Well at least is wasn’t on work travel this month, but I guess it was a stretch to say I was home. I flew from Toronto (where I last left you) to Nashville. My parents had been on the road for 3 days before they picked me up there July 2nd and drove on to that western most point of Virginia for my cousin’s bi-annual family reunion.
My dad had one sister, she had 5 children, and her husband had 2 brothers. It was those 3 families (the Stanleys) that have gotten together every other 4th of July for many years. We (the Swensons) have never joined them until this year. Since I only knew 1/3 of the clan I wasn’t sure how it would go, but alas it was great fun. There were about 80 people and it was like a big 4 day party.
It was at Natural Tunnel State Park in Virginia, which has great facilities for such an event. It has a main lodge with a large room to eat in, another large room to play games in, and a lobby to gather in. For sleeping arrangements many of us stayed in the dormitory buildings, other stayed in the private cabins, and there was a campground for others.
The cooking was all shared by among the Indiana Stanleys (my cousins) so that each of the had 2 meals to cook for the whole group. If you were a Swenson, you merely had to show up at the right time for food. Fantastic!!
There was organized activities too : Hikes, river rafting, a chairlift ride to the tunnel, museums, talent show, and of course fireworks, which seemed to miraculously fit between rainstorms. All was organized and pulled off perfectly, quite impressive really. One of my cousin’s daughters made a 15-foot-long family tree with photos. That was hung on the wall and VERY useful for us shirt-tail relatives. My brother, Keith, and his wife, Sylva, my parents and I were there to represent the Swensons. We even sang a round for the talent show.
|Oreo cookie eating without hands talent.
After 4 days of fun we went our separate ways. My parents and I took the remainder of the week to drive home to Colorado together. Our first stop was to my Mother’s home town of Logan, WV. She moved away when she was 9, but she still has a vivid memory and we found her house and school as she regaled us with stories from where she learned to ride a bike, to where she fell into the coal car, to the house where she took her 3 year old brother to see their first dead body.
Cordie & Charlie
The next day we stopped in to see my mother’s brother, Charles, in Ohio. He and my Aunt Cordie moved just outside of Columbus last year after he was diagnosed with Lung Cancer. He got a big scare and decided to move closer to their daughter, Hillary and her husband Mike (whom I’m glad to say joined us for dinner one evening). Charlie has had a rough year but he is still here hanging on. Hillary is pregnant with their first child so I told Charlie that I’d be back next year to meet the baby and that I expected him to still be here. Hopefully my intentions (manifestations, edicts) are just that good!
Two days later found us back in Colorado at my sister Monica’s new house where Mike came down for the weekend to join us and collect me.
The following weekend I really did just want to stay home and do nothing.. because the weekend after that we went camping with Dave and Cathy Ropiski. We went to a favorite spot of mine at Ruedi reservoir, near Aspen. The weather was lovely. I could only get reservations for Friday, so we were a bit nervous, this being Cathy and Dave’s first camping trip in years, I wanted it to go well. So I told the campground host who unfortunately had a number of others in the same boat. But he showed up Saturday during breakfast with the news that we could move to site 46, 2 sites away. And is was a very beautiful site, much better than the original one. We did some dutch oven cooking, got out in the kayak, and otherwise spent a lot of time gabbing. Great weekend.
So as my month at “home” comes to an end I am again writing this from 30,000 feet. This time heading for Scandinavia, but that is my story for next month. In the meantime I hope you are enjoying your summer.. the summer goes so fast!