Back to That Same Old Place...

Home sweet home - except that it wasn’t home that I visited this weekend. I went to a family reunion / wedding in Spencer and Clear Lake, Iowa. Di didn’t come along, for good reason, and I missed her a lot. I would have liked her to come along, but it was smarter of me to not introduce her to my family by bringing her to a wedding with every living relative on my father’s side of the family present.

Of course this wedding was an interesting punctuation to my whole crazy summer of grading, working, grading, homework, class, grading, and TA work - I finished my final final grading at about 9:30am over the phone with the professor of the 1901 class I was the TA for. This was a little later than I thought I was going to do it. I needed about 4 hours to get to the wedding by 1:30pm so that I could be present for a family picture. I run very late normally so I decided I was going to leave by 9:30. This didn’t work out with final grading, because I hadn’t finished grading until late friday night. I call and send the email to the guy setting final grades and then skedaddle over to my place to pick up the bag I packed earlier and get on down to the wedding.

For people who know me, they will probably be able to guess how I got to the place on time: I sped like a bat out of hell most of the way down there. I don’t think my spedometer was below 80 for a very long time on that trip. I was very very lucky and I acqnowledge that I should have been caught. That being said, I don’t think I had much of a chance for crashing into something on paved country roads where soybeans were growing all around me. It was like a scene from a movie where you have crossroads and a car speeding down the road or something. The countryside was beautiful, and I was making good time, until I hit the traffic from hell in Clear Lake. Now, you have to understand, this is northwest Iowa we’re talking about so I wasn’t really expecting much delay going through the city. Boy, I was very wrong. It was about 10 miles per hour for no less than 5 miles. Having made the normally 4 hour trip in no less than record speed for me, I was now stuck in traffic in rural Iowa.

Well, it turned out that it was okay for me to be a little late anyway because the picture was not taken that afternoon, it was cancelled. I was surprised to see at the wedding some people I hadn’t seen in a LONG time: every living relative from the one family’s side. Everyone who is related by blood to me on my father’s side starting from my grandma were there, and most of the spouses as well. I got to see my Aunt and Cousins who I hadn’t seen in 7 years easy. Some children I barely recognized - S is grown now, and last time I saw E she was a little baby. It was a great time chatting with everyone again.

The wedding was my Cousin K who has always been an interesting relative for me - he is interested in the same types of stuff that I am, and is about the age of my sister. We never really seemed to hit it off however - probably because we only saw each other a couple of times each year, and we don’t do things like chat online. He’s getting married, which makes me feel kindof strange all of a sudden - I think he’s marrying early, but I’m not about to tell him that - he certainly has a loving relationship with his wife. Anyway the wedding was an interesting fusion of a wedding and a reception - I sat down at a table to watch the wedding, the same table I would be eating on later. The wedding went on, a fairly short ceremony by some standards (long by others I’m sure) and then the same stage that was used to say vows on was transformed into a head table. The food was chinese (wonderfully seasoned beef or chicken) and the cake was cheesecake. The whole thing took about 2 hours total - easily the least amount of time I’ve spent when I went to a wedding and reception. We sent K and J off with bubbles, which aren’t all that uncommon nowadays I guess.

After the wedding/reception mix we went back to K’s parent’s place in order to chat and have fun. We took some family pictures there (missing K and J of course) and also played some games, chatted, and had a general good time. I met some people who are related to me by marriage I never met before, and had more time to talk with relatives I haven’t seen in forever again. Things are always fun when we get a lot of my family together in one place - we all seem to be game players of some sort. At the end of the day I gave Di a call and was happy to be able to talk to her.

Cell phone usage in this part of Iowa was interesting - whenever I wanted to call someone, I could call out fine, but there was no internet service. This was something I would expect with roaming, but I also expected to be able to receive calls. Cellular ONE in Iowa decided that I can make calls from their towers as much as I want, but they hate AT&T for some strange reason and anyone who tried to call me was greeted with a “The Cellular One number you have dialed is no longer in service” which would baffle anyone who called me because 1) my number isn’t owned by Cellular One and 2) the number works just fine for calling people. Also, I couldn’t call my voice mail, which annoyed me to no end, and I couldn’t call the 1-800 number for AT&T technical support either. I ended up using the hotel’s phone the next day and figuring out this whole flip-off that Cellular ONE is doing to AT&T. I can tell you one thing, I’ll never be a customer of them. It’s one thing to not accept incoming calls for users from a particular company - it’s another to tell anyone who tries to call you that your number is out of service. There should be laws against it, I tell you.

The next day everyone in the family went to see the opening of presents by K and J, which wasn’t all that exciting, and take another family picture with K and J around this time. Our family has this thing about taking pictures. I totally agree with them this time though, because of the aforementioned people being around when otherwise they wouldn’t be. Some of my family then went home, and the rest of the family travelled up to Spirit Lake to a family reunion. I forgot my swimsuit, so I hopped a ride with Aunt C to Wal-Mart and picked out one, and picked up a trafvel charger for my phone too. After a bit of swimming and a bit of reading of my summer reading books, we all were going to go to ride on the Queen II across the lake. It was a wonderful day for it, not too hot and not too cool, but they weren’t running the boat that night because a private party had it. The Queen II is very close to Arnolds Park, so we enjoyed ourselves anyway. Back to the hotel for some supper and some sleep.

The next day was fairly uneventful - it was mostly lounging around doing nothing, playing some pool in the rec room, playing games with family (including a fun real-time game called Blink). I also visited the maritime museum with my dad and talked with him about some life stuff. Sadly I had to go that evening because I was planning on doing things on Tuesday. I said farewell to everyone and had a much more leisurely drive back to the twin cities - this time not speeding once.

On the way back, between 90 and 169 on MN-4, I caught “Minnie the Moocher” on a radio station surfing, and was treated with “Sweet Home Chicago” as well. A distinctly old lady came on announcing the Blues Brothers set that had just played and announced the next songs, which I don’t really remember. She was so wonderful - it was completely obvious that she was just doing it for fun and having a good time. I wonder which station that was. At any rate, I’m back, and well-rested.