A Little GeoCaching with #5

Just a quick note about a wonderful afternoon I had with #5 of 5.

GeoCaching with #5#2 and #3 of 5 were out shopping for pants with the Mother of Five#4 of 5 was not feeling well and sacked out on the couch watching TV.  I had a few hours before I had to head into work, so I loaded up the GPS with a couple of new caches that recently popped up in town, and several on the far outskirts of town that I had yet to find – and we headed out.

Our first two finds were very easy.  The first one was located in the Minnesota River Valley.  It was also opening weekend of the 2011 Duck Hunting season so when we arrived in an area that I would not expect to see cars parked, there were quite a few!  Trucks, trailers, canoes and a few guys pulling out from the river bottom area.  (You can see a few of their trucks off in the background)

From there we went into town and located one of the newest caches – located at the Historic Log Cabin!

GeoCaching with #5 GeoCaching with #5

Off to an abandoned barn cache.

GeoCaching with #5 GeoCaching with #5

Then to monument cache.

GeoCaching with #5

After we finished these, we were going to head another 5 miles out of town for another three caches grouped in the same area, but found the access to that road blocked due to construction.    With the only other access to those caches requiring me to drive 12 miles out of my way and then 12 miles back – we decided to save those caches for later – and instead, we stopped at Carasim Coffee Shop for a little treat! 

(Carasim does not have their own website, but the provided link comes courtesy of the fine folks at the Nicolin Inn (our local B&B) did a nice job writing up a little article about them.)

Carasim Coffe Shop Ice Cream  Carasim Coffe Shop Ice Cream

We went 4 for 4 this afternoon, and had a great time doing it!

Blink 182 - (Part 2)

There is some history behind this post – if you have not already checked it out,
be sure to visit the Blink 182 - (Part 1) page.

The day of the concert arrived.  I had talked to my mom about the concert, and to save time, she offered to pick #3 of 5 up after school, bring him to her house and feed him before the concert.  Then after I got off duty, I would go to their place (my parents live three miles from my work), pick him up and we would head out to the concert.

After work, I rushed to my parents house where they were just sitting down to eat.  We visited a little bit, then headed out towards the venue.  Once we arrived, we found a decent parking spot and headed in.  It was a lot of fun watching all the concert goers as headed towards the Excel Energy Center. 

Goth.  Emo.  Punk.  We saw them all. 

We arrived at the Excel, and headed in.  We were handed a “program” for the concert.  Blink 182 was headlining this year’s Honda Civic TourMatt & Kim and My Chemical Romance were the other bands playing.

We headed off to the t-shirt stand.  I was planning on getting #3 of 5 a t-shirt.  I debated one for myself, but between the prices, and my size (and lack of “gargantuan” sizes) I passed.

We found our seats, settled in and waited for the show to start.  The jumbo screen behind the stage showed various clips, and ads, and videos from Blink 182 and My Chemical Romance.

They also had a “scroll” across the bottom of the screen.  It scrolled “text” messages that people sent in to be displayed on the screen.  I tried sending several, but in the end, only one of mine made it up on the screen.  I tried “Father of five and #3 of 5”, “FOF and #3 of 5”, “Fat forty and still a fan”, but in the end, the one that made it on the jumbotron was a phrase that #2 of 5 uses (often…)  “Indeed!”

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Before long, the lights dimmed and the crowd went WILD!   

I sent a text message to update my facebook page…  “1st opening act – Matt & Kim takin’ the stage”…  And just like that, the show started.

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They were A LOT of fun to watch!  They told us that this was their VERY FIRST “arena” concert, and I tell you what – they REALLY “brought it” – their energy level was off the charts.  They were playing (well) and had some really catchy tunes!  It was obvious that they really WANTED to be there, and were having tons of fun!  I’d love to see Matt & Kim again sometime! 


Between the shows, the lights went back up, and the jumbotron began it’s endless loop of ads, clips, and music videos (including the text scrolling).

So we waited for My Chemical Romance to start up.  To be honest, before the show, I had never really listened to My Chemical Romance.  Seeing as they were going to be playing, I started checking out some of their work on YouTube…  Really great stuff there!  Don’t know why I never listened to them before.

Here it is!  Proof positive that I was at Blink 182!



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The crowds started getting bigger in anticipation of My Chemical Romance.  Before long the lights dimmed again, and I quickly updated my facebook page again with the following text…

“Better living through MY CHEMICAL ROMANCE!!”

