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A Northwoods Independence Day

My college buddy, Alex, was in town from Alabama. We had planned on going to the cottage early, but since this dude doesn't come round these parts that often we had to stay in Minneapolis another day.

We took him to the brand spanking new Breaking Bread cafe on West Broadway. It's so nice to have a great restaurant over north.

Meadow woke up crabby. I guess she's like me and needs to eat breakfast first thing. She was also terrified of Alex.

Sorry dude. We hope she'll be better behaved at your wedding.


It seems like every time we see my family I always have a bunch of crap to give them. Brittany left this box at our house last week for Blake.

This didn't make much sense since we'd all be up at the cottage the following week. Ah well.

This was the first time my entire family was going to be at the cottage in a really long time.

Recently we've realized if Brooke's parents or Chelsea's family are up we might as well keep our snack contributions to a minimum.

Blake got Meadow a birthday present, the book "Paddle-to-the-Sea."

It's written in chapters so she may enjoy this when she's older. We still have been reading one chapter a day.

Meadow also got her own chair. It's going to be perfect for camping or sitting in our backyard.

Apparently there were a lot of gifts to open. Brittany opened her gifts from Santa. We also sadly learned that my Grandpa's car dealership is going to be closing in September.

What a bummer.

Chelsea made her famous stuffed shells while Mr. Mike made burgers.

Marina like every other toddler chose the pasta.

I made a rhubarb lemon Bundt cake for the weekend.

I guess we did bring one thing.

We realized that there wasn't any beer to drink so we took Blake's truck to town.

"Watch the road Blake!"

This is our new thing since we caught Brooke freaking out on a road trip with Blake.

My dad kept insisting that we bring chairs along to claim a spot for the parade. I was like, "No. People don't do that." I guess I was wrong. 

You were dead wrong.

I can't believe how much has changed since I was a kid. This little town seems to get busier and busier.


 I remember this little building between the buildings downtown being full of gardens like someone lived here.

For some reason I don't think this renovation will be an improvement.

Good beer: Lakefront Brewery's Wisconsonite. OK beer: Rhinlander Shorties.

When we got back Mr. Mike, Blake and I went fishing.

We didn't forget the bait.

I caught my first fish, a walleye. We didn't know the regulations on them so we threw it back. We later found out that I could've taken this one.

I had no clue how to hold it for the picture. Mr. Mike thought this was funny.

Blake was disappointed that he didn't catch anything.

It started getting dark and we went back to the cottage.

The kiddos and Jeff were there to greet us.

This year we supplied the fireworks from Costco. Scott wanted to get a bigger set, but I think this was plenty.

So many fountain fireworks.

And quite a few duds. What gives Costcrap?

With all of us here, we each had to designate an area to sleep. Blake was nice and choose to sleep with us in the trailer. We actually left Meadow to sleep with the grandparents. 

Blake and I reminisced about our trailer days. I found some old mix tapes and thought I would get the party started.

This place is going to need some TLC (not the music, but that could help) if we're ever to take it out on the road.

The mix tapes turned out to be only N'SYNC songs.

Blake provided a light show for Brooke's sick moves.

The next morning was parade time.

We're going to have to get this proto-SUV if we ever take the Airstream on the road.

We always have donuts for breakfast on the 4th.

Good thing we saved our spots last night.

The crowd was...patriotic to a fault.

Red, white and blue as far as the eye could see. Except for this guy. He didn't get the memo.

I'm totally not cool with this saving spaces schtick.

Totally started by FIB's.

Meadow is a true patriot. Either that or really fond of flags.

No small town parade would be complete without political people in classic cars. 

Hey Sugar Camp why didn't you throw out any candy? You are from Sugar Camp after all. 

My mom needs to join the Lawn Chair Lady Brigade.

Sweet hat, dude!

We were excited to see the Wautoma High School Band playing. That's where my mom went to school.

I was more excited for the shiners.

Meadow became the collector of flags.

There is something not right about a VW in a 4th of July parade.

After awhile Meadow started to get the idea the of candy being thrown out.


Getting all the tootsie rolls for us.

The pickle guy was the highlight of the parade for me.

Then it was time to head to the park for some Bloody Mary's.

We had to make our way through the crowd.

We checked out all the random crap at the flea market.

Crap? That's a classic calendar. Definitely a collectors item...

The crowd was all about the junk.

There wasn't anything we just had to have.

It turns out the there was no Bloody Mary stand this year. We were all bummed and decided to go home.

Sanky's went out of business in the past year. This is a sad day.

Sprecher had their beers here, which was a nice substitute. 

Time to go home. Mike's got Gail's slice of pie.

He does exist.

It seems appropriate that Where's Waldo shows up periodically. At least that's what Chelsea called me.

Nothing like frozen pizza for lunch.

This was our first time kayaking this year. I wasn't sure how Meadow would be. Last year she was small enough that the life jacket kept her from moving. She was fine this year except after awhile she said, "Done, done. Home"

She lasted a little longer if I let her paddle.

