119. Back to Minnesota (Part 1)

Thursday 5/18- (Alarm Sound) BEEP BEEP BEEP!!! It's 3am! UGH, that was a short sleep and not a very restful one either. Neither of us ever sleep well when we know we have to get up at a certain time so we were both tossing and turning, checking the clock all night long. We didn’t want to oversleep and I always worry about sleeping through my alarm (which has NEVER happened to me) and now we are going to be exhausted all day long. We rolled out of bed and made sure to pull the covers all the way up. We gotta keep the bugs out while we are gone! Although, really, we know that if the bugs want to get into the bed, making it this morning will not keep them out. We brushed our teeth, closed and locked all the windows, and made sure we had everything ready & waiting by the door, then sat and waited until our ride showed up. 

When he showed up he looked just as sleepy as us. Geoff pulled in the driveway a few minutes before 4am and helped us load our 2 suitcases (filled like Russian dolls with all of our other suitcases) into the truck and we pulled out of our gate at 4am.

He was kind enough to be our first driver of the day and his job was to bring us to Quepos where we were meeting our shuttle driver at 5:30am. For this trip we hired a company who will drive us the rest of the way from Quepos to the airport in San Jose. 

You may be wondering why we hired a shuttle this time instead of driving ourselves. We will be in the US for 3 weeks, and although we could have driven ourselves and parked, the cost of parking at the airport is $35/day and the mall long term parking is $11/day. Don’t forget to add in the $100 tank of gas to get us up there and back and the tolls that add up to about $15-20. After you do the math, its a no-brainer to hire the $300 round trip shuttle where they drop off and pick up at the airport and you don’t have the headache of driving yourself. Sit back, relax, enjoy the ride (well, I always do this, but now Ramie can too!) Easy peasy! 

We made good time on the drive between Uvita and Quepos and arrived earlier than expected, which gave the three of us a chance to chat as we waited for the shuttle driver. 5:30 came and the shuttle driver was right on time, we transferred our bags to his van, thanked Geoff and said see ‘ya later. The ride in the shuttle van was very quiet and I think we both may have dozed off a little bit for part of it. Just before we made it to the toll road the driver stopped for a bathroom break and stretch. It was less than 5 minutes but perked us up a little bit so we weren’t half sleeping when we arrived at the airport. We made it to the airport by about 9:30am, quickly checked in and made it through security, luckily the airport wasn’t as chaotic as it can sometimes be. Once we made it through the security checkpoint the first thing we needed to do was find a coffee shop! After we found our coffee and our gate we played the airport waiting game, you know, scrolling on your phone and people watching. 

The flight was scheduled for around 2pm (yes, we were at the airport quite early, this was at the recommendation of the shuttle company because traffic can sometimes be questionable & they want to ensure you don’t miss your flight) and was actually on time (which is a rarity for us). Time to get on for leg #1.

We landed in Miami at about 7pm (that sounds super long, but there is a 2 hour time change). Having our Global Entry pass made going through US immigration super quick, and customs went just as fast since we got to bypass the immigration lines and get to the front. We were on our next plane again at 9pm and finally landed in Minneapolis at about midnight.  Unfortunately neither of us slept well on the plane. As we were waiting for our bags, Ramie’s sister Taryn had texted us to let us know that she was waiting, a few minutes later we had our bags and headed out the doors to look for her. Ramie had forgotten what color and type of car she drove (what kind of car guy is that!?) but fortunately I had a vague recollection of a white Kia, and there weren’t too many cars waiting out there at this time of night. I saw a car that I think might have been hers and we started walking toward it. She must have been watching very closely because suddenly we heard her voice yell “WELCOME HOME”! We were all very excited to see each other since it had been nearly a year since they came to visit us in Costa Rica! We didn't talk a whole lot on the way to her house because we were exhausted and it was the middle of the night, but there will be time for all of that talking later. At this point it had been about 22 hours since that BEEP BEEP BEEP and we were finally back in bed at about 2am MN time. 


Friday 5/19- Rise and shine, it’s time to make the most of the USA! We both woke up around 7am and put on the warmest clothes that we had with us before we started digging through all of our bins of stuff that we had stored here. Taryn and Steven both had today off and were already up and greeted us right away. Of course, the first thing I think they noticed was our choice of clothing and started laughing at us. I'm pretty sure they were both in shorts and a T-shirt, we were in jeans & a hoodie. The highs recently were only in the 60’s and that truly feels cold to us now. We chatted for a little while as we recharged ourselves with coffee....

but soon it was time to get started with our work. They knew we had a busy day ahead of us, so they let us do our thing. For the last couple of weeks we had been ordering stuff online that we wanted to bring back to Costa Rica so we had lots of Amazon boxes to go through and lots more things that we would need to shop for. We spent the majority of the morning in the freezing cold basement looking through all of the boxes, and boy there are a lot of them!  

