My final day in Clear Lake, I decided to live it up a little and instead of having a waffle, I had a bagel and cream cheese for breakfast. And a mini muffin of banana-like flavor. And 2% milk.
Packed all my stuff, checked out of the hotel and drove to the site by about 9. This time the woman at the front desk told me to just go back there thru the employees' entrance, no need to page the manager to come get me.
As I said, nice people.
Logged in and discovered that none of the work was done by my engineers at the home office after I'd gone. The time zone diff is 2 hours, and since they work till 6 or 7 at home, this gave them 3-4 hours to get things done. I was not pleased.
I had a lot to do, since they hadn't done it. The morning flew by, and lunchtime took me by surprise. The manager took me to the only Mexican place, it's called Cancun, and is out on the highway. Big place, huge number of menu choices. I had the Cancun Chicken, which was delicious. Grilled pressed chicken breast spiced and salted, and covered in melted white American cheese. On refried beans, rice and shredded lettuce.
By this time it is obvious to both of us that the system is not going to be up before I leave, and my whole visit was a waste. Except for the part about meeting the people there. I couldn't train anyone because we were all too busy trying to make the system work, and I needed a working system to train them on.
I wouldn't mind coming back after it's running. Maybe in August when David Allen Coe plays the Surf Ballroom.
After lunch it was just a series of phone calls from the network guy and the engineer at my company, and a lot of on-hold time and waiting. I was totally useless. I could have volunteered to stay the weekend and continue Monday, but I didn't.
Just before 5, the customer's production network started melting down, nothing related to my project, so all resources went to that. At 5 I packed up, shook hands, said goodbye and that I wished tings had been different.
Got into the PT Cruiser and headed for Minneapolis.
It rained most of the way, mostly pretty hard. The joke in Seattle is you know it's really raining when we take the wipers off "intermittent". Which I did several times. The Yahoo Map directions were perfect, and I arrived at the Mall of America Day's Inn about 2 hours later. Not bad for 130 miles in the rain, much of it in 1-lane slowdowns (the southbound freeway was being paved). I think I got a good shot of the St. Olaf's exit sign, though it's hard to tell at 75 mph in the rain through the wipers.
When I got to the room I discovered I had been gypped. The high speed internet in every room turned out to be a web TV, at $10 a day. No POP email, and probably no access to my webmail either since it's on a secure port. There's a modem port on the phone, but I'm not using that at the long distance prices they want. So this is being uploaded on my cell phone modem connection, at 230 kbps. I typed it beforehand in a text file.
But I digress.
The Mall is right across the street. It's about a 5-minute walk to the entrance. So that's where I went in search of dinner. First I walked around a bit. There's a Lego store downstairs in Snoopy Camp amusement park, and I wanted to see what they were charging for the programmable robot kit. It's about $200 in eBay. It was $199.95. Boo hiss.
Found a directory, and spotted a place which sounded like what I was looking for. It was on the 4th floor, all the way on the other side of the mall. It took 20 minutes to get there. And it was so no longer in business the name wasn't visible. Next door was Hooter's, which was tempting, but I wanted someplace where I could read, and was not in the mood for greasy chicken wings, no matter how appetizing the personnel.
So I looked again, and found a listing Stampede Steak House, a few feet from Lego. Another 15 minutes to get down there, and they had prime rib on the menu. whoopee!
They took my order quickly, and as I was waiting, the curtain opened on what I had thought was a banquet room, revealing a stage. A woman with a headset mike says to the kids at the tables in front of her that Charlie Brown and the Peanuts Gang were going to sing some of their favorite songs. Okay, I can dig that. My first starring role in a musical was You're A Good Man, Charlie Brown so I know all the songs.
Lucy walks onstage. Lucy is an 8-foot-tall, Disney-quality costume with a live person inside. The person's eyes are at neck level, the head alone is 2 feet tall. They do some pre-recorded banter
(the woman with the headset is live, Lucy is either pre-recorded or piped in from a booth somewhere nearby). Lucy bursts into song and dance. Well, actually Lucy just burst into dance, the song was Dolly Parton singing Thank God I'm A Country Girl. This is not one of the numbers from Charlie Brown. And Lucy is not a country girl, she's a brat from the suburbs. But I forgot - this is Minnesota. Then Charlie joins the scene. He complains about how nobody seems to notice him, especially not the little red-haired girl. His song is Cellophane Man from Chicago. Good grief. Other tunes they did were One from A Chorus Line, You're The One That I Want from Grease and some total yee-haw patter song which I never heard before, and hope to never hear again, as the finale. What a waste. The kids didn't look any more impressed than I was.
The prime rib arrived during the first number, and it was excellent. I had their "Chocolate Beyond Reason" dessert, which was fairly mild, oreo crumb crust, chocolate fudge cake on top of that, mousse on top of that and whipped cream to top it off.
To make up for the big meal I walked around the mall once more, then walked back to the hotel.
A couple of things about the people in the mall. Many many very tall people. Even the short people were tall. Many very wide people. I felt like a dwarf much of the time. And being a mall and Friday night, lots of hot chicks. And lots more who just think they are.
The plan for tomorrow is if it's sunny, try to get on a river cruise. If it's not, find a greyline tour or something. I need to get the car back by 3:30 to make my flight.