We are in Minnesota again for our somewhat annual visit to relatives, so as usual, I am chronicling my travels and adventures in the land of the mosquito bird.
This year, we left yesterday at 830am to go to the airport. At XNA, we had a leisurely hour wait for our plane. We took a direct flight, so no extra time connecting. The pilot was super friendly and said hello to Gabe when we got on board. The flight attendant was also very nice and had an awesome bracelet which I had to compliment her on. She gave Gabe extra cookies and juice and he had fun on the flight. I slept most of the way to Minnesota, where we waited on the curb for almost an hour in the muggy 90 degree heat and parking deck-esque smog. We got our rental car and drove out of Minneapolis in the early afternoon.
We went to Hugo to see Leroy in the nursing home, which was shocking and depressing. In the past two years, he has lost a ton of weight and looked shockingly frail, sickly, and disoriented. He couldn't seem to remember any of us except Liz and John. It was very sad to see him that way and think that soon enough we all go down that road.
When we left, we continued on our way very subdued. Liz and John waxed intellectual about aging and we didn't talk about the emotional impact of seeing such a strong, masculine, sturdy guy become so feeble. The usual route for us.
When we got to the farm, Steve was waiting for us. We helped a bit for dinner and heard about his newest dietary adventures. He made Shepherd's Pie and Liz made salad and we had dinner and then homemade banana ice cream for dessert.
Deane showed up late and we talked a bit and then went back to his house for the night, trying to avoid the swarms of giant silent-stalker mosquitoes that descended upon us the second we ventured outside the house. They are the worst I've ever seen them this year.
I slept like a baby all night, better than I have in ages. Towards morning, it cooled down a lot and I actually had to cover up with a light blanket. Quite a change from the 100 degree heat back home and the sweaty nights. I woke up early because it gets light so early here! I journaled a bit and then everyone else got up. We hung around and talked and then had a big breakfast of eggs, bacon, toast, melon and juice. Afterwards, we looked at some pictures of Deane's awesome log cabins and other buildings. Then I scrapbooked a while, Rose played with Gabe, and we generally hung out and enjoyed vacation mode.
Later, we took naps and then went out to the lake. Deane and Stephen fixed the dock and we all went swimming and looked at old yearbooks and learned some interesting things about our dad's high school career as a beer maker. It was pretty amusing.
We came back and hung out at Steve's for a while. I talked to John about working at a chicken plant, classic literature, Lady Gaga, and the different definitions of success. I took a short walk and started a new book, The Concubine's Gift, which so far is pretty amusing (Look for review soon). Then we had a huge dinner of natural pickles, cauliflower, lamb curry, lamb hearts, and mashed potatoes. More homemade ice cream is in the near future.
Now Gabe is having a pillow fight and driving cars across the old treadmill and the rest of us are sitting around chatting, reading, etc.