Yes, that is all of our stuff in this picture. Well, some of it is Taylor's too.

After we finished looking through all of the boxes of new things (it kind of felt like Christmas), we also wanted to go through all of the bins that they have been so kind to store for us for the last 2 years. We knew there were things stored here that we no longer wanted or needed and our goal was to downsize our belongings some more. After a couple of hours of working and freezing in the basement we decided to take a break from this mess and go shopping. We needed some food and other things from Target. I really do miss shopping at Target!!

We walked into Target and the first stop was to get some coffee (a sugary, candy-like concoction, not coffee like we’re used to anymore) from Starbucks. Once we had our dessert in hand we grabbed a cart and started walking the aisles. It didn't take long before we started to feel overwhelmed. Too many things, so many choices, too much selection, so many people, just too much over stimulation from every direction! What is wrong with us, we love shopping at Target!? We are pretty sure we used to pay at least a couple of Target employee’s wages when we lived in MN because we shopped there so much. Now we feel like we can't handle this anymore! It's hard to explain, but I guess living in a place where you have a limited selection and may only have two options, “cheap” and “cheaper” (quality, not price) changes how you shop for things. Here, there are way too many things to choose from, I don't know which one to pick! We are overwhelmed & overstimulated by all of this! Ok, maybe we will skip that item for now and move to the next one on the list. Nope, that didn't really work either. One of the items that I wanted to look for was a new bathing suit- I literally walked into the section, picked up a couple of things from a rack, looked around at all of the options, put the things back, and walked away. I just couldn’t do this right now!! We spent less than an hour in Target and we left with very few items checked off of our list because we could not handle the options and didn't want to waste more time trying to figure out what we’re doing.

I guess we will go back home and continue with our stuff there. UGH this basement is so cold!

This afternoon when Will (our nephew) came home from school it was the first time he saw us since we’ve been back and was super excited (I did hear him peeking into our room this morning before he left for school, but we just weren’t ready to get out of bed yet). We decided that was enough of going through the bins in the cold basement and it was time to relax and catch up with the family. This afternoon Taylor & Dylan even came up to see us, so of course we had to put the work aside and enjoy being with people we hadn’t seen in so long! (Taylor would be letting us borrow her car while we were home, so that was part of the reason she came to see us, but of course, we really wanted to spend time together too!!) Steven smoked some meat for dinner (one of our requests while we were home was smoked food) and we enjoyed a delicious meal together and had some good laughs! Eventually Taylor and Dylan left and we all wound down for the evening. It was a busy day and we were still tired from traveling so we went to bed fairly early. 

Taylor's tribute to Grimace (the classic car we had to sell)

Saturday 5/20- Alright, day two, let's try this shopping thing again! Steven & Will had a cub scout event to go to and would be gone most the day so we didn’t feel so bad buckling down and getting some work done. Ramie & I started this morning with a trip to Walmart, this time to look for some of the things that we didn’t check off the list yesterday at Target. We were fairly successful this time with the slightly shorter list, and although we still felt overwhelmed with the selection of everything, we left with a lot of the things we needed. Walmart in the US is so very different from Walmart in CR!! We hit a couple more stores before Ramie had to get me back to the house; Taryn had booked pedicures for us today! On our way back to the house we decided that we’d make the most of the morning by picking up Taryn, then Ramie would drop the 2 of us for our appointment, and then he’d keep running errands. He needed to look for some auto parts and I didn’t particularly feel like going with him on that mission. 

Time for a Dana side-story. As Taryn and I were relaxing, chatting, and getting our feet pampered, someone who I thought looked very familiar walked in and was seated in the chair right next to me. Wouldn’t you know it, it was Aimee, a girl who was part of my 2005 study-abroad in England group. I hadn’t seen her since college!! We took the opportunity to get the cliffs-notes version of life since college and catch up just a little bit before we were finished with our pedicures. Wow, what a blast from the past!!

Ramie wasn't gone long and wasn’t able to find what he needed so he came back to the nail shop and waited until we were ready to be picked up. Once Taryn & I were finished it was time to go to Menards. We still needed to find some things to bring back for our house and Taryn had a shopping list of things she needed too, so this worked out well. Yesterday Taryn mentioned to Ramie she had a to-do list for him and one of the chores on the list was to install a screen door to the garage. Of course, we all know that Ramie likes projects so this was no problem at all, besides we try to do what we can to help them out for everything they’ve done for us.