We did a little paddling around Dog Lake. I love these old boat houses.

Marina is much braver in the water than Meadow.

Meadow was more interested in parading back and forth on the dock.

Scott always wants to be doing something at the cottage. I like doing nothing. I think Blake would agree. Although after this I did wash our car.

I found somebody closer to my maturity level to hang with. Brayden and I had a noodle fight and floated around the water.

"Blake do you want to go paddle boating?"

Even though he seemed hesitant he came with after all.

Then I took my kayak out for some fishing. I only caught a few logs.

In the meantime Brooke and Meadow went on a girls adventure.

We forced Meadow onto the water with the Fun Board 2000. That's what Brayden and Blake named it. It's actually a giant peice of styrofoam that Chelsea got from work.

Brooke tried getting Meadow to walk in the water. This was not happening.

Meadow was happy to be away from the water.

These days seem to go on and on.

Marina didn't mind.

We each pitched in for dinner. 

Meadow wanted to go back in the kayak, but the fireworks were fast approaching.

The kids collected a lot of flags at the parade.

We went back to the park for fireworks.

The cousins had fun squeezing together.

I'm sure Dan had just as much fun pulling them along.

We forgot to get a photo of all of us together with our tattoos. Chelsea brought a bunch of 4th of July themed tattoos for everybody. Some of us choose more obvious spots for theirs.

Mine was on my neck as a redneck joke. GG liked that idea and copied me. I guess we're tattoo buddies.

Grandpa took Meadow to the overcrowded playground where Meadow held up all the lines.

Lately she likes climbing up to the slide and then sits at the top not moving.

We all had all kinds of glow sticks this year.

Meadow apparently doesn't like fireworks anymore. She hid in Brooke's chest for 2/3rds of the show. She finally peeked out near the end.

Meadow slept with us in the trailer since we all went to bed at the same time. Meadow likes to hog the bed and steal my pillow.

That's my girl!

I didn't sleep well so coffee was primary for me.

Thankfully we had a hearty breakfast of potatoes and eggs for a pick me up.

This was Meadow's perch for over half the weekend.

Blake made Nolan and Brayden taxi him around the lake.

Meadow and I went on a mama baby boat ride. I wish we had gone on a kayak adventure with Blake, but I guess we all got busy.

Brayden and I did much of the same.

I also took stealthy shots of the lake bums.

We brought Meadow's new bike up. My mom wanted to see how it worked. Meadow insisted on wearing her helmet. 

So far she just walks with the bike. Next year she will be coasting.

She looks way too cute on this.

Boat, kayak, fish, repeat.

Then we all had to get together to watch Meadow open more birthday presents. She really was spoiled this year. My mom got her her own broom set. She always likes to help me sweep at home.

She also got some magnetic letters.

I finished cleaning out the car. I wouldn't have to spend so much time doing this if I cleaned it more often. We really should get the car detailed to get the stains out of the seats. My dad said they can buff out our scratch marks instead of us having to get the car repainted.

With Blake and Chelsea and co. gone it was much quieter.

Meadow and Marina didn't seem to mind.

The woods became their playground.

Meadow managed to climb up the ladder all by herself.

I still can't believe Blake slept out here by himself.

I hope the kiddos are brave enough to do that. It seems cozy.

Marina liked Meadow's bike too.

Meadow didn't get much farther than this all weekend.

Apparently Brittany's old cat was here all weekend. Meadow loved how cuddly their cat was.

Winner winner chicken dinner.

We had planned to stay until Monday or Tuesday. It worked out that my parents and Brittany could stay too.

Then we finally got to go on a boat ride. It gets hard to do when there are so many people up. Meadow and I were waiting for everyone in the boat when I felt a sharp pain. A wasp had bit me through my sweater. It then got stuck to my sweater. After I let out a loud scream my dad had to pinch it off. This is my second bee sting in my life. I'm just glad it got me and not Meadow.

A beautiful place for a little boat ride. Unless you get stung by a wasp.

Meadow had more fun walking around than enjoying the view.

Grandma was OK with that.

Meadow needed a bath. The last few times I tried to give her one in the sink she refused to go in. My mom said I should try it again. For some reason she was fine with it this time.

She just needed a towel.

The next morning we had plans to take the boat out for breakfast to Sunset Grill. The weather dampened our plans for that. Boo hiss.

Gail must have not put on her makeup.

I couldn't believe that Marina ordered biscuits and gravy.

Our food took forever, but it's always delicious nonetheless.

We shared a bloody mary. They even let you choose your beer chaser. I got a Sprecher wheat beer.

When we got back it stopped raining and Mr. Mike asked if I wanted to fish.

Mr. Mike had caught one fish when it started to pour. Since I had caught two fish and put them back he was nice enough to send it home with us.

The sky was dark all day and the clouds opened up to a monsoon. We packed up and headed out early.

The rain meant that I had to drive until the skies were clear.

Meadow fell asleep holding her sandwich.


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