On Monday, we spent the morning getting Tim settled into his new apartment. He moved in early so took it “as is” from the former tenant. He had a LOT of cleaning to do before he even wanted to start unpacking his stuff. It is a four bedroom apartment and one of his roommates is already living there through the summer…although he was so appalled at how the other roommates were living, he basically kept everything in his bedroom with the door locked. Tim and Connor have spent quite a bit of time deep cleaning and they are much happier about how things are looking now. Rich and Lily worked together to put a new bookcase together for Tim’s room. He has quite a collection of professional and motivational books. We took Tim out to lunch on Monday then started on our way home. Tim spent the rest of the day cleaning and unpacking. He contacted his supervisor at WVU via email and was told he could start the next day rather than waiting 2 weeks. No rest for the weary! This is probably a good thing as Tim likes to stay busy.
We left Morgantown, WV and made it to Dayton, Ohio. We had dinner with my cousin, Bill Neitzke, and his wife, Lori. We were stationed together a couple of decades ago at Grand Forks, ND. We ate at a British Pub restaurant and it was really good. Rich even had the fish and chips. (when in Rome…) It was great catching up with them and what their kids were up to….along with different branches of our family tree. Even though we have the same last name (Neitzke is my maiden name), we figured out that our great grandfathers were brothers….at least I think that is what we decided. We then drove a few miles out into the countryside to Xenia, Ohio, to stay with good friends, Matt and Lorraine Bonavita. Our two boys are the same age as their two oldest boys. We lived on Hawaii Street some 20 some odd years ago on Grand Forks AFB, North Dakota together. I have always just loved this couple….we always had so much fun with them. That has not changed. We were up until midnight talking like the years had never been there. We had planned to spend several hours at the Air Force Museum showing Lily around, but we just stayed and visited with them. It made my whole week for sure! We drove from Ohio to just outside of St. Louis on Tuesday. Rich had contacted a whole bunch of people he had connected with on LinkedIn that he used to work with in Grand Forks AFB, ND 20+ years ago. A lot of them were working as civilians at Scott AFB, IL. This is also where our oldest son was born….so we drove by our old house as well. We got together with several folks for dinner and drinks from the 906th tanker squadron. There were boom operators, pilots, the commander at the time, orderly room personnel….a mishmash of people that all worked there in the mid to late 1990’s. We had 11 folks there at one point. It was a lot of fun. We also got to reconnect with Chaplain and Shannon Howard from our time in Norway 11 years ago. (I can’t believe it has been that long ago already!) It was awesome catching up with them and finding out how their kids were doing. They went to the International School of Stavanger with our kids. We stayed the night in western Illinois (the photo of Rich in the corn was from there…figured we were getting closer to Nebraska if we saw corn this high!) and then took off across Missouri on Wednesday to get to Kansas City in time to have lunch with our fabulous daughter-in-law, Michelle. Joe wasn’t due back from his month of fun in Fort Polk, LA with the Army National Guard until the following day, so we had her all to ourselves! After a nice lunch and even better company, we put Lily behind the wheel and had her drive 3 hours home to Omaha.
Lily drove a lot on this trip and has driven in at least 9 states now on her driver’s permit. She had a driver’s lesson in the car today and they just gave her the driving test, which she passed. She has to wait until she has had her permit for 6 months, so she can’t get her license until mid November. We are now just catching up at home, enjoying the Olympics each evening, and loving on Tallinn. He was pretty thrilled to go on a 5 mile walk with me this morning. I have a doctor’s appointment for a Lupron shot tomorrow, so we may have to postpone our walk if it gets as hot as they say it might be. I think he is happy to have his people back though. I know I missed him….not his hair…but his dynamic personality. I heard that Joe made it back to his wife and dogs today, so I am guessing there is a lot of dog love going on there as well.
I have been to 13 states in the last 6 weeks and I have been in 4 times zones. School starts in less than 2 weeks and I am ready to be at home for a little bit. Never thought I would say that after 18 months of isolation with COVID 19. I am so blessed to have gotten to see so many people along the way…meeting new people and reconnecting with old friends.