Happy Birthday Grandpa

World’s longest blog.

So I haven€™t blogged lately for a couple of reasons, the most interesting (and coincidentally the only one worth mentioning) is that Lydia and I were out in CA for my Grandpa€™s 100th birthday.  His actual birthday is September 9th but there are too many teachers in the family to have a reunion then, so we had it now. 

Part I €“ Travel or Thank you TSA, I appreciate the lines and it€™s a comfort knowing no full size tubes of toothpaste will breach the cockpit.
  Last Thursday Lydia and I drove down to the cities along with my brother Ben, Mom & Dad, and our friend Catherine.  We crashed into the hospitality of some of Ben€™s friends and found out that they had a mutual friend of my folks back at Nairobi.  Small world.  Lydia got to be around 11pm.  We shared a bed and I was reminded of how much she wiggles in her sleep.  The bed was plenty comfortable but the feet in my ribs woke me up every 45 minutes.  We got up at 6am to catch our flight.  My folks had a different flight and were out by 4 a.m., so I felt like we were sleeping in a bit.  Lydia didn€™t though.  There was a lot of screaming.  That€™s a fun way to start 10 hours of travel.
 We got to the airport and were greeted by long, but swift moving lines.  It€™s exciting to see what kind of new dumb-ass rules and regulations the TSA has concocted, and I was especially happy to see that you couldn€™t take more than 3 oz. of anything through the checkpoint.  My small carry on contained 2 water bottles and an empty coffee mug.  The bottles both had ounces marked on the outside so I drank them down to 3.  I kind of wanted to leave them full, but I realize that the folks working there didn€™t make the rules and they would probably confiscate the bottles which were made by Nalgene and I had no desire to replace them.  My inner cheapskate trumped my inner rebel.  Lydia and I cleared security and stumbled with my brother to Starbucks where I had my water bottles topped off and my mug filled.  Here€™s a free fact.  Starbucks has super water filtration to brew their superior cup of coffee so I guarantee you their tap water is cleaner than the bottled water they sell.  And (bonus) my inner cheapskate leaps for joy.
 Four hours later we were on the ground at LAX, with my parents hunting down an elusive rental vehicle.  So elusive it took three different rentals and 2 different locations to get it.  Boring story short €“ they reserved a mini van but the place didn€™t have that or a suitable substitute.
 Once found, we all converged on Thrifty€™s rental lot and took off in dodge caravan, made a serendipitous wrong turn and found a great Mexican restaurant.  So great we ate there.  Dad got the bill.  Rejoice oh cheapskate, rejoice! And back on the road.
 It€™s been about 10 years since I€™ve been to Southern California, about 15 since I€™ve been to Riverside where I lived till the age of 7.  Suffice to say the population has grown.  Within 5 minutes on the freeway I had vowed 10 times that I would never live here.  The traffic and population density is unreal.  On the 4 hour drive to Porterville where my Grandpa lives we saw all kinds of towns that as kids had been near deserted water stops and now had grown to the point of merging into one another complete with, McDonalds, McMalls and McStarbucks.  McCrazy. 
Sometime around 5 we got to our hotel, dumped off our stuff and made our way to the bowling alley where Grandpa was getting the party started.
Part II €“  Reunion or My Grandpa€™s 100 and he can still kick my butt in everything but dice games.
 You would think being 100 years old would have you in a nursing home wondering what kind of prune based dishes the hairnets would be sneaking on to your lunch tray.  But not my Grandpa.  Art€™s only complaint at this age is that the rest of his bowling league is 30 years younger and they keep dying off.  No one said it would be easy.
 The rest of the family met up as well €“ folks from MT, MD, WA, PA, MN, Shanghai, and Nairobi.  We reserved 4 lanes and had a blast bowling.  I easily nailed a solid 62.  Grandpa bowled 182.  I tried to drown my sorrows by ordering a PBR and got laughed at.  Apparently the West Coast is still catching up with the more refined pallets of the Midwest.  We reconvened at the hotel pool.  Went to bed.  Got up.  Took Grandpa horseback riding.
 Art was a jockey (and a good one) in his teens and has always loved horses.  In fact his dad, Anfin had his picture taken on a horse at 97.  Art forgot to have his own horse picture taken 3 years ago, so we surprised him and took him out to a nearby ranch where he got to ride a horse and we have roughly 8 billion pictures to prove it.  Backat his house there’s a great picture of him riding when he was forty something with a cigarette hanging out of his mouth.  He has since stopped smoking, but my Aunt Alice rolled up a piece of paper and made a fake cigarette so he could recreate the old picture. 
 Later that evening we had a fun friends and family gathering at his church, complete with a reporter from the local paper, and then again wrapped things up at the pool.  We shot for an earlier bedtime since in the morning we were taking Grandpa golfing.
 I€™m not sure what€™s more amazing, my Grandpa golfing, or my Grandpa having 9 extra sets of clubs to outfit the rest of us.  He’s an avid garage saler.  I come by my inner cheapskate honestly.  We golfed nine holes, Grandpa got 47, I had that on about the 4th hole and quit counting.  My own highlights included a legitimate need to yell €˜fore€™ not once but twice.  And one illegitimate need.  The house wasn’t about to move. Here€™s a plus of being 100 €“ free golf.  The lady refused to charge Grandpa for his game.  What a gal.  We made it back to church, a big family lunch, saw off a bunch of the relatives headed down to Disneyland, and met up at Grandpa€™s house for a game of Farkel.  I won.  Call me a whipper-snapper but I totally dominated the cup of dice. 
 Sunday night we said our good byes and Monday morning we headed down to Riverside to visit some old family friends.  It was a long drive.  Lydia does not sleep when traveling.  Traffic was horrendous.  We were glad to get out of the car.
Part III Homecoming or See Part I but in reverse.
 Tuesday we headed home.  2 hours to the airport.  2 hours of waiting at the airport.  Minor victory in me vs. TSA.  I totally left 4 ounces of water in my water bottle and it totally cleared security.  Stick it to the man!  Long flight during which I read aloud 140 pages of Beverly Cleary€™s Ramona and her Father to Lydia and everyone else within a 6 foot radius of seats 14 a & b.  Landed in St. Paul at 10:30 pm, in our car at 11:20 eating at McDonalds in Maple Grove at 11:55.  Lydia asleep at 12:15am.  Me carrying Lydia to her bed at 3 a.m.  It€™s good to be home.

Posted: July 5th, 2007
Categories: Uncategorized
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