Wednesday, October 3, 2007
My vacation has started..
Today I spent my entire day on the road driving to N.D. It's where I grew up and to this day, I still call it "home". I was up at 3:30 AM and was on the road by 5 AM. The weather was perfect and considering the time of day, there wasn't any traffic to slow me down. After stopping a few time for gas refills, a bite to eat and a brief stretch, I made my way north from Omaha via interstate 29 to Fargo, N.D. and then headed west to Bismarck on interstate 94. Then I found highway 83 north to Minot and found my sister at the airport from which we drove to see my Dad and Beverly.
There is just no good way to explain the feeling I get when I drive into the yard of my Dad's farm. I feel like I never left. Oh sure, Father Time has laid his hand upon all the old trees. And occasionally Dad has done a little bit of work on the house here and there. But over all, it's still the same farm I remember from my childhood and teenage years.
The main reason I took this long drive to the north central part of N.D. revolves around one thing. My Dad's 70Th birthday. I think that last time I actually spent his day with him was when I was still going to travel school back in 1987. I was only 19 going on 20 at the time. OK, I've officially aged myself! The original idea back in the spring of this year was to maybe plan a party for him. But considering the fact that he's retired, he travels south for the winter. It was real hard to find a time that my siblings and I could agree on (because we all have busy lives) and so we couldn't plan a party. But this was OK anyway.
My sister, Cathy, whom lives in Oregon, planned a surprise visit to N.D. for this special occasion. So we arranged that I would pick her up at the Minot Airport on my way to Dad's on Monday the 1st. He was aware of the fact that I would be driving home this day but I conveniently left out the fact that I had another stop to make! And that wasn't all! We had one more stop to make in Tioga to pick up a specially ordered cake (by Dad's wife Beverly) to commemorate this big day. It was all planned.
And so it went. I had a beautiful drive home, arrived at the airport and found my sister waiting for her luggage, made our drive to Tioga, picked up the cake and drove the last 16 miles to my Dad's farm. After Cathy climbed into the back seat of my van to hide, I drove into the yard and found Dad, Beverly and their little Shihtzu puppy, Bandy, (see photo below) outside, enjoying the evening air. Thank goodness a small plan had been made on the part of my sister and I for her to hide and somehow get into the house without his knowledge. She snuck into the house while I was outside with Dad and Beverly admiring the latest work done on the house! She went in and sat down at "his chair" at the kitchen table. When we walked in, he was practically to the table before he actually looked up and saw, to his major surprise, Cathy! He literally was taken aback, and the look on his face spoke for him! Bandy had his attention enough, that he wasn't even looking up to notice Cathy sitting at the table. It worked perfectly!
After much discussion on how we pulled this off, we sat and ate ice cream sundaes before heading off to bed. Cathy and I had both had a long day on very little sleep.
The next day, October 2ND, was Dad's day. Beverly had an appointment in Bismarck at 11:00. So we were going to have to try to stall Dad after this appointment and get him to stay in Bismarck until the time that we could go out for supper. We had another planned surprise for him. My brother, Kevin and his family, live in Dickinson, ND. It's west of Bismarck and it only takes them approximately 1 1/2 hours to make the drive. We had decided to meet at the Texas Roadhouse at 7 PM. By this time, Dad was suspicious by our actions. We were stalling him by telling him that we wanted to shop! And we were all over Bismarck trying to make the hours go by faster. But he had made his guesses as to what may be happening later ( and he was correct!) but we wouldn't give in and tell him so.
After getting seated and having ordered and eaten, Cathy and Suzanna and Abigail, 2 of my nieces, went out to the car and brought in the cake and various gifts that we had for Dad. We had been driving all over town with these items in the back unknowingly to Dad. Dad was obviously emotionally surprised by this gesture! This was the "only" thing he hadn't actually figured out. We proceeded to watch him open cards and gifts, ate some cake and headed back to our vehicles to make our respective drives home.
Here are a few photos from our evening.
It was a great day and night! Happy Birthday Dad!