Monday, August 17, 2009

July 6, 2009: Back to Albuquerque...

Our original plan was to leave Grafton for Minneapolis at 9:00 a.m. or so, but Mom wasn’t feeling up to travelling until around 11:00 a.m. I emailed Von King, our cousin (her dad, Gorman King, was our dad Murray’s older brother) telling her that we would probably arrive in Minneapolis at 5:00 or 6:00 and giving her David’s cell phone number in case she could meet us for supper before we had to be at the airport around 7:15 p.m. Our return flight was scheduled to depart at 9:15 p.m.

David drove from Grafton to Moorhead, and then I drove the rest of the way. At one point—near St. Cloud, MN—I spied a Maid-Rite Hamburger sign. I had fond memories of Maid-Rite hamburgers from our days of living in Mason City, Iowa, where my dad managed a potato-packing plant when I was in the fifth and sixth grades. I remember the day Guy discovered Maid-Rite hamburgers and took David and me to try them. I—who have hardly ever met a food I didn’t like—was never particularly fond of hamburgers, but I did like these. So, when I saw the Maid-Rite sign outside of St. Cloud, I took the designated exit and searched until I found the joint—for joint it was—and left David and Mom in the car to order late lunch for all of us.

What a disappointment that Maid-Rite hamburger was. It had none of the flavor I remembered from my youth. It was, in fact, Maid-Rong. Ah, well, as the Zen saying goes, “Only birds and young children know what strawberries taste like.” And perhaps only young hicks fresh from North Dakota know and can appreciate what Maid-Rite hamburgers in Iowa taste like. We ate our sandwiches quickly--I don't think Mom or David were any more impressed than I was--and pushed on.

I’d been sure Mom would sleep on the trip, but once again, I was mistaken. She stayed awake the whole trip, looking out the window, perhaps drinking in the green of the countryside, a color agreeable to the eyes and the spirits of those who live in the desert.

Arriving in Minneapolis, we wended our way to the airport, aided by a Google map. I thought we'd picked up our rental car in the Lindbergh terminal after arriving at the Hubert Humphrey terminal several days before, but I found out I was wrong when I drove us to Lindbergh terminal, checked in our rental car there, and found out we had to then make our way to the Humphrey terminal afoot—or rather, a-rail.

Mom and David waiting for the train to take us from the Lindbergh to the Humphrey terminalFollowing directions given to us by the rental car folks, we walked quite a distance to get to the light-rail stop and had a few minutes to catch our breath before the train arrived. Once aboard, we had no idea how quickly we would arrive at the Humphrey terminal stop NOR how quickly the doors would open and shut. By the time we mobilized ourselves, Mom’s wheelchair, and our baggage, the door had closed and the train sped on.

Wiser now, we hustled ourselves off the train at the next stop so that we could turn and head back to our original stop. The platform where we waited for maybe 15 minutes was located who-knows-where, the waning sun—still hot—hitting us straight in the eye as we sat on the bench. Once back at the Lindbergh terminal, we had another short wait for the train to the Humphrey terminal, and this time we were successfulMom and me waiting for the train in getting off the train at the right stop. Whew!

In the end, it was a good thing that we weren't able to contact Von and make plans to meet her for supper because we arrived late in Minneapolis--and had we met, we might've missed our plane.

Our 9:15 p.m. flight to Albuquerque was on time, and all went smoothly. I sat by the window for the return trip, David in the middle, and Mom in the aisle seat on the left side of the plane. As we approached Albuquerque, I asked Mom how she was doing. I didn’t catch what she said, but David relayed her words: “I’m behaving myself as best I can”—said with a twinkle in her eye, reminding me of Grandpa Orstad’s laconic, joking replies.

It was after 11 p.m. when we arrived in Albuquerque. I drove Mom back to the Rehabilitation Center of Albuquerque and checked her in before midnight.

We are still talking about our trip and what a great time we had. I’m grateful to Mom for her strong desire to see the old farm in North Dakota because it brought this whole wonderful experience to pass.

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