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Back from Ely


Grandpa and Grandma
Originally uploaded by Nikchick.

I didn’t blog much about my plans for Minnesota on the off chance that my grandpa might hear about them somehow. Unlikely as that was, I knew that if I didn’t say anything I couldn’t screw things up. You see, several months ago my aunt and uncle began planning a surprise party for my grandpa’s 90th birthday and I dropped everything and arranged to be there as soon as I learned about it.

Immediately after GenCon I grabbed up Kate from her dad’s and headed back to the midwest for a week. My family really pulled together for this one and we had an excellent showing. We were only missing one grandchild (my brother, who is deep in the middle of his surgical rotation and just couldn’t get away at all) and two great-grandkids (teenagers who are already in school or who just started college and also couldn’t get away). My aunt JoAnn’s daughters (Kim and Connie) came, along with Kim’s husband Larry and Connie’s five-year-old daughter. My Uncle Jack’s kids (Johnny, Josh, and Jen) came, along with Jen’s husband Chris and their young daughter. Kate and I represented for my dad’s branch of the family and all three of my stepbrothers (Jon, Mick and Erik) along with Mick’s wife Jenny, whose wedding I attended last spring. There were also any number of close friends of my grandpa and extended relatives that I didn’t remember at all who came out for the event.

Grandpa was completely surprised. My uncle had told him they were going golfing (“I’m the caddy,” my grandpa chuckles. He accompanies Jack around in the golf cart but doesn’t golf himself) and pretended that he’d grabbed “the wrong clubs” and had to go back to the house. Up they drove on the golf cart into an applauding crowd, to my grandpa’s astonishment. He’s not the sort of guy to cry but he did seem pretty choked up for a bit and he looked me in the eye and thanked me for “making the trip” more than once over the weekend. I wouldn’t have missed it for anything.

We had a lovely time. Kate got to spend time with her uncles canoing, swimming, paddle boating, playing games and just generally goofing around. She got to meet second cousins, first cousins once removed, and even more distant relatives (some of whom are honorary aunts and uncles who are lifelong family friends). I got to spend time with my grandpa and also with my cousins (and their cousins), walk around town and see just how much things have changed since I lived there as a kid, and generally enjoy the place.

Kate and I came home toting souvenirs of the trip. I stocked up on wild rice, made a couple of trips to Zup’s for potica, pasties, and all manner of brats and sausages (which they kindly packed up for me and I checked as baggage because the box was so big!), and pigged out on walleye, Nut Goodies and “hot air” candy. I took many photos and even got a couple of voice recordings of my grandpa talking about how he learned to drive at age 10 because his dad had gotten the family a car but no one could drive it (nor could they speak English!) so it fell to Grandpa to learn, and my dad talking about the time he and his friends (all of 13 or 14 years old) drove their snowmobile through the ice on a lake and the “hilarity” that ensued. I didn’t get as many stories recorded as I’d hoped but apparently my Uncle Jack has a couple hours of tapes that he made a few years ago so I’m hoping I can get my hands on some of that eventually.

Doubly exhausted and twice as far behind as I was before GenCon but it was worth it. So worth it.

15 comments to Back from Ely

  • :( I miss MN.
    I would really love to go to the State Fair and the Renaissance Festival (the fair and “ren fests” out here suck in comparison)
    I’ve got family up nort’ in Cloquet and Duluth too but I haven’t been up there in years. I think the last time was showing my English boyfriend da range and Lake Superior.
    I don’t know how I did that. I had NO money then! LOL

  • :( I miss MN.
    I would really love to go to the State Fair and the Renaissance Festival (the fair and “ren fests” out here suck in comparison)
    I’ve got family up nort’ in Cloquet and Duluth too but I haven’t been up there in years. I think the last time was showing my English boyfriend da range and Lake Superior.
    I don’t know how I did that. I had NO money then! LOL

  • :( I miss MN.
    I would really love to go to the State Fair and the Renaissance Festival (the fair and “ren fests” out here suck in comparison)
    I’ve got family up nort’ in Cloquet and Duluth too but I haven’t been up there in years. I think the last time was showing my English boyfriend da range and Lake Superior.
    I don’t know how I did that. I had NO money then! LOL

  • :( I miss MN.
    I would really love to go to the State Fair and the Renaissance Festival (the fair and “ren fests” out here suck in comparison)
    I’ve got family up nort’ in Cloquet and Duluth too but I haven’t been up there in years. I think the last time was showing my English boyfriend da range and Lake Superior.
    I don’t know how I did that. I had NO money then! LOL

