North to Minnesota

North to Minnesota
Round Rock, TX

Round Rock, TX

I usually try to travel a little different route each spring when I come home from Texas to Oregon, but this year turned out to be really different! My mom and dad just happened to be moving from their apartment into assisted living, and they really needed help moving, so the first leg of my journey was north up I-35 to their home in Minneapolis.

Nowadays in planning my road trips I seem to be torn between wanting to get somewhere in a hurry, and wanting to see as much as I can along the way (don’t know how many more years I’ll be able to keep up this crazy lifestyle!). This trip started Monday with lunch in my favorite San Antonio restaurant (Pappadeaux Seafood) with old friends Karen and Mark. Skirting the wild weather (thunderstorms, floods, hailstones!), I stopped for the night in Round Rock, TX just north of Austin.

I always like to include at least one baseball game in a spring road trip, and the lovely Dell Diamond seemed like a great spot. The weather played a few tricks on us, so we only got half an inning of baseball before they declared the playing surface unsafe, but they do have great sunsets!

Texas Monthly magazine recently published a “bucket list” of places you should see in Texas, so Tuesday I checked off another one, The Waco Mammoth National Monument. A couple of teenagers found a huge femur bone in the creekbed here decades ago, and subsequent excavations have found more than 20 skeletons of the Columbian Mammoth. These are much bigger than wooly mammoths and browsed the tall grass of central Texas back in the end of the last Ice Age.

The bone found in the creekbed turned out to be from a “nursery herd,” all females and juveniles, who were apparently all killed at once by a flood. Floods must have been pretty common here, as the bones inside the dig shelter are found at different levels, meaning they were probably killed by separate flooding events. The locals are happy to have received National Monument designation recently, resulting in federal money being available, and there are plans to build their own research lab here, so they don’t have to send the bones out for analysis. The mural shows the actual size of a Columbian Mammoth (14 ft. at the shoulders).

After Waco I stopped in Fort Worth and visited the Amon Carter, one of many world class museums here. My favorite thing about this one was all the natural light.

For lunch I stopped at an In n Out Burger, we only have one in Southern Oregon–I’ve read that they have a reputation not only for fresh food but for treating their employees well. I talked to the woman behind the counter, and she says it’s a great place to work. She gestured toward the Wendy’s next door and said all the people who worked there looked so unhappy!

Only one more touristy stop, in Emporia, KS. You may have heard of the Emporia Gazette, made famous by William Allen White, journalist, politician, and a leader of the Progressive movement in the early 20th century. White’s home, known as Red Rocks, is open to the public for tours.

Arriving in the Twin Cities, I got to visit mom in Transition Care, attend my sister-in-law Amy’s birthday party, and hear the news of my sister Sara’s engagement. Here are Mark and Sara at Trivia Night at Green Mill Pizza in St. Paul. Most of the rest of my photos from Minneapolis are of mom and dad’s desk drawers and kitchen cabinets, so we could put everything away in their new place and they’d have some hope of finding it!

The last photo is from the 70th birthday party my brothers and sisters threw for me. I feel like I accomplished a lot in the brief time I was there, but it’s nothing compared to what my brothers and sisters have been dealing with for months! They are mostly still working full time and dealing with their own kids on top of helping their parents. They never cease to amaze me. Sunday before I left I got to hear the 40th anniversary concert, and debut of the new conductor, of the Mississippi Valley Orchestra (starring my sister Nancy on flute!).


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