Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Saga of the Hallinglag: Den Første

Many many apologies to you all!  I fully intended to bring you the exciting play-by-play of my weekend in Fargo, but it appears that I have failed miserably.  I know that excuses are not really acceptable, but perhaps once I complete my recap for you all, you may feel a bit more forgiving.

The last time I updated was Thursday night, and I believe I was in a fairly genial state of mind, so I will start from that point.

Let me start by giving you a few more details about the hotel.  First of all, due to some bizarre design focus, it was apparently deemed well and good that there be no outside facing windows in any of the rooms.  That's right.  Technically, there was one window, but it was located by the front door and looked out at the wall of the hallway outside.  Not exactly scenic.

Next, I will share that the ventilation system in the hotel was somewhat, shall we say, outdated?  There were no control knobs on the actual vent as would have been expected.  One had to look a bit harder to find temperature controls on the opposite end of the room immediately outside the door to the adjoining room.  As a side note, I did NOT have the room adjoining my grandfather and uncle.  At first I was a little miffed about this, but in retrospect, I realize it was probably a blessing (of sorts).

Being the great investigator that I am, I managed to find the temperature controls.  Unfortunately, moving the knobs and switches on the ancient device proved to have absolutely no effect.  Thankfully the system happened to be set on a cooler mode thus avoiding the horrible possibility that the heater would start.  If there is anything that ruins a good night sleep for me, it is excessive heat.  Or so I thought.

You see, the Hallinglag of America was not the only group descending upon Fargo, ND this past weekend.  Apparently there was a huge golf tournament, some youth soccer tournaments and perhaps also a youth hockey tournament.  Oh, and of course, there were several other "Lags" meeting in town.  That's right, folks.  You didn't honestly think that the Hallinglag was the only such group around, did you?  Heck no!

Translation to this situation:  the hotel was completely booked with not only the elderly, but with children as well.  Children who apparently did not have any parental oversight or normal bedtime requirements.  Do you see where I am heading?  Here is the equation:  Crappy ventilation system = zero fan noise.  Zero fan noise = absolute silence.  Unsupervised children = loud hallway ruckus at very late hours.  Therefore, crappy ventilation system + unsupervised children = terrible sleeping conditions for Megan. 

That was just for the first night.  On the second night, add in my father sleeping in the next bed, probably about as lightly as I was.  Unfortunately for my father (and me), the result of light sleep generally equals loud snoring.  You can probably imagine how this improved the sleeping situation.

Enough about that.  Oh, wait.  One more thing about the hotel room.  Apparently, when my father went to use the shower on Saturday morning, he discovered (and killed) three Silverfish in the shower room.  He chose not to tell me about this until after breakfast when he knew that I was not only done eating but would not need to use the shower again during our stay.  If you don't know what a Silverfish looks like, check this out.

OK.  Back to the Hallinglag.

Let us start with Friday morning.  In anticipation of the fact that old people tend to be early risers, I set my alarm to be ready for breakfast by 8 a.m.  I figured that my grandfather would be up well before that and that my uncle would likely be up as well.  At 7:15 a.m. I hopped out of bed and spent the next 45 minutes preparing myself to meet the day.

Just as I was finishing, I opted to send my uncle a quick text to let him know I was ready, just in case they had already gone down to the dining room.  I received no response.  I found this unusual as my uncle pays quite close attention to his cell phone; much like a teenager, he is fond of texting and updating his Facebook page on-the-go. 

Once I was completely ready, I knocked on the door to their room and immediately did not receive a response.  I waited.  About a minute later, my uncle appeared at the door, clearly groggy with sleep and with the room dark behind him.  Apparently, they were not up yet.  I informed them that I was going to eat and that I would check in with them later.

Clearly, I would have preferred NOT to go to breakfast alone, but I figured that the serving style would be like other hotels I had stayed in before:  self-serve.  Once again, the Vista Inn defied expectations.  Breakfast was served in the same cramped space as the "Meet and Mingle" of the previous night, and when I arrived it was clear that space would again be a problem.  While there were several tables without occupants, they were all covered in dirty dishes that had yet to be cleared. 

A quick scan of the situation revealed that the serving setup was seat yourself and wait to be served by the ONE waitress running frantically back and forth to and from the kitchen.  She apologized profusely for the mess and I smiled and sat down alone at one of the messy tables to wait my turn.  I did consider trying to make myself useful in the kitchen until I saw a clearly posted sign that "Only Staff Allowed in Kitchen."

