Our long awaited trip to the Midwest finally arrived on May 7th. We flew into Minneapolis to visit my husband's daughter, Anne, and her children, Milla and Will.
|Ron and Milla at his daughter's Chaska home.|
We were so pleased to visit the grandchildren and see how they've grown since their visit to our home in December, 2012. We arrived on the day of Will's 10th birthday. Will is an introspective boy, bright and sensitive, with a great sense of humor.
|Anne with daughter, Milla|
We went out to dinner that evening to a local taqueria that Will favored but, unfortunately, it was closed that evening, so we ended up at Tommy's Malt Shop for burgers and malts. After a mega carbo-load of burgers, fries, and malts, we returned home for a Birthday Party brought to Will from his Minnesota Grandma and Grandpa. Grandma Diane designed a special birthday cake that looked like a giant ice cream banana sundae. My diet was doomed for the rest of our vacation by all the tasty temptations we would encounter from that day forth. We spent three days in Minnesota doing grandparent activities including watching Will's school play, transporting Milla to pre-school, playing chess with Will, reading stories to Milla, going to the Mall of America for dinner at Will and Milla's favorite restaurant: Tucci Benucch.
|Will in his school play where he was the defense attorney|
for an accused lunchbox thief
|Will reading his lines|
|Milla on her way to pre-school|
|Milla in her Little Red Riding Hood dance costume |
with Grandpa Ron
|Will carefully guarding his ice cream stuffed cream puff dessert at Tucci Benucch|
|Pond across the street from Anne's home|
|Previous drained farmlands in Chaska, MN|
were restored to wetlands prior to building new homes
|Walking path trough the wetlands|
|A Red Wing Blackbird amid the Cat Tails|
|Canada Geese on the pond|
After a lunch stop across the the street from St. Mary's Hospital (the first hospital built by William Mayo in 1889, we headed southeast to the bluff country just west of the Mississippi River . Following the winding roads where lakes and rivers, farms and fields predominate, it was a pleasure to see with my own eyes the wonderful country that Troutbirder has often posted about on his Blog. We headed south to Decorah, Iowa where the Norwegian American Museum is. My father was of Norwegian-descent, and born in Minnesota, so I would have liked to visited the museum. Unfortunately, we did not stop for a visit because we needed to be in Davenport by 5PM. We proceeded south to Dubuque (a port city on the Mississippi River). We stopped at a scenic view of the Mississippi River and purchased some local honey and berry jam from roadside vendors.
|The Mighty Mississippi River just south of Dubuque, Iowa|
We arrived at Jeff and Margaret's home in Davenport, Iowa with minutes to spare. Jeff pulled up with little Max about 5PM. Margaret soon followed. Their new home bought last year is a lovely 1940's home in a neighborhood of older, well-maintained classic homes. We spent a comfortable 3 days with Margaret's family, enjoying her home-made crab cakes, going to the Farmer's Market and the Zoo with Max, and dining out a couple of times. Max is a happy inquisitive 2 year old and he obviously makes everyone around him happy.
|Margaret with Max (2 years, 5 months)|
|Daddy Jeff (picture taken by Max)|
|Father and son having fun at bath time|
|Mother's Day at the Rock Island Zoo|
|Grandpa Ron showing Max how to use a cell phone|
|Dinner out with Max|
|Me with Max|
We departed Iowa on May 13th by car, heading for Chicago (Midway Airport) for a 5:00 flight to Ohio. Just outside of Chicago, Ron spotted a White Castle restaurant and suggested we have some White Castles ("sliders" in the Midwest where these soggy tiny two-bite burgers with onions have been around for 91 years). I had never had one. We bought six -- two with cheese, two plain and two with jalapenos and cheese. I was not overly impressed but I didn't grow up with them as Ron had. His memories of White Castles are tied to his youth when he and his friends headed for White Castle after an evening out.
