Tuesday, July 06, 2010

Weekend of the 4th

by Scott Dalen

Well, another holiday weekend has again come and gone, but as a whole, this one was pretty good.

I was able to do some celebrating this weekend, and not just in honor of our country's independence. Friday about half way through the day, I finished up all of my work for my summer class. It was a day later than I had hoped for, but it still happened. About 11:15 Friday morning, it was finished...and I was happy. So this weekend was in celebration of my completion of a class, the school year, and my classification as Junior (although that one won't be official until grades are submitted).

The original plan for the weekend was to go camping with the in-laws, but as my wife and kids were all in various stages of recovery from colds, we decided that it wasn't a good weekend to be in a tent, so we called that off on Friday and stayed home from the camp ground.

Instead of camping, Friday night we headed down to a local hotspot, Arnold's Park to start taking in the massive crowds that descend on the Iowa Great Lakes on the 4th of July weekend. We started with "world famous" nutty bars, which are basically ice cream bars dipped in chocolate and peanuts. From there we walked across the way to the main dock that shoots out into the lake to see the boats. At this point there weren't many, but we knew it would pick up on Saturday. Along the way, we paused so the kids could pose with the statue of "Captain Steve," who was a very influential figure in establishing the tour boat industry in the last 30 years on the lakes.It is of interest to note that Captain Steve (obviously in the middle) was stolen from the base a few years back, but finally he was returned last summer, and regained his spot between the two children. I always thought it was a little odd that they just had a statue of two kids there. I didn't know that there was a third figure until the news reported that he had been returned...little bit of history of the lakes there for you.

Saturday started off very nice. We could tell that the weather was going to be good through the day, although the weatherman was predicting clouds moving in later in the day. We started off by taking a trip to a local farmers market that my wife has always wanted to visit. I'll admit that we weren't overly impressed by what we found there, but we are still in the middle of the growing season. Maybe things will be more impressive in another month or two when gardens really start producing something.

From there we headed out to another local hot spot to do some mini-golfing. Our kids are obsessed with mini-golf. The place we went to also hosts a flea market on holiday weekends, so of course it was a busy place and we had to park a good quarter mile away from the place. We made our way through the crowd and once we walked into the main building, I remembered that this location didn't take debit cards. So my wife and kids stayed there while I walked back to the car and buzzed back into town to grab some cash out of the ATM. Fortunately it was a quick trip. I was only gone for about 15 minutes.

We played a very heated game of mini golf. My wife got the lone hole in one, but in the end I emerged victorious. It was a good time and from there we headed home to grab some lunch, and after that we started playing with the water in the backyard. It started off with the kiddie pool and the slip-n-slide.

The kids thought they were firemen in this picture. Notice the two person teamwork on the hose. A very professional technique. Though I don't have it here, there is also a picture of me sitting in the pool with my daughter. She thought that was hilarious. And it was a nice way to cool off on what was a very hot day.

After the water fun, people started getting a little tired, and so we all konked out for a few hours (which was awesome at the time, but caused some pretty major insomnia for me later that night). My brother was supposed to come up as he was home alone for the weekend, but work got in the way for him and he had to bow out.

We fired up the grill and cooked some steaks, and I have to admit that I did a pretty good job on them. Often times, my grilling skills are somewhat limited, but those steaks were pretty good. So good that I even ate a second t-bone that was originally intended for my brother. His loss I guess. After that we rented some movies to finish out the evening.

Sunday we got up and went to church in the morning, but then we had a fairly low key day. I think everyone was pretty tired and honestly, things got a little testy around the house, but we all got naps again. My brother did come up later in the evening. We grilled again and also had a fire out in the backyard fire pit. The weather stopped cooperating and we had a brief rain shower. Not overly heavy, but enough to send the wife and kids back inside. My brother and I stayed out in the rain watching the fire and fortunately we had a pretty good spot under a tree and didn't get overly wet.

Once it started getting dark, we headed up to the ball fields, which are only a few block away and offer a nice open view towards the lake where they shoot off the fireworks. We sat around for a bit waiting while the mosquitoes got a nice snack. I'm still itchy today. The fireworks gave us a good show, but my brother and I agreed that the roughly 5-10 second delay in between the explosion and the sound reaching us detracted just a little bit from the experience, but it was still a good time.

Yesterday became a fairly lazy day. The kids just played around the house through the morning while my wife and I did some cleaning and laundry. But then the in-laws called and asked if our daughter wanted to go to the store with them. She did, so it was just the three of us for most of the day (as she also had lunch and took a nap at their house). My son and I played the Wii for awhile as well as playing catch in the backyard for awhile. I got to thinking that it was a nice day for some golf, but I figured that every course was still going to be busy. Instead, I took him out to a course where I used to work and we hit some balls off the driving range for about an hour.

After that we headed home again. We were there for a little bit by ourselves (wondering where my wife was at) until I remembered that we were having supper with the in-laws. So we headed down the street and ate supper and wrapped it up with blueberry cobbler and snow cones.

All in all, it was a good weekend. Next on the agenda, summer time...no school for about 6 weeks. But I'm doing some discerning. More on that later.


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