So.  I sat in the crowded room full of hotel occupants all alone and tried to look confident.  That's when a group of friendly fellow Hallings noticed my plight and asked me to join their table of three.  So I sat with them and introduced myself while enjoying breakfast with my new friends.  One of them turned out to be from Willmar, so we had a nice little chat about my hometown.  Turns out her granddaughter was in the same grade as my brother.  Who knew?

It was also during this conversation that I realized that I may be a bit of a person of interest, and not just because of my age.  Apparently, I am a bit of a "Super Halling."  Why is this, you ask?  Well.

You see, obviously, my grandfather is a Halling.  Why else would he be at the Hallinglag?  At the age of 84, he is a bit of a legend in the group, although I was not able to definitively determine whether that was good or bad.  As he is my father's father, we share the same last name, thus making our connection all the more obvious as we were all wearing nametags. 

So I've got that going for me, right?  But that's not all.  You see, my grandpa isn't my only Halling connection.  Oh no.  My grandmother (his wife) also was a Halling.  While she has been deceased for more than 40 years and never likely attended a Hallinglag in her life, her siblings have been very involved over the years.  In fact, both her brother and sister have been officers at different points in time.

When I introduced myself, therefore, I would tell people that I was Eugene's granddaughter and ALSO that I am Dorothy's great-niece.  They were usually initially quite confused.  No one knew that Eugene was married to the sister of such prominent people, you see.  The look of surprised admiration in their eyes upon this revelation was quite humorous to behold, to be honest.

So there you have it - I must be the chosen one to lead the Hallings into the next century.  Maybe.  If I feel like it.

Good grief, I just took a very ridiculous sidetrack, didn't I?  Back to the story. 

By the time I finished eating breakfast, my grandfather and uncle had appeared in the dining room.  I excused myself from my table of new friends and greeted my relatives.  I then decided to pick up our registration materials.  Armed with our nametags and event tickets, I returned to the dining room to distribute. 

Unfortunately, by this time, breakfast was winding down.  My grandfather and uncle had yet to be served, and my grandfather was clearly getting anxious.  His irritation only increased when he noted that some other people who arrived after him had already received food and drink.  He felt that he was being ignored, and he wasn't going to stand for it. 

So he instructed my uncle to go back to the kitchen.  When Dean failed to comply, he turned to me.  I carefully pointed out the sign that forbid guests in the kitchen.  I then suggested that he march his cute little grandpa self up there and try to charm the waitstaff as they would likely respond better to the dissemblings of a charming old man than a pushy girl.  Ever the passive-agressive, he chose to do nothing.  Except complain.  All weekend.

By the time that our breakfast shenanigans were over (and the men received their food), the genealogy presentations were well under way already.  We snuck in towards the end, just in time to catch some random statements about the Hallinglag and the notice that they were breaking for coffee and treats. 

We all adjourned to the "courtyard" for the break, but not without many complaints over the set up and line that resulted.  I am not sure who thought it would be a good idea to make a bunch of elderly people wait in line for long periods of time, but take note:  it is a bad idea.  After retrieving a prized fattigman cookie for myself and one for my father, I waited patiently for the next event.

Apparently, there is some sort of horn-type instrument called a lur that is used to call the Hallinglag to order.  If you check out the link in the previous sentence, you can find some pretty awesome pictures of lurs.  Rest assured, none of our lur players stood shirtless on cliffs.  Thank goodness.

After the call of the lur, the meeting began.  At this point, my father arrived.  Just in time for the singing of the national anthems.  Oh yes, not only do we sing the U.S. National Anthem, we also sing Norway's and Canada's.  Not crazy, I guess, but my only request would be that they choose a lower key register next time around.  No one in the group could comfortably sing that high any more.

From that point, there really wasn't much to note.  Except for a very bizarre attempt to perform Abbott and Costello's "Who's On First?" routine along with a "modern" version using computer lingo.  The performers stressed several times that they had only practiced once.  Honestly.  I have NO idea what this had to do with the Hallinglag, Norway or anything else for that matter.  And they wonder why the younger generations aren't interested?  Hm.

Once the insanity ceased, the crowd again formed a ridiculously long line to eat their luncheon.  At this point, we abandoned my grandfather to his people and my uncle, father and I went to a Mexican restaurant.  Although my uncle had some issue with getting a bean burrito when he ordered a beef burrito, the rest of the experience was good.  For my part, I thoroughly enjoyed a lovely margarita.  Don't judge - I just had one.  And I needed it, as I was soon to discover.

You know what?  I think that I am going to pause to publish at this point.  This entry is getting long and I still have more information to cover.  So you will just have to sit on the edge of your seats until I bring you the exciting conclusion of the Saga of the Hallinglag!

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