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They had a very colorful set.  Lots of reds and blues and oranges…  Sort of matched Gerard Way’s hair ( lead singer).

Of course from where we were seated and given the quality of my camera phone, my photographs are less than stellar.  Thankfully, the next day – I received an email from Ticketmaster.  The email included several photographs of the bands, and a video of the first three minutes of Blink playing!

These photos are courtesy of AT & T, the Excel Energy Center, My Chemical Romance, Blink-182, and the Honda Civic Summer Concert Tour! 

 My Chemical Romance My Chemical Romance

Above Left
My Chemical Romance

Above Right
Gerard Way (Lead vocals)

My Chemical Romance My Chemical Romance

Above Left
My Chemical Romance

Above Right
My Chemical Romance

My Chemical Romance preformed wonderfully!   I really enjoyed “hearing” (and I use that term loosely – it was more like “feeling”) their music.  A small group in front of us were obviously big fans – they were up on their seats, dancing, singing, shouting – Just going wild! 

I noticed that the volume between Matt & Kim and My Chemical Romance had seemingly been turned up a notch or two!

Once My Chemical Romance was finished, the lights went back on, the jumbotron started it’s job of keeping us occupied while the roadies took down MCR’s stage and set Blink 182’s up.



We knew it was going to be close when they started testing the laser show.  (I was looking forward to seeing the laser show.  Tom DeLong had been posting on FB about the lasers during their first show a few weeks back)

There was a feeling of excitement in the air… 

The lights dimmed.

I sent another Facebook update…



Then Blink 182 took the stage and the whole place went CRAZY!  Most people around us were standing, but the folks directly in front of me were sitting, so I did not need to stand – and the ladies behind us were all shorter, and if I stood, I would block their view… 

So there I was.  A forty (year old) fat fan – trying to rock in my seat!  I must have looked quite the site.

I don’t care.  Blink is one of my favorite bands, and they were playing the music I love.

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Once again, my photos were less than “stellar” – so here are more photos sent to me courtesy of AT & T, The Excel Energy Center, and Blink 182.

Blink 182 Blink 182

Above Left
Mark Hoppus (Bass) in the background on the left and Tom DeLong on the right (holding the guitar up high)

Above Right
Tom DeLong (guitar) doing what he does so well!

Blink 182 Blink 182 

Above Left
Mark Hoppus (bass) playing and singing.  See how much fun he is having!

Above Right
Mark Hoppus (bass)

Blink 182 Blink 182 

Above Left
Travis Barker (Drums) – who did an AMAZING job!  He is really a talented percussionist! 

Above Right
Tom DeLong (guitar) – hamming it up as only Tom can!

They played the following songs… (Links are to YouTube videos for those who are interested)

They opened up the show with Feeling This – followed with Up All Night, The Rock Show, Down, I Miss You, Stay Together for the Kids, Dumpweed, Always, Violence, After Midnight, First Date, Heart’s All Gone. Man Overboard, Ghost on the Dance Floor, All the Small Things, Josie.

They took a short break, and came back for an encore.  The encore started with a lengthy and mobile drum solo by Travis Barker.  His drum set was put on a crane, and moved all over the set, up to the top of the venue, turned face down, and all around.  He really did a great job on that solo.  After the solo, the band played Carousel, and they finished off the concert with Dammit.


The show was supposed to end at 10pm – but did not get over until after 11. 

Blink played amazing.  The music was LOUD!  I doubt #3 of 5 has ever heard music played at that volume!  When Travis Barker used the bass drum, you could feel your heart vibrating (literally).

#3 of 5 says he had a great time!  I think I may have had an even better time!

I am very grateful to the Mother of Five for “making” me take him.  It was really a bonding experience!

I remember my very first concert to this day.  My mom took my cousin, my sister and I.  We saw Quite Riot at the old Metropolitan Center (where the North Stars played before they moved to Dallas).  I hope that 30+ years from now, this concert is still in #3 of 5’s memory as much as Quiet Riot’s is for me!



As we drove home in the almost “deafening” silence, I turned to my son and said “Hey… We did some permanent damage to our hearing tonight.  You know that, right?” 

He turned to me with a big smile on his face, shrugged his shoulders, and replied with a “yeah” that was barely audible through the ringing in our ears.

Thanks #3 of 5!  Thanks for a great time!  Thanks for having such great taste in music too! 

