Minnesota 2009

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Note: This travelog was written in 2017, so many details have long been forgotten since we took the trip.

Friday, June 5, 2009: We flew to Minnesota (via Chicago) for a long weekend and spent the day at Como Park. The McNeely Conservatory there was never of interest when Debbie was a kid, but extremely fascinating as an adult. Gaze upon its gorgeousness.
It has a beautiful sculpture/fountain at one end, but the real stars of the show are all the flowers.
Bright yellow lilies, ...
... pale pink waterlilies, ...
... coral daisy-ish blooms, ...
... and showy hibiscus blossoms.
North of the conservatory is a Japanese garden that symbolizes the relationship between St. Paul and its sister city, Nagasaki, Japan. One year earlier, we had been in Nagasaki and had seen a sculpture that was a gift from the city of St. Paul.
Here's the beautiful garden.
It's always fun to watch koi.
Here's an unusual plant in the garden.
Next, we entered Como Zoo. It certainly looks much different than it did when Debbie used to go here on field trips.
But here's something that hasn't changed: Mold-a-Rama machines are still scattered throughout the zoo and they still work!
They cost more than a quarter or two now ($2!) but ...
... it's worth it to see your very own Casey the Gorilla figure get created from extruded plastic right before your very eyes.
Wait, we were here to see some animals. Here are some giraffes, ...
... and here's a snow leopard.
Another Mold-a-Rama machine!
This one was dispensing yellow lions, ...
... including this handsome specimen right here that came home with us.
Speaking of lions, here's the lion exhibit.
Pretty kitty!
Indoors was a one-month-old baby giraffe who had just made his public debut the day before.
Look at that adorable face. Look at it!
We peered through the crowd at a Sparky the Sea Lion show for a minute.
This is the sixth sea lion to carry the name "Sparky." Debbie was in high school before she realized that the Sparky she grew up with probably wasn't the original one. Since the fifth one took over in 1981, and this is the sixth one, she probably grew up with Sparky the Fourth.
But back to Mold-a-Rama.
Of course, we have to get a Sparky the Sea Lion figure!
Ah, yes, hot plastic. Good memories of childhood.
Sadly, this machine was out of order, ...
... but at least we could peer in the window to see an example of what we could not have.
We stopped by Como Town, the small amusement park. As a kid, this was the greatest place in the whole world until Valleyfair was built. It's been upgraded a bit, but there is little to appeal to our age group now.
Except for these. Coin-activated vibrating foot massage chairs. Genius!
Near the zoo exit is one of the old buildings, which is now used as an administration building. Debbie remembers when this building was still used to house animals. Accommodations for the animals are much better now.
We headed out before noon and probably ate somewhere like Leanne Chin's near Har Mar. These captions are being written eight years later, and some details are lost to time.
We checked in to the Embassy Suites in downtown St. Paul and got ready to go to Macalester College.
It's time for the 2009 Reunion! We were pleased to see that we weren't the only Indiana attendee dot on the map.
This was Debbie's 25th class reunion, and the first one she had ever attended.
We wandered into the Leonard Center before the 1984 Class Gathering and spotted the Kofi Annan Ping Pong Table. Not that many people have heard of Debbie's college, but it has turned out quite a few famous people, ...
... including former United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan. That's his signature right there.
The 1984 Class Gathering was held at the Anderson Portico outside the Leonard Center.
There were many familiar friendly faces, ...
... and it was great fun to catch up with folks.
Tom was nice enough to take some photos while Debbie chatted with classmates.
College president Brian Rosenberg stopped by to chat with our group for a bit.
As it started to get dark outside the Leonard Center, ...
... a student group came out to entertain us. Maybe they weren't students and maybe they were just practicing, but we stopped what we were doing and enjoyed the show for a bit.
Then John rounded us up to join the crowd of people heading over to Kevin's house, conveniently located less than a block off campus.
John has clearly been here before, because he showed us where the beer was stashed.
Kevin lit a firepit or two, passed out long-sleeved shirts to anyone who was cold, and hosted a great party.
We spent some time jumping on the trampoline with Kevin's sweet son ...
... and adorable daughter.
Here are some classmates, ...
... and more classmates, ...
... and more, ...
... and more, ...
... and of course, John and Catherine.
We were there too!

Saturday, June 6, 2009: We went to Carbone's on Randolph for lunch with Judy, Lance, and Natalie.
We got to meet baby Alexandra, Natalie's daughter.
Toward the end of lunch, she was out cold in her daddy's arms.
The former high school classmates posed for a shot before saying goodbye.
We headed back to Macalester College for the 1984 Class Dinner.
It was held in the stage area in the drama wing of the Janet Wallace Fine Arts Center.
We brought along Debbie's old Spotlights and we had fun looking at the pictures of how we used to look back then.
Here are some classmates, ...
... and here are some more.
Here's our table with Susan, Bob, Debbie, ...
... Tom, Joe, ...
... and Joy and John B. Davis. President Davis was president of the college during the years that we attended, so it was a wonderful treat to have him joining us for our class dinner.
Ron addressed our class, ...
... then Chris opened a large chest that served as a time capsule and called up classmates to describe items inside.
It's appropriate that there was a copy of George Orwell's 1984 in the trunk.
There was much showmanship ...
... and much laughing.
President Davis come up to address us, ...
... and John and Ron asked him questions about his time at Mac.
Maria addressed us next.
These captions were written years later and we have no idea where some of these pictures came from, but thanks to whoever took this picture of Debbie enjoying the program.
After the talks ended, we got a closer look at the time capsule chest ...
... and its contents.
The Spotlights got passed around some more.
Here are Dianne and Lisa, ...
... George and Yianni, ...
... and Kara and Cameron, who we also get to see at Debbie's high school reunions as well, since Cameron and Debbie attended high school together.
After dinner, we headed to the main lawn for the all-class reunion party.
Debbie was happy to run into her old friend Steve there.

Sunday, June 7, 2009: We headed north to Vadnais Heights to have lunch with Debbie's relatives.
Here's Aunt Mary getting a kiss from her granddaughter, Solveig, ...
... then Uncle Bob was next.
Here's Solveig with her parents, ...
... and here are our hosts, Shawn and Laura. We had a nice visit and then headed to the airport to fly home via St. Louis.

** THE END **

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