Posts Tagged ‘family reunion’

We flew down the freeway from Itchkeppe City Park in Columbus, Montana, bound for the rental in Hermosa, South Dakota. Gas & breakfast at a truck stop on the Crow Reservation, and then a side trip to see the site where General George A. Armstrong met his unglorious end.


I visited this site in 1966, and it is still just as sad and lonesome as it was then. The voices of the people who lost their way of life (this battle was the beginning of the end for the First Nations) and the cries of the white men who died there still whisper in the winds. The very ground cries out, and the crickets in the grass sing sorrowful melodies.


Prayer flags flap in the wind from the monument that was erected to honor the warriors who died defending their sacred lands.

We drove out to the site of Reno’s Retreat, and gazed in awe at the expanse of contested land, and wondered at Reno’s frustrations as he could not reach the ill-fated Seventh Cavalry.

We also logged two new birds for our life-list: the lark bunting (which I never got a photo of) and the lark sparrow.


The sparrow left his own commentary on the history plaques, most of which was not kind to the human species and their wars.

We raced across Wyoming and into South Dakota, stopping in Rapid City for gas. There, I did something so 21st Century that it amazes me still: I figured out how to get Waze o tell me how to get to the rental in Hermosa! This was a good thing as the house was way-the-heck-out-there. (For my adult children: I programmed Waze and then handed the phone to Donald with the instructions, “Waze will start talking, so just hold onto this.”)

We still; had lovely weather when we arrived at the rental, and all the cousins were planning on a trip out to see the evening ceremony at Mt. Rushmore, so we decided to jump into someone’s car and join them. It’s a good thing we did as the mountain was shrouded in clouds for the rest of our visit!


(Photo courtesy of Ellen Block)

Saturday, we went off on our own to drive through Custer State Park. I apologize now if you were someone who got trapped behind us as we wandered through those winding little roads at the posted speed limit: I just drove over 1300 miles to see the damn park and I wasn’t going to speed up simply to appease someone who can’t slow down and look at the flowers. We also apologize to anyone who stopped behind us thinking we saw animals: we were looking at wildflowers and trying to identify them. You should try it sometime – it might expand your world.


The narrow tunnels were amazing. Not sure who that guy is or why he’s holding up the granite wall…


Every last one of the cousins managed to arrive at Sylvan Lake on Saturday, but at different times.

Don and I drove down to the little town of Custer because we wanted to check out the beer sub culture. We ended up in the Bugling Bull, sitting at the bar next to a lovely couple from California who were celebrating their 49th wedding anniversary.



The taxidermy was wonderful: some very lifelike poses, and then these two items. On the right is a typical Jackalope (which, despite the name, sports antlers and not prongorns). On the left is… um… what I referred to as a “beavalope” but was informed it was a “horny beaver”. I did not name it.

There was also a drunken pheasant on its back, balancing a bottle of whiskey with its legs, but I did not capture a photo of that anomaly.

It rained all day Sunday, so we simply stayed in and enjoyed each other’s company on our last day of the 2018 Melrose Family Reunion sans the Melrose Girls: Phyllis (died 2017), Donna (too frail to come at age 88), and Mary Lou (died 1995).

Tomorrow: the road home

Read Full Post »

My family reunion was this past weekend. Every three years, the Melrose clan gets together for a fete of food and family. There’s usually at least one game of Mexican Train, a lot of cheese, and more laughter than one pair of panties can handle. We’re older now: we pee our panties a whole lot easier.

I won’t elaborate.

I’m sure you’re wondering how one family reunion can be associated with ‘a lot of cheese’. It’s easy: the family hails originally from The Cheese State and several members still reside there. And this year’s reunion was less than 100 miles from the Tillamook Cheese factory (the West Coast contingent’s rebuttal to Kraft and all those Wisconsin Holsteins). Wisconsin brought the cheese curds.

Why doesn’t Tillamook sell cheese curds? They’d make a killing. Cheese curds are awesome.

This is the first time the family has come to Oregon (or as my cousins from WisCONsin say, “Or-uh-GONE”). Which is why the West Coast side of the family imitates the nasally WisCONsin.

My cousins who live in California put this reunion together. I know: I live here. But my life went sideways after January 1, 2011 and my cousin Jan was just having way too much fun organizing. I was her “yes” person, a bobble-head who just nodded and did what she was told. Uncle Bob (Jan’s dad) picked out Cape Kiwanda. I’d never even heard of it.

Apparently Good Sam has.

Uncle Bob is 81 and we all felt he should have some say in the reunion even if he’s only related by marriage. He’s earned it. He’s been married to Aunt Phyllis for 59 years.

We bought them a cake to celebrate.

There’s a long story about the cake which is best left to another blog post. It has to do with Mick, the Australian GPS voice. It also has to do with having to change our panties. Uncle Bob and Aunt Phyl were very lucky to get a cake for their anniversary.

Aunt Phyl is the oldest of the Melrose girls. Aunt Donna is the middle child.

My mother was the youngest. They’re looking good for 83 & 81, aren’t they? Aunt Phyl is 2 weeks older than my dad.

The Melrose girls were hot in their day.

I arrived on Thursday evening after work. It was a harrowing commute down to the coast. Not really, I just wanted to say that. I took Oregon 18/22 through Dundee and made it through town in five minutes. It must be a personal record: usually the one stop-light in Dundee holds up traffic for a half hour either direction.

I drove into the setting sun on Oregon 130 and worried about deer (or elk) jumping out of the thick brush on either side of the 30 mph curves. There are exactly 4 one-lane bridges on that section of highway. It was scary.

Not really. I just wanted to say that. There was no traffic going west to tail-gate me and very little traffic coming east. There was only glare on my windshield.

It was wonderful to arrive and find my own personal cheering section when I tried to squeeze my car into the narrow slot left beside my brother’s gi-hugic diesel truck. Hey, as long as I didn’t hit anything and I could open the car door to get out, I was happy. But they cheered anyway.

That’s my family.

Snide, sarcastic, out-spoken. You have to have thick skin. You also have to understand it is all for comic relief. OK, some of it is catty (meow) but most of it is really just for comic relief.

Which is why Mick the Australian GPS Voice got fired on Saturday.

So what did we do for one weekend in Oregon?

Well… We did a few things.

We toured up to Tillamook (a post in which Mick gets a supporting role).

We surprised Aunt Donna.

We bought cake for Uncle BobĀ  Aunt Phyl (Mick, again).

We caw horses, elk, sandhill cranes, cormorants and and abandoned boat.

We watched the dories land on the beach at Cape Kiwanda.

We watched people get stuck in the sand on the beach at Pacific City. In cars. You can drive on the beach there. Or not: a lot of people got stuck.

We laughed a lot.

This is Jan. Jan laughed a lot.

This is Ellen.

She really did *not* pick her nose a lot.

Ellen – What ARE you doing in this photo??

I love my family…

Read Full Post »