July 4th, 2006


The weekend ...

OK, so I got the pics of the camera, and got some onto a floppy and uploaded, so I figure I might as well make a post before it gets all stale. As previously noted, I dragged The Girls (with The Wife opting out) up to Wisconsin to attend the annual Turkey Roast that these friends of mine do every summer and have been doing since they were in highschool. There had been forecast scattered thunderstorms all weekend, but fortunately none of them happened on the long drives. And there were some long drives ... MapQuest claimed the drive from Chicago to Green Bay was 3.5 hours long, but we were barely past Milwaukee 3.5 hours into the trip! I had hoped that by getting on the road at 3pm would give us enough of a headstart over the "typical traffic", but no such luck until we got onto 43.

We ended up getting in to the hotel in Green Bay late-ish, but grabbed a bite to eat first. The party didn't start until like 2pm on Saturday, so we had all morning to kill, and The Girls opted for swimming at the hotel pool. The drive from Green Bay to Algoma is a bit over an hour, and we got over there pretty early, so had lunch in the "downtown" part of Algoma before heading up into Door County.

"It was a dark and stormy" afternoon ... well, it was intermittently stormy. It was actually reasonably sunny when we got there, so The Girls were able to go wander up and down the beach. Unfortunately, the water right there was looking real gross (there seemed to have been a bit of a mussel die-off, and their shells were dying the rocks purple, and the water was all ooky and black) because it also looked like there was a substantial sand bar this year, which means it's warm and easy to wade out (as opposed to last year when it was so rocky you couldn't even get into the water). The storms did come through, though ... between 4pm and 9pm there were 3 or 4 major dumps (with near white-out visibility) of rain ... most of which we ducked into the car to get out of.

That's one of the storms retreating off to the south-east over the lake. It appears that the weather report kept attendance down this year ... both in terms of folks making a special trip up there (like we did), and the "locals" who the primary co-conspirators grew up with. The party is, as one would guess from the name "Turkey Roast", focused on the consumption of roast turkey, usually 3 of them, cooked in Weber grills on-site. Everybody else is supposed to bring something to share. Needless to say, this has been a challenge over the years, as in my post-post-college years I've not tried to make the drive up on Saturday morning, and have gone up on Friday ... meaning that whatever I did needed to be able to survive for 36 hours in less-than-ideal food-storage conditions. I've recently been buying watermelons or other fruit once I got up there to bring out ... but I was wanting to make something this year, and here's what I came up with:

Ah, yes ... proof again that obsessive-compulsive urges can be harnessed for good! Those are thirteen 1/8" stripes of red and white sugar cookie dough, cut into appropriately sized sheets and assembled into a "loaf" with a blue field. I knew any attempt to incorporate stars was going to go badly, so I just sprinkled red/white/blue decor things on that (I wish I could have found white stars, but nobody had any around here). I made up a triple recipe of the cookie dough (uh, one of each color ... and cut star cookies out of the mainly blue left-overs) so had something like 10 dozen cookies ... of which less than a dozen came back with us ... a sure sign of a successful Roast offering!

The Girls were less than happy this year, though, and only partially due to the rain (and the resulting lack of other small people to create havoc with). They were very much looking forward to picking wild raspberries down on the bluffs by the lake like they did last year ... only this year the Turkey Roast was earlier, and the raspberries had not as yet appeared. On the way up we'd noticed a number of signs, though, for strawberry picking and we decided to hit one of those on the way back. We hit the first one we came to (County C east off of 43) on our way out of Green Bay and lucked out that they were having their "Strawberry Festival" that day, so not only did we get to pick berries, but there were rides and games and stuff like that as well. I was amazed, however, at how many strawberries one can get from a relatively few plants ... we probably picked only twelve feet along one row of plants to fill up a very large flat of berries coming in at about 10lbs! And that was just picking the "deep red" ripe berries, not the "light red" ones or others in less ripe condition. Needless to say, The Wife was quite surprised to have us show up with that!

Anyway, the rest of the drive back to Chicago was relatively uneventful. We made one other stop, in Kenosha, to visit my Dad's grave, and the necessary stop at the toll road Oasis to play the "claw machines" (#2 had gotten something from one on the way up and #1 was pouting all the while that she hadn't gotten anything ... we tried and tried again, but she busted out on that ... it would have been cheaper for me to have spent $10 on something at the store for her, as it turned out!).

The Girls were back in camp yesterday (for their "parade"), and we've been running around today. I'll probably clog up your Friends List with another post like this in the next couple of days once I get into the photos from today ... just so you're warned.

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