Blink 182 - (Part 1)

As we drove home in the almost “deafening” silence, I turned to my son and said “Hey… We did some permanent damage to our hearing tonight.  You know that, right?”  He turned to me with a big smile on his face, shrugged his shoulders, and replied with a “yeah” that was barely audible through the ringing in our ears.

This was the culmination of my evening out with #3 of 5.

Let me start at the beginning…  (Cue the “time travel” sequence)

About a week before, the Mother of Five pulled me aside and told me she wanted to “talk to me about something”.  That usually means something bad, so I prepared myself for the worst.

Time for to fill you in with a little background. (Even more “time travel”)

Back around the year 2000 ~ 2001 I was still working “dogwatch” (overnights) and we kept MTV (when they still played music videos) on the TV to help pass the time.  One of the more popular bands at that time was Blink-182.  (Their videos for “What’s My Age Again” and “All the Small Things” were on an almost constant rotation.)  Intrigued by their music and videos, I bought the CD.

I was (also at that time) finishing my basement.  I spent many hours downstairs doing physical labor on framing, dry walling, HVAC, electrical wiring, etc, etc, etc.  I would start my day by popping in a “motivational” CD (one that gets my blood pumping) and putting it on “repeat”.  More often than not, Blink-182’s “Enema of the State” was the CD of choice.

There is something about Blink’s music that speaks to me.  It’s sort of an eclectic mix of Alternative, Pop, Punk, and Humor.  Their music and lyrics take me back to a different time and place – a time when I was still young, and thin, and did not have the cares and the responsibilities of adulthood, parenthood, and homeownership.  They sing about some things I experienced firsthand, things that I experienced with my friends, and things I never experienced – things like young love, reckless abandon, teen angst, suicide, and even the conspiracy of alien existence!  They play with the upbeat tempo of the punk rock that I enjoy, with a more SoCal skateboarder / stoner vibe.  I am able to vicariously imagine a much more “interesting” teenaged existence than I really experienced through their music.

Blink 182’s popularity has risen and fallen through the years (as well as my tastes in music), but one thing has remained constant.  I have kept up with their catalogue, and even now (12 years later) manage to ALWAYS make room in my MP3 players (and in my listening rotation) for Blink 182.

Ok, so you are a big Blink 182 fan… What’s that got to do with #3 of 5?

#2 and #3 of 5 are both WELL into their teenaged years, and (as expected) are developing a taste for music in their lives.

#2 of 5’s tastes are noticeably different than mine.  He is into what is “here and now”.  Popular.  Mostly Rap Music.  Lady Gaga, Ke$ha (ack…It gags me to type Kesha with a $ instead of a s), Lil’ Wane, T-Pain, and the like.  If it’s “auto-tuned”, it’s likely that #2 of 5 will be listening to it.

Conversely, #3 of 5 started out with an inkling towards The Cure – but his tastes slowly took a turn to the more “darker”, “harder” and “heavier”.  Bullet for my Valentine, Three Days Grace, and Blink-182 are among his favorites.  (His musical tastes are much more in line with my own.)

Let’s tie this all together….

Over the past 12 months I have lost a noticeable amount of weight.  One thing I have been doing to keep this momentum going is making sure I get out on walks.  “Power” walks.  I pop in my headphones, and pick something from my “motivational” musical selection (Marilyn Manson, The Bloodhound Gang, Kid Rock, or Blink-182) and walk hard and fast!  Needless to say, I have been rockin’ with Blink quite a bit recently!

So here we are again (back to the future).  “I want to talk to you about something”.

The Mother of Five pulled me aside and told me that Blink-182 was in town and playing a concert in a few days (which I already knew about), and that that#3 of 5 is really interested in going to see the show (which I also knew about already).  She proceeded to suggest that I take #3 of 5 (the Blink-Fan) to see the concert (knowing that I am a Blink-fan too).

Initially, (and slightly disappointed to have to do so) I told her that I don’t think we can afford it.  She reminded me of the very busy summer we had, of the four weeks that #3 of 5 was volunteering (unpaid) at Phillipo Scout Reservation, and how important it is to spend some one on one time with each of the kids (which is hard to do with five kids).  After thinking about all he has done (or not done) this summer, she felt that he deserved to go.  She even went so far to say that she didn’t think we can afford NOT to take him.  I told her I would look into it.  Besides the cost, I discovered that I worked the day of the concert.  Not only did I work my regular shift, I worked an overtime shift afterwards too.

