A day at the Minnesota State Fair

Well the weekend just seemed to slip away from me again. I worked until almost 8:00 Friday night, and having stayed as late most of the week-long, I was just wiped out by the time I got home. I was in bed by 9:00 Friday night. I’m such a wimp.

Brad has been back at school for a week now, but he, Heather and the dog came back here for the weekend. The Minnesota State Fair is going on, and Heather hasn’t been there since she was a little kid, so Mark promised her we’d all go.  The kids arrived Friday evening, and on Saturday morning, we all piled in the truck to go to the fair.

We normally go to the fair every year, but usually we pick a weekday to go. It’s been years since we attended on a weekend and I had forgotten how absolutely insanely crowded it can be. There was no parking to be had at the fairgrounds, but we did find a good deal a few miles away. The area businesses were offering free parking with free shuttle rides into the fairgrounds. That was really the way to go. We probably would have had to pay upwards of ten dollars to park at the fairgrounds, but instead, we parked for free and enjoyed an air-conditioned ride on a coach bus which brought us right to one of the fair entrances.

Jake had gone camping for the weekend with my brother and nephew, so he missed the fun. (Not that he minded. He loves to camp and fish.) In Jake’s place, Kacey invited her friend, Hailey along and the six of us began our trek through the fair. It seems like in the past, we tend to just wander aimlessly, trekking here and there and often doubling back to places we’d already been. So I decided right off that we would start by walking the outer edge of the grounds and then weave our way through until we came to the midway on the far side.

There is always so much to see at the fair and SO much to eat, and we did our part to taste-test as many of the foods as possible. We started with deep-fried sun-fish, all sharing from one serving. this is how we tasted most of the foods. And almost everything is deep-fried at the fair. You can’t plan on eating healthy there, but if you allow yourself a day to just pig out, you’ll have a ball. Just plan on ingesting a few Rolaids when you get home!

We had deep-fried cheese curds and a blooming onion with cheese sauce for dipping. But my favorite were the deep-fried pickles. These were thick, round pickle slices and cream cheese, dipped in batter and deep-fried with ranch sauce for dipping. Yum! And it was an extremely hot day, so we had plenty to drink. And before we left for the day, we made a stop at Sweet Martha’s for an overflowing bucket of fresh-baked chocolate chip cookies. We ate a few while there, then took the rest home for later.

The people watching is always the best part of the state fair. First, there’s the hair. It comes in all colors, including neon green, hot pink and royal blue. There is long hair, short hair, spiky hair, Pauly-D hair, mohawks and hair with tails. Then, there’s the wide array of fashion at the fair. I’d say most people dress sensibly for a hot summer day of walking for hours around the fairgrounds. Those people wear shorts, a t-shirt and a good pair of tennis shoes. (Not me though. I wore my favorite, most comfortable Skechers flip-flops.) But others are there to make a statement, no matter the fact that the temperatures were hovering in the high eighties. My favorite can’t-help-staring fashion was worn by a girl with very, dark black hair. She had on a pair of denim shorts, but under the shorts, she wore black tights. Over the tights, she wore knee-high black socks. Over the socks, she wore knee-high black boots with buckles from the top of the boots to the ankle. Honestly, I can’t remember what she wore on top, because I could not help but stare at the footwear, which clearly did not say, “Hey, walk for miles around the fairgrounds in me on a hot summer day while fighting massive crowds.” But that girl managed to pull it off. Wonder how her feet felt at the end of the day? A close second in stare-able fashion was worn by a woman who I’d say was in her fifties. She had on a pair of zebra striped spandex pants with a bikini top, which, more power to you if you can pull off such a fashion, but let me tell you; I saw her stomach, and someone should tell her she couldn’t really pull this look off. Oh… and one other strange thing I saw there… walking casts. I lost count of how many people were wandering around in walking casts! Apparently there’s been an outbreak of bone breakage in the state lately. Personally, if I had one of those, I’d take advantage and get one of those electric wheelchairs and zip around the fair in comfort!

The state fair also had plenty of legitimate attractions to offer, including the livestock barns. And since the Minnesota State Fair began as a celebration of the state’s agriculture industry, we thought it pertinent to take a walk through the barns. We skipped the cows and the pigs, but we took a tour through the poultry barn, mainly because our neighbor, Caitlin had entered a couple of chickens and we wanted to see them. Honestly, I don’t know one chicken from the next, but I was surprised at the variety of breeds there were. Caitlin’s were black and white and sort of stripey. It was fun to check out all the other birds there too. I guess I never really thought about how huge turkeys can actually get, since my frame of reference has been thus far limited to the kind you see in the grocer’s freezer. I was impressed with the size of the geese too. I found a domestic one that seemed to take a liking to me while I talked to it. He eyed me curiously and I noticed that it had blue eyes. Mark told me all geese have blue eyes. I had no choice but to believe him, since I really don’t know, but I found it odd.

