him in and I slept in a bit. Jordy decided to keep my company on the bed.

After I woke up, I later went to World Buffet with my mom. I do love my sushi, so I loaded up my plate.

I visited my grandma afterwards. While Jordy is insanely friendly, my grandma’s cat Midnight isn’t. This is about the most social she’ll be.

Later that night, I visited my dad in the hospital and then ran to get him a few things. When I did get home, Jordy made up the friendliness that Midnight neglected.

The next morning was chilly, but the good news was my dad was ready to come home. I went to the hospital and picked him up.

Someone needed to be with my dad for 24 hours after his procedure, so I hung out at their house the following day. I found an empty bottle of Fort Garry that I had bought on my first trip to Winnipeg. I think my mom must have been saving it for the beer bottle displays she has in the basement, but it was cool seeing this and bringing back memories. I guess it was good it got put behind a bunch of stuff.

Later that night, the 24 hours had passed from when I had picked up my dad. I headed into town to have supper at Taco John’s and then headed to Fleet Farm and Shopko to look for some local products. I then came home and got some rest. The next day would be a long one.

I slept in a bit, but then hit the road for Thunder Bay (I’ll talk about this trip in tomorrow’s blog entry). I spent the next 2 days in Thunder Bay on a mission and was able to see a lot of stuff. When I got back from Thunder Bay, I rested up and then helped my dad change oil on his Focus. It’s just like changing oil in my old Focus that I can do in a parking lot, but having ramps is always nice.

Later that day we watched the Packer game. My parents gave Jordy a bone and she was content sitting on the blanket under the Packer tree.

The outcome of the Packer game was depressing, with Rodgers most likely being out for the season. It also sucked losing to the Vikings. This was my last day in town, so I visited both my grandmas again and then quickly visited the Cougar.

I slept in a bit and then got ready to leave. I told my dad goodbye and then hit the road. When I left, I could see the leaves definitely had a lot of color in them. I got some good views of this as I drove back. That night, I made it to the Oklahoma Welcome Center, where I spent the night.

The next morning I woke up to some nice sunshine.

The road was open until I hit Fort Worth. It’s rare I can drive through Fort Worth without some sort of stop and go traffic.

After a couple more hours of driving, I was finally happy to be back at my apartment!

Victoria actually surprised me with some healthier (well as most likely healthy as sweets can get) sweets.

It was nice getting this visit and also being able to fulfill my mission in Thunder Bay. This time off proved to be a much needed break that I needed. I was also able to take a few more days off after I got back. You almost need at least a day or two to recover from the brutal drive between Texas and Wisconsin. Hopefully in the near future, things are less stressful, but at least I was able to get away for a while. I’m just hoping my next vacation isn’t spurred by the crappy situation that this one was.

The following is a time lapse of my drive up:

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