November Road Trip: Neenah and Red Wing

Friday, November 4 through Monday, November 7, 2022
Posted here Saturday, December 3, 2022

For photos of the trip, see November Road Trip in Oo’s Picture Place.

Friday, November 4, 2022

Wendi and I (Charlie) went on our first substantial road trip in five years, since the solar eclipse in 2017 (not counting brief trips to Green Bay for a wedding in 2017 and a memorial in 2021).

The first stop was Bridgewood Resort in Neenah, Wisconsin, for the conference on Saturday. We left home at 3:50, stopped briefly in Rosendale, then arrived in Neenah at 6:45. We had dinner from McDonald’s; the rest of that evening was uneventful.

Saturday, November 5, 2022

The HDSA (Huntington’s Disease Society of America) Wisconsin Chapter Conference ran from 9 am to 3 pm. The first session ran from 9 am until noon and included breakfast. Someone goofed, so the hotel hadn’t provided any pastries, but there was coffee and fruit; the pastries arrived around 9:30, and they called a break then so people could eat. ~ During the session, basic info on Huntington’s was covered as well as updates on new and continuing research; some of the latter got pretty deep.

Normally this conference would run until 4 pm, but they cut it short this time due to a wedding which was to be held in the same room. Balloons and streamers decorated the room and the two adjacent smaller rooms, partially obscuring the projection screen for most of us.

Lunch was at noon (no charge to us). There were hot sandwiches with turkey and beef; cole slaw, pasta salad, potato salad, fruit, pickles, and cookies and cakes for dessert.

After lunch were two hour-long “breakout sessions,” where you could choose one or the other. At 1 pm, Wendi attended “HD 101” with Dr. Laura Buyan-Dent, who is her regular HD doctor and heads the movement disorder clinic at UW. I attended a session on caregivers; the lady who led this session covered a hands-on approach, using gait belts and other assistive equipment. ~ We didn’t stay for the second session but decided to hit the road for the long trip to Minnesota.

We headed out at 2:20, got gas at a nearby Citgo station, then drove straight through to Red Wing, Minnesota without stopping, arriving at Quality Inn and Suites at 6:59 pm. They put us in room 103, right near the main desk and lobby; when I set up the reservation, this was the best they could do. Madu, the guy at the desk (of Indian heritage), explained that there was an event at a nearby casino (we later learned that it was a Three Doors Down concert) that brought in people from all over, and the place had quickly filled up, so there were no handicap rooms available. Furthermore, there was a staircase but no elevator, so we would need to stay on the main floor.

There was a Perkins restaurant next door but nothing else very close by. I walked in and ordered takeout from them, then unloaded our stuff using a rolling cart and brought it into the room. Then I picked up the meal. Wendi had chicken strips, fruit (cantaloupe and grapes; she said it was mostly grapes), and crispy Tater Tots. I had the Double Catch consisting of two crispy breaded cod fillets, four jumbo fried shrimp, and fries plus tartar and cocktail sauces (8:22 pm). Wendi had a mild allergic reaction because they undoubtedly fried the chicken and shrimp in the same oil; I gave her an allergy pill which helped.

Later, I went to Kwik Trip (about a mile away) and bought some microwave popcorn, fried chicken (cold), and a carrot cake bar and a pumpkin bar (10:25 pm). We had the popcorn tonight; the microwave in the hotel room was low wattage and didn’t pop all of the popcorn, but what did pop tasted good. ~ We got to bed sometime around midnight.

Sunday, November 6, 2022

Up 7:25 am; Daylight Saving Time ended overnight, so this wasn’t too early. ~ Continental breakfast: blueberry muffins, scrambled eggs (apparently instant but okay), sausage, coffee.

Joe, Elizabeth, and Asha came to our hotel room around 12:30 pm. We visited awhile; they gave us some gifts. Wendi got a pink-and-white cloth wig with a Green Bay Packer logo on it; it was weird but cute. I got the 9th and 10th seasons of Doctor Who on DVD, starring Peter Capaldi. ~ Wendi also received a Pop Football vinyl figurine of Vince Lombardi, and a small teddy bear with the words “Best Nana Ever.”