Back outside, we marveled at those brave enough to try the thrill rides. The ejection seat always amazes me, and we watched a few brave souls strap in and allow themselves to be sling-shotted into the sky. I also noticed for the first time this year, some big, clear plastic bubble things (kind of like giant hamster exercise balls… almost said “hamster balls” but realized that didn’t paint quite the picture I was going for…) that people could go inside and float around in a big pool of water. There were sky-rides and the space-tower for those who wanted an aerial view of the fairgrounds, but we are all a bunch of wimps and were content just to watch. The three girls did, however, take a ride down the giant slide, while I picked up a t-shirt from my favorite radio station’s booth:

Is this not the perfect shirt for wearing to the bowling alley? I thought so too. Just couldn’t resist buying it!

I love the fair. If you’re ever here, you’ve got to go. Call me. I’ll go with you!

My Office Spouse

I realized this morning that I don’t have an office husband. For some reason, I found this to be a disappointing realization. This knowledge came to me as I heard my favorite radio wake-up crew talking about the fact that they each consider the other to be their office spouse. My reaction to this was, “Hey! I want an office spouse too!”

According to the Urban Dictionary, an office spouse is “a person at the office that one shares all the trials and tribulations of the job and outside personal life with–also rumors, gossip, etc.– on an emotional level. The first one someone runs to when something big happens in their personal life or at the firm. An emotional relationship, but not a physical, sexual one. Relationship is confined to the workplace–if it goes beyond that, it is more than an office spouse.”

I was pondering my lack of an office husband on my drive home tonight and realized that I lack an office husband because there is a serious lack of male presence in my department, except for Jim, the lone man who is most definitely not and never will be my office husband. And then, after I read that Urban Dictionary definition, I realized, I do have an office spouse. This person and I have long shared a mutual affection for and understanding of one another. I can’t believe I didn’t realize it before. I really do have an office spouse.

Her name is Shannon and she is my office wife! :D

I can’t wait to tell her!


It’s become a bit quieter around the house over the past few days. Brad went back to school in North Dakota last Friday. Jake starts his classes this week. Kacey gets to enjoy summer a little bit longer. Her senior year begins after Labor Day.

Kacey is pretty much over being cut from the volleyball team. We all just chalked it up to “the way things go sometimes.” But I’ve been amazed at the number of people who have approached us to express their disbelief that she was cut from the team, which only seems to reinforce that I wasn’t just being “one of those parents” when I felt so upset over her being cut. Obviously, others saw talent in her too.

But, what’s done is done and she has moved on. She’s enjoying having time to just hang out with friends and she’s already filling her calendar with volunteer opportunities (needed for National Honor Society) and other activities. Fall softball began yesterday afternoon. It was an unbelievably hot and humid day, but the girls didn’t seem to notice and they won both games and seemed to be having a good time in spite of the weather. They got new shirts for the fall season too. The coach was bored with the old logo. The team had been wearing the same design for three years and he wanted something new. For some reason, he thought Kacey might be able to come up with a new design, and so she did. When they donned their new shirts yesterday, I couldn’t help smiling thinking how my daughter had created it. It was pretty cool!

Work is crazy busy. I switched from my flex hours for the next two weeks so I’m working every day, technically from 9 to 5, but the last two days I’ve stayed until 8 p.m. and still can’t make a dent in the work that needs to get done. It’s overwhelming, but busy is better than bored, right? In fact, I’ve been so busy, I’m seriously debating taking a blogging break…but I don’t really want to, so I’m going to try not to.

But life is not all work and no play. I’ve been busy trying to get the bowling team back in order for the winter season. The Ball Busters just aren’t going to be the same without my crazy best friend, Gina. She’s a hard woman to replace. In fact, I had to find three people just to fill her shoes. (None of them wanted to bowl every week. They’re going to rotate weeks.) For a while, I was worried I wouldn’t find someone to take Gina’s place at all! I even put an ad on my FaceBook page seeking a new team-mate. My partner, Dan, from the summer league was the first to volunteer, but I told him he had the wrong body parts. Women can bowl in the men’s league, but men aren’t allowed in the women’s league. I told him he’d just have to be patient until next summer rolls around again and the Nice Tries are back on the lanes.

