Wednesday, May 14, 2008

He did it!

Nick graduated from Montana State University in Bozeman. Don't get me wrong, he's a great student. As a matter of fact, I'm 99% sure he has a better GPA than I ever did. However, we were not at all surprised that Nick invited the entire family to Bozeman, only to find out that he might not actually graduate due to a final he was to take on Friday morning in a class in which his grade was already borderline. My mom was not at all happy and had already threatened to not attend a "second" graduation.

He took the essay test while we dined on free bagels and microwave Jimmy Dean sausage sandwiches at the Fairfield Inn. After he finished, we decided to head to Yellowstone. It was snowing. Yes, in the middle of May. The temperature was 31. The drive to Yellowstone was beautiful, but I can only imagine it on a sunny day!

The highlight could have been the fact that we saw tons and tons of buffalo (including two babies), but I think the entire family would agree that when we pulled over to the side of the road to see some elk and Nick rolled down the window in the car in front of us and smiled his big huge smile and said that he passed. He would graduate.

At two separate ceremonies, I learned so much about my brother and became more proud of him than I could have ever thought possible. Nick was commissioned as a ROTC cadet and is now an officer in the Army as a second lieutenant. Major General Jackman, a two star General, spoke at a dinner on Friday as well as the commissioning ceremony on Saturday afternoon. He was so inspirational. We watched what I thought was an Army recruitment video that I swear nearly motivated me to enlist. There were slide shows that recounted all that the cadets had accomplished over the last few years as well as pictures of them as little kids. When did that little blond boy grow up to be a real, live MAN? As he sat in the front of the room in his new Army uniform, it affirmed to me that Nick is in the right place and I couldn't think of anyone better to represent our country.

This is the first picture I took once we arrived at the Billings airport. This life-sized horse made out of beans greets all visitors at the baggage claim.

Ellie enjoys Nick's bachelor pad including the bean bag chair made for two.

Dad got his first taste of Guitar Hero. I think he's going to try out for Salina's favorite band, The Blades. Seriously, he played this by himself while everyone else went outside and tossed the football around.
I protected Ellie from the football and took lots of pictures of her.

A GIGANTIC crow that puts the Newton house crows to utter shame. This one actually hopped and I almost mistook it for a black kangaroo.

One of the baby buffaloes.
And another.
This one almost ran into the side of Nick's car.

Dad and Nick at Plonk, a very cool little wine bar on Main Street that my dad kept talking about.
We joined him at Plonk, but Em kept to the High Life.

That's R.J. Cain in the plaid shirt. My dad met him as a flyfishing guide years and years ago. Every time he went back to Bozeman, he would look R.J. up for a guide. Nick lost touch with him and they didn't speak during all of the time Nick was in Bozeman. Strangely, he was at the last bar we went to on Friday night. Too bad that his poor date couldn't stand the fishing stories and took off.
Nick and Ellie.
Dad and Ellie looking at ducks on campus.

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