The Long Farewell, Part 1 – So Long to the Midwest

When you have a dream of leaving the country on a boat that starts 5-6 years before the reality of it begins, I suppose it would be appropriate to have a long, drawn out farewell, but it surprised both Brian and I just how long that would actually be. 

To anyone who doesn’t know us well, Brian and I lived in two homes together for the past 11 years, and Brian for another year before we met. One home in Indianapolis where we helped raise Brian’s two kiddos, Maddie and Bennett, half of the time. And one home in Satellite Beach, FL where we lived and worked when the kids were at their Mom’s place. This was an every-other-week deal. We were fortunate enough to work from home, so our weekly “commute” consisted of a Southwest Airlines flight to Indy, or to FL. Another part of our fortune, has been our wealth of friends, both in Indy, and in FL… definitely a hint that this “farewell” thing was going to be a long process.

Brian, being born in OH, and raised in Indy, has a fairly good concentration of family in the Midwest. I however, have lived all over the West Coast, and Colorado, so have friends and family all over the west side of the country… I think you see where this is going 🙂

A Timeline of The Long Farewell…

Brian, Lil' Joe and Fran say goodbye to Bonnie Doon.
Brian, Lil’ Joe and Fran say goodbye to Bonnie Doon.

July 12th Close on the FL house. The house was listed in late June, and sold in 2 days! It was a tad tough saying goodbye to our Bonnie Doon (check out the movie “The Castle” if you don’t know why we named it that) because we had recently finished some renovations, and were really enjoying it all. That, and we would no longer have our awesome roommate Joe, who was getting his own place as well. No farewell to Joe yet, just to Bonnie Doon. No sadness either, because saying goodbye to the house meant we were finally moving on to the boat, which we had been prepping since February, so it was an exciting and bittersweet move.  

Our modest camp at Oshkosh Airventure
Our modest camp at Oshkosh Airventure

July 23rd – 27thFly Pooh to our last Oshkosh Airventure for… awhile. Our airplane Pooh has been one of the coolest, most wonderful means to adventure we have had in our lives. Pooh is a Cessna 182N, built in 1971 with a lovely paint scheme of Butterscotch and Italian Gold (hence his name). Our buddy Gary, and a group of other aviation nuts made this trip for the 3rd time together, and for Brian and I, it was the last one for a few years while we head out on the boat for our aquatic adventures. The event is a huge aviation fly-in, and anyone with a love of planes and all things aviation should do the pilgrimage to Oshkosh, WI at least once in their lives. We “camp” at Oshkosh. At least Brian and I do. We fly in, unpack our tent, and pitch it right under Pooh’s wing. Gary and crew’s definition of “camping” however, is a bit different. It involves massive camp kitchens, and giant movie screens, and is bigger and more impressive every year (the surround sound was ridiculous this year). Our camp chef, Bill, makes sure we all gain at least 7 lbs during the 5 days. We’ve really come to love this event. Not just for the planes and air shows, but mainly for the comradery of Gary, Bill, Jesse, Roger, and newbies Colby and Ed provide. It was a fantastic final event together, and we will certainly be back again… probably with floats next time!

Proud poppa and Bennett in front of Bennett's new dorm at Wright Quad
Proud poppa and Bennett in front of Bennett’s new dorm at Wright Quad

August 16thBennett’s move-in at IU. We had a couple of weeks of normal life, living on the boat in FL, coaching Crossfit 3 days a week with our Tribe at Indian River Crossfit, and then drove up to Indy for our final time in the Indy house. We started the Indy visit with a very significant event:  move Bennett south to his dorm at Indiana University in Bloomington. Not just any dorm. A dorm room at Wright Quad, no more than 30 steps from every dorm room Brian had occupied in his 4 years at IU. All of us were there to drop him off, Brian, Maddie and I, and Bennett’s Mom Terri. I have to say, it was really cool seeing both Brian and Terri wide-eyed and nostalgic over not just “dropping the kid off at college”, but their memories of that exact building. Terri pointed to one of the giant trees in the courtyard and said “I painted that tree”. It was another bittersweet event, seeing Bennett, and all the possibilities waiting for him to discover there. We are so proud of that kid!

All the old "Concrete Beach Party" crew back together again!
All the old “Concrete Beach Party” crew back together again!