And… apropos of nothing, there seems to be an overabundance of creatures hanging around (and on) the house lately. First, a squirrel was making himself quite comfy, right on the deck outside the patio door. I had to actually go out on the deck on Saturday and shoo him away. He was making a mess with some acorns. Then, there was this guy on the kitchen window…

And then tonight, the biggest, ickiest bug I’ve ever seen was hanging out by the front door. He flew toward me and I screeched and ran back inside, but not before I got a few shots of him and his hideously long tail…

They just better stay where they belong, though… outside. Bugs and creatures are fascinating when they’re outside, but the minute they find their way into the house, it’s Death by Shoe!

What if we all had beards?

Kacey loves to take pictures of herself with her friends and then get creative with them. She plays with the colors and often adds captions that are sentimental or inspiring. But sometimes… her silly side kicks in. I just love this one!

Think about it! What if we DID all have beards?

Too much in my head

Naive. I think that’s what I’ve been for a good part of my life. See, I’ve always believed that there are some people who just got it right. Such a child-like idea, but I held onto it for a long time. And that’s a dangerous thing to do because it only makes it so much harder to understand when something goes really wrong.

I feel like I’m questioning everything lately.

We see in people what they want to let us see. Sometimes their lives look all shiny and perfect, and I for one, am quick to buy into the perception. But the older I get, the more I realize that no one has a bottomless glass of happiness. Everyone’s glass has a hole in it. It’s just that some glasses have bigger holes than others. We try to fill our glasses and keep them full, but it’s inevitable that some of the happiness is going to leak out through the holes. The glass will never be completely full. And maybe that’s just the way it’s supposed to be. Maybe the trick is learning to survive, knowing that you just have to try to keep filling that glass. Blah, blah, blah… and all that stuff about how we wouldn’t know what happy is if we didn’t know what it was to feel sad.

I was raised to believe in God and that going to church every week would keep us on the path to happiness. During the week, there might be times where the sibling rivalry bordered on sheer hatred or I’d discover for the umpteenth time that I was a disappointment to someone or I’d witness a display between my parents that left me questioning why marriage had to be so hard. But come the weekend, we’d go to church again and be led to believe that if we kept our eyes on God, it would all be okay in the long run.

We all tend to believe that we have all the time in the world to get it right. Religion taught me that this life is just a blink of an eye and the reward is at the end, but we have to work every day during this blink of an eye to reap that reward. And I do believe that is true. But the thing is, sometimes, here in the present, one day seems an eternity and Lord knows how many times we can screw up just in a single day! At church, they would tell us that it’s okay. We are screw-ups. Just keep trying, because God knows you’re a screw-up and He forgives you. But after years of staring into that mirror of harsh reality, I just got tired of it. I was tired of having to face the fact that no matter what you do, the world is going to be an icky place.

So I started drifting away from church, and for a couple of years, I thought I would go back, or find a different one that offered a more positive perspective on this life. I found a place I liked, but never felt like I could really dive in, so it’s been a long time since I’ve gone. I’ve been away a long time now, and the longer I’m away, the less I feel the need to go back. At church, I always felt like a square peg trying to fit into a round hole anyway. Oh, I will never have any doubt that God exists. I just can’t wrap my head around all the different churches and beliefs and that some of them exist more for the profit of the church than the salvation of the people. Which one is right? I don’t know. I’ve just had enough for right now. I’m still open to going back, somewhere, sometime. But now is not that time.

Still, in spite of that disillusionment with church and religion, I looked around at the people in my life and believed that some had really figured it out. We surround ourselves with those kinds of people, don’t we? Personally, I still have a tendency to believe there is a right way of being and doing things and that it leads to a happy life. And then it shakes me to the core when I see things happening that I never could have imagined to those who “have it all figured out.”

A son admits to his parents that he plans to finance his college education by selling drugs…

A seemingly happy and confident girl commits suicide before she finishes high school…

A husband and father dies in a freak accident, revealing himself to have been someone very different than most ever knew…

A boy grows up believing that he will never measure up… and quits trying…

A woman jumps from a bridge, a man drives the wrong way down the freeway killing himself and injuring another in a head-on-collision, a man falls in the lake while enjoying a day of fishing and is found dead a few days later. There are terrorist attacks, murders and natural disasters; people lose their jobs, babies are born prematurely, people develop incurable diseases. Some suffer terrible loneliness. (See? This is the direction my thoughts go when I read the newspaper and watch the news.)

