People, Travel

Back with my grandparents

Today is an exciting day, because I’m driving to my grandparents in Montana. I haven’t seen them in more than three years, so it’s about time. Or like my grandma would say, way over time. In the morning I say goodbye to the friendly people at the hotel and heat up my car. Here in Jackson it’s about -8° Fahrenheit, -22° Celsius, which is an interesting experience when you walk outside. You feel your own breath being really cold. Fortunately the roads here in Wyoming, in Idaho and Montana are well maintained and for the most part not icy. It’s a beautiful winter land to drive through. Wide fields of snow for many miles to the horizon. The drive is quite relaxing and five hours don’t seem so much after the really long road trip of about 10 hours the other day.
Just like red (the rocks) is the color of Utah, so is yellow the color for Montana. Where there is no snow, the wide yellow fields are showing up and I know I’m getting closer. When I drive to the small town of Ennis, I see a coffee place and decide to take a break. I talk with the barista for a bit who moved here with her family some time ago from a bigger city in Oregon. It’s clear that she doesn’t find it too exciting to live in a town of about 800 people. I can understand that must have been quite a big change indeed. This town is in the middle of nowhere. I walk in the Main Street for a while, where there are a few restaurants, shops and a saloon. This town would have fit perfectly in a Western movie.
After having stretched my legs for a big I continue driving to Helena and arrive there around three in the afternoon. Somehow driving into the city of Helena always feels a bit like coming home. I’ve been here many times by now and know the city quite well. When I park my car in front of my grandparents house, my grandma comes running outside and a moment later my grandpa follows her. I give them a big hug. It feels so unreal to see them again in person and to be here. We go inside and grandma takes care of me like grandmas do. I’m sitting at their kitchen table with grandpa en within minutes a big home made sandwich appears in front of me. We talk for a while and then their granddaughter Catie is coming over. She and her husband Jackie live across the street with their Daughter Claire. I met Catie about 11 years ago when she and Jackie were working with a child program organisation in the slums of New York. Two years later I visited them in Montana. There was an instant connection with the whole family and their grandparents became my grandparents as well from them on. I’ve tried to visit them every year or other year since then, but because of the whole global situation I didn’t manage to do that the last three years. We’ve stayed in touch a lot with phone calls and FaceTime, but to be here in person again is absolutely wonderful. Later in the afternoon their other granddaughter Abbie and her husband Brandon come to visit with their son Lucas. It’s interesting to see how fast life has gone. When I was here for the first time, all the grandchildren still lived at home with their parents and now they’re married and have children of their own. It makes me think a bit about life. At this age, many people I know are married and have children and I’m living this adventures travel life. One is not better than the other, it’s just different. Both have their upsides and downsides. I am thankful for where life has taken me so far.
Abbie is cooking a delicious dinner and we have a fun time catching up. Brandon and I have kind of the same job, so we talk about programming and grandpa is looking at us like we speak French. After dinner we watch some funny tv shows in the living room. I’m quite tired, but I don’t want to go to bed. I don’t want to waste too much time sleeping while I’m here, I want to enjoy each moment. I now realize that I completely forgot to take pictures while we were all together, but that’s probably just a sign of the great time we have together.

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