Sunday, July 16, 2017

2017 summer vacation with the family

I've been away from the blog for a week. Can't really remember the last time I went that long, but I didn't miss it all that much. I do, however, have a head full of ideas and time will tell if they ever make it to print. First up though is the family vacation we just spent with... the family.

It started last Saturday (July 8) and ends today. Jane and I met up with Carrie and her family and Isaac and Ricci at my parents house in Buda, IL. My sister and her youngest son came from Minnesota. Isaac and Ricci had driven from Atlanta to Indy the day before (to see her mom). We squeezed into my parent's house until Monday. Deb and Kevin left in the morning, and the rest of us went to Galena, IL where we had a house rented from Monday afternoon through Thursday morning. Isaac and Ricci returned to her mom's Thursday, and we and the Feipel five returned to my parent's house. Drew Carrie and ABC went back to Fort Wayne Friday; Jane and I returned home to the Fort Saturday. Today is the buffer before real life smacks us in the face again.

The first weekend at my parent's house went better than expected, but that is a lot of people in a fairly small space. My parents do have 3 bedrooms, but it was an awkward arrangement. So much so that Jane and I brought our tent and slept in the yard both Saturday and Sunday night. The first night Anna stayed with us in the tent, but fortunately it was just the two of us the second night. It rained and stormed like crazy Sunday night. We didn't think the tent was going to survive, it was being whipped around so bad. But, it did. We had a little water get in from the sides leaning in, but all in all it wasn't terrible.

As for those in the house... Well, my parents slept in their room, my sister on the couch in the living room, Ricci, Isaac, Drew, Carrie and their 3 kids all crammed into one room, and somehow nephew Kevin ended up with a room to himself and a queen bed. The room with our kids and grandkids had 2 twin beds and an air mattress. I have no idea how they all fit in there, but apparently they managed.

We didn't do too much while there with everyone. I guess we did all go out to the Psycho Silo Saloon Sunday afternoon. It is one of the coolest biker bars I have ever seen - just a couple miles north of Buda. Other than that we kind of just sat around and talked or played with the young-uns.

After my sister left, the 9 in my family left my parents and we spent a few days in Galena, IL. It's amazing how different and beautiful the northwest part of the state is. We rented a house in the Galena Territory that had 4 bedrooms and 4 full bathrooms. It was a really nice house with a deck and was laid out perfectly for a group. Jane and I had the master bedroom off the kitchen; Isaac and Ricci took the other upstairs bedroom; The Feipels then had the entire downstairs. One bedroom had a king or queen bed, one had two twin beds, and the living room between them had a couch that made out into a bed. Each bedroom and both living rooms had their own TV's - though we didn't watch very much of it.

Staying in this house (I think it was 2 Partridge Ct on Cedar Rim Rd., or something) meant we could also use the "Owners Club." It was a couple winding miles drive and had a huge indoor and outdoor pool, tennis, basketball, game room, fitness room, bar/restaurant, and meeting rooms. There was also a riding stable, spa and conference center, general store, waterfall, and probably some other things we didn't even notice spread throughout the property.

The kids LOVED the pool. It was a perfect size for them, and was never very crowded. All the adults made use of it too. One special treat Jane had in store for Anna was a horse riding lesson. She had booked it before we arrived. It didn't go exactly like we'd imagined, but Anna remembers the good parts and we were all quite proud of her for sticking it out. Apparently it was geared more for older kids, but this 6 year-old is such an animal freak that a spunky horse wasn't going to dim her love.

One other pre-arrangement Jane made was to hire a photographer to come to the house and take family pictures. She was real laid back and did a great job with the kids.

Other than that, we made a couple trips into downtown Galena. It is a cool little town with neat shops and historic areas. I think everyone had a good time. On the way out Thursday morning we all stopped at the waterfall area Drew discovered. The kids had big fun looking for fish, frogs and chiggers; and the big kids enjoyed skipping rocks and such.

