A Child's Quote, Age 3

(Said on his third birthday.)

"I not getting dressed today. So, it not a new day and not my birthday."

A Child's Quote, Age 12

"I just did the dishes and then had a snack. I decided to leave the new dirty dishes for you."

The Best Short Story

"It's a lot worser than you think." Said the boy who reluctantly got his mother, after unscrewing the pool filter hose from the pool, and realizing no amount of towels would stop the rushing water.

Getting Ready for the 2014 MN State Fair

Let’s talk about the MN State Fair. 

This year’s Fair dates are August 21st through September 1st (Labor Day).

Here are the basics to this year’s fair:

The gate hours are 6 am to midnight every day, with the exception of Labor Day. Everything closes at 10 pm on September 1st. The Food Building is open 8 am – 10 pm. The Great Sing Along goes on from 9 am to 9 pm. Little Farm Hands will be open from 8 am – 7pm. Most of the exhibit buildings follow a 9 am – 9 pm schedule. The Pet Center and Senior Center open an hour earlier at 8 am.


Tickets/Admission

There have been a few price changes, some better than others. A basic ticket will cost you $13 if you are 13 – 64, $11 if you are 5 – 13 or 65+, and free for all those under 5. Fair Lot Parking is $13. Park and Ride is Free.
There is a trick for saving money, but it involves a little math and prep work. You can buy pre-fair tickets for only $10. They are good parking and general admission (any age). That will save you up to $3 on most days. If you check the MN State Fair website you will find discount days. On August 21st, 25th, 27th, and September 1st kids tickets are only $8. If you are going with children on one of those days, you save the most by pre-purchasing the adult and senior tickets and waiting to buy the kids tickets at the gate. For seniors the 65+ crowd there are a few $8 days as well. They are August 25th, 27th, and 28th. Again plan ahead and save even more by buying your senior tickets at the gate on those days. August 28th is military appreciation day. Tickets for ages 5 – 65+ are only $8 with documentation of service.

The fair has a Kidway (open 9 am – 10:30 pm) for the younger crowd and a Midway (open 10 am – midnight) for everyone. The Kidway is child friendly and a few tickets less per ride than the Midway. The Midway has both rides (for the taller crowd) and carnival games (for everyone). It will cost you 4 – 6 tickets per ride or game. You can pre-purchase a sheet of 25 tickets for $15 (0.60 cents each). At the fair 1 ticket will cost you $1, 30 for $25(0.83 cents each), or 54 for $40(0.74 cents each). Now for extra savings, on August 25th, 27th, and September 1st all rides are discounted by one ticket. This typically gets you one extra ride or game for each sheet of 25 tickets.

The late item on the pre-purchase list is the Blue Ribbon Book. At the fair they sell for $5. The pre-purchase price is only $4. After looking at the book this year, I've noticed a few of my favorite coupons are missing. There are still numerous deals and worth the $4 or $5 for the book. We buy 3 each year. For eight people 3 seems to be the right number. There are a lot of buy one get one free offers and for 2 or 3 people one book would be fine. My suggestion would be check out the deals on the MN Sate Fair site and see if there is anything you would need several of. For us it is the French Crepe and Henna Coupons. We use all three for both and instantly saved almost $25. Well worth the $12 for  the three coupon books.

What’s New

This is where I wish I had access to preview all of the new and different at the fair. Like most of you to find my information, I needed to do a little research.

There are a few BIG changes this year worth mentioning. The all involve the removal of Heritage Square. Yes, the beloved square is no more. It has been replaced, or upgraded to West End Market and a new bus terminal. I am excited to see the new bus terminal. I am curious to see how it changes the West and East Como parking lots. The West End Market will have a whole new feel. I’m hoping to see some of the old Heritage Square vendors along with the new ones. From photos it looks to have several seating, bathroom, and shade options, along with an entertainment area. There is a new building, the History and Heritage Center (open from 9 am – 9 pm). I’m assuming this is the new home of the items once housed in the trains. I’ll have an update soon after opening day. The MN News Paper Museum has been “saved”. You will find it next to the main entrance of the 4-H Building. I’m trying to save my opinion on this one until after I see it in person. Unfortunately, from the location given, I’m not too optimistic.