August 23rdIndy Neighborhood Surprise. When Brian moved into our Saddlebrook neighborhood 21 years ago, he met and became friends with most of our immediate neighbors. I was fortunate enough to inherit these awesome folks when I moved to Indy back in 2005. Over time, we lost neighbors to upsizing, downsizing, or retirement. Luckily we managed to keep in touch, usually through our common thread, our across the street neighbors, Dyan and Gene Huey. Dyan called Brian to chat about our plans, and asked if we could meet she and Gene for dinner. In the 3 days between the invite, and the dinner, Dyan managed to get all of the old neighborhood back together for a surprise farewell dinner. It was wonderful to catch up, marvel at how big all of our kids are now, and wonder how the heck we all got so old. It was an unexpected treat, and a wonderful way to see them all before we head out to the big blue!

August 25thMt. Carmel farewell. The previous week was spent cleaning out every cupboard, every drawer, every closet in the Indy house. Piles of “Bennett”, “Maddie”, “boat”, “Goodwill”, “recycle”, or finally, “garbage”. We discovered the joy of having a Junk Man on speed dial who would come and take away anything metal, electronic, or ???, and happily load it up in his truck, and haul it away – thank you Junk Man, thank you! Amid the madness, we reserved a day to head down to Mt Carmel, IL to pay a visit to Brian’s Mom, sister and family. Brian’s family moved there his Junior year of high school where he became a “Golden Ace” and earned the nickname “Zap” from his football coach which I sure wish had stuck, I like Zap. Anyway, it was a great visit with everyone. We enjoyed lunch along the riverside, visited for awhile and said our farewells. This goodbye felt, well, kind of normal. We only get to see this part of the family about once per year, so we will make sure we keep that tradition going.

2 margaritas do NOT add to good decision making about shots.
2 margaritas do NOT add to good decision making about shots.

August 26th Farewell Indy Party. We knew it would be really difficult to see everyone we wanted to say goodbye to in Indy, so we scheduled a little dinner at our favorite Mexican place – Puerto Vallarta. This little eatery became the go-to place for just about every Pike Township parent for post-game or post-show events. Once the kiddos all grew up, we just kept meeting up there for the great food, and the giant margaritas! I think we ended up with nearly 30 of us, and took over the better part of the restaurant. Against my better judgement, I had one margarita more than I should have, and got coerced into a shot as well. Brian and I have a rule we like to live by, and that is “shots are never a good idea”… somehow, we made an exception. It is really hard to refuse when they serve them to you complete with giant sombreros they stick on your head – you kind of HAVE to drink it! It was a fantastic gathering, and we got to hug goodbye a good many of our Indy friends we’ve had such a great time with over the years. It was worth the head-achy fog we endured the next morning.

Smith Family Reunion 2016, Millie, you did it again!
Smith Family Reunion 2016, Millie, you did it again!

August 27thSmith Family Reunion. I believe this is the 5th Smith Family Reunion I have had the chance to participate in. They happen every 2 years thanks to Brian’s cousin Millie who has managed to organize, and keep them rolling beautifully since the beginning. It happens where the Smith Clan originates from, in Arlington, OH. A lovely little farming town just south of Findlay. We had a great turnout this year. We even had a few family members who hadn’t been to any of the previous ones. It is a typical Midwest family pitch-in with lots of tasty homemade food and desserts. This year, we even had a train pulled by a tractor to entertain the little ones. This farewell also felt quite normal. We hope to see everyone again in another 2 years, except those who we will be tapping regularly to schedule time to come visit us on the boat… Millie… Paul… UCGB… get your calendars ready!

August 29thLunch with Matt Winston. We enjoyed lunch with our long-time friend and accountant, Matt, at Hop Cat in Broad Ripple. Brian met Matt while in college at IU, and though they both graduated with an accounting degree, Matt has been doing Brian’s taxes for a very very long time now! It was a great visit, and we are very thankful we can do most accounting transactions via the interwebz these days. We hope to see Matt during our visits home to see the kiddos.

August 30thDinner at the Eggerts. Jeff and Julie, good friends in Indy, graciously offered to cook us dinner since they knew we had virtually no kitchen supplies left in the Indy house. A few weeks leading up to listing the house, we had a “come take our crap” party. Their son Andy was tasked with supplying the kitchen for his new off-campus apartment at Purdue U, and he nearly cleared us out! Dinner was fantastic, but the company out of this world! We will miss them a lot, especially Jeff’s smoked butt. (Pork butt, what are you thinking??)

