Monday, June 25, 2012


Can I tell you about my Duluth trip? Because it was interesting. We had some really amazing moments and some really terrible moments. It was like a freaking emotional rollercoaster. And I'm afraid it's going to take a long description to do it justice. But you know me, right? I'm long-winded. Still friends?

Friday night we invaded and were told that the Red Cross had booked up every available room, so our options were limited. The room with one king-sized bed we'd reserved ended up being a room with two full-sized beds and there were no refrigerators left. Luckily, we'd packed two huge bags of ice in the cooler we used to transport my "healthy option" foods, and that was enough to keep it cold for the entire trip. We lugged our stuff up to our room, formulated a plan, then headed out to Canal Park.

We walked out to the lighthouse, where an amazing musician was playing guitar and singing what appeared to be original songs. We saw a huge boat come in, then wandered over to Angie's Cantina, where a childhood friend of Pete's was reported to bartend. We sat at the bar and had a few drinks (childhood friend was not working that night), then ordered dinner at the bar. Mine was a veggie quesadilla and a roasted zucchini. Delicious and very filling--I ate about 2/3 of my meal.. We wandered back to our hotel, had a few drinks in the cheesy bar in the basement, and listened to a five-person jazz combo. Then we tried out the scalding hot tub, relocated to the swimming pool, and decided it was too full of shrill little children (at 11:30pm, mind you). We fled the children and hit the hay.

Saturday morning, I woke up feeling great. Loved the chance to sleep in finally! I sprang out of bed, grabbed some water, and then realized that something was wrong. Terribly wrong. I couldn't open my mouth more than a few inches. I tried pushing my mouth open, straining against an unfamiliar tightness, and then suddenly, my jaw started grinding and popping and sprang open. It felt like I had dislocated my jaw--it didn't hurt, but now it was stuck open and the same tightness was preventing me from closing it. I tried pushing my jaw closed, and the same thing happened--grinding, popping, a sudden slip to the side, and my jaw sprang shut. Cue freak out.

I had jaw surgery years ago. They broke my jaw in two places, chiseled away some of the bone, repositioned it, and then bolted it back in place with two pins. So my first thought was that the pin on one side had given out. Pete and I both started to frantically Google my symptoms. It sounded like TMJ, caused, I think, by the insanely uncomfortable bed and doubled up pillows. After watching a few videos about treating TMJ with massage, I started exploring my neck and jaw and realized that the muscles on that side of my neck were SUPER tight. I stretched and rubbed them. I also started slowly moving my jaw as much as I could without making it jump off the tracks. After about half an hour, I could open and close my jaw with only one small pop. (Today I'm calling my dentist and setting up an appointment to talk about TMJ and verify that that's what happened. I haven't had any incidents since Saturday morning.)

After that very freaky incident, I breakfasted on some Greek yogurt and blueberries (brought from home), and then we stepped in to Starbucks (chai tea latte with skim for me). It was raining, but only a little bit, so we wandered down Superior Street, looking at the shops. We visited Rag Stock and the Electric Fetus so we could admire the latest student grunge fashions. On our way back, we saw a sign for an art fair, so we drove out to Park Point and perused the artist tents for a bit. I lusted over some insanely good, but insanely priced watercolor paintings. When we drove back, we saw the bridge rising as we approached. Rather than sit and idle in our car, Pete suggested we park and walk to the canal to watch the ship. We did, and we were rewarded with not one, but TWO ships. Oooh.

Park Point is on this insane peninsula--I would LOVE to live there!

We returned to the main drag for some lunch (grilled vegetable press for me...apparently I went veggie-happy on our trip). After lunch, we took a quick nap in our room, then headed out for dinner. We stopped at the Leif Erickson rose gardens and wandered a bit, taking in the lake views. We dined at the Pickwick. Beautiful views, crazy old interior (and patrons). After dinner, we drove up the hill to take in the amazing views of the harbor, and then returned to our hotel.

