Saturday, we met up with our cabin neighbors Joe & Lisa and Oscar & Deanna for a bonfire and weenie roast on one of Pipe Lake's islands. There are two state-owned islands directly across from our cabin in the bay (shown here last June - those two groupings of trees are each the small islands) and they're open to anyone for use.
Andi and I daydream of the kids taking the paddle boat out to the islands someday, or Andi taking the kids there overnight to camp (I fantasize about that one because, OMG a full night of sleep, I can't even fathom that right now!). The islands aren't far from our place and they hold a special place in our heart since they're part of the landscape we see every time we gaze out our cabin's windows to the lake.
We've never actually done much on the islands, other than stop in the paddle boat and putz around. It was fun to have our little get-together there on Saturday. Of course, the scenery looked a bit different than it did above on that warm summer day.
|Andi called this "Mid-West Spring Break"|
All you non-Up North folk deeply concerned about my kids being on the ice in late March (hi Mom!), I assure you the ice is still very, very thick. Believe it or not, people are still driving cars on the lakes around here.
Joe built a bonfire on the island and Andi set to work grilling bratwursts for everyone. It's hard to explain it, but everyone was just so happy to be outside enjoying this place we all love so much. We had lawn chairs scattered around near ice fishing tip-ups and Tory and McCall built little snowmen together (only for Tory to stomp them flat the moment McCall erected them).
|Joe and Oscar|
See our cabin in the background?
It was the first time Aden's been outside other than our few days in Cabo San Lucas earlier this month. I can't say he was a fan ... of his snow suit mostly, though who can really blame him. Aden could barely move in the thing. I held him in the Beco carrier where he took a short nap, then he'd had enough and was ready to go inside.
Tory and Andi stayed outside and played on the island for another hour or so. Despite not having an afternoon nap, there was no slowing this girl down. She played and walked in the snow for three hours. You'd think she'd have crashed from exhaustion afterwards, but nope! Andi put her down for a late afternoon nap and she slept for 30 minutes. Seriously. This child has so much energy.
Later, Andi and I packed up the kids and went for a long drive around the cabin area. We easily put 100-200 miles on the car every weekend. Going for drives to look at the wildlife is one of our favorite things to do together on the weekends. (We'd be riding around in the Ranger ATV if the weather was warmer). It's also the only time Andi and I can sit, drink coffee and talk without shouting over the kids or meeting demands for yogurt and episodes of Dora the Explorer. I finally see why my parents loaded us up in the car as kids and did the same thing.
I bet we saw 150 deer during our drive Saturday night. It's funny how most people pray they don't see a deer while driving (so they don't hit it) and we do the opposite - we drive slowly down country roads in search of deer, turkeys, cows, etc. It's obvious what a long and brutally cold winter it's been for the animals around here. Just before sunset, many deer emerged from the woods looking for food, standing in ditches, fields and along tree lines.
It's hard for Tory to see the wildlife from her car seat, so at one point Andi stopped along the side of the road and I unbuckled Tory from her seat so she could get a closer look out the window. She spotted the deer and we talked about the animals before buckling her back into her car seat and continuing our drive. A few minutes later Tory asked from the backseat, "Hey, Dad, can you stop for a minute?" Sure, Andi said, and pulled the car over. "Can you unbuckle me, Mom?" she asked. Um, no. Whoops! We started a bad trend. Sorry, kiddo, you can't get out of your car seat every few minutes. After that, Andi and I lied every time we saw a deer. Oh, sorry! It ran back into the woods. We're mean parents.
The country roads are going to be a real mess this spring as all the snow melts. There were already some big mud puddles and Andi, being a guy, couldn't resist splashing through a few of them. "Good one, Dad!" Tory would shout from the backseat as watery mud splashed up on the windshield. That kid. If she's not her father's daughter ....
I know Tory's too young to remember this particular weekend, but I hope these are the memories soon etched in her mind when she thinks back on her childhood. I know these are definitely the kind of moments I dreamed of when I thought about having a family of my own one day (though, truthfully, I'm way more outdoorsy than I would ever have pictured myself to be). Spending quality time together as a family is food for my soul and that's really what the cabin is all about for us. I love it.