Thanks to Maya Angelou for the title of this post. Back in late March my sister told me she planned on surprising our Aunt Nin on her 87th birthday. She asked me to go. I really wanted to but it would mean days off at school and I am currently without an assistant, and the radio station needed monitoring and…well, I had plenty of excuses not to go. My sister and my wife convinced me to take some time off and head west. My sister and I got our tickets online at the same time, and we managed to be on the same flight from Minneapolis to Great Falls- with me leaving from Indianapolis, and my sister leaving from Birmingham.
This was to be a surprise. My aunt didn’t know either of us was coming, and my cousin Jacki didn’t know I was coming. After the first surprise at the airport, we headed to Aunt Nin’s, where my sister called her and told her she wanted to wish her happy birthday. During the conversation my sister walked into Aunt Nin’s bedroom. Tear of joy and laughter ensued. Then the phone rang again. My cousin answered the call (from me) and handed the phone to my aunt. “Happy Birthday Aunt Nin, I said.” “Randy, you won’t believe it, Barbie just surprised me and is here in Great Falls.” “I know,” I told her. So am I,” and I walked into her bedroom. More tears and laughter. I am almost tearing up just thinking about it. All those excuses I originally had for not going instantly dissolved away.
But we weren’t done with the surprises. Next, my cousin Craig and his wife Charm showed up unannounced to Aunt Nin and we had yet another happy moment. I had seen both my aunt and cousins just last July, and it’s unusual for me to get out west so frequently. In honor of Aunt Nin’s birthday we headed across the Missouri to Black Eagle, where we dined at the 3D International “club” and restaurant.
After dinner we said our goodbyes until breakfast the next morning. Another great visit and lots of stories told and memories relived. We bid Craig and Charm adieu. Instead of heading home Jacki suggested we go for a drive. Helena was the original destination but after catching sight of the snow covered Rocky Mountain front range, we diverted and headed toward Choteau, MT. (pronounced SHOW-toe)
On the road to Choteau.
Here is the county courthouse in Choteau, site of David Letterman’s wedding. Letterman has a huge ranch nearby. Where is it? The locals aren’t telling.
We stopped at the Log Cabin cafe for some pie. Peanut Butter, coconut creme, and chocolate truffle.
One of our first stops in Great Falls was at the Charlie Russell Museum. No, I didn’t buy the hat! I did buy 3 pint beer glasses with cool logos to add to my collection. Oh, and 2 pencils and a refrigerator magnet.
The rest of the time we relaxed and also made a drive to Sluice Box State Park where we saw lots of great scenery, ate a great hamburger at the Lazy Doe Bar, and stopped at an antique (junk) store. All in all, a great trip made even better by being with family that I don’t get to see very often.
This trip made me realize that you should not let trivial things like your job get in the way of one of a kind family events. I was blessed to be able to get away for 4 days. It invigorated me both physically and spiritually. I’ve made a pledge to try and get west as often as I can. For me. For family.
Visiting Sluice Box State Park. That’s my cousin Jacki in the distance, right at the edge of the cliff.