Memorials and Reunion in Burlington, Iowa

Not much about gaming in this post… all personal stuff.

About 2 weeks ago I took the family out to the midwest to attend memorial services for my two grandmothers who both passed away over the past 9 months. We flew direct to Chicago and met up with my uncle Larry, rented a car, and drove the 4+ hours to Burlington, IA. The drive was reminiscent of the many, many drives I made as a child across various segments of the midwest. In the midwest alone I've lived in Dubuque, Altoona, and Urbandale IA, Louisville KY, Omaha NE, Indianapolis IN, St. Louis MO, and Dayton OH. So as you can imagine I've made the drive across and up/down Illinois many times. Julie and I had about our fourth date as a weekend trip from St. Louis up to Chicago in early spring 1990.

There was nothing but looking forward to this visit for me. While I miss my grandmothers, they are both in a better place now and neither one was in good shape for their final years. A visit to Burlington, the hometown of both of my parents and my "anchor" growing up, was just the place to bring some closure and re-visit some distant memories and distant relatives.

Thursday evening started with a Burlington Bee's single-A minor league baseball game. What a great time - cold beer, beautiful summer evening, and baseball like it is supposed to be played. One highlight that evening was noticing that David Peterson of Aloha, OR plays for the opposing team (the Clinton LumberKings) and getting a chance to chat with him after the game. He was a start player at Aloha high school and went on to play for George Fox. He is clearly homesick, and looking at his stats I'm not sure how much longer he will last in professional baseball. But he is the minor league story - kids doing their best to make it and doing what they love most. After our chat he gave Matthew one his baseball bats with his name and "Texas Rangers" branded into it.

On Friday we had a personalized tour of Burlington by our old family friend Lyle Magneson. Lyle as the distinct honor of teaching me all of the card tricks I know today, and I'm not too proud to say that doing card tricks is one of my best skills (girls only want boyfriends who have great skills after all). We hit all of the great sites in Burlington, the city that "could have been a contender" and was a major player in early rail and river commerce along the Mississippi. The highlight of course was a visit to Snake Alley, the true crookedest street in the world (eat your heart out San Francisco).

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Saturday was time for services in Mt. Pleasant IA (for Grandma Brooks) and in Burlington (for Grandma Gardiner).

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Saturday afternoon and evening we had an extended family picnic out at Crapo Park. Good food, picnic games, and a 5 on 6 softball game (man do I miss playing recreational softball!) all made for a wonderful afternoon.

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To family reading this: it was great seeing you all in Burlington, and remember that we love visitors out here in the distant northwest!