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Michelle's column: A memorable vacation

It’s really amazing how much can happen in just a couple of weeks.

I left work on Tuesday, Aug. 19, knowing that I was headed for my annual stint at the Minnesota State Fair, and the American Legion Auxiliary National Convention in Charlotte, N.C. What I didn’t know, two weeks ago, was how fulfilled I would feel after my vacation.

Certainly, working at the State Fair or attending convention might not seem like a traditional vacation. But vacations are supposed to be fun, and spent with fun people, right? And you make some incredible memories and bring home lots of photos? In that case, mine was definitely a vacation.

It started with my sister and her family coming back to Hastings for two nights, on their way through Minnesota en route to San Antonio, so the girls could start school the following Monday. I didn’t get to see them as much as I did when they were home last because I was finishing up museum details the first night and packing the second, but she and I did get in some quality sister time all the same. And, I got to curl up with her kiddos, read books to them and give them hugs and kisses goodnight.

That’s a pretty great way to start a vacation.

I opened the new Minnesota Newspaper Museum at the State Fair on Aug. 21, and was pleasantly surprised by the response we received from our visitors. As our old building was torn down last year, we were relocated to the 4-H Building. I was excited to see some of my fair friends — my volunteers — on that first day, and to have simply been there to be part of the opening day.

Within hours of leaving the fair, I was up way too early, boarding a red-eye flight to Charlotte for the ALA national convention.

I can’t begin to explain everything that happened in Charlotte to our readers. There was so much energy and enthusiasm for the future of the American Legion family, I sailed through the days with a smile on my face and friends always nearby.

It was that first night, two days before our convention meetings started, that I first heard President Barack Obama was coming to address the American Legion delegation. I will be quick to note that I only share my personal political views with a few who know me well, and I won’t go into those views here. But I will tell you that I enjoyed the opportunity to hear the President of the United States speak in person.

Not to mention, as a photographer, I was thrilled to get up front and take photos of the President. That was cool!

I returned to Minnesota Aug. 28, had dinner with my family, and went to bed. The next morning, I was up, getting ready to finish the last four days of my vacation out at the Minnesota Newspaper Museum. I finished my stint at the 2014 Minnesota State Fair by spending a little free time with five or six of my long-time museum friends.

I wish there was some way to bottle all of the happiness I’ve experienced these past two weeks. I can’t really pick out a favorite moment (besides when I had five of my six nieces and nephews piled in around me while I read to them).

I really didn’t get to see much of Charlotte, but I did have the opportunity to make new friends, and strengthen bonds with other friends in our delegation. Back in Minnesota, I not only got to see most of my museum friends, but I was graced with visits from Farmington friends, college friends and even a couple of high school friends I hadn’t seen in decades.

So even though I did a lot of running and traveling, I’d still like to think I had a pretty good vacation. For sure, it was full of new and wonderful memories.

Michelle Leonard

Michelle Leonard joined the Woodbury Bulletin staff in November, 2014, after 14 years covering news for the Bulletin's sister publication, the Farmington Rosemount Independent Town Pages.  Michelle earned her Bachelor of Science degree in Mass Communications: News-Editorial from Mankato State University in 1991. She is an active member of the American Legion Auxiliary Clifford Larson Unit 189 of Farmington, and served as the 2014-15 Third District President to the American Legion Auxiliary Department of Minnesota. Michelle is also the volunteer coordinator for the Minnesota Newspaper Museum which is open annually during the Minnesota State Fair. She has earned Minnesota Newspaper Association awards in Investigative Reporting, Local News Coverage, Feature Photography and Column Writing. 

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