Monday, May 21. I worked my way to the KOA in El Reno, OK and spent the night in one of their cabins at a cost of $45 - very nice accommodation, sitting on the edge of a hill overlooking the Canadian River. It had fast flowing water! I would definitely do this again - a much nicer environment than a motel room.
I made it to Randy's house on Saturday afternoon and spent 2 nights there. I was able see all 3 of his kids, as they all took time out of their busy schedules and stopped by for a visit and it felt good to be with family again.
Today, Randy and I headed north to Sunrise Beach to hang out with Rita and Denny and Bob for a couple of days at Rita's lake house. I had hoped to stop by to visit Rene on the way there, but she came down with a case of shingles last week and wasn't feeling up to company. She may still be contagious, so the rest of us were uncomfortable with her even coming to the lake house for a short visit.
I had a good, long talk with Tom this morning and I felt much better after that, although still very emotional about it all. I'm hoping that we can work through our issues and maybe even connect again later this summer.
It felt good to be with four my siblings again and we had a nice boat ride, quite quiet around here with few boats out and many of the homes haven't even been opened up for the season. That will probably change this week, as Memorial Day is coming up soon. Bob and Randy stained the catwalk when we got back from our ride and Rita, Denny, and I got dinner together. Naturally, we partied on the deck after dinner, listening to music, a dance or two, and having lots of laughter and conversation. I was the first to retire - no, Frisco was the first to retire - he started bugging me, so I took him out for a short walk and he headed right to his bed in the room we are sharing.
Wednesday, May 23. Tuesday was a work day, as Rita had several projects for the guys to end them with and she and I did yard work, raking up sticks and pulling weeds. The guys stained a lattice wall, burned some of the crud that we raked, out together a new grill, and did some general repairs. The work earned us a nice boat ride to Bagnell Dam. It was so nice that we almost had the lake to ourselves and the weather was perfect.
Bob brought steaks and salad greens from his garden for dinner and we had red potatoes and asparagus with it - yummy! The night was much quieter; Randy turned in early, Bob and Denny watched TV, and Rita and I enjoyed talking and watching the lights on the water before retiring.
Bob and Randy got ready to go back home this morning and the day for the rest of us was relaxed and enjoyable. Rita and I did a bit of shopping in Laurie and then we all had lunch at Frankie and Louie's - a huge restaurant and bar with land and water access, outdoor seating, a beachwear shop, beach volleyball, and a sandy beach for the kids to play on. Lunch was yummy.
This afternoon while sitting on the deck, Frisco saw a squirrel on the ground and squeezed through the slats and jumped the 12-15 feet to the ground. I was terrified that he might have broken a leg, went running in search of him, calling out for him until I heard his footsteps on the deck. He was just fine and has shown no signs of stiffness or injury since. What a little shit he is.
Saturday, May 27. I arrived at Ben's house yesterday after spending Thursday night st the KOA in Adel, IA, about 15 miles west of Des Moines on I-80. The place is one of the best that I have stayed at and the nights in their cabins is much better than a hotel. I sat on the swing and made phone calls and had a glass of wine. I ordered chicken wings and had them delivered fresh and hot right to my cabin. I took my time getting ready in the morning, stopped for a car wash and a breakfast sandwich, and the drive was easy. I did go through a couple of rainstorms, but not bad.
I pulled up to the house just in time to go and walk home with Norah and Camille after school - they were riding their bikes and were quite proud to show me their skills. We put bikes in the van and went to Lynnhurst playground so they could burn off some energy and Ben and I shot some hoops - yea, it has been many, many years. We were heading for the bus stop to meet Charlotte when she ran up to welcome me with a big hug.
Violet, Norah (not into the photo op), Charlotte, and Camille
Unfortunately, Ben and his family had to say goodbye to the family dog, Ruby, yesterday. She was 14 years old, lived a good life and we will always remember Her Majesty Queen Ruby Quinn Bridge as such a sweet, gentle and loyal pet.
Today was the usual flurry of activity. Jill and Lois took the girls to the children's theater to see "The Lorax", so Ben and I rode bikes around Lakes Calhoun and Harriet, about a 6-mile ride and stopped for a beer at the Bread and Pickle. It was a beautiful day and there was a flurry of activity at the lakes - biking, running, skating, dog walking, people walking, sailing and the usual summertime stuff. When the girls got home, Ben ran around the lake while Charlotte rode her bike.
After an evening walkabout (Camille is very interested in walking Frisco), the girls watched a movie and the adult sat on the patio and enjoyed the evening quiet.