I am most excited to report the State Fair Grounds map has been updated, and it is now available online. I like it! It’s a little bit more modern and fun, but still very “State Fair” like.

Vegas Part Fourteen

In the end we walked over 30 miles and slept maybe 10 hours. We managed a two days on the strip and two days off. We had tons of fun and added a few items to our must do again list.

Still, the very best part of my yearly childless vacation was arriving back home. It's just enough crazy, fun, grown up time to get me though the rest of the year. For the first day back the kids don't fight. They are excited to see me. They even talk about their days and what they did.

Then, about twenty-four hours later everything goes back to normal. I missed you turns into why didn't you take me. Yes mama, turns into I can't hear you. Grandma leaves, kids cry, I become the family taxi, doctor, and chef once again.


Maybe next year I will stay one extra day. We all know I won't.

Vegas Part Thirteen

This year I went a little coupon crazy. I purchased four Groupons, two for shows and two for food/drinks. The show Groupons that were 50% off seemed to be a good deal. The others two, not so much. FYI on shows. If you purchase standard seating and are in the front of the line, they will seat you in available VIP seating. Also equal discounts to the Groupons can be found on the strip if you take the time to look.

We did save some money on the Groupon for drinks only but, it was not what the deal suggested it was. Walking the strip you could tell which other couples purchased the same groupon. It became a game for us. I called it look who else has the ugly smaller than advertised ugly souvenir drink cup that is going to end up in the garbage before the end of the day.

The last Groupon was for food and drinks at a 40% discount. After arriving it was clear there was no discount, just an over inflated price list on the Groupon site.


My tip for using Groupons in an unfamiliar city is stay away. 

Vegas Part Twelve

True Story: On night number three at 9 pm Vegas time and 11 pm home time my phone rang. It was my mother. She was watching my kids. She yelled three sentences into the phone. I could make out one of them it was "call your kids since they don't listen to me." Then her final words CLICK! Yup, she hung up. I did call my kids. One answered, she was in bed almost sleeping. I then text my sister to see if she knew what was up. The next day we called her, my mom, nine times and she never once answered the phone. I spent the rest of my vacation nervous about going home, because I just knew my mom was upset. Yes, after forty years I am still scared of my mom. She is gifted that way. I arrive home and she is all happy and calm "oh I left my phone in the car", "the kids were all so good", "we had so much fun"... Ahhh!!! This kind of thing does not help with my anxiety. 

Vegas Part Eleven


What would a vacation story be without a few photos? Don't ask, just look.











Vegas Part Ten


One thing I have never done before this trip was see a show. Yes, it's true years of visits and not a single show. Everything changed this visit. We went to two shows.

 Don't get too excited. After our car broke down last month a big show was no longer in the budget. With the help of groupon for $60 total we ended up at two different comedy shows, Sin City Comedy and Burlesque and Laugh Factory. Both were ok.

There really was no burlesque at the Sin City show. There was a girl who showed us her butt for fifteen seconds and another who did a nice 'job', but one dancer does not make burlesque. The comedy was ok, unfortunately each comic and the host used part of their routine to remind us to purchase drinks and tip the servers.

 The Laugh factory was fun. I enjoyed the first comic better than the featured one. The host was also quite funny and helped everything along. The plus with the Laugh Factory, they didn't have a minimum beverage purchase requirement.

 For full disclosure, last year we did see Def Leopards Hysteria at the Hard Rock, and technically, that would have been my first show. I prefer to call it a concert though, making this year my first year of shows.

Vegas Part Nine

I can not tell a lie. Some of the fun things we do are not found by accident. My amazing cousin and NV resident gives me great tips on places to visit outside of the everyday strip stuff.

This year we were lucky enough to meet up in person and enjoy an early dinner at Applebee's. Surprise, the menu was the same as at home, but the happy hour specials were a lot better.

