Monday, July 21, 2014

Lodge Life

For the last seven summers, the kids and I (and Tom, when he's been able to get away from work) have spent a week at the Ferris family's beautifully rustic summer home on Booth Lake in Northern Wisconsin. When the Lincoln Lodge was officially established in 2006, my in-laws intended it to be a place where their immediate and extended family could gather to reconnect with each other and with nature; now, eight years later, I can say with confidence that this little slice of heaven has lived up to and surpassed every expectation we had for it to become that place.

I've written in detail about my love for the Lodge (and about blogging in a Northern Wisconsin bar) in the past, so today's post will be short on words and long on photos documenting our week-long family vacation in picturesque Northern Wisconsin.

I left this...
…for this. Finally, a Wisconsin summer
that delivered on the weather front.
Photos can in no way capture the beauty of this idyllic
lakescape, but that doesn't stop me from taking pictures.
The view from the Lodge down to the
lake is always stunning as the sun
begins its descent each afternoon.
With each passing summer my boy
becomes a better (and braver) fisherman.
Will caught at least half of the fish we ate on fish fry night!
Will lost a bet and had to jump in the lake with his
clothes on. At the moment he hit the water on that
overcast, windy day, the air and water temperatures
were both about 67 degrees. Brrr.
Hallie wanted to jump in with her clothes on as
well, but at the last minute she decided she'd
rather be dunked while wearing her lifejacket. 
Hallie played with her third cousin, Alice, almost every day. (Tom
and Alice's mom, Molly, are second cousins. Tom's mom and Molly's
mom are first cousins, and both have summer homes in Wisconsin.) 
While the boys fished and the little girls played together, the
big girls talked and drank coffee and took turns cuddling
Alice's baby sister, Evelyn.
We watched the United States vs. Belgium World Cup
soccer game at a cozy bar in downtown Minocqua. 
The game may not have ended with a United States victory, but holy
 was it thrilling to watch surrounded by the "home country" crowd.
We love roasting marshmallows for s'mores. Too
bad the kids and I don't love eating marshmallows…
We wore sweatshirts at our campfires.
I love Wisconsin summer evenings.
Though our stay didn't encompass a Sunday, we still
visited "our" church. I've attended mass in more Catholic
churches than I can count (4+ years as a member of a
traveling contemporary Christian choir based out of the
Newman Center at the University of Iowa), and while many
have impressed me, none have taken my breath away like
this modern but rustic architectural masterpiece. The
church doesn't photograph well on an iPhone, but perhaps
you can still see and appreciate its beauty in these pictures. 
The wood, stone, and iron elements used both
inside and outside the church are stunning.
Can you imagine how glorious it would be
to experience mass nestled in among the pines?
We've spent the 4th of July at the Lodge in the past, but for the first time this year - now that the kids have 100% outgrown naps and can stay up past 8pm without completely melting down - we went all out and participated in as much of what Minocqua had to offer as possible.

The morning started off lazily, just as we prefer mornings to start off at the Lodge, because none of the official activities kicked off until midway through the afternoon. (Unless, of course, we had wanted to put our chairs out to hold our place for the parade. Then our morning would have started at 6am.) After coffee, exercise, baby cuddling, lunch, and showers we rallied and headed into town for one of the most entertaining and well executed small town parades I'd ever attended. Here are a few of the highlights:
Will stayed up late every night and woke up early every morning…
and then he fell asleep on the sidewalk waiting for the parade to start. 
He may have also fallen asleep during the
National Anthem. At least he still had his
hand on his heart. 
These three incredible planes flew over the parade route just as
the final notes of the National Anthem drifted off into the wind. 
This realtor rode his bike, to the
back of which he had attached... 
…an outhouse. In the outhouse sat a toilet, and
on the toilet sat a newspaper-reading man. Will
and Hallie could barely contain themselves.
If you look closely, you'll notice that this
woman is holding an animal as she rides on
her parade float. If you look even more closely,
you'll notice that the animal is a skunk. 
This team of realtors performed a dance with their briefcases.
They rocked their dance, and their matching outfits.
This fella drove his classic car in the parade, and I took
his picture because he reminded me of Home Sweet Texas.
These two - members of a local martial arts gym - fought (dueled?
I'm not sure what to call their interaction) on the back of their float. 
Meanwhile, these two sparred their way down the parade route
and a fifth martial artist photo-bombed my sparring picture.
I spy, with my little eye, an occupied infant carseat perched
precariously on the passenger seat of a moving tractor.
The lumberjacks. I love the lumberjacks.
Want to see an entertaining show? Skip the movies and
check out Scheer's Lumberjack Show in Woodruff instead.
That's a fiery hot air balloon
just rolling down the parade route. 
The local waterski team demonstrated that they're
nearly as good on rollerblades as they are on water skis.
This guy is (supposedly) dressed like a
piece of fudge. Will and I thought he looked
like something considerably less delicious.
When the hour-long parade (which also included trucks from four
different fire departments, multiple marching bands and dance
teams, and numerous floats created by community organizations
and attractions) came to an end, patriotic confetti filled the sky.
After the parade we settled at a picnic table in the park and enjoyed a few treats - purchased from the local high school's "We're Going to Disney World" bake sale - while listening to the first half of the Lakeside Community Concert Band's 4th of July performance in the park. Eventually we moved on and grabbed a bite to eat before walking down to the lake where the water ski show had just gotten underway.
The guy on the right wiped out .7 seconds after I fired off this shot.
I found this stunt particularly impressive: strength + balance +
flexibility + poise, all while being towed behind a boat at 25 MPH.
These four were skiing on oars instead of skis.
Next we made a quick stop at the house to change into jeans and sweatshirts, cover ourselves with mosquito repellent, and light a few sparklers.
Will practiced his Tae Kwon Do forms
while holding a sparkler in each hand.
Not to be outdone, Hallie performed her
recital ballet with a sparkler in her hand.
Finally, we drove out to the Lac du Flambeau Indian Reservation for a truly impressive fireworks show. On the reservation, the fireworks are paid for by the local casino (think unlimited, or at least very generous, funding) and put on not by professional firefighters but by "guys who like to blow stuff up" (think high risk, high reward). When these two factors combine they produce one of two results: catastrophe or victory. Thankfully, victory was the name of the game this 4th of July.

Hallie almost didn't make it - the big light show didn't start until 10pm and she filled the 9pm-10pm hour with plenty of whining and crying - but as soon that first purple explosion lit up the sky she was hooked. 

After a crazy spring semester and a busy first month of summer, the four of us needed to get away - to travel 1,300+ miles across the country - in order to reconnect with one another. I'm so grateful we made the journey.

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