The back side of a million orange cones looked about the same as the front sides as I drove home Monday.

The cones just make a long drive a little longer, and there were no serious breaches of etiquette for the 700-plus miles.

It is a lot drier here than back in South Dakota, however. We had significant rain three different days while I was visiting, and there was more rain Tuesday. As I wrote last week, they have a lot of low ground that still is not planted.

Reports from folks here is that the skies have closed up somewhat.

I know that my first work Tuesday morning was to go work on the irrigation system down at Elston. The outfields looked a bit parched. Thanks to Tim Hutson for getting a power transformer replaced so we can put some water down.

The end of my visit home was highlighted by a lunch get-together with some guys I graduated from high school with.

It seems impossible that it was 45 years ago that we walked out of our high school gym, diplomas in hand, but that is the case.

My sit-down was with a couple guys who never left Dell Rapids, and are still running the family farms they grew up on.

Yes, they have expanded their operations, and we spent a bunch of time looking at pictures of their grandkids, but all in all, they really haven’t changed very much. A few more gray hairs, maybe...

We had other things to talk about besides the old days and where some fellow grads might be living.

Kenny’s dad passed away a month ago. He was the same age as my dad. John is nine treatments into a 12-step cancer fight. They both had fantastic attitudes about life, and spent more time talking about a 500-mile trip they took together last week that started with hauling cattle and ended with buying a new four-wheeler. The way they went on, you would think they were 25 years old.

The holiday was a lot quieter than many other years. Several family members had other plans, so Mom and I got to fend for ourselves Thursday. We managed to get the grill going, visited some friends and did catch some fireworks. It was a major change from many years ago, where all the Nelson kids (and eventually some grandkids) spent July 4 setting off fireworks all day and celebrating with a big family outing. Not having a big open farm to shoot all this from might make a big difference...

The big travel story In my family this week isn’t about me.

My mom boarded a plane and flew to Denver yesterday!

A brother and his wife live out there, so my youngest brother got tickets and accompanied mom on her first flight in about 20 years. They are going to do some of the regular sightseeing, and have a Rockies baseball game scheduled for one day this weekend.

Mom was really looking forward to this and I’m looking forward to stories and some pictures.

My travel starts soon enough, as it is now less than a month to the start of NFL preseason games. Trips to Colts games, Minneapolis and Chicago are now on the agenda. I even got text messages from several Fox football guys earlier this week. It will be here sooner than we want.

A quick congratulations to Joe Boswell as he heads into the retirement world. I’m guessing he won’t slow down taking sports pictures as long as there are grandkids playing.

Speaking of retiring – I can’t believe the number of friends and cousins back home whose first question was “have you retired yet?” Probably because most of them HAVE retired. 

Maybe another day for me. There are still some things left to do.

Safe travels.

Jeff Nelson works in national television. His column appears each Thursday in the Journal Review.

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