  • :( I miss MN.
    I would really love to go to the State Fair and the Renaissance Festival (the fair and “ren fests” out here suck in comparison)
    I’ve got family up nort’ in Cloquet and Duluth too but I haven’t been up there in years. I think the last time was showing my English boyfriend da range and Lake Superior.
    I don’t know how I did that. I had NO money then! LOL

  • how lovely! i love a family get-together! (all of my grandparents are dead, but the hubby has two grand-mothers still around)

    i remember helping throw an 50th wedding anniversary celebration for my grandparents almost twenty years ago… we’d had their housekeeper copy their address book the year before, sent out invitations around the world, and people came in droves. friends from england and across canada and the usa predominated, and of course my aunt who was living in hong kong and uncle from the northwest territories flew in. grandpa snarked, as we turned onto his road about how some inconsiderate lout must be having a party, because look at all the bloody cars parked up the street!

  • how lovely! i love a family get-together! (all of my grandparents are dead, but the hubby has two grand-mothers still around)

    i remember helping throw an 50th wedding anniversary celebration for my grandparents almost twenty years ago… we’d had their housekeeper copy their address book the year before, sent out invitations around the world, and people came in droves. friends from england and across canada and the usa predominated, and of course my aunt who was living in hong kong and uncle from the northwest territories flew in. grandpa snarked, as we turned onto his road about how some inconsiderate lout must be having a party, because look at all the bloody cars parked up the street!

  • how lovely! i love a family get-together! (all of my grandparents are dead, but the hubby has two grand-mothers still around)

    i remember helping throw an 50th wedding anniversary celebration for my grandparents almost twenty years ago… we’d had their housekeeper copy their address book the year before, sent out invitations around the world, and people came in droves. friends from england and across canada and the usa predominated, and of course my aunt who was living in hong kong and uncle from the northwest territories flew in. grandpa snarked, as we turned onto his road about how some inconsiderate lout must be having a party, because look at all the bloody cars parked up the street!

  • how lovely! i love a family get-together! (all of my grandparents are dead, but the hubby has two grand-mothers still around)

    i remember helping throw an 50th wedding anniversary celebration for my grandparents almost twenty years ago… we’d had their housekeeper copy their address book the year before, sent out invitations around the world, and people came in droves. friends from england and across canada and the usa predominated, and of course my aunt who was living in hong kong and uncle from the northwest territories flew in. grandpa snarked, as we turned onto his road about how some inconsiderate lout must be having a party, because look at all the bloody cars parked up the street!

  • how lovely! i love a family get-together! (all of my grandparents are dead, but the hubby has two grand-mothers still around)

    i remember helping throw an 50th wedding anniversary celebration for my grandparents almost twenty years ago… we’d had their housekeeper copy their address book the year before, sent out invitations around the world, and people came in droves. friends from england and across canada and the usa predominated, and of course my aunt who was living in hong kong and uncle from the northwest territories flew in. grandpa snarked, as we turned onto his road about how some inconsiderate lout must be having a party, because look at all the bloody cars parked up the street!

  • Sounds like you had a wonderful time. Good for you!

    I looked up Ely on a map, seeing as my stepson was embarking from there on a nine-day camping trip (not a moose or bear in sight, he reports). I decided that if Ely were to have a city motto, it would have to be:

    “Ely: Where Winter Doesn’t Fuck Around”

  • Sounds like you had a wonderful time. Good for you!

    I looked up Ely on a map, seeing as my stepson was embarking from there on a nine-day camping trip (not a moose or bear in sight, he reports). I decided that if Ely were to have a city motto, it would have to be:

    “Ely: Where Winter Doesn’t Fuck Around”

  • Sounds like you had a wonderful time. Good for you!

    I looked up Ely on a map, seeing as my stepson was embarking from there on a nine-day camping trip (not a moose or bear in sight, he reports). I decided that if Ely were to have a city motto, it would have to be:

    “Ely: Where Winter Doesn’t Fuck Around”

  • Sounds like you had a wonderful time. Good for you!

    I looked up Ely on a map, seeing as my stepson was embarking from there on a nine-day camping trip (not a moose or bear in sight, he reports). I decided that if Ely were to have a city motto, it would have to be:

    “Ely: Where Winter Doesn’t Fuck Around”

  • Sounds like you had a wonderful time. Good for you!

    I looked up Ely on a map, seeing as my stepson was embarking from there on a nine-day camping trip (not a moose or bear in sight, he reports). I decided that if Ely were to have a city motto, it would have to be:

    “Ely: Where Winter Doesn’t Fuck Around”