Sunday, February 2, 2014


Our overnight flight was on Alaskan Airlines, and I was quite impressed with the service (more so than my previous flight with Alaskan, from New Orleans to Anchorage in 2011). During our red eye, we were fed several snacks and the flight attendants were very friendly. The plane from Honolulu to Seattle seemed relatively new too, which always helps. After a short layover in Seattle, we were off to Minnesota.
We were actually leaving paradise, but hey, the slogan is nice!
Erik had been scheming with his brother, Max, who was the only person who knew we would be visiting Minnesota. However, Max was not arriving until much later in the evening and we were arriving around noon. We had to figure out how to get out to the small town where Erik's parents live and we had no idea where anyone would be or what they would be doing. Erik had worked on this plan before we left Australia and had arranged to Skype with his Uncle Brian at a specific time. His uncle lives in the Twin Cities and we could manage to get there via public transport. Once we arrived at MSP and collected our bags, we hopped on the light rail and headed toward the closest stop to Brian's house. From there we walked about a mile with our bags in the snow (and cold, though fortunately it was only about 20 degrees F that day!) to Brian's house. We arrived about 15 minutes before the Skype time and we knocked on Uncle Brian's door. Unfortunately, Brian was not answering, so we decided maybe he wasn't home yet. We paced outside the house to keep warm (and one point Brian's neighbor came outside and invited us inside his house to wait!) and kept checking Skype, but Brian was never logged on. At that point, Erik decided to call his Uncle Brian. He answered immediately and apologized for not being able to get on Skype, as he had a new computer and he could not get it to work. Brian was also apologetic that Erik was having to make an expensive phone call from Australia! Erik stated that he could come downstairs to the door to let us in and he would show him how to use Skype on his new computer. Brian was quite confused and obviously very surprised to see us when he came to the door! It was the first of many surprises over the next few days. Brian was kind enough to drive us out to Erik's hometown, but we still had trouble finding Erik's parents. Eventually, we caught Jill (Erik's mom) at home and surprised her (though she thought Erik was actually his brother Ben until she saw me), and later surprised Dan (Erik's, dad, whose reaction was the best!). Every new person that came out to the house was surprised to see us, and it was a fantastic way to start Christmas celebrations.
The house Erik grew up in. Love the way it looks in winter!
This was our first Minnesota Christmas since 2009 (we spent 2010 in Colorado with Erik's family, 2011 in Thailand, and 2012 in Wilson's Prom), and it was the first time we had seen snow since early 2011. We got to participate in cutting down and decorating the Christmas tree and we were able to join in the annual broomball game as well. Our timing worked out so that we got to spend Christmas with both Erik's mom's side of the family and Erik's dad's side of of the family. We even had the chance to see a few of our friends who came out to the broomball game on very late notice that Erik and I were in town, which was awesome! Overall, our big surprise was a success and we really enjoyed seeing our Minnesota family.
Cutting down the Christmas tree!
Some sort of cross country ski race between Max and Erik.
Fierce competition at the broomball game!
On Christmas Day we headed off to the airport again for a flight to Maryland, where we would finally get to meet our new nephew and we would see my side of the family!
Goodbye, MSP! Can you see the CBD in the back of the photo?

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