May 30, 2012

Pure Michigan

This weekend the kids and I are heading to the cool woods of northern Michigan where my dad, professor extraordinaire at the University of WI, teaches at an environmental studies institute one month of every summer. So basically he works his tail off setting up labs, grading papers, and tromping through bogs and piney forests while the rest of us sit around and eat, swim, eat, play cards, eat, make fun of each other, eat, read, eat, walk around the lake to offset our eating, and eat.
My mom digesting food while promoting child labor.
When I was a teenager there, walking around the lake was done out of sheer "I'm in the middle of nowhere and have nothing to do except walk a mile and a half to get some candy at the general store and then walk the other mile and a half home" boredom.

When I turned 20-something, walking around the lake became a contest - like everything else in my family - between the females. Who could walk it the fastest. Who was the least out of breath. Who lead the pack the whole way. Who looked the best while doing it.

Rob, for years, refused to participate in this highly-competitive sport, citing its overwhelmingly boring nature.

Until the summer he took up running and decided to run the three miles around the lake.

And disappeared for over an hour.

Because apparently in Rob's world, running around a lake doesn't mean keep taking the most left-bearing road in order to complete something called "a circle." Instead, he decided to randomly take a right somewhere along the course, only noticing he wasn't actually on a lake after running for over a mile and a half.

And then there was the time all us big kids decided to brave a walk around the lake in the dark. When I say we're in the middle of nowhere up there, we are really, actually, truly in the middle of nowhere up there. It was kind of a dumb idea to begin with as "dark" up there includes zero lights of any kind, often not even the moon because of the tree cover.

But the competitive nature of my siblings kicked in with Rob leading the charge - no one wanted to be a wimp and face the brunt of our ridicule. So we all trekked out, blindly groping for each other's arms as we periodically stumbled over unseen potholes, and we started telling scary true stories we'd heard.

Suddenly, right in the thick of a story, something unseen crashed in the inky woods to the side of us. We all leaped in fright and and started immediately laughing uproariously at each other's reactions.

Except Rob.

Rob. Well, he took off like a bat from hell, not saying a word, just running for his life in sheer panic away down the road back to the cabin, his flip flops spanking the pavement in a frenzied and terror-filled

I can't write this without dying of laughter. Oh my head, it was so funny. Poor Rob, the brunt of our jokes for the rest of the summer.

Until the next year when Kendra went jogging, got lost, and gave up on life, just lying on the sand in dramatic preparation for death...until a student from the institute stepped over her and showed her how she was actually only 5 feet away from the path leading directly to the dining hall.

Yep. Rob got a break that year.

Chow time!


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