Marriages fall apart, kids screw up, people get sick… or die. Nothing is really perfect. We raise our kids and try to show them that the world is a beautiful place and we struggle to find ways to help them understand when it proves itself to be so ugly. I guess that’s why there are so many clichés about life… It’s a merry-go-round… a roller coaster… one step forward, two steps back. It is equally good and bad and we’re stuck here, so get over it. All we can do is make things work the best way we can.

So, I guess the key is to accept the fact “perfect” does not exist in us or this world. Nothing is what it seems and as long as we live, we need to expect to be thrown a lot of curve-balls. All we can do is find what it is that keeps us ticking. We need to learn how to find joy in the little things in this world, in spite of the ugliness that exists. In fact just yesterday, I was reminded of what a privilege it is to enjoy a hot shower, every day… and that a mechanical pencil can make a job so much easier. Simple pleasures; I need to take the time to notice them instead of giving so much attention to the difficulties. Little by little, maybe it’s possible to make a habit of seeing the good and turning a blind eye to the bad when possible. And understand, God may be the path to happiness, but even He expects us to put forth a good amount of effort towards it on our own. He’s not going to let us sit here like a bunch of wet noodles waiting for our turn to be graced with the good life. Maybe, there is a hole in the glass, and maybe it’s not half empty, but half full. (As long as mine’s got some beer  in it, I think I’ll be okay.)

Guess I just hit my semi-annual “questioning life” phase. Good thing it’s the weekend and not many come around to read. We’ll return to our normal, slightly ditzy perspective on the world again soon.

So mad I couldn’t sleep!

When I started to awaken today, I knew it was really early. I tried not to look at the clock but couldn’t help myself. It was 4:38 a.m. which wouldn’t have been a problem had I had to go to work this morning, but I didn’t. It’s my day off. I told myself I’d just go back to sleep, but my brain refused to shut off. I just could not stop thinking about something and in the broad scheme of things, I know I’ll probably look back on this one day and find it silly that it pissed me off this much, but not so much at the moment.

Long story short: Kacey was cut from the volleyball team.

Oh… but they offered to “let” her be the team manager. Yeah. Gee, thanks.

I know this is a fate that kids have suffered time and again. It’s one of those life lessons everyone has to learn and we all know it will make us stronger in the long run. But that didn’t help so much last night when I was at my bowling banquet, just waiting for a text message from my girl confirming she made the team and instead I got one telling me she didn’t. Do you know how much it hurts to know how passionate your kid is about something, to know that she’s really good at it, and then have to listen to her crying over the phone, because someone made her think she wasn’t good enough? I wished so much I could wrap her up in one of those mom hugs, but I wasn’t there for her. I might have been better prepared for this if I’d thought things could go either way on this, but it honestly never occurred to me that she wouldn’t make it. And right now, at this moment, it just sucks.

It sucks that she was led to believe she was entitled to a level of confidence about her chances.  It sucks that the wonderful varsity coach who led the team over the past many years decided to call it quits after last season. She saw talent in Kacey, gave her a little bit of the spotlight, and told her, in front of all the players and parents at last year’s end-of-season banquet that she expected big things from her this season. Kacey was a leader and she was good. She was a true team player. I’m not one to go around boasting about how good my kids are at their sports. In fact, I’m quite the opposite. I’m proud of them no matter what they do, but I’m also realistic and have never believed any of them were super-stars. But last season, so many others came to me, making it a point to mention how good they thought Kacey was. And it sucks that Kacey wasted her time attending open gym sessions and volleyball camps all summer long in preparation for this season while other players were conspicuously absent. Do you know who else was conspicuously absent from these events? The new coaches. This really pisses me off. They strongly encourage the players to attend all of this summer stuff, some of it at a cost to the parents, and then fail to show up to see what the girls can do? Did they really think they could get a true picture of all of the girls’ abilities over a three-day try-out?

What really ticks me off is who did make the team: A girl who had mono early in the summer and attended no open gym sessions or camps, another who failed to learn the rotations all last season and… I’m sorry, but… one who has a pretty serious weight problem. I just don’t get it. Except… those girls have parents who are pretty involved in the program and are regular volunteers wherever help is needed. I can’t help but wonder if that makes the difference. So now I have one more reason to feel guilt about having to work.

