Daddy Talk: Into the Woods
By Tim Krason
Every summer for the last thousand years, my wife’s extended family has met up for a long weekend at Roosevelt State Park in Morton. All of the family members tend to idealize this trip in their memories, and while I am honored to be a part of the tradition nowadays, I do feel a sense of duty to explain what happens each year from the vantage point of a non-native Roosevelt camper.
Like other state parks, Roosevelt affords the opportunity to revel in natural beauty and disconnect from modern comforts and luxuries. We generally plan our trip for late July or early August so we can enjoy nature’s majesty in the sweltering 110-degree heat. Fortunately, several of my in-laws own some sort of marine craft that we can take out on the lake. We are able, typically, to squeeze in a few laps on a boat or a jet ski before a mechanical problem forces us into shore once again. Most of my in-laws are pretty handy, so every summer I learn something new about mechanics. For example, at this year’s trip, I learned how to identify a starter in a boat engine and now know that there shouldn’t be water inside one. Why you would submerge a motor into a lake, however, and not expect it to fill with water is still a puzzle beyond my grasp.
When our family gets tired of working on boat motors, we generally try our hand at some land activity. At Roosevelt, a disc golf course winds through the woods and around one corner of the lake. The trees offer some shade from the sun, and if you catch a breeze, it only feels like 100 degrees. Since part of the course parallels the shore of the lake itself, it’s a guarantee that someone will accidentally hurl a disc into the water at some point during the round. Sometimes we’re able to dive into the water and find the errant disc. Sometimes someone gets a boat working again, and the passengers are able to fish out the disc for us. But if neither of those scenarios work out, the ranger station is happy to sell us a replacement disc for $15.
By the time evening falls and everyone has eaten supper, we usually try to play some larger group games. But as the family has grown and there are more generations involved, it becomes harder to find a consensus on how to execute these games. This year, one evening, we paid the park some extra money to turn on the lights on the recreation field so that we could play a big family game of volleyball. As we gathered around the net to pick teams, it occurred to some of the cousins, who are now 30-40 years old, that we have a whole slew of children that we have given birth to and that it’s impossible to play volleyball in any competitive sort of way while tending to babies and toddlers who constantly wander onto the court unannounced.
This younger generation has also stolen our evenings to some extent simply because we have to push our hangout time later and later to allow for getting the kids in bed first. In a moment of unflinching defiance of how old we are getting, someone put a pan of brownies in the oven after the kids were in bed…you know…like in the old days, when you could eat a dozen brownies late at night without answering to anyone. But when the brownies finished cooking at 2:00 a.m., no one was still awake to enjoy them.
So the annual family getaway does not come without its frustrations. Sometimes people walk off the volleyball court mid-game to tend to kids…or they walk off because they’re angry that other people are tending to kids. And sometimes my four-year old gets stranded in the middle of the lake on a broken down jet ski and has to be towed into shore. But by the time we break camp, we’re all ready to do it again next year.