I’m losing a friend.
We had a few adventures traveling together across the Dakotas into the Big Horn Mountain country of Wyoming, through a blizzard in rural Nebraska into the beautiful setting of Utah. However, it was never about the destination, but the journey getting there! It’s the story in-between and throughout the pages of our life adventure, or as one person wrote, “it’s about the dash” the line between our birth and death year engraved on our tombstone.
My mind gets lost as I read vacation blogs or browsing twitter posts about travel, and expert opinions and tips on everything from National Parks to finding the best steak sandwich in the land? In the end…besides checking off an endless bucket list of “places to see before die”, I hope that relationship building is the #1 priority of travel. Which means, sometimes…we travel closer to home. We take the opportunity with our friends and loves ones and explore our own neck of the woods, not because we want to see as many things as possible, but we want to enjoy making memories together.
My favorite part of traveling and visiting small rural areas is getting the chance to meet new people, get in a conversation with a local and discover what makes the town or small businesses thrive? What makes them decide to live in the area I’m visiting? Simply put, what makes them live (and not just getting up and going through the regular routine) life and REALLY LIVE!
So, last week I received a text from my friend’s wife letting me know that he was placed in hospice with pancreatic cancer. He’s a private man, so it didn’t surprise me that he didn’t share with me details. After his wife reached out, I took to the road to see my friend, one last time. I figured one way to be at peace throughout the process was to drive and let Minnesota scenery help the grieving process.
You never really understand how BIG and LONG a state like Minnesota is until you drive it! This is about a 5-hour (ONE WAY) trip and barely a 4th into the state! On this trip, I’m headed to Starbuck, Minnesota.
Starbuck, Minnesota – one of several communities resting on the shores of Lake Minnewaska. Apparently the 13th largest lake in Minnesota-so in other words- a BIG LAKE! Starbuck itself is a small rural lake town of approximately 1,300 people with huge possibility! Check out the pics of Starbuck below!
Norwegian, Norwegian, Norwegian! Everything from “Velkommen” to Lefse!”
AND OF COURSE
I find out the area is surrounded by the natural beauty of lakes AND home to a nationally designated SCENIC BYWAY (Glacial Ridge Trail) and several State Parks surrounding the ENTIRE AREA. I didn’t have time to drive the entire scenic byway or stop at many parks but snapped a few pics. I’ll need to come back and do a post on this for a scenic drive.
Next Stop… the Nursing Home. Please Read…
Upon reaching the nursing home, I needed to be screened for the Corona Virus and this is the next part that I wanted to share with the outbreak. The process was fairly intense (as expected to enter a nursing home where most of the victims have been elderly or sick) they screened me (taking my temperature plus a list of interview questions). If I had traveled internationally over the last few weeks- I was NOT permitted to enter the facility. If I had a temperature-I was NOT permitted to enter the facility. If I came from a list of a few states where the outbreak was bad – I was NOT allowed to enter the facility. After going through the interview process (and if my temp was normal) I was led to the back room where I had to be observed washing my hands and SCRUBBING for 20 seconds or longer with soap, and following, had to dry off with a paper towel and use the same towel to turn off the sink to avoid any contamination. I was thankful for the entire process because the nurses are on the front line with trying to contain this virus and dealing with it daily. So….with the Corona Virus hitting our areas “especially if we are traveling” its important to keep washing those hands! Also, don’t be afraid to check out some of the things in your own backyard! (For example, up top…take a scenic byway-stay in the car, look at the scenery. It’s BEAUTIFUL).
Cancer stinks. I’m going to just be forward and vulnerable with this post. Seeing my friend who had been doing Chemo-treatments up to this point before being sent home by Mayo Clinic (because there wasn’t anything further they could do) was heart-breaking. The conversation was light and short (because he would drift in and out of coherency) but it was still good to be by his side to say goodbye. I was fortunate enough to be there with his local pastor and we all said a prayer together at his bedside, those moments are always helpful.
He was a private guy….so out of respect…I’m not posting pics of him. I know you’ll understand.
But this got me thinking as I close this post…we never know how much time we have left on this earth. We could travel, and see the world, but whether we are extroverted or introvert, small town or big town, campers or hotel seekers, either way, my hope is that we don’t do life alone. People need people, whether it’s one really good friend, or a hundred, or whether it’s your best travel companion in the world “our dog or cat!” Whoever or whatever, my hope for you reading this post is that my friend passing away from cancer shines a light on the fact that life is short. It’s short. Go make some memories, take time to smell the roses, buy the dang shoes that you’ve been longing to buy, get the highlights, get the steak, and order the coke! Go on a vacation! Bring your loved ones! Go SEE your loved ones. Do it because … tick-tock, tick-tock, tick-tock, tick-tock, tick-tock – – – –
Love ya forever Steve. – Dano
Minnesota Sunset on my way home back to Iowa.