One of the, I guess you could say, "good things" that came from my father's death, was it gave us some good motivation to get out Minnesota to see our Bates family. We hadn't been out there since 1998, and I was really excited to see everyone. Almost of my cousins still live around the Minneapolis area, and those that didn't made sure they were there to party and hang out. My father's two older sisters Dottie and Joyce are both widowed, but both seem to be healthy and happy and are just a hoot to talk to. Plus it was really fun to be with all my siblings without kids, and have some good one and one time.
Kim and I flew together and got in pretty late on a Wednesday, but had to kill some time before we could pick up Jared and Krista (our cousin) who arrived even later. After we picked them up, we had a great time catching up in the car with Krista as we drove to Dottie's house in Coon Rapids. When we arrived, Dottie was waiting up for us and we had a blast talking to her and Cousin Jill. Dottie started crying when she saw us, and it was just so cute. After awhile we headed out to our hotel and to get some sleep. Jared, Kim, and I shared a hotel room...which is always fun. Jared slept on the roll away bed, although it wasn't until the second night that he realized that the hotel hadn't forgotten to give him a blanket, but that one of the "pillows" he was using was actually a blanket rolled up. That kid worries me sometimes.
That first day, we went over to visit more with Dottie, Krista, Jill, and Jill's daughter Haley. We hadn't seen Haley since she was a baby, and she is so cool. She's married and is a pilot, and offered to take us up in a plane while we were there! That afternoon we went and picked up Mitch and Caitlin from the airport, and headed out to dinner with the rest of the cousins. We got to the place a little early, so we killed some time at Costco (which is always fun).
Dinner was so fun! It was so great seeing everyone (Julie and Mike couldn't make it) and we had a blast eating, laughing, and catching up. I think we were there forever, and honestly I could have stayed all night. They really are a fun group of people.
The next day (Friday), Dottie, Krista, and us met up with Haley at the local airport to do some flying. It was so fun. I even got to fly for a bit! On our turn we flew around the city of Minneapolis a couple times, so it was fun to see it from the air!
Afterwards Krista went with Haley to take the plane back, and Dottie took us out to lunch to Buffalo Wild Wings, which was delicious. Afterwards we ran some errands and hung out before meeting up with everyone for a night of bowling.
Bowling was super fun, and everyone was enjoying themselves. I got everyone to pose after they scored a strike and it was super hilarious cause Jared wasn't scoring a strike and was getting so pissed! Haley even did his "guns" pose which got him even more fired up. it was HILARIOUS!! Cousin Julie finally arrived to the party and I was so excited to see her again!! I have a special place in my heart for Julie. She didn't score a strike either, but she didn't care half as much as Jared (who scored a strike toward the end of night). I pretty much had a dance party with whomever would dance with me, and took my turns bowling in between..so I had a great time! After bowling, some of us headed into the bar to watch/or play darts. I, of course, just talked or danced while I watched.
The next day, we headed out to the Mall of America to walk around and do some shopping (mostly mitch and cailtin shopped) before heading out to my cousin Mark's place for the official family gathering and dinner. Mall of America is freakin huge! and had some very crazy amusement rides that made my stomach churn just looking at them. The worst! Kim, Jared, and I just kind of walked around the mall, and had a great little lunch/snack of crepes. Mitch and Caitlin had gone off on their own to do some duty free shopping.
We then, headed out to Mark's but first stopped at a local grocery store to pick up a couple things that we needed to bring. This grocery store had the best food samples, and kim, caitlin, and I quite enjoyed ourselves trying everything they had to offer.
The party at Mark's was super fun. We had a great taco bar dinner, yummy appetizers, games, talking, a beautiful talk by Joyce, family pictures-including a recreation of a childhood picture, and we shared the video that we had made of my father to the family.
|Dottie and her girls. The Lunds|
|Joyce and her kids. The Schultenovers|
It was a super fun trip, and I am so glad we went. I love the Bates relatives, and can't wait to see them again.