Family


We just returned from a quick trip to Salt Lake City.  In addition to visiting family and enjoying Thanksgiving hospitality, we also hit the road for some sightseeing.  After reading about the Mirror Lake Scenic Byway, we headed out to see how far we could go.  We had a wonderful brunch in Kamas and then left town on Utah State Route 150.  The road follows the Provo River as it tumbles down through the Uinta Mountains, and although the weather was unseasonably warm in northern Utah, there has been snow in the higher elevations.  We were only able to drive 15 miles, but we were not disappointed. The terrain is beautiful, and as the road climbed upward the landscape became white.  The patterns of the trees with their light and dark, the snow and blue sky — it was all a delight for the eyes.  And whenever we stopped en route, we could hear the river below as it moved over rocks and rapids.  As much as we marveled at the area on this shortened trip, we know we will return to travel and explore the full distance of the byway.

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Last weekend we headed south to the Kansas City area traveling through southern Minnesota, Iowa, and northern Missouri.  The occasion was a special one – my brother’s wedding (congrats to him and his lovely bride!).  Fall colors had peaked already in Minnesota, but by heading south to warmer climates we were able to enjoy more of those rich colors in the landscape.  This scene in central Iowa caught my eye.  Not only was the fence post and its decorative saw blade unique, but the white of the post and the red of the gate seemed to contrast and compliment the green pasture and the golden fall colors on the distant hills.  Fall is soon to be a memory in Minnesota, but it was wonderful to enjoy the season in other states, and it was a perfect weekend to celebrate family and love.

On Father’s Day we all take a few moments to reflect on the fathers and grandfathers that have been in our lives.  After all these years I appreciate my father even more – for his guidance and support, his love and caring, as well as all the little (and big things) he did for me.  I fondly remember a playhouse he built when I was little, the dance and piano lessons that helped shape me, and the horse that he got for me when I was in high school.  The trips we took, his patience in teaching me, and the always available voice on the other end of the phone line…so many things I would love to thank him for today if he were still here.  To all the fathers and grandfathers that build things for their children and grandchildren, and give them the support and love that’s so necessary throughout our lives – thank you.

Our weekend was a two-night road trip south to Iowa for softball.  My niece plays for the Baker University Wildcats (from Baldwin, Kansas) and they were playing games in Dubuque and Cedar Rapids;  a perfect excuse for a beautiful spring weekend escape from the north.  Today’s games were against the Mount Mercy Mustangs of Cedar Rapids.  With excitement in both games, the Wildcats won the first game and the home-town Mustangs won the second game.  But the weekend also gave us a chance to explore some areas of Wisconsin and Iowa we hadn’t seen before, and also the chance to catch up with family.  A whirlwind trip, but so very worth it!

County road sunrise7D_13742_StaatsI awoke this morning before the sunrise, grabbed my camera, and headed out the door.  We were in Kansas for a family wedding.  The weather had been as perfect as is possible for August in Kansas – low humidity, sunshine, and temps in the 80’s.  But this morning the air was fresh and cooled, and the fog hung low in the valleys.  As I drove down gravel roads, the dust hung in the golden air and the sunlight glistened off the telephone lines and the grasses.  My nephew and his lovely bride were married in a garden setting yesterday, surrounded by family and friends.  It was lovely and it was just as they had hoped – a true expression of who they are individually and who they are as a couple.  As I was greeting the morning with an appreciation of the scenery and a new day, I was hoping that this first day of their life as husband and wife would be a beautiful omen of their future together.  Congrats to them; and I’m so proud of their family that has showered them with love.

Volkswagen Beetle_13525 StaatsI spent this morning wandering the Minnesota State Fairgrounds at the Minnesota Street Rod Association’s Back to the Fifties celebration – 12,000+ vehicles dating from 1964 and before.  For a photographer, it’s a treat to the eyes with all the colors and details, reflections, and car enthusiasts.  Even though the temperatures were hovering near 90 degrees, there was a plethora of people and families, with many Father’s Day celebrations taking place.  As I was getting ready to leave, I saw these two Volkswagen Beetles, and was instantly taken back to my childhood and memories of my father.  I remember the small light green Beetle he bought when I was about five or six years old.  This was way before children’s car seats, and I would sit on my large stuffed red dog that was wedged over the parking brake between the driver’s and passenger’s seats and watch the world go by.  There was also a small cargo area behind the back seat, perfect for one small suitcase, but it would hold me quite nicely.  My memories of this little car are all good, and it was a welcome delight to reminisce of my father on this Father’s Day.

Chapel and peonies_StaatsA day of celebration, a day of love, filled with spirits, memories, honor, remembrance, a nod to the past, and a step to the future.  A chapel designed by my father, bouquets of peonies to honor my mother, an intimate gathering of family and friends – a celebration to remember!

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