Yet, secretly… I am hoping somehow it just may work out.

As it turns out, the concert was not scheduled to start until an hour after my overtime shift ended, and tickets were not as expensive as I initially thought.  Despite my “initial hesitation”, I took the Mother of Five’s advise (twist my arm whydontcha?) and bought two tickets!  We planned to surprise #3 of 5 a few days later with the news.   It was eating me up inside.  I was so excited about going to see Blink 182 but could not say anything about it!

We rolled the tickets up into a new pair of black Converse All Star (low tops)he had been drooling over for weeks.  When he found the tickets scrolled away in the shoes, he was ALL SMILES!  (Only later did we find out that he knew about it all along because I had left the “receipt” open in an internet window after printing out my copy…  Dang!)

The concert was the following night!

Minnesota State Fair - 2011

Well, we did it again.  We were not going to go this year.  Time and money were both a factor in this decision, but in the end, the draw of the crowds, deep fried foods, and people watching won out.  We fulfilled our (traditional) bi-annual trip to the Minnesota State Fair.  Here’s how it went down.

As it turned out despite my, my wife, and #2 of 5’s work schedule, #3 of 5’s volunteer schedule, and the various other items that tend to pull us in umpteen different directions all at the same time – we managed to somehow end up with a Sunday that we were ALL home.  Not only were we all home, we were all free from other obligations.  This may have (and I stress “may have) happened one other time this entire summer.

Weeks prior (when we noticed the empty day on the calendar) the Mother of Five and I decided we wanted to have a family day.  Not just a family day, but an “outside family day”.  We were going to load up the new (to us) canoe (which she has yet to enjoy), my GPS (forGeoCaching), fishing poles, balls, Frisbees, a cooler with a picnic lunch in it, and make a day at one of the regional parks around us…

(Cleary Lake, Cedar Lake or Bush Lake were among the top options)

After getting home from church and sitting the family down to decide which park, and what “amenities” we wanted to bring, the boys started grumbling about being bored with the ideas we presented them.

Normally, that would just send me the other direction and make me want to take them on the “boring” trip all that much more – but since it was going to be a “family day” and both boys have had very busy summers, I changed my approach.

Well (I said), if you don’t like that idea, what alternatives can you come up with?  They threw out the obligatory “Xbox”, “Rent a movie”, “go see a movie” – but when reminded that these were not “outside” activities, #2 of 5 threw out the idea of the Minnesota State Fair.

The Mother of Five and I looked at each other and shrugged our shoulders.

We sent the kids downstairs so we could discuss it.  Besides being more of an expense than we were planning, we could not find a reason not to go.  So, at the last minute, we loaded up the kids and headed out!

For me, the draw of the fair is the food, and the freak show people watching.

I have a list of standard food that I get while at the fair.  Pronto pup, foot long hot dog, deep fried cheese curds, alligator, and a milkshake have been regular staples for me in the past.  I had plans to gorge on all my fair favorites, but  something got in the way.

Over the past couple of years, my tastes for food have been changing (and probably for the better).  Fast foods, and fried foods are becoming less appealing to me, and I find my taste for better eating (like veggies) have increased.  I have also intentionally cut back on my portions.  These (along with my almost daily walks) have resulted in a loss of almost forty pounds in the past year!

I’m not fanatical about it – I still planned on enjoying myself at the fair, but in the back of my mind I was thinking it was time to try something different.  This became the “theme” for attending the fair this year.  To try some of the other offerings that we would not normally eat (and maybe find something “a little more healthy”).

Here is this year’s “food journal”…

Our first stop on the culinary delicacy express was the Deep Fried Cheese Curd stand.  Normally, I would have had a photo for you, but I was in such a hurry to start popping those warm little morsels of melty batter fried cheesy goodness that I completely forgot to take a photo.  These are not “new” items, but are such a staple of the State Fair – that it would not be a trip to the Fair without a taste.  We bought two containers for the six of us.

Feeling a little let down about that?  Check out the cheese curd photo from the last time we visited the fair.

Pronto Pup with ketchup



Since our attending the Fair was unplanned and a last minute “whirlwind” endeavor - #3 of 5 neglected to eat anything in the chaos that came between our agreeing to go to the Fair, and actually leaving. 

