Last week I let you all in on the little secret that I turned 40. You should feel special in being some of the few I readily reveal this type of information to. I’m not one to often like people knowing how I’m aging, but you made it into the small cabal of people in the know.
My wife, on the other hand, wants everyone to know.
But even more importantly, she wanted to make this birthday something special.
And she tried really dang hard to do so.
Originally, for the week of my birthday, she had set it up where we would all (kids included) take a trip down to the southern tip of Florida. We were going to spend a couple days in the Everglades searching out crocodiles and then head down to the Keys where we would explore cool places like the Dry Tortugas while also feasting on Cuban sandwiches and key lime pie.
Florida’s dedication to helping this plague infect everyone meant we had to decide rather last minute to cancel our trip. We simply couldn’t justify taking our two unvaccinated kids into the land of the Delta Variant, not to mention how this new model of COVID doesn’t care if you’re vaccinated and we didn’t want to return home as little windbags of disease who could pass it on to all our loved ones.
But that didn’t stop her. She came up with a jam-packed week of activities. A week which ended up involving heavy rainfall, which was trouble for our new week of outdoor activities.
But even that didn’t keep my wife from pushing forward. We started the week out by camping for a couple nights in the Chequamegon National Forest, with a little side trip onto the beautiful Madeline Island where we had a relaxing 10 mile family bike ride along the coast, just enjoying the isolation this island in the middle of the Gitchegumee. The kids absolutely adore camping outside and were actually almost cool about sitting in the boat and fishing for a few hours. Actually, the only thing that was a downer about the whole thing is that I’ve now determined my back is absolutely incapable of sleeping on the ground. Even right now, a whole week after we came back from camping, I’m still struggling with an ancient back screaming at me for daring to sleep anywhere except the finest mattresses mankind has made.
We were supposed to spend our Tuesday at a petting zoo/animal rehabilitation center about an hour and a half north of us. But, since it was raining, this was transitioned into a day at the bowling alley. Fun was had by all…well, except my shoulder, who was a little mad at me that I could possibly imagine rolling balls across the floor.
Wednesday was packed with all sorts of administration stuff, so we actually took it easy that day, which was good. My old body needed a nap.
Thursday: the weather forecast was terrible for where we had planned on going (Valleyfair, an amusement park just outside of the Twin Cities in Minnesota), but a whole lot better for the petting zoo we had to cancel a few days earlier, so we made it to Faun-Doe-Rosa in St. Croix Falls. And I petted all the animals. And I had completely forgotten to take my antihistamines, so we had to stop at a gas station on the way home and get some Benadryl, and I spent the rest of the day feeling doped up. But, amazingly, my back didn’t bother me. Or at least I didn’t notice it over the pain of my bulging eyeballs…because that’s an appropriate way for my body to react to petting a bunny for the first time in 20 years, right?
Friday, then, ended up being another day of recovery for this man who was suddenly realizing all of his weaknesses at once. But we did get in a few amazing games of Settlers of Catan, a game only recently added to our collection, but is quickly becoming our most-played game in our inventory. I also managed to get most of the way through Super Mario 3D World while laying on the couch to convince my back to love me again.
Saturday was also a bit more low key, but we decided to head out to Big Falls for a little swimming and exploring. The dog has been needing a good long walk, so this felt like the perfect opportunity to do that. Of course, we didn’t think to check to see if the bacteria levels were safe before leaving. They weren’t. Not that this mattered, because all the rain we’ve been getting for the past week meant the river that passes over these falls were a raging torrent that would have been far more impactful than the bacteria on the livelihood of me and my family.
But Sunday, my wife came up with her final biggest hurrah. The Brewers were playing the Twins at Target Field in Minneapolis. None of us had been to a Major League Baseball game before, so this sounded like an amazing opportunity. And it was. I also happen to know Sue the Organist, as she’s the mom of a friend from high school, so we got to chat her up a bit before the game. But also…as this was a mid-day game, and our seats were nice and close to the field, we were sitting directly in the sun. And for the first time all week, I didn’t have to feel like the ancient one, as my kids moaned and groaned for respite from the blazing orb in the sky while I eagerly watched the battle for the Midwest happen on the field in front of me.
My wife worked hard to put together a special week for me, and I think she thinks she failed. Partially because it turns out that I might have actually managed to get old at some point in these last 40 years. But regardless of the bodily pains I’m struggling with, I think the five of us all had a pretty spectacular week. And I think we’re all going to expect something even better for 41…