Posted by: Nathan | June 21, 2009

Back from a Good Visit

Last Tuesday, J, Lucy and I got back to Denver after our first planned trip of the summer. We visited Cedar Rapids to throw a baby shower for our dear friend E, and we saw other friends and family as well. As always, it is a blessing to be back in our own home, but the trip was delightful, too.

We left Colorado last Wednesday night (6/10) after I got off of work and drove the seven hours to Lincoln, NE. Oh, Nebraska, I’m sure you’re a fine state full of nice people, but for me in my state of affairs, you’re often a hindrance. Also, your scenery leaves something to be desired, namely scenery. I forgot that we lose an hour on the way east, so we arrived at our hotel at 2:30 am.

After a brief, ineffectual rest, we left the following day (6/11). The drive from Lincoln to Omaha and then through most of Iowa isn’t too bad. We were also blessed to have Elizabeth Gilbert’s book Eat, Pray, Love along with us on CD. We spent the remainder of the trip listening to it and got to Cedar Rapids in the afternoon. We stayed with J’s folks this time, and they did a wonderful job of making us comfortable. They had redone a bedroom upstairs and purchased a double bed with our visit in mind! Thanks! We dined with them (mmm…roast) and headed over to D&E’s house, where we stayed up far too late talking about anything. We were so glad to see them, we didn’t mind a second consecutive night of going to sleep late.

On Friday(6/12), J and I split up our day. She stayed with her family all day working on preparations for the baby shower. I had the enviable task of spending time with friends.  I was at D&E’s for a while, and then we drove across town to Nate’s (soon to be former) apartment. N&A had set up an excellent buffet of junk food snacks–chips and dip, jalapeño poppers, and mozzarella sticks. I also had the joy of playing my first game of Cities and Knights of Catan, which is Settlers ratcheted up three notches. I loved it! It helped that I won, of course… Then there was some time for Super Smash Brothers on the ol’ N64. Hanging out with Jason also made this afternoon special, as I rarely have the privilege of his company. After that, I at dinner with my parents at Ruby Tuesday and then watched the Penguins win the Stanley Cup (w00t!). It wasn’t enough time with my folks, but we’re glad we get to see them next month.

Saturday (6/13) was the shower. After some final preparations in the morning, I drove back to D’s house for more video games and chatting. It was also wonderful to see my old friend G after so many years, and I met his beautiful wife and daughter. After the shower was over, everybody came back to D&E’s and spent a lovely evening there. The barbecue was delicious, and there was far more food than our company could consume in a given night, which we all know is the hallmark of a great Midwestern meal. N&A graced us with their attendance. Jason and JL brought their daughters over, and it was a joy to spend time with them. D’s dad was also present, and E’s mom and sister-in-law rounded out the company. The day ended sitting around the outdoor fireplace, talking, laughing and watching the stars come out.

The following day (6/14), we celebrated the birthday of J’s dad. We had a slow morning and then ate steaks that Dan H cooked. Juicy. After homemade ice cream with German chocolate cake–yes, I’m serious–we enjoyed a quick visit to Grandma and Don’s house. Then we drove J’s brother back to his place in Cedar Falls. It was good to have a chance to catch up with him. Then we ate out with Jessi and Dan H at Granite City, which I had never been to before. I thoroughly enjoyed the Cuban sandwich I had, and we were glad we had a chance to devote some time to them.

Monday (6/15) was lovely. We hung out with D&E all day. We ate at a diner, talked a lot, enjoyed more Dutch Blitz (I lost; D won), played some Mario Kart 64, and took Lucy for a walk. We closed out the day playing miniature golf at Airport National Golf Course. I had no idea they had such a nice putt putt course! It was an ideal Iowa summer night: cool, bright orange sunset, lovely green rolling hills all around, and me winning in mini golf (I beat E by 3 strokes). But of course that day was more than its activities. It is always wonderful and restorative to be with such good friends. We really wished we didn’t have to leave the following day, but I guess it’s better to have a visit that leaves you wanting more.

Tuesday (6/16) was spent driving back across the green, undulating fields of Iowa, through the taupe-colored and increasingly boring plains of Nebraska, and back into the rocky soil of the Centennial State until we could see the Front Range again. J and I listened to much more Elizabeth Gilbert, which was enjoyable and passed the time well. We set a new record that day for fastest time between Cedar Rapids and Denver: 11 hours, 35 minutes, including four stops. It was good to be home (it always is), but we immediately missed our loved ones who were and are once again over 800 miles away.

Thinking back through this too-short excursion, it’s amazing how many wonderful, caring people we have in our lives. Everyone was so generous to us! It was a pleasure to be back in CR again, and J and I cannot wait to see all of you again, whenever that occasion arises.

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