Sorry about the delay in posting faithful reader, but we've been quite busy getting ready for our trip (imagine that). We have been outside of Rice Lake, Wisconsin, staying with Liz's parents since August 29, with the exception of September 7-10, when we swung down to Iowa for a night (and a Hunab Ku show), and then headed north to attend Harvest Fest at Harmony Park in far southern Minnesota. We have a generally relaxing time up here in Wisconsin, and have done all sorts of fun stuff with Liz's family. We all went camping for Labor Day weekend, at nearby Veteran's Memorial Park, so we were surrounded by energetic nieces and nephews while we weren't going boating/tubing, grilling out, playing football and soccer, going on walks around the campground, and riding Liz's grandfather's new scooter. We recently saw "Beerfest" with Liz's brother Zach, after much anticipation, and although it is no "Super Troopers" it is still an excellent movie. We've enjoyed numerous excellent meals by Liz's mom Jane, including a fun family fish fry the night before we returned to Iowa. All the fish had been caught by Jane & Brad earlier in the season, so it was deliciously tasty. Other culinary highlights have included tater-tot hot dish, spaghetti-and-(huge)-meatballs, slow-cooked BBQ chicken, and other stuff that would make you drool. Yesterday Liz attended a "Ladies Lunch" with around 10 of her female relatives while Anderson suffered from being sexually discriminated against.
We also took Sarah, Isaiah, and Malikhi (our 3 oldest niece & nephews) for one afternoon each in order to spoil them a bit before we leave. Liz took 11-year-old Sarah shopping in Eau Claire, which everyone involved thought Anderson should skip, and he was all too happy to oblige. Isaiah got an afternoon at the skate park, which included some necessary skateboarding equipment (8-year-olds definitely need pads before they ride the half pipe), and we took Malikhi to the bowling alley and Dairy Queen for a 5-year-old's dream day (he wore himself out so much that he fell asleep during the 20-minute ride home).
Anderson also played (and lost at) poker with Zach and his friends during their weekly Sunday night poker game, and tonight we are going to see him play flag football. We've also hung out a lot with his girlfriend, Nikki, and her 2.5-year-old son Logan. Last night we witnessed an intense Logan v. Malikhi battle, which Isaiah was all too happy to help "break up." After the football game and one last family dinner tonight, we'll leave early tomorrow morning to drive to the Minneapolis/St. Paul airport, one of four we'll see in the 24 hours or so. We have a quick flight to Chicago, followed by the long trans-Atlantic voyage to Stockholm, Sweden, where we'll pick up a 2nd short flight to fly us to Hamburg, Germany. Fortunately Anderson's old friend Tom will be picking us up at the airport, so at least once we arrive we don't have much to worry about!
Now, here's the details on our Iowa/Minnesota-Hunab Ku/Harvest Fest four-day weekend:
We spent most of Thursday the 7th in the car, although we actually got to Iowa City in just about 6 hours, one of our fastest times ever, since several new bypasses in Wisconsin enabled us to avoid unnecessary stops and traffic. So we ate our last Oasis falafel for a while when we got to town, and then met Luke's roommate Kat's new dog Madison (she's a basset hound) and hung out with him for a bit, before heading over to the Hunab Ku house. After helping them get some promo CDs ready for their show (opening up for The Pnuma Trio), we then caught a ride downtown with our friends Stephanie & Jeremy once the show was about to start. As usual Hunab Ku played really well, and there was a good crowd (well over 100 people) in attendance, mostly for them since when the headliner came on later things had thinned out at least a little bit. It was really nice to see all of our friends one last time, and thanks should go to Luke, Chad, Stephanie, & Mike Stone (and anyone else, if we're forgetting you - it was a pretty crazy evening) for their generosity in the alcoholic beverage department! The Pnuma Trio played well, although their decision to play a short first set was a little unexpected, but they did pick up the intensity for the second set, much to everyone's delight. We got some Pizza Pit pizza (good times indeed - thanks for staying open late for us Tim!), and then hung out at the Hunab Ku house for a few more hours, until the great pass-out competition began (Luke certainly won, though there were many runner-ups...).
The next day departing for Harvest Fest seemed to take forever, as we had various errands to run; somehow getting food, costumes, glow-sticks, alcohol, and one's act together seems to take forever. So rather than leaving in the early afternoon like we'd initially anticipated, it was around 7 by the time we finally got out of Iowa City, which meant is was around 10 before we arrived at Harmony Park.
But the main attraction is Saturday night, when Wookiefoot plays. So we heard Arrested Development (yes, that Arrested Development) from the parking lot, and we managed to get a pretty decent camping site saved for us by our friends Jeremy, Zech, & Courtney who had arrived much earlier in the day, and we ended up just hanging out and chatting at our campsite for the remainder of the night, taking full advantage of the massive air mattress we spoiled ourselves with purchasing earlier in the day. Saturday by comparison was anything but low-key, as we got into our costumes in the early afternoon, in time to go see Fat Maw Rooney, a Wisconsin band we've seen several times before. Anderson dressed as a hobo-clown, Liz as a sexy tigress, Brian as Leonardo (the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle), Scott as a prisoner/robber (or the Hamburgler as he got called later in the night), Luke as an international table tennis player (though he looked more like a Scottish golfer due to his knickers), and Jeremy was a fabulous hippie-zombie. We've been uploading some random videos we have shot onto youtube.com; here is one of mostly Anderson dancing (in costume of course) at the Fat Maw Rooney show.
All the bands that we saw played great, others of note include Unity: The Band, Balkan Beat Box, The All Mighty Senators, and God Johnson. Harvest Fest has a definite family vibe, given that a group of friends of Wookiefoot (primarily the band themselves) puts on the festival, so it's a real chill environment versus many of the larger festivals that we go to (Summer Camp, Wakarusa, & Bonnaroo earlier in the summer, for example). Wookiefoot pride themselves on the sound and lighting, and this year's 3-D blacklight show was pretty amazing. Somewhat a "had-to-be-there-to-believe-it" experience, but fortunately there will be one next year, so you've got a little while to get yourself organized. If you do go, wear a costume, you won't regret it! We did somewhat regret signing up for cleanup on Sunday (in exchange for free admission), not because the trash removal was hard (we've done it previously), but because the sun did not appear all day, only a constant drizzle that sometimes turned into rain. So Sunday was a dreary day, but most people there that we knew were volunteering, so we still had a fun time cruising around with a local guy named Jake whose truck and trailer we were filling with trash. After a long day of hauling sweet-smelling hippie trash, we said goodbye to all our friends (Luke & Scott in particular - we're going to miss you guys so much!), and then had a last meal with Brian at some place called The Green Mill in Albert Lea, MN, that was really good, though we were so exhausted even menu reading was somewhat taxing. That was an appropriate closure for our time in Iowa, since Brian was Anderson's randomly assigned freshman roommate at Cornell, and somehow they don't hate each other!
After a 3-hour drive back to Liz's parents' house, a bed never felt so good - the post-festival sleep is something well worth festival-ing to experience!
So now we're at the Rice Lake Public Library, taking advantage of their Wi-Fi, and we're awaiting food from Liz's former employer, Kids Korner Pizza, which will hopefully silent our grumbling stomachs.
Next time you hear from us, we'll be in Europe! We love you all and cannot wait until our paths cross again!