We arrived in Columbus that evening and were greeted at the Airport by Ginni and Fred (Ron's sister and brother-in-law). I know Ron was nervous about meeting his birth sister and her husband, but they greeted us with great warmth and friendliness as if they had known us all their lives. Fred drove us to the 94th Aero Squadron Restaurant for a late dinner where we got to know each other, then whisked us off to their home in Columbus for the night.
|Fred and Ginni (Ron's sister)|
|Reunited after 73 years - Ron and Ginni|
|Fred and Ginni with Ron|
We spent the next day talking, talking, and talking. Fred gave us a tour of Columbus' renovated downtown and Ohio State University. The new bridges, river parks, cafes and lofts made Columbus look very attractive. For dinner, Ginni made a Slovenian meal of Chicken and Njoki (Potato Dumplings) with Apple Strudel for dessert. Both of the dishes were made by Ginni the way their mother had taught her. She also served us Potica (Nut Roll). That evening, we had a gathering of both Fred and Ginni's children so we could meet many of Ron's nieces and nephews and grand-nieces and nephews. We gathered in Fred and Ginni's lovely patio garden in the warm early evening. Delightful bright red cardinals sang for us.
|Ron with his nephew, Dan - Ginni's son|
|Ginni and Ron with Dan, Grand Niece Rachael, and Grand Nephew Lucas|
|Jon and Jennifer (Ron's Niece)|
I had never been to Cleveland. Ginni joined Ron and I on our trip to their hometown. We stopped at Ginni's son's home near the Lake Erie shore in Cleveland. Greg had purchased a beautiful old home just ten doors from the lake shore for about $64K a couple of years before. He has lovingly restored the home and it is a jewel. Greg joined his mom, Ron, and I for a trip to St. Paul's Cemetery to visit the graves of Vincent and Sylvia, Ron's birth parents, and also the grave of his Grandmother, Mary Brgles.
|Greg, Ron, and sister, Virginia (Ginni)|
|Ron's birth father died in a truck accident|
before Ron was born
|Ron's old Peninsula home|
|Chatting with Mr. Johnson who bought the home from Ron 38 years ago.|
|Ron reflecting on the backyard landscape|
|Some things were the same and some things were different. |
Ron lamented the loss of a huge Tulip Poplar that had been cut down
|Mr. Johnson and Ron talking about the house and |
the changes he had made over the years.
|Mr. Johnson had removed the stucco exterior and replaced it with vinyl siding|
|Looking from the back deck to the end of the property adjacent to the Cuyahoga River|
|The front entry to the house|
After touring the home where Ron had raised his young children we went across the street to see his old friend and neighbor, Lily. We enjoyed several hours of conversation and dinner and then left for our hotel in Independence (a suburb south of Cleveland). The next day we toured Cleveland via a Lolly the Trolley City Tour , toured University Circle where Case University (now Case Western) has many beautiful buildings, and visited the world-class Cleveland Museum of Art. Ron had attended Case as a young man. Later we drove by Ron's Cleveland family home where he grew up and his old high school building that once housed Holy Name High School before it moved to Parma Heights. Today it houses Holy Name Elementary School.
|The atrium between the buildings |
at the Cleveland Museum of Art
|One of three giant "Water Lilies" paintings by Monet|
is at the Cleveland Museum of Art
|An Auguste Rodin sculpture|
|"Dancers" by Degas|
|Vincent Van Gogh|
|A wonderful interactive exhibit of religious paintings and|
|Beautiful architecture of the original building|
|View from the original entrance|
|As an artist, I loved the Museum of Art.|
|Of course, we paid homage to The Cleveland Browns football stadium|
On the morning of May 17th, we headed for the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame but we were blocked by a huge civic event. The police told us we could not get there until 1 PM. Unfortunately, we could not wait that long, so we picked up Ginni and returned to Columbus. Reunited with Fred, we headed for dinner at the Columbus Fish Market near Ohio State University where we enjoyed excellent seafood. Fred took us for a second tour of a vibrant Columbus before we went home. Ron's niece, Jennifer, and husband, Jon, visited us again in the morning. We then headed for Columbus' Park of Roses to check out the blooms. It was a little early for most of the roses, but a walk through the pleasant gardens was certainly welcome before our long flight home that afternoon.
|Me enjoying the gardens in Park of Roses|