Wednesday, November 07, 2007
Last week took an exciting turn of events for us. We embarked on a fast trip to Montana to visit family from Toby's side. His dad grew up in Sidney, MT. and many of his family members still live there and in the surrounding area. So, the last minute people that we are, we decided to set sail and see the world beyond our immediate horizon.It was a blast to say the least. And never a dull moment. From the 8 kids, 8 and under in our vans for 18 hours at a time to the way Aunt Lois laughed when she tried to tell us a funny story, we just really had a good time. Montana is a unique and rugged countryside. It almost feels like you step into a different country when you cross the great divide that is called South and North Dakota and enter the rough land of eastern Montana.
We were greeted by gigantically antlered deer, roaming the dark desolate highway as we sailed 70 mph in the pitch dark of Halloween night.
At one point after I had driven over 12 hours, I decided to look out the wind shield. The roads were so helplessly straight and boring, you could safely activate auto-pilot on your vehicle. Actually, I had been looking out the wind shield but had hardly looked up out of the wind shield. And what should I see but the Big Dipper straight ahead, just a couple feet off the road. I mean, it was like right there. Bright, obvious and straight. (I've always seen it crooked.) My mother-in-law commented that this was big sky country; my sister-in-law asked if that was the same big dipper we could see in Nebraska. It was that much different; you had to wonder if you had actually seen this Big Dipper before. There were so many things about this land that were unique and the more we drove into it, the more I noticed things I had never seen before. Such as 3 rows of cowboy boots all belonging to one person.
The night was so dark as we traveled west. I had never seen such darkness before. When we finally got closer to Montana, we reached a location that happened to have the moon on it's horizon. The moon was hazy, only partially there and barely off the ground. Even in it's vertically challenged state, I could hardly understand how it could shed that much light on the earth below. I think that's how desperate Western ND and Eastern MT are. They just don't have many conveniences out there -- except for a vivid view of the Big Dipper. After arriving at Toby's aunt and uncle's house (who so kindly hosted our entire 3 families and made us all feel right at home), I made the mistake and happened to ask out loud how far away Walmart was. Uncle Johnny said 80 miles; Ellagene said 50 miles and Lois assured with complete confidence that Walmart was only all of 45 miles away. Not wanting to be outdone by his sister, Uncle Johnny admitted that it just depended on what side of Sidney you came from (Sidney is a very small town) and Ellagene seemed to concure that maybe Lois was right but she really thought it was more than 45 miles. Then, they all three began to discuss at the same time when they had been there last, why they went, where they were travelling to when they went and finally, one of them admitted he had never actually been there before. A sister pointed out immediately that he had indeed been there and then launched into a story that surrounded her brother being at this Walmart, while he objected the entire time then finally admitted that he had been there once. Not wanting to be outdone by another sister, he quickly told me that he still couldn't remember being there even if he had been there like Ellagene said he was. Lois finalized the conversation with, "Really, Walmart is only 45 miles away." I snuck away quick before they began to argue again. That was the gist of every conversation. I finally understand now where Toby gets this tendency. I never have won an argument with him. Even when I am right, instead of admitting my rightness and his wrongness, he'll just say, "That's what I'm saying." It's very confusing. I've always told him that even when he is wrong, to him he's still right. I know that sounds complicated and maybe confusing but the fact you can't understand it, is probably a good thing. It also confirms that you are not a Nelson and don't hold title to this interesting and sometimes strange family. Not only do the Nelson's have a related blood line, they also have a related language. To put a plate under a soup bowl brings "sturbility," not stability. To own a Reverse Osmosis water system is to have a "OR system," not a RO system. Before I get myself in trouble naming too many Nelsonisms, I'll stop right there. This side of the Nelson's never surprised me on our whole trip because Toby's dad is notorious for changing words and even making some up. But, I didn't know this was such a strong Nelson trait until we went on this trip. This may sound scary to a non-Nelson but it doesn't really get that scary unless you find yourself saying phrases that sound just like a true Nelson. I was making a clear point about a deep, theological topic the other day and launched into a Nelsonism. My sister-in-law asked me to interpret what I said and say it in English so she could understand what I was saying. That was a scary feeling. I was intrigued with the way Montana was. The native tongue (though English) was unique. One day Lois was talking to her son, Bo on the phone and made reference to his arrival. She wondered if Bo and his friend would come in one outfit or two. I could not understand why anyone would need to share a change of clothes with their friend and both wear it at the same time. This I had to see.
When Bo showed up in his own car and his friend came later in another car, I realized outfit meant vehicle. But, not only does it mean the rig you drive, it also can define any electronic device, the clothes you wear and/or anything else you wish to call outfit. John and Lois did a tremendous job of showing hospitality and making us all comfortable and insuring that we felt at home. After driving 18 hours straight, I thought to myself as we neared their house, "All this driving and I don't even get my own bed." I didn't miss my bed in the least when we stepped in their lovely home. They were so loving and kind. If Sidney Montana ever opens a potato products factory and Aunt Lois runs it, be assured that each potato will be peeled and carefully sliced or diced by the woman herself. She has OCD (Oppressive Compulsive Disorder) when it comes to potatoes. Well, not quite to the extent that you're probably thinking but I couldn't believe how that lady would stand there for literally hours on end slicing potatoes in perfect slices. She said it was therapeutic. Someone told her she had an interesting therapy. She fixed the best meals I have had in a long time but seemed to somehow balance hosting and cooking with mingling in the crowd and visiting. Both her and Ellagene did an amazing job at rocking the babies to sleep and keeping up on the cooking and cleaning. Once, Gail, Ellagene and I all hopped in Ellagene's F150 outfit and headed to the Pamida. I couldn't believe the sky rocketed prices for such a primitive town. And the gas prices too. With oil rigs more prominent than green grass out there, no one could understand why gas was so high. Other prices were noticeable as well. Like, they told me that it's not unusual to find a gallon of milk at a convenience store for over $5. Wow. The morning we left, a couple cousins and an aunt put together an amazing breakfast at a early and ungodly hour in the morning. We were told it was going to be a quick breakfast of fruit and muffins but they meant more than just fruit and muffins when they said fruit and muffins. Fancy little quiches, hot ham, a large selection of cold cereal, several bowls of berries and fruits, huge muffins, cold juices and hot coffee greeted us when we stepped into the Church basement they hosted us in. We could hardly believe the incredible effort they all had gone to, just to see us. It was a nice start to our long trip home.
It was a fun trip though the hours in the van were incredibly long -- 18 hours out there; 15 coming home. We left Wednesday and came home Saturday. Crazy, I know, but it was well worth any effort. After 5 years of being in this family, I was so glad to finally meet the rest of the bunch. It was also a relief to find out that my own husband is only one of a kind. And to also learn that he's not as worse as they get. :) I haven't laughed so hard at the simple natural abilities of anyone in a long time. His uncles about take the cake over anything -- except for their sisters. L to R: Ellagene, Johnny, Lois, Nels. Seated: Gary. (Nels is Toby's dad, incase you can't see the similarity.
L to R: The Toby Nelson Family looking normal. Or, would this be us looking abnormal since we normally never look like this in real life?
I just went away and came back and found this: gtyguy5ujon4idf hfhgtyrrvhgrhbghyhfg. A guilty face on a cute little boy said it all. I wonder who he is related to...?