Vegas Part Eight

New to our adventure and the area were the Linq and container park. I can not lie, we lucked out with this years new locations.

The Linq is on the strip, but really off the strip. Ok, more of a side strip to the strip. It was maybe 1/2 filled with shops and the high roller was missed by one day, but I fell in love with the Linq. It's just enough different and classy to attract me and keep me off the strip for the night. 

Container Park is another new and great concept. It is artsy and modern. I enjoyed the variety of shops and food options.

Vegas Part Seven


Good Old Downtown Vegas is always worth a visit. The nightlife is fun and Viva Vision is interesting. The people watching, a must.

The biggest change I noticed this year was the zip line. A few years ago I was talked into doing the zip line. It was fun and not to overbearing. This year the new zip line is up and almost running. It's the most noticeable change. I didn't mind the giant slot machine at the beginning of the attraction that enclosed Fremont street. It was the other two giant structures used in the middle and end of the attraction I thought were unattractive and cumbersome. The view down (or up) Fremont street is now gone. It's a sad change to a once open view.

For the most part the rest of downtown is the same. We still found the golden nugget and they still give  beaded necklaces away outside the casinos. Every time I go back I find it a little bit more modern and just a tiny bit less, well downtown like. We stopped by just in time to say goodbye to the Elvis display at Binions.

Vegas Part Six


If we are not eatting or drinking, we are looking at the ever-evolving landscape. What's new, what's missing, what is that thing they started over there and never finished.

Over the years I've enjoyed the free attractions. The animatronics at Caesars is fun. A stop at the bilagio  conservatory and fountains is a must. Walking through the hotels and malls can make for an entertaining afternoon.

I've also done my share of paid attractions. The Eiffel Tower Experience, gondola rides, Madam T’s, Shark Reef, and The Dolphin and Lion Habitat.

This years strip adventure was a little of everything. The best part was cashing in my My Vegas Rewards. We ended up with two free buffets and two free tickets the the Secret Garden and Habitat. While there we met Siegfried and he told us a funny story about a frisky male tiger. What a great morning.

I walked through to the back of Harrah's and entered into the Tropicana for the first time. Plus, we took photos of the Hershey's and TI construction. Now when we go back we'll have before, during, and after shots.

For the less sophisticated crowd, my husband had the opportunity to grab bronze butts and ceramic boobs. I was the lucky one who took the photos.

For the youthful crowd, we drank. A pitcher of Mimosas at Fat Burger, $2 well drinks at the Rivera, BOGO $1 beers at Casino Royal, and FREE beer at Hooters.

Vegas Part Five


While on the strip we walk. We walk and we walk. We also eat. 75% of our vacation budget goes to food.

Warning strip restaurants come with inflated strip prices. There is a point when all you can afford is McDonald's. Before you reach it may I suggest just once a visit to the Sugar Factory at the Paris hotel, Minus 5, Wolfgang Puck at MGM, the Indian Palace at the Rio and my favorite for food and tequila El Segundo Sol.  

This year we tried a few new places Fat Burger, Chart House, Spicy Pickle,  and Craves (buffet). I'm ok not going back to any of these. They weren't bad, just not amazing.

There is one addition to my best of the best list, 702. This place had it all friendly service, fair prices, amazing atmosphere, and great food.

Vegas Part Four


Over the years we have learned an important lesson about travel, it costs the same to rent a car as it does to shuttle, bus and taxi to and from. Renting a car also allows us the opportunity to enjoy a few of the non strip attractions.

  • Hover Dam
  • Grand Canyon
  • Valley of Fire
  • Red Rock Valley
  • Spring Preserves
  • Atomic Testing Museum
  • The Zoo (now closed and rightfully so)
  • Ethel Ms Botanical Garden

The list goes on and on.
This year our off strip journey included a few new spots and a few repeat visits.

A trip to Las Vegas is not complete until after a trip to Ethel M's. I need my chocolate fix and the gardens are nice too.

The Pink Box is a 20 minute drive from the strip and worth every mile. With less than $13 and you have a box of gourmet donuts.

