On Thursday, the 7th of June, sis & I loaded up a rental car at 9:00AM and started the long drive to Oshkosh, WI.
Oshkosh is home for a multitude of our relatives: mom, dad, brother and his wife, several nephews, a niece and her husband and aunts & uncles.
The purpose for this trip was to attend our nephew's wedding - our brother's oldest son. Several months of emails went back & forth about the wedding - and it resulted in just sis and I going as my dear husband had a chess tournament to run during the weekend.
Four hundred and seventy-three miles is a long trip to make - and sis does not drive. As I get older, I find the driving a little more tedious than in years past. I had made a quick trip to the library to stock up on music CDs and books on CD. This helped a little - but I noticed that we made more frequent stops than previous trips.
An older woman once told me that her solution to long trips was to first pray for a safe trip and would ask God to show her something new and exciting every trip. It didn't matter if the trip was across the country or to the grocery store. As she noted, the older we get, even a trip to the grocery store is something to be reckoned with! This sounded like fine advice. I passed this on to sis and we began to note there were indeed new and exciting sights to see. However, when one is driving through "deer country", counting the deer fatalities on the road does not count as an 'exciting sight' and frankly, is not very comforting. We noted beautiful ponds, unusually shaped trees, very creative billboards, a dome home (still wish I had thought to stop and photograph) and several antique cars traveling down the highway with us.
We made it in relatively embarrassing-free time (translation: I did not get lost) and spent the next couple of days in a whirl. Driving up on Thursday and leaving on Sunday did not leave much time to sit, relax & visit - although there was time to do a little of that.
On Friday, the 4 of us met up with brother & wife for an hour at a "local" (forty-five minute drive) casino. The six of us are high rollers - only quarter and nickel slot machines. From the conservative (mom and sis plugging in nickels only - and very few at that) to the liberal (brother, dad and myself - over $20 in quarters and some nickels for me) resulted in brother winning a nice little sum and I came out $2.40 ahead. Dad has a wonderful system that works well - you only throw in what you came in with. None of this putting the money through until you finally hit the big one. More than likely, the big one will elude you. After an hour, the coins are taken up to the cashier where you wait expectedly for that big total, all the while thinking - did I lose or did I come out ahead. Coming out ahead has its disadvantages for those of us who could potentially become gambleholics ... even if at $2.40. You think to yourself, 'oh just one more quarter could do it'. I silently thanked God for the restraint of not popping in another roll of quarters on the way out of the casino.
Afterwards, we drove to Michiels - home of the world's best hot bacon salad dressing and salad bar. The salad bar has to be one of the smallest I've ever encountered - but all the items are fresh, innovative and just plain marvelous!
The rest of the visit went by quickly. The wedding was beautiful; the words spoken by the priest brought tears to my eyes. Several hours later we went out to dinner - and several hours after that a reception was held. We opted not to go to the reception - it was a long day for most of us and sis & I still had the drive home facing us.
I walked with dad every day we were there. Dad is amazing. At 70+, he walks almost every day - and varies his walk to check out the 'doings' of Oshkosh. We walked in the early morning - and he would point out various things, told little stories of businesses - and before I knew it, we had covered over three miles easily. I have got to find a walking partner...!
Here is what is even more amazing. Just a few months ago, Dad bought his first computer. Now our weekly letters are daily emails. His enthusiasm at what the internet has brought to their home is a delight. Those of us who have grown up with the wonders of the 'net have taken it for granted. It's just there - it's always been there - and what's the big deal. Find someone who is discovering the wonders of google, yahoo and the multitude of search engines and you'll know what I mean. It's a re-awakening.
Going home was wonderful. I learned that there are still wonders to behold. I learned that no matter how old I am, going home means I get pampered and spoiled. But most of all, I realize once again that I'm blessed to have my parents to go home to.
I pray I can still 'go home' for many years to come.