I enjoyed a lot of pool time with my nephew and niece. Joshua is at left and Allison is on the right.
I enjoyed a lot of pool time with my nephew and niece. Joshua is at left and Allison is on the right.
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We didn't go far and we didn't go for very long, but a few days away on a brief vacation to Winona surely will be one of the highlights of my summer.

My niece, Allison, was participating in a day camp for students interested in future careers in the medical field and my sister-in-law needed to accompany her and stay in a hotel in Winona as the commute from Mankato would have been a bit prohibitive. So, I talked to Mom and we decided to join them, along with my nephew Joshua, for a few days of fun and relaxation.

We booked a suite in the Holiday Inn Express, which was cheaper than two rooms and allowed us to spend our time in the hotel together. There was a sitting area with a sleeper sofa and a bedroom with two queen-sized beds.

I took over the table in the room with my computer so I could stay somewhat connected to work. I would not have worried too much except I was gone over the layout day where we produce the News-Record, which I am editor of as well. I don't miss many Tuesdays - maybe three or four in my 19 years - so I get a bit anxious when I am away, even though I know my coworkers are capable. I had prepared as much as I could, but still wanted to be reachable in case something was missing or I had forgotten to copy a photo or something.

I need not have worried and while I was relaxing in a massage chair having my toes painted, my coworkers were diligently working and produced an attractive and quality newspaper without me. Perhaps that is a good lesson for me to learn and I won't be so hesitant to be gone on future Tuesdays.

As for my vacation itinerary, we had all agreed that some relaxation time was really all we wanted to plan for. We enjoyed time in the pool with the kids, relaxed in our room with good books and shopped a bit in Winona stores.

My niece, Katelyn, now a nurse in Eau Claire, Wis., drove down to join us for a night and we dined at one of her and my favorite restaurants in Winona - Mangos - which serves wonderful Mexican food.

Each night, we enjoyed listening to what Allison had learned during her sessions at her day camp and we, in turn, told her how we had occupied our days. On the night Katelyn was there, we were entertained by the two of them, still dressed in their scrubs, practicing procedures on each other! Katelyn, as the older sister to Allison and Joshua, recruited them to give her a foot rub as she had joined us immediately after getting off work where she had experienced a long, frustrating shift and needed a bit of pampering herself.

On Wednesday of our little getaway, we spent some time at a couple of pet adoption facilities looking at cats to bring into my home.

About a month ago I had to put my beloved feline, Beast, to sleep as he was becoming too weak to walk. It was a very hard time and I still miss him very much, but without him, my house is much too quiet and I know that adopting another cat, or two, will bring some joy back into my life.

I plan to write more about Beast and the day I lost him in a future column, but today is not the right time for that.

While visiting the Winona Area Humane Society, I fell in love with a small black cat after he quickly crawled up into my lap and made himself comfortable. I had thought I would not get another black cat like Beast, but I have to admit, I am continually drawn to them at each shelter I have visited. I have not yet brought any new cats home, but it will be soon.

On Thursday, Annette, Joshua, Mom and I went to the movie "Monster University" and laughed when the dorm room where the two monsters lived was numbered 319, the same number as our hotel room. We all noticed it at the same time and laughed out loud in surprise.

Our little getaway was just what I needed after a very busy spring, covering school events and getting ready for several newspaper promotions in addition to our normal day-to-day news coverage. I got some needed sleep, some pretty toenails and some great memories with members of my family. It truly was a very special time and I hope to be able to get away again sometime soon. Now that I know I won't be missed on layout day, it will probably be much easier!