Photo of Tom’s family at Billy’s Bar & Grill…

Tom, sitting next to me. A little smile.

Sorry about the less-than-ideal photos we’re posting today. From where I was seated, locked in place by other diners and family members, I did my best using my phone. Nonetheless, we had a great time, from our chairs and when we finally could maneuver closer to chat with those at the end of the table.

Tom’s family are delightful people, each with their unique sense of humor and all with a dedication and love for one another. When I first met everyone 32 years ago, I didn’t feel as if I fit in. They told and retold countless delightful stories of their childhood experiences.

But, as the years passed and the families grew, the stories became an integral part of all of their past experiences with them. I rarely missed a family event and eventually felt a part of this big family. If they had a party and included everyone, it would be well over 100 people.

On the left is Tom’s niece, Trish’s husband Jason, Trish, and his sister Margie (standing) next to Erika, Tom’s grand-niece, Paulette, and Tom’s great-grand niece Addison. The remainder of the group can’t be seen, except for Eugene, sister Mary Ellen’s husband.

Of the newest generation, we’ve only met some, not all, and if those 100+ people were at a barbecue, even Tom wouldn’t know some of the youngsters, many of whom are now teenagers and older, how the time has flown. Thirty-two years is a long time.

And now, as we approach the 11-year mark of traveling the world, we recognize even less as they’ve grown while we’ve been away. With Tom, the youngest of his siblings, the oldest generation, including us, seems so much older than the others; it is simply a fact of life as we age.

This morning, I’m rushing through this when, at 10:30, Tom will drop me off in Chaska to watch the Vikings game at noon with my son Greg. I’m bringing a laundry bag while there, which is a significant relief when getting it done at the hotel is such a hassle. As mentioned, they have an agreement with the hotel across the way to use their one washer and dryer. Their patrons often use it, so we must walk back and forth repeatedly to get a few loads done.

It was so crowded I couldn’t get around the table for better photos—Margie, daughter Paulette, and her adorable granddaughter Addison. We were thrilled that so many came to say hello.

After Tom drops me off, he’ll drive to a sports bar in Blaine, an hour away, to meet with daughter Tammy to also watch the Vikings game. Most likely, he’ll have lunch there. We still have enough food left in the little fridge for me to eat tonight for dinner. We won’t have to go out.

Yesterday, we had a quiet day, We had no plans other than to go out to dinner at Jimmy’s but were sorely disappointed when our meat was overcooked. Neither of us felt like ordering a new serving, and we ate it. I mentioned it to the server, and she offered to replace it, but when we didn’t feel like waiting, she took the cost of my one glass of wine off the bill.

I’d rather have the better-tasting meat but didn’t make a fuss. By 7:00 pm, we were back at the hotel to relax and stream a few shows. I hadn’t slept well the prior night, and by 9:30, I needed to head off to bed. Within a half hour, I was sound asleep and slept peacefully through the night.

Tammy, sister Colleen, and Tom’s grand nephew Jacoby. It was so loud in the place I couldn’t get everyone’s attention for photos without screaming. I chose unposed photos instead of raising my voice.

This morning, we went down to breakfast at 9:00 pm. The restaurant was out of hard-boiled eggs and fresh cream for the coffee. Instead, we used those disgusting little pods of half and half. The hotel is packed every weekend. This weekend, we think it’s attendees of the Renaissance Festival, held about 15 minutes from here.

By tomorrow at noon, they all will have left, and it will be peaceful here once again as we spend our final ten days in Minnesota, spending as much time as possible with family and friends. This time we’re here has been the busiest of any time we visited in the past, as well as the longest period we’ve been here, a little over a month.

The Minnesota Vikings have lost 3 out of 3 games. Maybe today, their luck will turn around for a more exciting game.

Be well.

Photo from ten years ago today, October 1, 2013:

On this date, while still in Kenya, we booked an upcoming hotel, Club Intrawest Condo Hotel in Vancouver. British Columbia for September 2014. For more photos, please click here.