As we were pulling in to our hotel parking lot, Pete slammed on the brakes. Our tires screeched and Pete laid on the horn and a split second later we were rammed into by the BACK of another car. I was confused. And then livid. The first words out of my mouth were, "NOOO!! &@$^%%*@!!@#*&!" Some A-hole had missed the turn into the parking lot and decided that the best course of action would be to throw his car into reverse and book it back up the hill. Without looking. So when Pete turned onto the one-way street, focusing on making sure no cars were coming FORWARD from the right, he missed the car speeding backwards. Pete did actually see him at the last minute and stopped, but not soon enough to alert the guy, who just kept coming.

How it all went down

Devastated, we pulled over and assessed the damage. Absolutely NOTHING wrong with this guy's RENTAL car, but the front driver's side corner of our car was all dented. Pete couldn't even open his door at first until he pulled the fender back out, and the paint on the door ended up chipped. Pete was very gracious about the matter, but I chose to keep my distance and give the guy and his passenger dirty looks. At least he was very apologetic and hard on himself. They called the cops so they could get a report and he told the truth--"I missed my turn, drove in reverse without looking, and hit him."

Here's the sad thing. The guy worked for the Red Cross, so they had arranged for the rental car and the insurance. So we've filed the claim with his insurance company, but the agent Pete talked to asked for Pete's policy number and our agent's phone number. And as I understand it, since Minnesota is a no-fault state, if their insurance company wants to they could make our insurance company cover the damage. And if they do, our rates will go up. And this guy won't even be touched. AND if we do get his insurance company to pay for the damage, they could stop at 80%, which means we have to pay the last 20% out of pocket. This is all news to me--I've never been in an accident and had to deal with this kind of insurance crap before. Thank goodness Pete was driving. He has to be the adult in this incident and sort it all out. Sucker.

So after screwing around in front of the hotel for FOREVER (and being gawked at by the locals who thought this was the greatest thing ever to happen, AND being gawked at by the guy's Red Cross buddies who rushed out in full Red Cross regalia to make sure they weren't needed), we headed back up to our room and Pete got on the horn with the insurance company. We were pretty low.

After stewing for a few minutes and generally feeling sorry for ourselves, we decided to try to end the night on a happy note. We dragged ourselves up to the revolving restaurant at the top of our hotel and took a couch near one of the windows. As the outer ring of the restaurant spun, we were brought past a very talented jazz trio that was playing. And that trio would end up saving our Saturday.

Our waiter was attentive, the views were amazing, and we sat cozied up on the couch chatting. We split a chocolate trifle dessert. I didn't feel guilty--it was our vacation, and we didn't finish it. And it was GOOD. About an hour before close, we'd spun full-circle and came to a stop directly in front of the trio. We got to watch them up close and it was SO fun. They were amazing! After their last song, they came over and sat with us and had some drinks. Each of them taught music in the Duluth area--the guitarist (my favorite, I think) was the head of the music department at UMD. We talked about the jazz scene and our days in band and families and life. Then Pete settled up with our waiter and we floated on down to our room. BEST. NIGHT. EVER! We are so getting a group to visit again some Saturday. The bassist gave us his card and told us to look him up if we're ever back in the area so we can come see him play again!

Sunday we woke up and I finished off my blueberries and yogurt. Then we wandered down to Canal Park. Pete bought a sandwich from the deli there--Amazing Grace cafe--and I enjoyed a cup of their hazelnut coffee. It was lukewarm, but sooo delicious. We wandered into some shops and bought a mug (because you have to buy at least one thing on vacation). Then we made our way back to the hotel and drove home. The reunion with Cosmo was sweet--he was SO excited to see us. We took it easy last night and both were very glad to be home!

Some pics of the trip.  I actually got more, but they're on the SD card of my camera, so these iPhone pics will have to do for now...

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  1. Well, even for all the drama you encountered this weekend, it sounds like your trip was a lot of fun and you got to hear some great musicians -- always a good thing. I'll be interested to hear what your dentist says about your locked jaw. That had to be scary! I'm glad no one was hurt in your accident and hopefully the insurance companies will do the right thing.

    Enjoyed your descriptive post!

  2. Glad you had a good? time! Hopefully you're next trip there will be filled with less drama. :-)


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