The logical side of me knows that Kacey was a late bloomer in this sport. Her talent really started to emerge last year when she was a high school junior. There were a handful of girls her age who had been playing varsity already for a couple of years. This year, those girls’ positions were pretty much already set. I think Kacey was sandwiched between the well-established players and the up-and-coming younger girls. There are only so many positions on a team and the coaches needed to make sure they had players who could be developed for the coming years. They didn’t want to load up the team with a bunch of seniors who would all be leaving after this season. I’ve seen this same thing happen before. Both of my boys have had similar experiences in soccer and football.

And so all this has happened and I’m so riled up about it that I couldn’t sleep this morning. But once again, my daughter has proven to me why I’m so proud of her no matter what. As much as she was hurting over this, when I came home from my banquet last night, I found her sitting in the living room with two of her good friends, contemplating whether she might now look for a job or…whether the three of them should volunteer to manage the boys’ soccer team. They giggled over that one, but I think they’re pretty serious. Hey, if you can’t play one of your favorite sports, why not spend your time hanging around a bunch of athletic boys instead?

And if I have to look at the bright side, I can now remember that Kacey has not only agreed to play fall softball, which begins this weekend, but was encouraged by the varsity softball coach at school to play on a winter team as well, in preparation for the school season this spring. (Silly me. Just a couple of months ago, I thought the softball days were coming to an end.) So it’s not like we’re not going to be busy anyway! I told Kacey she could also think about bowling with her old mom, but she brushed off that idea pretty quickly!

Well, at least I know she’s going to be okay and that is what’s really important.

Back from Bayfield

I’m back!

Had a nice few days off on our 8th annual vacation in Bayfield, Wisconsin and the Apostle Islands in Lake Superior. We couldn’t have asked for better weather. It started out hot and humid, just perfect for a boat ride over to Madeline Island and a day at the beach. The rain held off until the evenings and by Sunday, the temperatures had cooled off a bit and the humidity had vanished. We had a nice breeze, just perfect for a morning of golfing.

The four-hour road trip started off as usual. The men piled into Bill’s big truck, the women into Julie G’s van. The women spent the drive talking and catching up as some of us really only see each other during these few days each year.

As we came into Washburn, Wisconsin, we made a stop at a restaurant called The Rustic Roost. We’d never been there before. Bill just thought it looked like a good place to stop for lunch. True to its name, it was rustic alright, with knotty pine walls and a north woods atmosphere. Our waitress, Marlene was an engaging woman, clearly not used to serving parties of eight. But she did her best to get the orders straight even while Bill was doing his best to tease and distract her. She gave him grief right back and wasn’t even flustered when she served the food and realized she’d never given Dave and Julie’s ticket to the cook. The rest of us tried to eat slowly but were mostly finished by the time Dave and Julie’s food came. Much fun was made of their predicament, and no one really minded having to wait a little longer. Interesting place. The beer and soda were served right in the cans, with an empty glass in which to pour them yourself. I’ve never been served a canned beverage in a restaurant. Must be a Wisconsin thing.

After lunch, it was only a short ride to the condos we’d be renting for the next few days. We checked in with Susie, the proprietor, and heard a few stories of the other guests she has encountered this summer, one of whom managed to shatter the glass on the oven door in her condo. How does one manage that? We promised Susie we wouldn’t break any appliances if we could at all help it.

Soon we were unloading our gear and getting settled in our condos. It was a beautiful day, so after we had settled in, we all piled into Bill’s boat and headed over to Madeline Island. We enjoyed some cocktails at the Beach Bar, then walked a half mile or so to The Inn, where they had a fantastic menu. I couldn’t decide whether or not to try the house special, whitefish, or the fish chowder. My mouth was watering looking at all the options. I finally settled on a Caesar salad with grilled shrimp. The sun was slowly beginning to set over Lake Superior and we had a gorgeous view from our table inside the restaurant. The beach was filled with people enjoying a fabulous summer day on the island and I could feel a much-needed calm beginning to settle over me.

Day two, Friday was another stunning day. First thing in the morning, I wandered out onto our deck to take in the lake and feel the sun warming me as it shimmered on the water. It was beach day. Unfortunately, Tammy had injured her back  the previous week and was feeling in no shape to take a bumpy ride across the waves. Bill said he only planned to stay a couple of hours, so I stayed back at the condo with Tammy while the rest of the group went off to find a new beach and enjoy the water. Tammy and I put our suits on and each grabbed a book. We settled on the deck and immersed ourselves in other worlds for a while until the group returned.