The Las Vegas Distillery is a must see. The tour was fun. The samples were great. I can't wait to come back again to see how they've grown.

AND Wetlands. Who knew? This is another great place to hike. It's more level and easier than a few of the other hiking options. They also have a fun little family friendly visitors center.

Vegas Part Three


Our hotel of choice is the Quad, formally known as Imperial Palace. Why? We'll I can assure you it's not for the quality of the rooms. They are sparse, old, and in need of a redo. Never and I repeat, never get a smoking room.

The Quad is all about location and price. Last year our  room was $15 a night with no resort fee. When paying $15 for a room I lower my expectations, pack a box of disinfectant wipes and enjoy.

Price alone would not bring me to this hotel. My number one love is the location, Center Strip, right by the street. This year I had an uneasy feeling as I made my reservation, $33 a night plus a $20 a night resort fee. My stomach turned. I contemplated staying downtown. I signed up for the $15 a night room upgrade and prayed we would get it, we did not. If you're adding it up a blah room is $53 a night plus taxes. I couldn't do any better in the same area, so I went for it.

We arrived at 10 am and opted for the early check in which was an extra $28. Our room was what I expected. The elevators were not. They were extra slow and one of them was down. They had three towers under construction and the staff would get excited and childlike when they  described what the new rooms will look like. One told me the rooms would have coffee pots. Another talked about the amazing decor. I also heard rumors about flat screens, internet, and glamour. It was enough to have me thinking that's where we will be next year, even with a rate hike. Back to this years room, two big changes occurred since our last visit. First they locked the balconies. Something about furniture being tossed out a window, injuring people below. Second, my cell phone worked. It worked in the casino. It worked in the halls. It worked in the elevators. It even worked in my room, all over the room. If you have never stayed at the Quad (Imperial Palace) you might not understand my joy and surprise. Never before in any if my stays have I ever has cell service in the Quad, never. It's a black hole for cell phones, or should I say was.

Vegas Part Two


In 2012 I had my first, first class flight. I'm now a huge fan and we did it (first class) again in 2013.

I'm all for a direct flight and I love the smaller airlines. We are Sun Country fans. They have a great rewards program and we always are met with friendly service.

This years flight was interesting. We opted for first class there and standard class home. I really do love first class. We went through the short line at check in, the short line at security, boarded early and had a  drink while everyone else was boarding. The seats are big, there is room to move, wiggle, and stretch. Our breakfast was not bad, but not what I would typically eat. There was a mushroom omelet, sausage, a dinner roll and a half filled bowl of fruit. About half way through the flight we seem to have "lost" our flight attendant. She became busy chatting with other attendants. This was my least favorite first class flight. It took me 45 minutes to get my beverage refilled and there was no warm wash cloth at the end to clean up with. I've been spoiled in past flights and now seem to like the attentiveness an extra $250 should get you. I didn't feel it this flight.

The way home we had a late night flight and flew standard class. As an observation, the seats at the LAS airport are 100 times more comfortable than the seats at MSP. Boarding the plain is not an issue for us, we check our luggage and pre select our seats. My only issue was how small the seats in standard class are. My butt went numb and my legs cramped up. Half of my arm was in my husbands seat and he was up against the window. The flight attendants were awesome and very friendly. There was no overhead space drama. Mostly, I noticed they offered full cans of pop vs small cups. Then they asked if anyone needed refills.

Now I'm at a loss for what we will do next time. Do I go for leg room up front or pleasant fight attendants in the back?

Vegas Part One


In 2006 Andrew took me on my first childless vacation. Our plane landed in Las Vegas. A year later in April of 2007 we journeyed back that way with our family and married in the Valley of Fire. A few years later we found ourself in another childless vacation, destination Las Vegas. In 2012 we took the kids back. Now it's a yearly tradition. We've gone childless in 2012, 2013 and now again in 2014.

According to our airport parking receipt we were gone for three days and twenty hours. Amazingly, I found a way to turn almost fours days of vacation into fourteen days of Vegas posts, enjoy.