I thought that I would try something different this year and since I have not been able to work up the ambition to blog since March, I thought that this would be a good way to kill two birds with one stone, so to speak. I usually do the letter in a month by month format, so her goes. January, the temps varied from the 50s to cold. I was working on re jetting a bike which worked quite well, and some carpentry work in the basement. We moved my Mother-in-law back to Sherburn from Wadena this month too.. Leah, our grand daughter started piano lessons that I sat in on, and I painted the bathroom. In February the weather was not too bad and I got in some riding, and of course some snow too. Jan and I were over to Rochester a couple of times, once with both of the great-grammas along for Gus' birthday party. We also spent some time clearing out my mother-in-laws storage unit here in town and getting her settled in at her home in Sherburn etc.. Jan and I spent a few days with Leah and Aaron at their house while Eli and Lindsey were up North trying to find enough snow to do some snowmobiling. Oh ya, we celebrated our 41st wedding anniversary on the 14th. March, the temperatures vary quite a bit from the 30s to the high 70s, needless to say I got in a lot of riding, with a trip out to the Hills in the middle of the month. Also spent some time, and money, needless to say for maintenance on said bikes. Jan and I made a couple of trips to Rochester, celebrated Leah's birthday, and did some work for my Mom. I also hauled another load of worn out jeans to Grove City to a PGR buddy's home, where they make quilts for autistic kids from them. I did paint and hang the window boxes we got over the Winter, and they looked good this Summer full of flowers and greenery. April, the weather got better and better, but wetter and windier. I had to start mowing the lawn the first part of the month, and we drove my mother-in-law, Bernice to Sioux Falls for a doctors appointment. On the 20th, Jan and I started out for Virginia again, after a stop at the Air Force museum in Dayton and a couple of motels we arrived in Norfolk on the 22nd for a visit. We had a nice visit with the Defors and headed home on the 28th, and arrived back in St. James the next day. This trip I tried a new route around Washington, DC, I will not be trying that way again if I can avoid it. May started out with some heavy rains and several PGR missions to Jackson, Rochester , and Jackson again. Jan and I got our trailer out for the first trip of the season, which is to Albert Lea KOA. We did some riding down into Iowa around Decorah and the Theobald's came down to visit one afternoon. I think that this is the first year that we have been down there and the weather has been nice, the last few years it has been rainy and cold to boot. I had to replace the battery on our 94 Ducati and after stating her up I found the clutch AWOL. So I had to rebuild the master cylinder, it works good now. Gen ran in the Fargo marathon in May and naturally we drove up to watch. I am not so sure about her but we had a lot of fun watching the race on city streets. There were assorted bands on almost every block set up in people's driveways, it made for a festive atmosphere to be sure. Gen was happy with her time, so I guess that is what really matters. Toward the end of the month I rode out to the Big Horns in Wyoming to try some trails that I saw on my maps, but when I got way up in the Mountains I ran into a lot of snow so I had to turn around and head home. I guess that I was there a little too early, this time. It looks as if we got an awful lot of rain later in May, luckily as the crops needed the water in the drought that lasted the rest of the year around here. On Memorial Day we had our annual picnic at a park in Owatonna, with all of the family in this area at least including my sister Kathy who was home for a visit at the time. On the first of June I rode to Fergus Falls on a PGR mission for a soldier killed in a swimming accident. Jan and I drove down to Sherburn for her to visit her Mom and I went to the movie in town, yes Sherburn still has a theater that shows first run movies. Good grief, even Fairmont the county seat does not have a theater now, there used to be two and a drive inn. I was shopping around, looking for trees to replace the two ash trees in our front yard that were taken out later on. One was planted when Rachel was born and the other was for Genevieve. Eli's is on the east side of the house and is a maple. Gen, Sam,Gus, and I went to Mankato to the airshow to see the Blue Angels perform. Jan and drove over to Peterson for Scuba's softball tournament, this is getting to be an annual event too the way it seems. We had a PGR mission to Bloomington for a soldier KIA one day and a funeral for a PGR friend's Mom in Hardwick the next day, so I put a few miles there. Jan and I went to Mankato so that she could talk with Social Security and PERA about her upcoming plan to retire from Watonwan County Human Services where she has worked for 20 plus years. This is something that we have been looking forward to for years praying for the time to be together after retirement. So far so good. On the 4th of July we got the trailer out again and headed down to Lanesboro for a few days. Gen, Scuba, Eli, Lindsey, and families joined us, camping next to the trailer for a couple of days mostly to catch the terrific fireworks display that they put on down there. We got some riding in and had a good time with the gang. We celebrated Aaron's birthday on the tenth, and I spent several days sanding the deck off to re-apply a finish in the future. Jan and I met my brother Phil and his wife Laura in New Ulm one Thursday so that the ladies could do some shopping followed by a tour of the Schell's brewery and a burger at a small town burger joint, all in all we had a nice time. I did get the two maples in the front yard planted toward the end of July. Boy did we pick the wrong year to remove trees, it's been so dry and hot that I have been watering those trees almost on a daily basis ever since. On the 30th I was at a small cemetery in rural Canby waiting for the funeral procession to arrive from South Dakota, and realized that it was exactly 50 years ago that I had entered