August 31stDinner with the Cunninghams. Mike and Diane, also great friends in Indy – they go way back to the Brian and Terri days – took us to a cute little burger joint in Zionsville to have our farewell dinner. Coincidentally, our server was the daughter of another old friend, so she called her up and we got to visit with Stacy too. We had a great time, and even had a little verbal sparring match with one of the managers who thought we were fun, so wanted to interact, and just… couldn’t… be… more… awkward. All a good distraction, since Diane really dislikes goodbyes. We treated it just like any other night out, with hugs, and farewell until next time.

September 1stBennett’s Birthday! This day actually had 2 farewells. We started the day at one of our favorite breakfast joints in Indy called “Three Sisters” (thanks UCGB!). A friend and old Crossfit mate from FL was doing some traveling, and happened to be in Indy that morning before catching a flight. Alea is one of those people you meet, and you just really really like. We enjoyed catching up, and sending each other on our separate adventures. It was an open ended farewell, since we are not at all sure when we’ll see each other again. Thank goodness for social media, so we can at least be “imaginary friends” until we meet in person again!

Later that evening, even though we had just dropped Bennett off at college just 2 weeks ago, his birthday seemed a much more appropriate time to celebrate him, make sure all is going well at school, then say our temporary goodbye. Brian, Terri and I drove down again to Bloomington and took Bennett to an awesome farm-to-table restaurant he’d wanted to try. I think I have now had the most delicious French fries I will ever have in my life. Seriously. Brian and I originally thought Bennett would take to college life like a duck to water, and forget completely about parents/ family/ etc. Well, as it turns out, it takes a tad longer to get through the massive change that is leaving home, and being on your own than just 2 weeks. He was doing well and making his way, but definitely a tad homesick for friends, and familiarity. It was a great night, lots of hugs and love, and even a little misty eyed, since we wouldn’t see Bennett again until Thanksgiving.

September 2ndClose on the Indy house. It was strange running around that big empty house, making sure every nook and cranny had been emptied out. Maddie and Bennett definitely were a bit more nostalgic about saying goodbye to it than Brian and I were. We spent way too many weeks getting everything organized, sold, and out of the house, and were quite ready to leave it behind. It was a wonderful house, packed full of beautiful memories. We were happy to pass along the keys to another family with a 1 year old baby girl. They will make great memories there too.

Our temporary farewell to our dear friends Susan and Rami.
Our temporary farewell to our dear friends Susan and Rami.

Our last night in Indianapolis was at our incredible friends, Susan and Rami’s house. We packed up the last of our stuff, including May the cat, and said our farewell that morning. It sucked. We had a quiet, melancholy drive east to Dayton.

McDonnell X-85 Goblin, deployed from a bomber, and the cutest little jet ever made! I think it flew once???
McDonnell X-85 Goblin, deployed from a bomber, and the cutest little jet ever made! I think it flew once???

September 3rdMillie and Paul, and the USAF Aviation Museum. After years of hearing about it from Brian’s cousin-in-law Paul, we decided it was now or never to finally see the giant USAF Aviation Museum in Dayton, OH. And it is indeed HUGE! It was perhaps one of the coolest places I have ever been. Because it is mostly military aircraft, it had many experimentals that you have never seen nor heard of before, and WOW are some of them crazy looking! We finally got kicked out at closing time, but easily could have spent several more hours there. We enjoyed dinner at a local brewery, got a great night’s sleep, and hit the road after our goodbyes in the morning. Millie and Paul have the distinction of being some of the only family that took us up on the offer to come and stay with us at our house in FL. We had the pleasure of hosting them many times. We hope they will join us on Smartini one of these days!

Then, we finally pointed south, and left the Midwest.

I warned you it was long, we haven’t even traveled out west yet!

6 thoughts on “The Long Farewell, Part 1 – So Long to the Midwest”

    1. Right? And you probably noticed, this is only Part I!

      Agreed: we are fortunate almost beyond belief – certainly beyond understanding – to have the people in our lives we do. (You included, of course!)

  1. I sure enjoy reading your entries! Full speed ahead and enjoy every minute of your new adventure!!

    By the way, you certainly wouldn’t want to be out here right now. It’s about 31 degrees and there has been a lot of ice and freezing rain. More to come by Wednesday. Have fun in the warm tropical air! Love, Love

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