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Fourth Of July

We left the Kennedy Cabin early on the Fourth of July. We loaded the car and Canyon ran out to the lawn chairs where we had watched Eric light off the fireworks the night before. He set himself up, pointed at the burned out explosives and said, “more!” and made his sign for more. It was freakin adorable! But it was daylight and time to head back to Duluth.

We began our drive through a long list of small town Fourth of July celebrations. Every time we’d see a sign announcing a parade and festival we would turn in, hoping to see some good old fashioned small town patriotism but every single time we were an hour too early. Pulled in to Long Lake at 10am but the parade was at 11. At 11 we stopped in another small town but their parade was at noon, and so on and so on all the way back to Duluth. It was way too hot-high 90’s-to make Lilo and the kids hang around and wait so no parades for us. But since Canyon had fallen in love with fireworks we stopped and bought a few clearance items to entertain him later on.

Made it back to Dad & Mary’s and it was so ridiculously hot that it was almost unbearable in the house. We dressed in our patriotic finery and headed back into Duluth for the fireworks.

It was quite the sunset as we drove over the bridge…

We found amazing parking in Canal Park and loaded everyone into the stroller. It was too hot to leave Lilo at my Dad’s so she came too! She really is an excellent dog when it comes to crowds and noise so taking her to a carnival was a piece of funnel cake. Get it? piece of cake but I said funnel cake because we were at a carnival. Plus she looked very festive.

Anyway. The Viets-Strel’s all love carnivals and the Mighty Thomas Shows were a wealth of lights, sounds and trashy people watching. Success!

The hardest part of the night was rolling Canyon away from the lights and sounds and spinning of the carnival to stake out our spot for the fireworks show. We didn’t go too far, just to the water by the Great Lakes Aquarium. We had a great view of the Aerial Lift Bridge and anticipated that the firworks would be right above us.

I never understood the point of going to see fireworks but staying really far away. I want to be so close that I can smell them.

The show was great! Now I know that River and Raven also love fireworks!

And then it was back out to the woods.


Darby & Buster Kennedy

Before the Kennedy’s brought their Golden Retrievers home we were visiting and discussing possible names for the pups. I was deep in a Battlestar Galactica phase and strongly advocated for naming the dogs Apollo and Starbuck. Then Carrie let Kieran and Kyle name them and we got Darby and Buster. For the record, when Carrie was pregnant for the first time she asked me name suggestions and I was really pushing for Axel Rose Kennedy but got out voted. So in my mind Kieran is Axel Rose, Darby is Starbuck and Buster is Apollo!

So out of curiosity I wondered what I tried to name Kyle and found this old e-mail-

Hendrix (since I couldn’t get a Axel Rose Kennedy…)
Jagger (that’s awesome)

Carrie-I had forgotten about Axel Rose Kennedy!!!!!!!!! Maybe we need to bring back Axel.

Sigh. We never did bring back Axel.


The Kennedy Cabin

July 2-3

Pretty uneventful drive to Backus, but as we were pulling into the cabin driveway ominous storm clouds were swooping in. We barely got everything into the cabin when the rain and wind hit. Crazy straight line winds that almost immediately took out the power! Luckily I am prepared for fun in the dark and pulled out a pack of glow sticks! Now this is one of those silly little stories that Carrie and I will laugh about for the next 20 years. We took out glow sticks for all of the kids and someone Kyle immediately figured out how to snap his in two, sending glow goo everywhere. And I mean everywhere. The walls, the cabinets, the other children…it was awesome! I really don’t know how he did it but it was super funny and it seemed like such a magical, funny moment.

The rain stopped but the power stayed off for several hours. The kids all fell asleep and John stayed in the cabin while Carrie, Eric and I went down by the water to drink some beers and relax. Eventually we looked up the hill and the the windows were ablaze with light-power restored! We later learned that the storm had caused major damage all over and that we were lucky just to loose some small branches.

The storm dropped the temps so we were able to sleep comfortably-not long-the kids had us up at 7am, but at least we were not sweating. That came later when the heat ramped back up. Perfect excuse to play in the water!

Eric and River were fast friends…

This is how the Kennedy’s keep cool at the cabin. Who needs air conditioning when you have your own beach?

Canyon refused to go to the beach in the morning and would scream hysterically if we tried to make him. We let him stay at the cabin in the morning but by afternoon it was time to show him that the beach was fun. So John steeled himself for the onslaught of screams, tears and flailing limbs and took Canyon down to the water. And that’s what it was for about 15 minutes. Then Canyon just emotionally collapsed and laid in John’s arms on the dock.

Then he put his foot in the water and would splash it around. Then he got in the water. Then he didn’t want to get out! Except to play with the big wheel on the boat dock.

Carrie loves her kids and mine!

And Eric is great with the little ones!

I like to think that River is an honorary Kennedy daughter…

So lots of family fun, a ridiculous amount of top the tater and enough bug spray to protect a small army-good times! But wait, there were fireworks too!


Oh Yeah. I’m Still in July.

July 2

I was looking back through the vacation photos and there is a hole in the timeline. What the heck did we do on July 2 and why don’t I have a folder of 200+ photos like I do for every other day we were Up North. To Facebook!

“Here I am at the Lake Nabagamon laundromat, washing clothes while trying not to tear my skin off from the multiple bug bites all over my body. I sure live the glamorous life on vacation!”

Oh yeah. That was the crabby day! Somedays everyone wakes up crabby and that was one of those days. I felt like I won the chore lottery when we decided that I should be the one to drive to the laundromat. Sweet freedom! Of course there is a laundry room at my Dad’s place but they use a well and the mineral deposits make for slow moving water which makes for 3 hours to wash one load of clothes. And since I have three kids and two adults worth of clothes it was just faster to use the laundromat.

When I pulled up I was the only one there and I got to load up all my washers without any competition for the good machines. As I was putting in my quarters a local woman came in and I heard her say, “don’t touch anything!” to someone and I assumed she had kids with her. Nope. Weird. Then another woman came in and we were chatting and I found out she was up from the Twin Cities. Her son worked at one of the summer camps and she was helping him do his laundry. We were discussing which dryers might be fastest when the local woman snarled “Not that one!” Twin Cities Woman-“But my son says these are the fastest!” Local Woman-“Fine. Do whatever you want. But I have been doing my laundry here for 15 years but I guess you know best!” Twin Cities Woman and I looked at each other and had one of those eye contact conversations that said, “Wow she’s angry at us!” Then I realized that when she had come in and yelled at someone to not touch anything she was yelling at me! Twin Cities Woman and I went outside and I figured out why she was rude to me-I had a big fancy minivan with Illinois plates. FIB! (Fucking Illinois Bastard). When I lived Up North we would always make fun of the FIBS tearing up the highway in their minivans driving super fast, usually in packs of 2-3 cars. Now here I was, one of them! I feel like I should get a bumper sticker that says, “I’m not really from Illinois!”

No matter what the local woman said, I found all the dryers to be expensive and slow so I loaded up my still wet laundry and went back to Dad’s to hang things up to dry and use the dryer. It was a hideous 97 degrees and the sun was intense so things were drying super fast. Then it was time to get the van packed to head up to the Kennedy Cabin!

We left late and started the drive to Backus, MN, and the Kennedy Cabin!