the Air Force, holy cow a half century ago! The Air Force I served in had more in common with WWll than does today's service. Many of the personnel I served with were veterans of that conflict. At the time I had no idea how many of those hero's I was surrounded by. I just wish that I knew then what I knew now about their sacrifices. I just finished another book about the air war over Europe in 1943 and 44, it seems incredible to me that we can expect people to just keep going out when the odds of coming back are slim to none! August started with me installing Mom's new stove, I have been helping out on her kitchen remodel here and there, so it is coming together at this time. Jan and I made another return trip to Rochester to see my doctors for a follow-up check, and everything looks fine, so they said "you don't have to come back in a year, if you don't want to". We said that I think we will be back just for the peace of mind of it. If we didn't go back, I think that we would kind of miss wandering around that facility checking things out. In the middle of the month Phil and I made a run out to the Hills for a little dirt biking etc.. It has been a while since we had been out there, what with several trips to Colorado over the years taking up some of our off road time. Toward the end of the month I headed south through Nebraska and Kansas so that I could clip the panhandle of Oklahoma and Texas, cross northern New Mexico and end up in Colorado. By riding Oklahoma, Texas, and New Mexico I would add 3 more states to my riding list. Anyway I was on my way to Rapid City for the 28th Bomb Wing reunion, and I had to be there Thursday the 30th, due to the fact that I was running behind I had to skip Texas and New Mexico. I found the panhandle of Oklahoma to be the most God forsaken part of the country I have ever had the displeasure of passing through. The next day I rode to the top of Pike's Peak, there's a really good view from up there, and up through Breckenridge, Granby, and Walden to Laramie for the night. The next day was on to Rapid city and the reunion check in, which turned out to be a bust. Evidently this was a function for senior NCO's and officers, so I felt really, more so than ordinarily out of place.So I headed home the next day, won't be doing that one again. Oh well I had a pretty good ride anyway. September stated out with Eli and I making a run to Maple Plain for him to get a different bike, again, a Yamaha FJR, which seems like a nice machine. We got the trailer out and loaded for our run over to Oakdale, Wisconsin for almost a week pf riding and relaxing. As usual we had a good time in the hills of Wisconsin on some of the best roads in this part of the country. I also finished finishing the deck before the end of the month when Jan officially spent her last day at the office!! The day after her retirement we loaded up the Mustang for a run to Norfolk to visit the DeFors for a couple of weeks. The primary excuse was Hans and Rachel were going on a cruise to celebrate their 10th anniversary and we, well Jan and I were going to watch the kiddos for a week or so. It went pretty good for the most part, but I guess that I forgot how much work 3 smaller children are. You've got to admire grand parents that take over raising their grand children. The only downside of the trip was hitting a deer near Jaynesville on the way home, as usual didn't even see it until it took out the front of the Mustang. Naturally it took out the radiator and a few other things, all to the tune of $4500+. After returning home I had a couple of PGR missions and we celebrated Jan's birthday with a retirement party at her former place of employment. Along with my brother and sister-in -law, we made another run to the Black Hills for a few days. We had a good time one day touring the wineries that a popping up in the Hill City area. November started with a trip to Rochester to help the Theobalds finish their basement with some painting assistance. Shortly after that Jan,i, Phil, Laura, and my sister Kathy flew out to Washington DC for a few days. Kathy has been reading names at the Wall every five years for a while now, I've been with her now for the past ten years. Jan, Phil, and Laura had never been to DC before so it was quite a treat for them. Our hotel this time was right in back of the Air and Space museum so it was a short walk over there and then a pretty good hike down to Wall from there. We did ride the trolley one day around town, stopping at the National Cathedral, White House, etc.. It was really beautiful there this time of the year, cool, with the trees turning. Did I mention that Kathy picked up the tab for this whole adventure? I can say without a doubt that the gesture was greatly appreciated! Jan and I say that we would go back in a moment. I did manage to get in some more riding and two more KIA funerals with the PGR, one in New Prague and the other in Algona, Iowa. Thanksgiving was in Rochester at the Theobalds again this year, this is also an annual event at their house. It is nice developing traditions like this. December, it seems as if now days we spend the better part of the month leading up to Christmas itself. We, Jan and I were over to Rochester to attend both grand son's Christmas programs and the Cities for Rachel's mother-in law's concert at Woodale. The Woodale Christmas concert is quite a production, you need to see it to appreciate it. We had our family Christmas at our house last Saturday with the whole gang here minus the DeFor family, who are coming home from Norfolk by the end of the year for a visit. We plan on holing up at a hotel in the Cities with them for a few days. Our son-in-law Navy Cmdr Hans DeFor just got the word that he has been approved for the command of his own ship, something he has been working toward for over 20 years of service.
I have to say that this has been an exceptional year in a string of exceptional years with our family, God has surely blessed us through no fault of mine, good proof that our deeds don't determine our good luck in relationships, children, and the blessing of having been born in the United States of America. Take good care of yourselves and those around you, and hopefully the Mayans are wrong and we will see you next year.