Day 17 – New Found Family and Friends

A little bit later start this morning had us on the road by 10:00 a.m. moving toward Marengo, IL. What would be the attraction to Marengo, Illinois you might ask. Interestingly, just before we left Seattle I read about a small group that was restoring a B-17 in the country outside Marengo. And, we would be driving very near there on our trip. My driver encouraged me to make contact with these men so we might be able to see the work they are doing. I hesitated. He insisted. So, contact them I did. Long story short, after several exchanges, we made arrangements to stop by their air hangar in a cornfield to see the massive restoration project they are undertaking. They bought a B-17E – disassembled – from some junk yard in Maine in 1989. And ever since, they have been working to put all the puzzle pieces together. Imagine what kind of a project that would be! We can hardly handle an Ikea bookshelf! What would putting a B-17 bomber back together be like?I have to hand it to them – they have a shed full of pieces and proudly showed us the progress they have made. It’s astounding. Someday the B-17E Desert Rat / Tangerine will be flying again if the dream of these two men comes true. We were so grateful they were kind enough to take time from their day to show us their most unique hobby.

To the left see the tail piece right in the middle of the photo; to the right see the section of the wing that will eventually house engines number one and two. Below see an engine with the prop shaft sticking up set against the fuselage with the rear waist door showing. It really is the most massive puzzle I can imagine.

Following that experience we drove on to Aurora, IL to find the home of family members we had never met before. Randy’s new sister’s children live in the area and we were on our way to meet them for the first time.

The door opened after we rang the bell and we were enveloped in hugs and laughter; hospitality and welcome. It’s like we were arriving home after a long absence. There was so much warmth and love it was not hard to feel comfortably at home. More family arrived and the children, siblings and cousins, filled the empty spaces. We shared stories and food and history while getting to know each other. There was such grace in the experience it’s hard to find the words to describe. Suffice it to say that love overcame any hesitations and it was hours before we left for the night.

Tomorrow we will reunite. And we are so looking forward to it. Our hearts are filled with gratitude for the gift of family – including those we are just getting to know.