Linda and I are just back from 12 days of togetherness; unavoidably..but still comfortably inseparable because we decided on a serious 36 hundred mile road trip in our new (to us) Big Red II Ford Explorer.
Our motivation to embark on such a long journey to Seneca, South Carolina, was the 50th anniversary surprise party for my brother, Tom and his lovely wife, Ilene arranged by their three grown kids.
I wasn’t convinced they could pull it off…but couldn’t resist the challenge of giving it a shot and having the chance of seeing their jaws drop when they spotted us showing up to the party.
For years, our friends, Tom and Lori Steever have been saying if you’re ever near Jefferson City, Missouri, please stop by. Well, turns out we were near there so called ahead and were greeted by a wonderful welcome to their lovely home for cocktails and dinner. What a great time reminiscing about our years together in broadcasting and playing in the Mogen’s Heroes band.
Next it was off to Nashville. Sort of felt like the Griswolds in the movie “Vacation” as we as we made a wrong turn in heavy St. Louis traffic and took forever to find our way back on the right road.
Rolled into Nashville with hopes of going out on the town and experience some good ol’ country music. Ended up snarled in Friday evening traffic and looking for a motel. We found a Day’s Inn in a dubious neighborhood..but were willing to settle until the clerk quoted the price at over 100 dollars. This was after spending just 60 bucks in Jeff City at a much nicer place. We decided to press on to Murfreesboro just outside Nashville and found a very new much nicer Day’s Inn at half the price. We opted to have pizza delivered to the room and forego a night of honkey tonkin’ for some honkey zonkin’. A great free hot breakfast at the Day’s Inn and we were ready to face the easy five hour drive to Seneca. Our Google GPS warned that there would be some slow downs through Chatanooga. But those warnings weren’t stern enough. We ended up stuck on a five lane freeway squeezed into just one lane for ten miles. Stop and go for an agonizing two hours. After that, neither Linda and I were in the mood to take the scenic route to Seneca as planned..but really had no choice since we’d already missed our chance to take the Atlanta route. So, the next four hours found us on, what seemed to be, an endless trek on a winding road that would put the Needles Highway to shame. Beautiful..but..finally upon arrival in Seneca.. we were ready to get out of Big Red II, into the motel room..relax and have our evening toddy.
When we got settled in to our home for the next two nights, Linda happened to mention we were about out of distilled beverage. No matter, I said, we passed a liquor store a few blocks away. Surprisingly, the darn place was closed..not open again until Monday at 11 AM. Wait..what?? Called the front desk. Yes, she said. South Carolina doesn’t sell package beverages after 7 pm Saturday through the weekend. I glanced at my watch: 7:30.
“Geeze, Doug”…said Linda, “there are a couple of beers and a few Mike’s hard lemonades in the cooler..we’re fine. “But…but” I replied, “I don’t drink beer except with pizza or after mowing. ..and lemonade makes me gag.”
So, I took my first step towards sobriety thanks to South Carolina’s ludicrous liquor laws..and, in truth, it didn’t hurt a bit.
[ THE SURPRISE]
Tom and Ilene live in a beautiful home on Lake Keowee..a lovely man made lake just a few miles from Seneca, South Carolina. The surprise party..arranged by their children, Erin, Kim and Brad, was to be held at the Keowee Key Marina. It was a great setting and fifty or so of their family and close friends were anxiously awaiting their arrival under the guise of an anniversary dinner with just the kids and grandkids…heh, heh.
After our dad died in 1977, my two brothers and I (each four years apart) became a whole lot closer. When mom passed in 1995..and Tom suffered a near fatal brain aneurysm five years later… much closer still…even hugging and verbally expressing our love OUT LOUD.
Then when Denny the eldest brother (pictured in the middle at Lund reunion 2012)..died in 2014..Tom and I realized just how fleeting time is and the respect, admiration and affection we have for each other and our families should be…and has become.. emotional and strong. What might have once been embarrassing for the Lund boys is now the joyful norm.
So it was with great anticipation that Linda and I along with Ilene’s sister,Kay and brother-in-law Eric, of Brookings, waited to see the looks on their faces when they spotted us South Dakotan’s had made the trip. I’ll just let the following photos tell the story:
Such a wonderful time.
As it was time to leave, I mentioned to Linda that I wasn’t crazy about driving the same route home and sort of suggested we go by way of Austin, Texas where her two sisters and a brother live. It was a few hundred miles out of the way…and wasn’t without it’s highway frustrations..but thanks to Big Red II’s previous owner whose subscription to Serius XM was still valid, we had Classic Radio shows..the Sinatra Channel, the Elvis Channel and other fun stations to listen to all the way to Texas where we met up with Linda’s sister, Cynthia and her husband Tom. They also have a terrific place at Horseshoe Bay..North of Austin. Our short stay ended with a wonderful dinner with Linda’s Brother, Chad..his wife Lisa and her Sister, Shelle with husband, Troy. Everybody was so wrapped up in conversation no one remembered to take a photo. Then it was on to Lincoln, Nebraska where we spent a night with daughter, Suzan, son in law, Joseph and granddaughter Zoey and got to check out their long awaited and finally completed finished basement project. It’s great.
By the time we finally rolled into our Sioux Falls driveway..Linda and I looked at each other and smiled…glad to be home..but so grateful, too, for the joy our families bring to make any journey near or far worth it all.