Brian (Mr. Scout) and I have had a longstanding plan to go up and visit Barnes IH in Pennsylvania, from way back when I was just getting on my feet after surgery. We made a plan months in advance, which I now know was part of a nefarious scheme. But I’m getting ahead of myself.

He picked me up last Saturday, early in the morning as I was mowing the lawn for Jen. She had planned a tea party for Finn and a bunch of her friends that afternoon, and I wanted to help out as much as I could. Because Brian is the kind of person he is, when he offered to edge and blow the front walk I took him up on it without a second thought. Once that was done I kissed the girls goodbye and we hit the road for Pennsylvania.

On the way up we had plenty of time to catch up and talk about life, which is something I don’t get to do with many of my friends. Brian is an honest, open guy, and we’ve always been able to talk about real stuff without feeling weird. It’s something I don’t often get to do outside of talking with Jen, and it felt good.

The second half of the trip to Barnes IH, after getting off the highway, is through beautiful rolling hills and past picturesque farmland. His place is a converted horse ranch, and he’s got a gigantic modern barn with storage and workshop space, a parts counter, and restoration shop in the back. We got to talking and quickly found where the circles overlap in our Venn diagram of friends. Then he took us on a tour of the shop, which absolutely bowled Brian and I over. he’s got about 20 parts Scouts outside the shop which he’s slowly picking over. We then hopped in one of his running Scouts and checked out the back section of the farm where there’s a patch of woods and another 40 trucks in various states of decay.

Back at the shop we talked over how we’re going to get Brian his next Scout, lamenting the fact that they’re getting harder to find these days and the prices are going up rapidly. I talked to him about a rewire job in Peer Pressure, which will take some saving and planning, but something that’s desperately needed. Then he took us to the storage sheds where he’s got probably 100 motors of various sizes, shelves of engine parts, and transmissions waiting for buyers. Next to that there’s another barn, originally set up as horse stalls, now filled with sheet metal parts. It was like Valhalla.

We said our goodbyes after about an hour and a half and then set course for the Strasburg Train Museum, something I’ve seen on maps and heard of but never visited. The facility is huge and stuffed with trains mainly from the Pennsylvania Line, but also some from other operators as well. The exhibits inside are all in excellent condition, gleaming and refurbished like new. There are side exhibits with storefronts and railroad epherma, and a whole room dedicated to model trains for kids to play with.

We got out of there at about 2 and hunted down some food at a local brewery. The food was good and the beer was delicious. At that point we figured the day was getting long, and Brian told me the junkyards were closed at 4:30 (I believed him) so we drove home and parked in our quiet driveway. We walked inside and I found that there were about 80 people in my house waiting to surprise me. Jen had pulled off a FANTASTIC bit of chicanery and organized a post-cancer belated birthday party for me. I was absolutely flabbergasted. My family was in the dining room, my work friends were in the living room, my Scout friends were in the kitchen, the neighbors were in the hall, and everybody else was tucked into corners throughout the house.

She’d done the work of ten people in six hours–and that was just what she’d moved the minute I was out the door. She’d been working on cleaning up the house for the last month, claiming it was past due for a deep clean, and dropping hints about parties for Finn as her cover story. She got me good.

The rest of the day was like a wedding: I talked to everyone I could for as long as possible, but I still missed out on people here and there. It was amazing to have most all of the people I love in one place and laughing together, and I was humbled they were all there for me. Thank you to everyone who came, and the biggest thanks of all go to my girl for such a special day.

Date posted: April 29, 2018 | Filed under cancer, family, friends | Leave a Comment »

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