The kids spent a weekend at their Dad’s in International Falls this past weekend so Chris and I?decided that since the mice were away, the cats would play.


The kids spent a weekend at their Dad’s in International Falls this past weekend so Chris and I?decided that since the mice were away, the cats would play.

Our half-way point for exchanging the kids is in Hinkley. We decided to make a weekend out of it.

For those of you who have never been there, Hinkley is a booming metropolis of 1,800 people. The draw to the area is Hinkley Grand Casino. The hotels are pretty cheap with the hope that most guests will wander into the casino and spend as much money, if not more, than staying at a five-star hotel.

After a nearly four-hour drive, Chris and I were craving the hot tub in our hotel to massage stiff muscles from the drive. However, neither of us remembered our suits. We wandered into the heart of downtown in search of swim suits. The one and only clothing store in Hinkley was a thrift store and the thought of wearing a used swim suit made me want to gag.

We decided instead to massage our sore muscles with a drink and found a local bar next door to the thrift store.

The bell above the door jingled upon our intrusion and I swear I?heard a record scratch as we walked in. As we made our way to the bar you could have heard a pin drop and the air felt thick with tension. We were informed the bar only accepted cash and had no public restrooms.

We began to wonder if we missed the DO NOT ENTER sign for non-locals.

On our short drive back to the casino we found another bar that looked, if not friendlier, at least busier. The service was good and we relaxed as the locals seemed to accept us.

After enjoying a drink, a lady passed by our table offering us a chance to play the meat raffle for $1 per ticket. We were enjoying ourselves and it was for a good cause—the Hinkley Fire Department— so we decided to partake.

I won!?

As we were contemplating how we were going to keep meat frozen for our trip back in two days, the nice lady told us they also offered $20 gas cards.


Two meat raffles later, Chris won a gas card. The locals next to our table began to grumble, louder than necessary, that they really hated tourists who played their games and walked away with the prizes.
Before we were taken outside and beaten within an inch of our lives over $40 in gas, we gulped our drinks and made a swift exit.

Back in our room I noticed the kids had called a couple of times. I called them back and my daughter, Maddie, answered on the first ring.

“MOM!” she cries. “Dad says he’s going to give our kittens away when they are old enough.”?

“That’s what happens when outside cats have babies, honey.”?I?told her.

“But I told Dad you could take my kitten!”?she exclaims.

“Back the train up, Maddie,” I?scrambled. “We rent and pets aren’t allowed.”?

“PLEEEEEAAAAAASSSSEEEE?”?she pleaded frantically.

I told her that I could not make a decision without first talking to our landlord, hoping to appease her.

“Ok. I’ll call you Sunday!” she said and abruptly ended the call.

Bright and early Sunday morning the phone rang.

“Did you talk to your landlord yet?”?she asked. 

I explained that I meant we would talk to our landlord sometime, but a cat was a 10-15 year commitment, among  other obstacles standing in our way.

She wasn’t swayed so I?tried a different tactic.

“How would you get the kitty down here?”?I asked. “We don’t have any of the necessities for caring for a new pet.”?

“Dad said we could put them in a box and bring them down,”?she quickly added.

“Them?” I? squeaked.

“Mason wants to bring his kitty too.”?

After a couple of minutes of feeling like I was talking in circles, the call was abruptly ended the second time. I?told Chris I?was 50-percent convinced they wouldn’t show up with 6-week-old kittens.

Just in case we put the landlord on speed dial.

We breathed a sigh of relief when the kids clambered into our car on Sunday minus two fur balls.

“Dad said he would keep them until the end of the summer so you have a chance to buy a litter box and talk to your landlord,” my daughter informed me.

“Maddie, you wouldn’t see your cat for the next nine months even if I?was willing to take it,” I told her. “I’ll make a deal with you. If you agree to live with me and take care of your own cat, than you can have her.”?

“Deals off!”?she exclaimed. “And no offense Mom, but I don’t think you’d be very good at raising a cat!”?

Mission accomplished.