Joe told me that he has been promoted at his job with Spectrum; he is no longer just a rep but is now considered a “lead” which is a small step below supervisor. He is looking to advance to supervisor, perhaps within the next year. I told Joe that I was immensely proud of him.

Elizabeth has been homeschooling Asha; she was also homeschooling two other children but is no longer doing so. In addition, she heads the MOPS group, which is a support group for young mothers. Wendi told her that she was very proud of her.

Joe and Elizabeth treated us to lunch at Yuan’s Buffet (pronounced “wahn’s…”) in Hastings, Minnesota, 19 miles to the north. Asha rode with us, in the back seat in her child seat. The food was magnificent; there was a Hibachi grill, and I got a small plate of food there that was also very good. A two-scoop serving of ice cream was included with the meal; Joe and I both had the green tea ice cream which was amazing! Wendi couldn’t eat all of her chocolate; I finished it, and it was rich but delicious as well.

While Asha was getting into her child seat to ride to the restaurant, Wendi was “cutting up” and saying some silly things. “You’re sillier than me!” Asha remarked, and we all laughed.

After lunch, we met at Pure Fish Works, a pet fish store up the road from the buffet, so Joe and Elizabeth could buy snails for their turtle tank. The guy who helped them (probably the owner) was named Shawn. He was a taller, chubby, middle-aged man who told us that he was from DePere, Wisconsin, just outside of Green Bay (Wendi had told him that she grew up in Green Bay) and had attended St. Norbert College. He had been a pastor for 17 years and quit “to do this ministry,” he said.

Still with Asha in tow, we stopped at M & H gas station, just south of the buffet, to buy gas and two bottles of Ice Mountain water (5:22 pm). Gas was $3.259/gallon here, 27 cents cheaper than in Red Wing! ~ Joe stopped at their home to drop off the snails. Elizabeth was tired, so she stayed home; Joe came back and visited with us and Asha until 8:08. ~ We gave them three boxes of stuff, mostly magazines and some Happy Meal toys for Asha, who went home with her daddy.

For the most part, Asha didn’t talk much, as she is very shy around other people. Joe told us the next day that on the way home, she complained that she wished she weren’t so shy. “I really wanted to talk but just couldn’t. I really love Nana and Papa so much!”

I drove to Kwik Trip for macaroni-and-cheese; also bought some maple iced Persian rolls (8:36 pm). ~ We ate some of the chicken tonight along with the macaroni-and-cheese. ~ Quiet late evening; went to bed at 11:46 pm.

Monday, November 7, 2022

Up 8:09 am. ~ Continental breakfast: scrambled eggs, sausage links, coffee... we each ate one of the maple iced Persians from Kwik Trip, as the breakfast didn’t include pastries. ~ Packed up, turned in the room key at 10:59. ~ Madu said it was no problem for us to wait in the lobby for Joe, so we did.

Joe and Asha came at 12:30 pm; Elizabeth was worn out from yesterday, and the time change had messed with her as well. She stayed home but wished she could have seen us again. Joe said they would have to find a way to make it so Wendi could get into their house for a future visit, if they can.

Colvill Park, 2.8 miles east from Quality Inn, includes an extensive playground called Discovery Garden. It’s like the Camden playground at Janesville’s Palmer Park, only bigger and better. We went there; two moms from the MOPS group also showed up there, and Asha played with the other children. She also rode with Nana (Wendi) on her electric wheelchair up and down the paths inside the playground. Joe chatted with us (mostly with me) about various things; it was a good time, though the weather was chilly (lower 40s but not much wind).

After that, we went to Culver’s for lunch. This time we paid for the meal; Joe, I, and Asha ate together, and then we got a take-out burger with gluten-free bun for Elizabeth, to go (2:21/3:20 pm). ~ Asha rode with us both to the park and to lunch, so Joe had to remove the child seat before we left. We talked some more, said our goodbyes and exchanged hugs.

We left at 3:48 pm and drove straight through to our home in Janesville, arriving at 8:18. I texted Joe as soon as we arrived, to let him know we made it home safely.