After a quiet Thanksgiving, the West Coast members of the Viehl clan were rounded up to join in celebrating Elsa’s wedding. Elsa is the grand-daughter of Allan Viehl, (Larry’s brother), daughter of Kelly Viehl Anderson, and thus a full-blood member of the tribe. The ceremony was to be in Boone, Iowa, and no, I’d never heard of it either. But I’m not blood at all, so feel a bit like an interstellar time traveler when my space ship delivers me to a tribal event such as this wedding.

The West Coast members are, at this time, Larry, Peter, and Andrew Viehl. We were missing Allison, Peter’s wife, and David. Allison gave up her place for the trip to Andrew, and the other available Viehl, David, simply wasn’t available.

Tom and Jenny and I were happy be to hangers-on when the space ship was this beauty:

Yep. A private plane. Seriously? But the tribe called, and why not? We landed in Des Moines, checked into a motel in Urbandale, and went to find something to eat. Which turned out to be an affair called Smokey D’s, once featured on Guy Fieri. They do know their BBQ in Iowa, and how to serve it. Check. I experience the first wave of sweet mid-Western culture in a place where infants and toddlers can be observed chewing on a rib.

By the way, the legend on Andrew’s jacket means Just Enjoy This Life — a good mandate which were were determined to observe.

On to Ames the next day in our rental cars. A moment of hilarity when the dude checking out the cars wondered if Peter and Larry were twins. What? No, that lasted longer than a moment and soon became the springboard for lots of smart remarks. Of course, Larry loved it.

At the new motel we were able to check in, change into our wedding finery, and be off to the wedding in the afore-mentioned Boone. At the end of several dirt roads, we found the wonderful barn-like structure, a newly, purposefully built, venue. And there they all were.

At this moment I discovered that I’d left my phone behind in my every-day purse, and would have to rely on others for photos to share.

First, here are Larry and Allan. Allan has had the misfortune to stumble on the stairs at home on Thanksgiving Day, to break both bones in his left leg, and thus get to attend the wedding courtesy of a wheel chair. Now these two might look like twins, right?

Fortunately, Allan had his boys there to take care of him. They run big in this tribe, as you can see from the next photo, which, sorry, is the only one I can offer. This is Kyle, Allan’s second son, dad to Delaney who, upon learning that we were coming, was shocked. “You mean there’s more Viehls than just us?”

My sister-in-law, Gloria, is one of those talented, amazing women who can make works of art out of the assignment to make, for example, cookies for the reception.

She made those? Dozens of them, all different? Yes, plus little place-treats, cookie pops dressed up in a tux or bridal gown, by the hundreds. I think Starbucks got the idea from her. Anyway, she belongs to a tribe of her own, the Gaymans, who were there with husbands and sons and daughters and grandkids . . .

What about the bride? Getting there. Elsa is Kelly’s youngest, and she is stunning, gorgeous, smart, and well, tall like the rest of them. As the attendants were coming down the aisle ahead of the bride, we were treated to one beautiful, very tall young woman after another. Ah. Got it. Elsa played college b-ball, and these women were her team-mates and friends. Wow.

I don’t know anything much about the groom, except he seems pretty happy. Duh.

I got to sit next to Steve, Elsa’s dad, at the wedding dinner. He’s a devoted, successful hunter — if you’re his Facebook friend you could see the photos of the gorgeous birds he brings down and home. I took the opportunity to query him about cooking the elk steak I mentioned in an earlier post, and told him I’d post the results. That will have to wait until I actually cook the steaks, and then I’ll let you all know.

I had a chance to talk with Ken, Kristi Viehl’s husband, who works for the FAA, doing traffic control for the Sioux City airport. He’s a lieutenant colonel in the Air Guards, spends active duty when deployed, wherever they send him. Such as the Middle East, for example. This year, somewhere in the southern U.S. Not sure where, but it does mean being away from home for the duration. From Kristi and their two munchkins, Emerson and Hudson. Tough. Appreciated.

We were with the tribe for about 7-8 hours out of a three-day trip. All worth it. Especially as we got to be with our own far-flung segment for the entire time. And who wouldn’t like flying in a sweet little airplane, with a pilot who graduated OSU in ’17, who began flying with his dad at the age of 6, who got his license at the age of 17? Even this confirmed flightophobe could relax and enjoy looking down on the plains and mountains of this-land-is-your land, etc. Okay, I’m lying. I didn’t actually relax. But the mountains are exciting seen from that close.

Back at the farm, Larry has recovered his mojo, successfully tuned the tractor with an appliance delivered by Amazon. Say what you will.

Yesterday, a rain-filled, dismal, morning, a crew arrived to remove huge patches of blackberry, which they’d earlier sprayed to death. And now, the fields are mowed, the leaves spent, fall has arrived. Welcome home.