As such, he was the first to break down and ask for some food of his own.

His choice?  Pronto pup with ketchup







Deep Fried Twinkie on a stick


As we continued meandering our way through the Fair, something caught #2 of 5’s eye.  He was quick to point it out. 

Normally, I would have said NO WAY to something like this, but since it was “try new food at the fair year” – I said what the heck.  Technically, it was his selection, but it came with the caveat that anyone who wanted to, would be allowed a bite.  He agreed.

Five minutes and $3.00 later – he was holding a hot, fresh, batter dipped Deep Fried Twinkie

They batter dip and deep fry a frozen Twinkie.  The frosting in the middle melts and permeates the Twinkie cake.  It’s a hot, sweet, and greasy monstrosity that #2 of 5 said was “totally amazing”.  (That was until 20 minutes later.  He was holding his gut, and said it was not quite as amazing as he originally thought.)



Next stop… Spamville!  Being the fan of Spam that I am (and never having stopped into Spamville before), I felt it was time.  One thing stood out.  The Spam Throne.  I could not leave without having my “fifteen minutes of fame” as the Throne Holder of Spamville!

#4 of 5 felt my reign was too “jovial” – so she took a seat on the throne with much more seriousness. 

Spamville!  The Father of Five atop the Spam Throne  #4 of 5 - contemplating her reign over Spamville

As we exited Spamville, I was so tempted to buy an order of batter dipped, deep fried Spam bites (never had them before) – but alas my system was still trying to work over the Cheese Curds, and the Deep Fried Twinkie…  I’ll add it to the menu for our 2013 visit to the fair. 

Falafal King Gyro


After leaving Spamville, we walked around the Grandstand vendors hawking their wares (mostly “snake oil”).  Kitchen gadgets, utensils, ring cleaner, various political organizations, retail outlets, vacation giveaways… You name it and someone’s selling it at the fair!

Once we had visited the main Grandstand vendors, the “Merchandise Mart”, “Home Improvement” and “Creative Arts” buildings - when people were starting to get hungry for lunch. 

The girls opted for the usual – Pronto Pup.  After feeding the girls, the Mother of Five and I decided on Gyros (actually, we decided on that after seeing the Dino’s Gyro stand earlier, but had trouble finding it – so we stopped at the Falafal King stand instead.)  We both enjoyed regular Gyros.  They were very good, but we both agreed they could have used a little more veggies in the mix.






By this time of day - #3 of 5 who had his Pronto Pup earlier in the day was starting to get a little hungry again.  He asked if he could get a order of french fries.

Throughout all the years I have attended the State Fair, I have never bought an order of fries.  So we wandered around until we came across “The World’s Best Fries” stand. 

Ya know?  They were unusually good!!  (I suspect it’s from the dirty fry oil)







All the animal barns were “closed for cleaning” – so we made our way to (and through) the “International Bazaar”.  It was getting late, and one thing a couple of us still wanted (even though it’s not “new”) milkshakes.  They tend to “settle” the tummy just a bit. 

But, others wanted to keep the “new and different” theme going… 

Another both that I have never stopped at in all my years at the fair is Sweet Martha’s Cookie Jar.


It is quite the iconic food stand at the Minnesota State Fair.  Everyone rants and raves about how good Sweet Martha’s cookies are.  We waited and waited in line…

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…and was finally rewarded with our BUCKET of Sweet Martha’s.

I’m not a big “warm, ooey-gooey” cookie fan.  I like mine hard and crunchy – even a little bit burned… 

I ate two of these “silver dollar sized” cookies – and almost tossed MY cookies.  Two was enough for me to say I’ve had ‘em – and do not need to ever go back down that road again.

Been there, done that.







I noticed that this year was to be Epiphany Diner’s final year after a 46 year run being part of the Minnesota State Fair.

I have only eaten there once.

I thought I’d snap a quick photo in this, Epiphany’s final year.




Much like his father, #3 of 5’s taste for Sweet Martha’s was… well… Less than sweet.  Even before we bought the bucket-o-cookies, he asked if he could still get a milkshake instead. 

Since we were now working our way out of the Fairgrounds and we were going to pass the Dairy Barn on the way out – we said yes.

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And finally – on the bus back to our park-n-ride lot – I spotted something out of the corner of my eye. 

Something I had to get a picture of for my sister.

Sister – this one is for you!  The Gedney Pickle Team Cruiser!!





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