Well, where are bound now?

That’s right! We’re heading off to an exotic interval in Brainerd, Minnesota!

No, of course not. And you ask: again? But of course. Tennis. That’s the thing. The difficulty here is making it interesting for you, since it's a tale of indolence and dinners. We'll have lots of little videos, not one of which has an ad you scowl at for five seconds, ruining the flow.

We begin, of course, at the airport. First order of business: coffee. Americano from the Dunk is superior to the overroasting chains, so that’s where I get some Joe for me and my gal. It comes to 7.07. For a moment I think the clerk is referring to the plane. Interesting idea for a chain: all the prices are based on aircraft. I’ll take two milliliters of coffee, please. That’ll be C- 1.30.

I sat in the main terminal, sipping my coffee, perfectly content. I had so much open mental real estate I watched the food-court advertisements, studying them as they are not meant to be studied. the dipping of a burrito in cheese is agonizingly slow, and gives you anxiety: JUST DIP IT ALREADY

The video later showed krinkle-cut fries tossed with mad abandon at a hamburger, and I regret to tell you I do not have video of that. It made me think about krinkle-cuts, how often they disappoint.

Off to the gate after coffee. Haven't been in this area for a while. Nice upgrades! A big sign outside the airport says it was voted North America’s favorite, and I’m not sure I’d disagree. I’m sure partisans of other airports would demur. Let them. I mean, every bathroom has different wall art:

"Just what I need from an airport," you say. "Not ease of connection or plentitude of amenities, but nice tile work in the stinkyroom."

Okay FINE but our bathroom art has broken repurposed dishes

The drains in the bathroom:

There’s a new diner-themed eatery, the Hi-Lo. Understated throwback.

But is it accurate?

If someone from 75 years ago saw this, what would they think? Would they wonder why these things had persisted into 2023? This style never did go away, you know. For a while the aluminum-chrome-vinyl jukebox aesthetic was out of style with the people who built restaurants, but I don’t think it was ever out of favor with people. The 50s had their resurgence in the 70s, thanks to Happy Days et al. The 80s loved the look, if only for commercials that wanted that America-is-back! nostalgia. The 90s - well. I called my radio show The Diner because that still meant something to everyone. Add Johnny Rockets for more zeitgeist-infusion.

It never left. I don’t think you could say that about any other style.

There’s also a place that looks Mexican, which is your guarantee of chips and salsa, so you can fill up on that and get a 10 AM beer-buzz and tell yourself it’s okay! Vacation! The great thing about airport bars is the total judgment-free aspect, and I say this as someone who used to have an early toot or three to tamp down the tremulous dread.

Well, we're boarding. Up, up, and away, and all that.












And, Mexico!

Damn but it took a long, long time to get from here to there. The flight was four hours, but didn't seem unduly long - I had a Perry Mason and a nap. We arrived at the appointed time, thinking: get the bags, find the shuttle, the usual bumpy ride into the jungle, and it all begins!

But, Mexico.

Because I am devoted this time to granular documentary to give you the full experience, here's a sped-up version of arrival.

Passport control was easy enough - a long line that moved at a good clip, a bored officer stamping our documents, then off to the baggage area. It took a long time to get the bags. A very long time. Several flights were using this carousel, so you had an absolute mass of refugees thronging the belt in increasing stages of irritation. This not being my first time at the rodeo, knowing there is naught you can do but recalibrate your expectations downward, I just waited with patience like a good seasoned traveller, until I snapped. Well, I made inquiries. Five minutes, coming next. It was 15 minutes.

Outside into the throng: all the guys with cards and signs trying to hoover up some taxi business, the various transportation companies looking for their customers, the absolute chaos of it all. Found our company, produced the documents, and was told to wait: the van was on the way. Traffic around the airport is a mess, due to an ongoing road construction project, a reminder of what you face on the other end - but who thinks of that now? I waited with patience, until I had to ask: so . . . it’s coming, no?

“Five minutes.”

Ten minutes later - an hour and twenty minutes since we landed - we were inside the van and heading into the city at a creeping pace. The view was familiar and it wasn’t.

Or, to be more specific, this. (Up for two days, after which I'm taking it down lest someone complain about the music, which is taken from a game soundtrack.) NOTE: Full Screen, if you want it.

And then . . . ahhh.

Wintry Minnesota is already a wispy memory, dissolving in the warm evening breeze.

Different building, this time - we’re at the absolute end of the property it seems. Into the Village for dinner at the Indian restaurant, which was fantastic. Our experience with food has gone from risible to hit-and-miss to excellent; hope that holds.

Then to Aqua, the bar on the canal. When the cabaret was over lots of people showed up and there was a silent rave. Headphones, three color-coded channels. No one was dancing, so we went out and jump-started the party with some steps, and then it seemed to catch fire. Interesting to see all the people in the Aqua bar with headphones, having conversations; don’t know how that was possible.

An interesting form of contagion: everyone would be mostly green, but then some would change channels to red, and everyone else would shift to red to see what was on that channel. The entire party was held in silence.

Then to bed, with the rigors of the next day awaiting.

By "rigors" I mean the hangry wait in the omelette line.


Now two ways to chip in!

Tomorrow: the absolute predictable nature of everything.





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