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At the lake with my parents

At the lake with my parents

It’s easy to idealize the simple small town life most of us only know from books and old TV shows.  4th of July in Mayberry RFD, or with the Gilmore Girls isn’t really a fair expectation.  Still, this year visiting “up north” with my parents it seemed very much like that kind of holiday.

Karina and Minnie waiting for the parade.  Not entirely without internet access….

Karina and Minnie waiting for the parade. Not entirely without internet access….

My parents don’t have an internet connection, which limits the amount of media available.  We still have the smart phones, and Orion listens to his playlist on his computer, but it’s less appealing to be plugged in.  They’ve lived up here in these small towns for almost 20 years and so everywhere they go someone stops to say hi!  There are things to do and people to meet that also discourage electronic connection.

Piquot Lakes High School Marching Band.  The director is my sister's co-worker.

Piquot Lakes High School Marching Band. The director is my sister’s co-worker.

The complaints of the weekend have been, “The ice cream cone was too big.”  “The fish (fresh out of the fryer) is too hot.”  “There’s too much sunshine and fresh air.”  We found ourselves taking daily naps, not typical for me, just because the weather was so perfect.

A classic.  That's Elsa from Frozen being pulled behind a tractor.  Apparently if you stop by the store you can get an ice cream and shake her hand.

A classic. That’s Elsa from Frozen being pulled behind a tractor. Apparently if you stop by the store you can get an ice cream and shake her hand.

We did all the things, but it never felt like we packed too much into a day.  We went to one of the small town parades.  Homemade floats and the high school marching band had all the nostalgia of one of those TV shows.  We went to see fireworks in the “big city”, Brainerd.  They do a fabulous job and the location is set up so you feel like you are surrounded by the lights and they are right there in front of you.

In Northern Minnesota you WILL visit Paul Bunyon and Babe the Blue Ox.

In Northern Minnesota you WILL visit Paul Bunyon and Babe the Blue Ox.

We also took an afternoon to go down to the lake.  We all got into canoes – even Orion.  It’s been years since I’ve done that, but the muscle memory is still there.  Karina and I took Minnie out with us.  The dog was not sure about that and her roaming around in the canoe was a little unsettling but eventually we worked it out.  The lake was calm, the breeze was cool, another perfect day.

Dad showing off his affinity for local wildlife.  At least it wasn't the bear!

Dad showing off his affinity for local wildlife. At least it wasn’t the bear!

We went swimming in the lake.  Karina and my Dad caught the fish that came out of the fryer “too hot”.  The ice cream cones may have been too big, but that didn’t stop us from going back another day.  There is a haze up here from the Canadian wildfires.  It makes the sunset bloody and the moon rise red.  I may have taken more regular hits off my inhaler than I would have at home, but with the air moving even that wasn’t problematic.

Wished I had better than my phone.  The fireworks were truly spectacular!

Wished I had better than my phone. The fireworks were truly spectacular!

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It’s definitely time to be back home, back in the normal routine.  There can be too much of a good thing.  With a little distance and a little nostalgia of my own I’ll appreciate having this weekend vacation even more.

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Parents

Resting up to go out

Resting up to go out

I am incredibly fortunate to still have both of my parents within a days drive.  With Mother’s Day just past I’ve watched many of my friends struggle with the grief of no longer having their Mom a phone call away.  My folks aren’t as active as they once were.  The three-hour drive means my Mom spends the next week “recovering”.  Given my health ups and downs this last year, we haven’t seen as much of each other as we’d like.

"the Dude" and his "Opa" about to head out

“the Dude” and his “Opa” about to head out

When my Dad called and asked if Orion would be interested in participating in challenging a Guinness World Book record it seemed like a good opportunity to get in the car.   My Dad and Orion have a history of doing interesting things together.  Orion spent many summers attending Waldsee, a German language immersion village.  Dad went along as his aide, his Opa.  They still march together in the community parades when we visit in the summer.  Being in the longest moving wheelchair line sounded like fun.

Mom and Dad's driveway

Mom and Dad’s driveway

Orion and I went up on Friday.   The “North woods” are pretty in the spring as the leaves come out on the birches.  We had the afternoon to visit and dinner, but early to bed knowing Saturday was going to be a busy day.  We sent Orion and Dad off to Grand Rapids, MN and Mom and I went to Brainerd.   It’s a treat for me to spend the day alone with Mom, a treat for Orion to have a day with Opa, a treat for Mom to be able to run errands at her own pace, and Dad is always happy with an adventure.

We had a lovely, leisurely day.  We did a little shopping.  We went out for lunch.  We picked up some ice cream to have with the rhubarb pie I made.  We talked and reminisced and I got Mom looking for some old photos of her grandparents.  She was still worn out by the end of the day, but in a good way.

Lunch with Mom

Lunch with Mom

Opa and Orion and some 349 other wheelchair users beat the record.  Of course there’s a review process by the Guinness World Book people before it’s official, but Orion knows he’s a champion!   I made Dad take photos of the event and I posted Orion’s number (101) on his wall.

Registered to wheel as #101

Registered to wheel as #101

A weekend isn’t a long enough visit, but it’s enough to touch base.  I’m also grateful again that my parents are still here, and close enough to do just a weekend.  We may meet for lunch again before Orion and I get back up to the “North woods”.  That’s how we’ve managed these last 6 months when “I need to SEE how you are doing.” has been the theme.

Knowing how fragile these opportunities can be I am more motivated, more committed, to make sure they happen.  If you still have your Mom or Dad, be sure to call them just to check-in and say “I love you.”

Lining up!

Lining up!

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