Our trip across the US shifted from tourism to family visits as we entered the Midwest since Chris grew up in Wisconsin, and my parents are from Chicago and St Louis. These family visits gave us a nice reprise away from a diet of french fries and the benefit of sleeping in a bed.
We first stopped in Hayward Minnesota to visit with Chris’ grandmother, aunt, uncle, and cousins. Hayward is a small farming town of 200 on the southern border of Minnesota. We were lucky to be there during Hayward Days, complete with a half marathon, live music, and 4×4 mud bogging. I think ‘mud bogging’ is best described as amateur monster trucks competing to complete a course of curves, mud filled ditches and small hills. We were tempted to drive our car through the mud bog as a warm-up for the jungle roads of South America, but didn’t want to show up all of the jacked up trucks on huge tires.
After a great weekend with the family in Minnesota, we continued on to Fredonia Wisconsin, a rural community north of Milwaukee. We enjoyed several days of sun, swimming, fireworks and rambunctious play with our niece and nephews who ranged from 4 to 8 years old, and relaxing evenings with cold beer, great food, and even greater company with Chris’ sister and brother-in-law.
Unfortunately we had to change our plans and head down to St Louis, as my grandmother passed away, not entirely unexpectedly. My grandmother, Alita, left behind her husband of 67 years, 2 sons, 5 grandchildren, and 1 great-grandchild. I will miss playing bridge with her, listening to her slightly off-color jokes, and hearing her stories about her world travels. After spending time with family in St Louis, we continued on to Chicago. Here we spent several days with my maternal grandmother Joan (who is pictured here), and my many aunts, uncles and cousins.
After leaving Chicago we spent a night in Ohio at my stepmother’s brother’s place on our way for New York City. I worry that after sleeping in comfortable beds and eating home-cooked meals for the last two weeks, it will be rough living on the road again. No matter, it has been great to spend time with family without worrying about getting back to work.