We said our goodbye's to Isaac and Ricci from there and the rest of us headed back to Buda. On the way we stopped at Poopy's Pub and Grub in Savanna. It is another giant biker bar that I've heard of and we drove right past it on our way. The kids got a kick out of the name, and the food was actually really good. They also have a store, and the big area out back is where the bands play and whatnot. It was cool, and totally different from the Psyco Silo, so I'm glad we got to stop there too.

When we got back to my parent's house Thursday afternoon we were all pretty tired, but they had resurrected the old "Sheffield Homecoming" this year - and Thursday night was "armband night." We kind of talked Drew Carrie into taking their kids over for it - and they had a blast! Most of the rides were small enough for the little kids to enjoy. There was a ferris wheel, merry-go-round, roller coaster, giant slide, fun house, cars, and some other more spinny rides. Anna loved them all. Bennett did pretty good until he went with Drew and Anna on some paratrooper ride that spun backwards and forwards. He hung in there, but it took the poor guy a while to recover. Caleb was content with the cars, funhouse, slide, and he did try the roller coaster. When he got off it he matter-of-factly said, "I don't like that one." The young one doesn't put on airs.

Friday night they had the local band "Legenz" perform. This is a group led by our old music teacher from when Jane and I were in school. Prior to teaching he had been in the rock group "Chicago" (or some such group) and was/is an enormously talented trumpeteer. He is now 70-something, and leads this band doing some singing and still blowing the horn very well. They played a really good set of old rock-n-roll songs. I was surprised the crowd wasn't bigger, but there were a number of his old students in attendance. I thought it was a fun evening. We sat by my parents and Jane's brother Mark.

After the entertainment was done we went down to Brothers Pub. There weren't many there, but we are friends with the owner. Before the night was over Jane's oldest brother and his wife came in, as well as a number of former schoolmates who were in town for the celebration. So we ended up staying until 2:30 in the morning or so. I even got to be bartender for awhile (after they had "closed" at 2 am). This was an old hangout of ours when went through our "party" phase. Every time we go back it seems I end up speaking with the owner about God for a good part of the night (he brings it up - as an agnostic). It happened again this time, and we had a great chat off and on about faith, religion, Jesus, and humanity. I really enjoy bar-stool chats about Jesus. Sometimes I wonder if that isn't my "calling"... if I could just keep from flying too close to the flame. I dunno.

Anyway, Saturday came too soon and we said goodbye to my parents. I think my mom was really sad to see everyone go. I suppose it may have helped that we left in waves. First Deb & Kevin, then Isaac and Ricci, then the Feipel's, and finally us. My dad was confused most of the time, but actually wasn't as bad overall as I was afraid he might get with so many different people around.

And so ends a great week spent with family and old friends. I left out a lot of details - some on purpose and some because they've escaped memory - but it really was a good time. I was very relaxed throughout, and don't think I was an idiot too many times. The kids all got along, and the little kids were so super good the entire time. A week away may be the longest they've ever been away from home.

I think everyone liked Galena. I don't know if I could live there, but it is a place we would like to visit again. As for Buda/Sheffield... I had really kind of lost my attachment to the place in the last couple years. Even though I lived the first 34 years of my life there, it doesn't really feel like "home" anymore. However, as we were heading back to Fort Wayne, this was the first time I've not felt like we were coming back to our home here either. Something seems to have changed. It's like I don't have a home anymore. I'm not sure I feel settled anywhere; but at the same time I don't necessarily feel unsettled anywhere either. I think maybe something is happening.

As for work... well, I didn't think of it much at all while gone. Other than a few fleeting thoughts wondering if I can go back or not. I WILL go back tomorrow, but I really do not like what I do. And it's nothing against the job or the company... I am just not into it anymore. But I don't know what I am into. So... who knows.

I'm just going to enjoy the fact that we had a swell vacation. It was better than expected as far as I'm concerned, and I suppose the rest will take care of itself.

Rather than taking the time to insert pics where they go, I think I'll just put a bunch of random ones below:

On the street in Galena.

At the Psycho Silo Saloon.
Family photo with my parents (but withouth Kyle & Lia).

My "look" for the week.

Oh my. Anna.

At the waterfall. In matching shirts no less.

The Feipel Five.

Ricci & Isaac.
And some of the house we stayed at in Galena...