On Friday night, we were supposed to go into town for a ghost tour, but the skies decided to let loose and the tour was delayed. We enjoyed a night of board games instead. Dave wanted to play Cranium, and in spite of a few good-natured protests, I was ready to play. We were paired with partners, and mine was Dennis. Dennis refused to do any charades or acting when our turn called for it, so it was left to me to call on whatever acting skills I might possess. I gave it my all, even singing at one point… “The sun’ll come out… TOMORROW…. bet your bottom dollar that TOMORROW….” Do you think Dennis could guess that the answer was Little Orphan Annie after such a performance? He couldn’t. I embarrassed myself and everything, but he couldn’t remember her name. We lost, but it was fun.

When Saturday arrived, the sun was once again in the sky and it was another beautiful day. The day’s agenda included a trip into town where the women browsed the shops and boutiques, picking up a few mementos to take home from the trip. The guys made themselves comfortable in Morty’s Bar where they shot pool while waiting for the ladies.

The ghost tour had been rescheduled, and after dinner on Saturday night, we loaded ourselves into the vehicles and headed back to town. Our tour guide was “Mad Maud”, who lived in Bayfield in the early 1900s. She met us in front of the old Bayfield library and was ready to scare us with tales of the ghosts of the town. Maud wasn’t a frightening ghost, though. She kept us quite entertained as she led us on a tour of the town, pointing out historic homes and buildings and describing in great detail the history as well as the ghosts who still live within. She was quite a character and she kept me intrigued the entire time. I was sorry to see the tour come to an end a few hours after it had begun, but darkness had settled in and it was time to go back.

By Sunday, it was cool and breezy, a perfect day for golfing. Tammy, with her bad back, and Julie G, with her dislike of golf had decided on a few hours at the casino instead. That left me to enjoy a round of golf with Julie W. and Dave. I only learned to golf a few years ago and I learned specifically so I could golf during a vacation in Bayfield. We didn’t golf the last couple of years and the last time I did was probably the last time we golfed in Bayfield. I wasn’t sure I’d remember what to do. Dave and Julie were patient and helped me with what clubs to use, but by the fifth hole I was feeling bad for holding up the group and I apologized to Julie for being such a drag. She told me not to apologize. She was having fun and she even said that I was “a natural.” I laughed at that, but by the sixth hole, things started to come together and I was only one over par. Once I started to remember everything, I really started having fun and wished we could golf another nine holes. Good thing we didn’t though. The next day, muscles that hadn’t been used in a while reminded me why it was probably best to stop when we did.

After golfing, we met back at the condos where Tammy and Julie G soon returned from the casino, having won little to nothing. The rest of the day was spent relaxing out on the decks and enjoying some cocktails. Instead of dinner, we rounded up all of our snacks and hors d’oeuvres and had a smorgasbord. At one point, some of the guys were out on the deck and began to excitedly call everyone outside. Out in the bay, just below our decks was a family of six otters swimming, diving, splashing and catching fish. They seemed to be performing for us and we watched with amazement at how close they came to us. Mark had his spotting scope set up and we were able to take turns watching the otter antics as if we were only a matter of inches away. I had my camera out and snapped picture after picture. The otters were so amazing, and when I walked down the dock to try to get a closer viewpoint, they actually swam toward me as if expecting me to feed them. This gave Bill the idea to toss some shrimp out to the otters and they dove right after the treats he tossed them.

Later on, when the sun had set and we were all full from grazing on the hors d’oeuvres, Dave decided to take a bag of trash out to the dumpster behind our units. He returned shortly afterwards, looking a little pale and said, “I think I saw a bear.” Now Dave is quite a jokester, so everyone just laughed and said, “Yeah, right.” But Dave soon made it clear he was not kidding. He said he had opened the lid on the side of the dumpster closest to our condos and then tossed in the bag. As he slammed the lid closed, the lid on the other half of the dumpster popped open and he saw the silhouette of what he suspected was a bear. The disbelief soon turned to belief and the guys headed out with a flashlight to get a look for themselves. Mark asked if I cared to join them, but having a deathly fear of large animals, I politely declined. Julie G apparently shares that same fear, but her curiosity got the best of her, so she stood on the back steps while watching the crazy brave guys go in search of their prey. I was glad I hadn’t gone when I heard Julie shouting, “Oh my god, you guys, that’s huge! Oh my god, it’s huge!”

As the group came back inside, they talked excitedly about the bear and not long afterwards we had settled into some card games for the night. It was our last night of vacation and there was a reluctant sort of feeling in the room. But I was missing my kids and in spite of the stress I had been feeling before vacation, I was ready to get back to home and routine.

It was another wonderful vacation. See you next year, Bayfield!

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