While walking around Menards I heard a voice say “Dana?” I turned around, and wouldn’t you know it, Anna, a girl I went to high school with, was standing in the aisle we were shopping in. I haven’t seen Anna since probably graduation!! A 2nd blast from the past on the same morning! We spent a few minutes talking in the aisle before continuing on with our shopping.

With all of our finds in hand, we headed back to the house. Ramie installed the screen door while we waited for Will & Steven to get back from cub scouts. This afternoon we decided to check out one of the local breweries and a new burrito place for dinner. We sat on a patio, had a couple of adult beverages, ate some delish Mexican food, and made an evening of it. I think a good time was had by all 😊

I had to take a pic of this sign in the brewery because of an inside joke: Tracy, this is for you!

Sunday 5/21- When you’re us, the work just never seems to end! We have more stuff stored at my parent’s house and all of that had to get looked through, sorted to get rid of, bring back with us, or remain in storage, and today’s goal was to go through some of that and to at least gather up the pieces that needed to come back to CR with us. We knew this wouldn’t be a social visit, that would come later, but it was nice to see mom & dad again because it had been a very long time since we last saw them. Of course, we did spend some time socializing, but we also got some work done. By the end of it all we ended up with a full carload of things to bring back with us, some to be brought to CR with us, some to be sold on Taylor’s upcoming garage sale, and some to be gotten rid of. Boy, we still really have a lot of crap stored in MN!! That’s why we’re trying to downsize even more!

Monday 5/22- Well, it’s Monday, that means it’s back to work for me, but I have made it very clear that I will not be putting in my full hourly schedule during this time that we’re back in the US. I spent a couple of hours online right away in the morning to put out any fires, respond to anything that needed responding to, and make sure everything was under control. Once I had but in the obligatory couple of hours, it was time to head to Nicole & Hieu’s house.

So much has changed with their family since the last time we were in MN. They moved into a new home that we’d see in person for the first time, Elodie has changed so much and gotten so much bigger, and let’s not forget, this is the first time that we’ll get to meet our new nephew Luca.

When we got there, Elodie was still at school so it gave us adults time to catch up and for us to meet Luca. When it was time to pick her up, Uncle Ramie surprised her by going with Hieu, but she’d have to wait until they got home to see Auntie Dana.

We spent the next couple of days together, all of us working at our computers a little bit here and there, but getting the most out of our time together.

Decorating animals!
Practicing her shapes
Luca exploring Dana's face!
Luca is laughing because Ramie's head fell off
Oh, I guess not!
Ramie was getting some instruction about driving Hieu's toy

Away he goes! That thing is fast!

Ramie & Elodie spending quality time swinging and talking.

Thursday 5/25- Today it was time for Ramie to move on to the next stop on his whirlwind tour of MN. He and Taylor were going to go up north to visit his mom a day early, work on the to-do list that she had for him, and spend some quality one-on-one time with Taylor.  I’d spend an extra day with Nicole, Hieu
& the kids, and then ride up north with Taryn, Steven & Will on Friday afternoon to meet up with the rest of Ramie’s family.
  It was kind of weird being away from Ramie overnight, I can’t even remember the last time we spent a night apart but I’m pretty sure it was pre-COVID (no, I’m not getting all mushy, it’s just an observation).

Ramie side-story time: I left to pick up Taylor bright and early (7am) at her house. Taylor isn't a morning person at all so once I had her, we stopped for coffee-to-go and hit the road. We took back roads up to my moms house and there was no lull in the conversation. We had a very enjoyable drive and so much to talk about and catch up on. I really enjoyed our drive a lot and I think Taylor did just as much! A few hours later we arrived at my moms house, but of course, she was out gallivanting around.

Right away I spotted the To-Do list on the table. I scanned it over and thought about what I wanted to tackle first, but not today. It wasn't long before mom pulled in the driveway. My mom had so many questions about "who, what, & when" for both Taylor and me and the three of us just spent the majority of the day talking. I noticed my brother who lives very close by also pulled into the driveway so I walked over there and chatted with him for awhile to catch up. He was still on the clock so I didn't talk long, we'd catch up more later. That night mom, Taylor & I chatted over dinner and for a little while longer but both Taylor and I were tired (Taylor because she got up so early and me because I'm still trying to catch up on sleep) so we decided to call it a night. Tomorrow I would need to get busy on the list of shame because I want to get as much done before the rest of the family all comes home to visit this weekend. 

Pura Vida!