so! for the last two weekends I ventured west... whether to seek my fortune, adventure and glory, or simply fun, friends and good food I will leave it to you to conclude.
The first was to the Twin Cities: a work trip/retreat with the high schoolers at my church. Definitely a sweet time. I got to know a VCP (very cool person) Caleb, and his four friends fairly well as I was their chauffeur there, back and in between. We got a jolly smattering of church experiences throughout: starting at St. Paul's Cathedral (yeah THE St. Paul's Cathedral), staying at First Baptist (a big creepy old cool building downtown on Hennepin) both nights, helping with hanging drywall at a artist community church-type thing (I'm helping Tony, another VCP, in the picture), the Fallout on Saturday, heading to Wooddale (a wealthier mega-church) for church service Sat. night where The End of the Spear guy shared bits of his story. Oh, and there was excellent pizza and a jazz quartet after that, REALLY GOOD, for which I somehow felt responsible to bring down by having something in my teeth. Mike also had us start the devotional My 30 Days Under the Overpass as part of the weekend. Good stuff! I think we all had a pretty good time - there was other activity in there - we hung out at Club 3 Degrees Friday night, and the kids played Catacombs Saturday (they're the "Christians" hiding pretty much anywhere in the huge mostly-dark church, and Roman "guards" track them down and imprison them. Great fun.). [photos]This weekend was a great follow-up! This time my westward wandering took me near Shell Lake, Wisconsin. Aside from a slight incident with local law enforcement, I arrived without problem late Friday at my Uncle Dean & Aunt Dar's house. They live on "the farm" - the place where my grandparents lived until I was in my early 20s. So it's always great to get back there, see what's changed, appreciate what hasn't, and remember. Sat. morning Dean and I went deer stand scouting. We kicked up heaps of grouse, and found several good options for stands, so I think I'm set (opening day of rifle season is less than 2 weeks away!). Then we headed back, and went with Dar up to the Flottum cabin. Aunt Lynnette, Cousin Shellee, Aunt Corrine and Uncle Ron had all come over for the afternoon! We had marvelous food, then headed out on a walk around the place. Lynnette, Jim, Naomi and Ray (aunts & uncles) had put up a memorial bridge for my dad earlier this fall and we wanted to take a look. Well - the rains had been hard on it - Dean had had to rescue it a couple of times - but it was still there! We had a great afternoon ambling about in the fall sunshine and "discovering" all sorts of things. When we came back to the farm, I climbed the old silo just for the fun of it - they don't make 'em like that any more! It's been used to house everything from foxes (to see if they could be tamed) to snapping turtles (to be sold for soup), but I don't know that it was ever used to store grain Anyway, not since the mid-50s! After a brief stop at Brickyard Pottery, and the cemetary, I headed down to Bloomer where my college roommate Jocelyn and her family live. I didn't get many pictures, but we had great fun, really good food, and the kids were a blast to get to know. Ed also gave me pointers on gun care. I hadn't seen them for quite a while, and hadn't actually visited in Bloomer since Brook was an infant, so it was about time! After great thought and pondering, I feel confident to recommend "West" to anyone considering it. [photos for this weekend]
I'm heading south - to Chicago - to hang out with another college buddy Alex this weekend, so we'll see if my recommendation changes! In the meantime, I'm headed to two biggish (for me) sporting events this week (one at the Resch center in Green Bay, one in Madison), work will be a bit nuts, and my classes are in full swing! Wish me luck!