Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Planes Trains and Automobiles

It should not have surprised me that I would have found so much of my past in Minnesota. While it is hundreds of miles from the Pacific Northwest, my parents grew up in this state and I have many relatives that live here. So when I made an early morning journey to the PDX airport the stage was set for a visit to the past, present, and future.

I was traveling to the Midwest to celebrate the 50th wedding anniversary of my Aunt Judy and Uncle Jack. There were friends and family traveling from all over the country to witness this happy occasion. Even Europe was represented. There were so many people at the reception that my Cousin Jeff had to set up more tables.

I was prepared to see relatives that I had not seen for 11 to 16 years. I was caught off guard for the emotional impact that the slide show at the reception had upon me. I was also surprised to see things that reminded me of my Grandparents. Like the luggage that I spotted in my Aunt's hand. The piano that Grandma played as she would sing hymns. The clock on the fireplace mantel that Grandpa had made.

But I did not come here to dwell in the past. I discovered that I was not the only one in the family tree that would travel to the graveside of a dead American President. It was enlightening to see the traits that my cousins and I share due to our common heritage. In addition, it was meaningful to reacquaint with this part of my family. I certainly appreciated them sharing their homes, stories, laughter, and dreams with me.

While it was the automobile that got me to and from the airport (thanks Tanya and Scott), it was the train that was my ticket home. I boarded Amtrak's Empire Builder late Monday night in Minneapolis and de-trained Wednesday morning in Portland. While airline travel is quicker, I appreciated the more intimate view that train travel offered.

I spent most of the time in the observation car and enjoyed the fields of Sunflowers, the wind rippling like waves through the grasslands, and brief glimpses of the peaks of Glacier National Park. As a bonus some Mazamas friends boarded the train at the West Glacier train station. It was a treat to hear their stories of backpacking in Glacier National Park. I really would like to return here.

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