Our mostly-annual Midwest road trip came early this summer. Eric's grandfather died on Palm Sunday and the memorial service was held at the end of May in Madison, WI. We left the minute Eric's semester ended (I picked him up at the curb outside his office with a loaded car) and spent ten days away arriving back home very late the night before an all-day meeting Eric had to attend. The timing definitely meant that we spent far less time in St. Paul that we would have liked but given how much we have going on this summer, a shorter trip was probably in order anyway and this forced us to do it.
Eric mostly grew up in Madison so he is always happy for a reason to spend some time there. The memorial service was lovely. Grandpa was very popular and had many old friends in Madison. He was also a veteran of World War II and the military "presentation of colors" at the end was very moving.
I think the highlight of the whole trip might have been the family reunion that evening. Eric's Great-Uncle Ted hosted the entire extended family at his house for the evening. The Iltae are a very musical bunch and Ted's two sons brought out their instruments and entertained us all with song after song after song. I was amazed at the memory these guys had. There was lots of jamming, too. Joseph and Margaret both wanted in on the action with the mandolin:
Joseph actually had pretty good technique thanks to his violin lessons.
We spent some time tooling around Madison. The kids were excited to see houses where Eric had lived and schools he had gone to. We drove back to St. Paul with Eric's brother Ben Sunday afternoon. We made our traditional pit stop at the Norskie Nook and ate way too much pie. I thought this view of Ben was really fun:
He and William, discussing alternate views on fashion:
All in all, it was a lovely, if short, trip. I hope we can make up for it a bit next summer. We have several very good friends in St. Paul and it is hard to see them only once each year.