Monday, May 26, 2008

Disney Rated This Post 'G'

We ran on down to Iowa for the Memorial Day weekend. Okay, we didn't literally run. We loaded up the newly expanded family into the trusty front-wheel drive Subaru and drove to Iowa. Shocker for us when we filled up at the pump -- $3.85/gal. We rarely put fuel in the car. I think I'll keep doing the bike commute thing, at least until "cheap oil" returns. (Yeah, right. HA!)

I converted my Bianchi Volpe to singlespeed and decided to haul it to the in-laws' house and leave it there so I have a bike to ride while visiting. This is the third incarnation of the Volpe. I seem to enjoy building bikes, stripping all the parts off 6-12 months later to build another bike, then scrambling to figure out what I'm going to do with the denuded frame. That's clearly a manifestation of my masochistic tendencies. All the Campy Mirage that came off my Volpe is going on a Traveler's Check frame. Just you wait and see -- I'll be posting images of that soon enough. I need to start building it for forthcoming excursions to Japan and Europe. Now if only I could afford the fancy S&S travel box to pack it in.

Iowa City was great -- it always is. A couple of years ago I was itching to move to IC. We were in transition -- I had just left my previous job and got back into school, nothing was definite, before us were great waves of possibility. The great waves of possibility are always there, but I've curbed that urge to jump the great ship MPLS. We love it here. We just bought a house. Safe to say we'll hang around a while longer.

But Iowa City ... the place is like a home away from home. I wish we could visit more often than the 3-5 times per year we do. And I always wish we could stay longer. Part of the reason for this is that I love April's family. Sure, they have their idiosyncracies and such. They're not a Cosby bunch by any means, but pleasantly more nuclear than my family ever was. Well, growing up, my family often embodied another meaning of "nuclear" with alcohol-fueled fights, back-biting, restraining orders and scandal intermingled with moments of sheer lowbrowedness. Don't get me wrong, there were the good times, too. Really, there were.

Nothing extravagant happens during our trips to Iowa City. We have a couple of family meals, maybe watch a movie with the in-laws one night, liberate a couple of hours sans kids so April and I can escape downtown for a bevvy and some window shopping, visit grandparents in the Old World (Solon), buy good food from my favorite co-op (New Pioneer) and try to make plenty of time for the cousins to play together.

Here's Julian and Sylvia. They are fast friends and will play for hours on end with generally little guidance and minimal destruction to property. For now.

Our first morning in Iowa, Brian (aka Dad) asked me if I wanted to go for a ride. Sure! So I saddled up and we pedaled along with his friend Curt into Iowa City to pick up Julian for the afternoon. A quick aside: after I'd chosen my singlespeed gear for the Volpe I started to recall all the hills I'd ridden in Iowa City and began to have some trepidation. (This was during quiet contemplation on the drive down. The deal was done -- all parts were installed.) Fortunately, Brian's kid trailer takes a special mount, meaning I couldn't really hitch it to my bike. He hauled Sylvia 7 miles over to Julian's house, then hauled both the kids 7 miles back. That was about 85lbs of kid-mass. Doff the cap to the father-in-law. On my next trip down I may take a second cog and a chain whip so I can gear the bike for hauling. Maybe.

Of course a favorite sport of the weekend was "Pass the Newborn." Willa was probably hoisted by at least 16 different people over three days. Here Sabra takes a turn.

Mama and Willa on the couch with Grandpa Norman. That's Willa's great-grandpa -- he's 80 and going strong, still running his dental practice in Solon. I see him about once a year, which is a shame because it's always a pleasure to talk with him. He asks meaningful questions that he really wants answered.

Aunt Hannah mugs the baby. That's Julian's mom. She's slogging it out working on an engineering degree. Keep up the good work, Hannah!

Grandma Alice getting to know Willa (again, her great-grandmother). This was Willa's inaugural trip to Iowa. Much of the family had only seen photos. Willa held up well, smiling lots and generally being her laid-back self. Grandma Alice always apologizes for having no meal prepared, then proceeds to stuff you full of delicious treats she "just had laying around."

Rest stop, I-35 on the drive home. Yep, we were all happy to be out of the car. Fortunately the weather was nice and we ate our snacks outside while Sylvia ran and played. Yesterday in Iowa it was 80+ F and very humid. We arrived home to 50 degrees and wind. Yep, that's Minnesota spring. Okay by me. The 80s in Iowa were a stifling reminder that summer is just around the corner. I'll happily delay that a few more weeks.

Back to work, you slackers. The weekend's over.

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