Carnes: Enough with the traveling |

Carnes: Enough with the traveling

Been absent from Happy Valley for part of the summer, but keeping up with the Vail Daily has kept me informed to know it’s apparently time to write about reunions of the family or high school variety.

My travels of late have me doing both.

From Dallas to Houston and all the way up to Ann Arbor, I’ve spent time with my Texas family and then a few hundred of my wife’s Michigan childhood friends that seem to know a lot about me yet I don’t have a clue as to who they are or how and why they know I write a weekly column and brew beer at the Gore Range Brewery.

A spouse’s social media account can be both a blessing and a curse, I suppose.

We also met my wife’s — up until a few weeks ago completely unknown — half-sister for the first time.

To say it has been interesting is an understatement.

We had to move my dad to a full-care facility, as turning 91 seemed to be the magic number when he fell climbing out of his scooter and the facility where he lived would no longer allow him to return to his independent living apartment.

It wasn’t so much an official family reunion as it was a “let’s all get together and move Dad/Grandad again!”

Not exactly fun times, but still a family get-together either way.

Out of that particular July in Texas frying pan I jumped straight into the fire of Michigan in August.

Yes, it was hot. 

Unlike our esteemed editor, this was not a measly 20-year remembrance of 1999, but a whopping 40-year high school reunion (although I will admit back in ’99 I turned the weird age of 40, had my last child and my first vasectomy — a long, yet strangely entertaining story).

This was my wife’s class of 1979, and I spent a few days smiling and nodding my head a lot as if I understood any of the stories being shared.

“Dude, your wife was so hot!”

Does she need a fan? Is she OK?

“No man, relax, your wife was really hot in high school.”

Oh, yeah, sure. Of course, I knew that. Um … thanks?

At the main event, classmates wore nametags that included their senior picture, and it was highly entertaining to watch people as they ever-so-subtly re-introduced each other.

“And you are … (bends over, squints at the nametag, looks back up at the face, quickly deciding whether or not they picked up the wrong nametag because there is no way in hell this old person in front of them could possibly be the handsome stud/knockout girl in the photo) … OMG! Is that really you?!?!”

Then they would both laugh (while internally wondering what in the world happened to this poor person) and quickly make uncomfortable excuses to “find the bar” or go in search of another nametag to question its validity as well.

The highlight of it all was, thanks to sites like 23andMe and, my wife, who was adopted at birth, meeting a half-sister she never knew existed until very recently.

It’s a somewhat sordid tale but with an exceptionally pleasant ending, and suffice it to say our family Christmas list just grew by a bunch and Happy Valley will most likely benefit from a new set of repeat guests from the Upper Midwest.

A lot was accomplished these last few weeks, but damn, it’s good to be home.

Richard Carnes, of Avon, writes weekly. He can be reached at

Support Local Journalism