Small town girl. Joins Navy. Sees the world. Flies in planes. Hunts submarines. Gets out of military and has 3 kids. Rejoins Air National Guard as an "old lady" of 38.

A humorous compilation of stories and lessons learned. Usually the hard way.

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Vacation, what??

This one time- I went on a vacation.  

Being slightly obsessive like I am, I planned it to a 'T'.  I had made reservations a year in advance.  I packed and planned for weeks.  I made list, after neurotic list, of every possible item needed and tasks to be completed before we left.    I printed off games from the Internet for the kids for the 25-hour car ride. (one way, that is)  I put together little kits for them, and had stocked the truck with kid-friendly DVDs and juice boxes. (100% juice of course.  I know the "Good Mom Rules")   I created a playlist on my iPod for every day that we were there- for background music.  Ha- only kidding.  Mostly.

I left instructions for my house-sitters.  I prepared in every way I possibly could. 

So when we arrived at our little old-fashion resort cabin in Deer River 2.5 days after leaving Maryland, I couldn’t have been more ecstatic to REALLY get the vacation started and indulge in some much needed RELAXATION time. 

As soon as we arrived, the kids threw on their swimming suits and were down to the beach in seconds.  They were completely entertained by the lake, sand, and catching bugs.  

We water-skied. (which is my secret super-power, by the way.)  It's true.  I can water-ski like a duck lands on water.  [insert better simile here]

We swam, we jet-skied, and we barbecued.  Life was good.

And then.. something happened.  Mother Nature had other plans. 

It was our second full day there.  We had just settled down to eat our dinner when the sky began to darken. 

Naturally, I grew excited for a good ol’ Minnesotan thunderstorm to bring on a lightening show and impress the kids with a few explosions of thunder.  Minnesota does thunderstorms.

What I failed to anticipate:  Straight-lined, tornado-like winds that whipped across the lake at a monstrous 80 mph.  It collided with the land like a brick wall, tearing up everything in its path.  I could not see the other side of the small lake.

Safe in our quaint but small, one-level cabin, we helplessly watched as boats were plucked up from the waters and swept over the dock.  The pontoon tie-downs were breaking free from the posts, causing the pontoons to float away into the depths of the lake.  The trees began to crack and fall with a bone-chilling crash.  It was none short of a nightmare. 

And then... as quickly as it arrived, it fled, leaving nothing but a light rainfall from the clouds.

We all rushed out to assess the situation.  Thankfully, everyone was okay.  So we set out to attempt the rescue of all the pontoons and boats that had torn away from the dock, and clear out all of the fallen trees that now blocked our path out. 

My dad could not get to his nearby house due to the downed trees and power lines.  He had to park half way home and walk in the rest of the way to the house.  He later discovered a tree on his house and his pontoon (that had been tied and anchored 3 times) was gone, taking along with it- the end of his dock.  By this point, nightfall had come and it was too dark to see a thing.

The entire city of Deer River and its surrounding areas were without electricity.  Trees rested upon houses and vehicles everywhere.  In every direction, trees were either uprooted or snapped right in half.  Some homes were a total loss.  In all of my years, I had never seen anything like it there.

The next day was spent with chainsaws and wheelbarrows as we removed, repaired, and recovered as much as possible.  By the end of the day- we had secured most of the immediate necessary repairs, though much work will continue over the rest of the summer.

By the next day we attempted to resume our ‘vacation’.  However now, we were really roughing it.  We did not have electricity, water, or air-conditioning.  Thankfully we had a lake.  Yes, a lake is a fabulous place to take a bath (in a swimsuit of course unless you sneak out at night).  We could haul up water from the lake to use to flush the toilet.  (Carefully watching for fish, of course, as nothing clogs a toilet more than a walleye...)  We lived like they did on Little House on the Prairie- except with beer.  Thank God for beer.   

We bought ice and attempted to save our refrigerated foods in coolers in addition to keeping the beer cold.  And when night came, we lay atop our covers scantily dressed in a starfish position and prayed for any type of wind or air movement to cool our severely sweltering bodies in the 90+ degrees.  Only, it didn’t.  Instead we were lulled to sleep with the constant buzzing of mosquitoes gnawing on our half-naked bodies.

Despite all of this…..
I must admit, my vacation helped me appreciate my ‘normal’ life in which I am spoiled by many of life’s luxuries.  Running water.  A flushing toilet.  Lights.  Air-conditioning.  Cold beer.

I had extra time to focus on and visit with my crazy family.  And yes, they truly are crazy.

On the night before we were to leave- lo and behold the lights suddenly came to life.  We screamed as if we had won a car on The Price is Right.  We celebrated by turning on every single light in the cabin and flushing the toilet repeatedly.  Then we realized that this was silly and wasteful, so we stopped.
The town slowly came to life again.  Everyone was a bit disheveled, but okay.  They have survived worse.  Things like this almost always brings neighbors together- helping each other out.  And that is what it did.  True story.  (as my sister- the crazy one- always likes to say.)  

Finally, I am happy to report that I was able to get my ‘Bowling Alley Pizza’ as they resumed making them on my last day there.  All is right now.  (It’s a Deer River thing.)

 Power lines across the road.

Cutting down the tree on the house.

One tree uprooted, the other had the top half blown off.

Our dock.  It used to be the shape of an 'L'.

Retrieving the end of the dock that is still attached to the pontoon.  Yay we found it!

The best pizza in the world.  Seriously.  If you ever are in Deer River- you MUST stop at the Blueberry Bowling Alley!  Tell them you'd like the "Maki Special".  
It's pure joy for your mouth.

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