We have checked into our nothing hotel in Windom, along the way vowing to check out the quilting store and a few other enticing things we passed on our way through town . . . tomorrow, before we leave.
When we call Ann to arrange to meet for dinner, she and her family start a debate over the best route for us to take to Westbrook. We tell her we’ll find the way on our own and will call back and arrange to meet when we actually get to town.
It is a pleasant drive through a green landscape (it has been a wet spring) with a few low hills punctuated by the occasional wind turbine. The time goes quickly and we are surprised to suddenly realize that we have arrived. Time to call Ann back and figure out where, exactly, she is.
Pam’s phone soullessly declares that there is no service.
My phone is back in the hotel.
Jan’s has a dead battery.
Actually, it’s kind of fun to have a bit of a mystery to resolve and, let’s be honest, Westbrook (with a population around 800) just isn’t that big. We ought to be able to track down Ann’s mom (and from there, Ann) in no time flat.
So what clues do we have? We know what Ann’s car looks like, we know her mothers name and that she lives in an assisted living facility, we know Ann’s sister lives somewhere in the area. This shouldn’t be too hard.
We take a reconnaissance drive through town: There is a bar or something right off the highway, a senior’s center with attached housing, a couple of stores and a bar downtown (all closed), a couple churches, a nice park – but nothing that looks like an assisted living facility. We haven’t seen Ann’s car yet either.
So they are probably still getting ready for the auction. . . Where is the auction going to be held? We check the flier: It will be two blocks from where we are sitting now contemplating what to do next.
We spot the house immediately, it sits on the “town” side of the road with a view of the field across the street.
Ann’s car is in the driveway and the yard is festooned with doors, fences, patio furniture, and more.
This must be the place.
Of course, no one is around.
We reconsider our options: Keep searching or break out the wine and cheese and have our own happy hour here in the yard?
We leave a note on Ann’s car and resume our search, starting out in a new direction. After a couple blocks we can see the end of town – no assisted living housing – so we turn around at the co-op and head back to the senior’s center where they laugh and give us directions to the hospital and assisted living units. The assisted living apartments are located one block past our original reconnaissance trip. In the parking area at the assisted living facility we realize we are one block (on the diagonal) from Ann’s mom’s house. We can almost see the house.
No one answers at Ann’s mom’s unit, but a kindly staff member takes up to the office and hands over a telephone. When we connect with Ann we discover that she and her mother are on their way to the elevator.
We meet in the hall.
Soon we are back in the car, headed over to the co-op (where we turned around earlier) where the family has spent the day sorting items packed on hay racks in one of the sheds.
A lot of near misses for such a small town!
We end our evening at the Loose Moose (the building by the highway that I suspected might be a bar or restaurant) with Ann’s family. We laugh a lot while eating great steaks and the world’s best French fries.
On the drive home I notice something on the far horizon. Lighting? No. . . fireworks. They continue for our entire trip back to Windom, the grand finale occurring when we are only blocks from our hotel.
What a nice welcome!