Tuesday, April 03, 2007

Back From My Latest Adventure

Well, I'm back. My sister, her kids and I got back yesterday evening around 5:30. That was after a 14 hour drive. We are all very tired but we had a great time.

I arrived into Miami about 7:00 a.m. Thursday morning. I didn't hardly sleep at all on the plane so I was awake almost all night. Erica took me to our hotel so I could shower and clean up and then we took the kids to her friend's house so that she could take me to Miami Ink to get my tattoo. She found out the day before that they are open during the day during the spring break season so that was great for us. We got to the shop after 12:30 (I think) and there was hardly anyone in there. My tattoo artist, Dan, later told us that it was an unusually slow day. I didn't mind because it meant that I got in right away. Anyway, when we got there I showed Lee (one of the tattoo artists) what I wanted and he quoted me his price. Dan was standing there and said he would do it for less because he wanted the work so I went with him. He got set up and then I endured the pain while he did the outline. We took a break and then he did the color. It took over an hour but the time and pain was worth it. I think it is a beautiful tattoo and Dan did an awesome job. He is going to be on the show next season which I believe they are filming now. All of the guys at the shop were great. They hung out with my sister and I and just visited with us while we were there. I had really wanted to meet the main guys on the show but I wasn't able to. I did see Darren Brass when we first got there but he was on the phone and then talking to people and he left before I could say hi. Chris Nunez also came in but he was on the phone for awhile as well. When he was done he stood by me at the counter for a minute and smiled at me while we were both talking to one of the other artists but I guess I was too starstruck or something to say hi to him. Like I said earlier, I really wanted to meet Ami, Garver and even Yoji but it was not meant to be. We did get to meet one of Garver's friends that makes tattoo machines and has been on the show before. It was an awesome experience and I am so glad that I had the opportunity to go there and meet the people in the shop and get a tattoo.

After we left Miami Ink we went down to South Beach and put our feet in the water. It was beautiful there and the water was nice. I, of course, could not swim after getting my tattoo. After awhile we went back to the car and cruised the A1A. How could I not go to Miami and cruise the A1A? We didn't have a ragtop so we just had our windows down. It was so much fun and it was a great time of bonding for my sister and I. She had never been down to that part of South Beach and she had never even been in a tattoo shop let alone seen a tattoo get done so it was a day full of new experiences for her too.

We left town the next day at about 5:30 a.m. We had a pretty uneventful day and made it to Atlanta around 6:00 p.m. We would have made it there sooner but we ran into quite a bit of construction along the way and horrible stop and go traffic outside of Atlanta.

We had planned on just driving to Columbia, Missouri the next day but we decided to go all the way to Kansas City instead. Stephen had called the night before and said that he had talked to my dad and found out that we could probably make it home from Rapid City in one day if we could make it there by the next day. That way we would maybe have time to see Mt. Rushmore. Anyway, we traveled through 5 states that day. Tennessee was the prettiest out of all them. We drove through Nashville and saw Titans Stadium. I got some city driving experience in St. Louis. Erica was busy taking pictures of the Arch and I didn't really know where I was going but we came through okay. We hit heavy wind and some rain on the way to Kansas City.

We left Kansas City by 4:30 a.m. the next day and reached Mt. Rushmore sometime after 2:30. We even stopped at the world famous Wall Drug on the way there. Mt. Rushmore was really cool. We were there for over an hour. I wished that the kids and Stephen could have been there with me but maybe someday we'll be able to take a trip there with the kids when they are old enough to appreciate it. After Mt. Rushmore we went out to dinner and then retired early to our hotel room. We decided that we would try to make it home by the next day but it would all depend on the road conditions in Montana. The weather report that Stephen had given us was that there was a chance of snow throughout the state. At any rate, we knew it was going to be a long day even if the roads were good. We had over 900 miles still to travel.

We left Rapid City around 4:30 and hit heavy fog for about an hour. Erica drove for the first 3 hours and then I took over. I hit some light snow and more heavy fog outside of Billings. I was able to make up some time after Billings and then we hit a very heavy storm before Livingston. By the time we got to the mountain pass before Bozeman the snow was covering the highway and the plows were out. We followed them up the mountain and then they turned around to go back up. I drove very slowly down the mountain because Erica's car didn't have snow tires. They are pretty much just street tires. By the time we got to Bozeman the storm was pretty much over.

We made good time to Butte and got some lunch. We were cruising along again when about 75 miles out of Missoula the car lost power and I pulled over onto the side of the road. Some weird light that the owner's manual didn't even explain the meaning of came on. We finally got the car started again and running fine and determined that we would find a Dodge dealer in Missoula to find out what the problem was. When we got there they told us the problem and said we shouldn't have any more problems on the way home. Erica just needs to get the car in to have something replaced.

We hit another snow storm coming over the 4th of July pass here in Idaho. It was snowing harder here than in Montana but it wasn't sticking to the road too much yet. We got through it fine. As we came over the last mountain overlooking Lake Coeur d'Alene we saw a semi truck loaded with potatoes overturned on the side of the road. We joked that we could have mashed potatoes for dinner and then laughed because we realized that only in Idaho would we see a potato truck overturned.

We made a trip that we were expecting to take at least 5 days in 4 days. We thought that was pretty good considering we had 2 small kids, snowstorms, sightseeing, construction and car problems. It was a wonderful experience that I am so glad that I got to share with my sister. We got to see the country and rock out to my iPod along the way. We are exhausted now and glad to be home but I look forward to my next adventure when Stephen and I take the kids to California in 2 weeks.


Blogger granati said...

you weren't kidding when you said it was a long post. i'm glad you had fun, and i am even more happy that you are back in one piece =]

April 3, 2007 at 3:43 PM  
Blogger ErinG said...

Back in one piece with my new backpiece!

April 3, 2007 at 3:52 PM  
Blogger granati said...

heh! too true...

April 3, 2007 at 4:48 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Wow what a trip! I cant wait to hear more. We will have to get together before you go to Cal. Give me a call when you get some time. Glad you made it back safe..

April 3, 2007 at 5:10 PM  
Anonymous Jim Stagner said...

Glad to hear that you all made it safe and sound. OLD FOGEY ALERT! Who or What is Miami Ink?
Let us know when you hear from Jeff date(s) time and place to see him (family day and graduation). Mary Ann and I can be there both days. Melissa has been discharged from the USAF, but she still has a military ID so we don't anticipate any trouble getting on base. We have our plane tickets from Washington Dulles to LAX.
Grandpa Jim

April 6, 2007 at 11:52 AM  
Blogger ErinG said...

Miami Ink is a tattoo shop in Miami and they also have a reality show on TLC that is on Tuesday nights. The show just follows the people that work in the shop and shows people getting tattoos and the stories behind them. Stephen and I really like the show. I wasn't on the show; just wanted to get a tattoo from someone in the shop since I was in Miami and don't foresee myself there again in the near future.

Stephen has the times for Visitor's Day and Graduation written down somewhere so I will email those to you when I get them.

April 6, 2007 at 10:04 PM  

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