Dog days of summer can be fun AND sweat-freeSo we’re smack dab into the dog days of summer, a seasonal period which got its name because it’s so hot, you act like a dog, lapping up water no matter where you find it or what you find floating in it.
So we’re smack dab into the dog days of summer, a seasonal period which got its name because it’s so hot, you act like a dog, lapping up water no matter where you find it or what you find floating in it.
Now, most folks might spend this time sweltering and sweating and hoping for a Freezee-pop truck to park in their foyers, but not us. Around the Matuszak household, we break up these periods of extremely uncomfortable warmth by getting out of town for quickie summer daytrips.
Now, if it’s going to be just a 24-hour period of temperatures hot enough to melt hair, we’ll barricade ourselves in the air-conditioned house and watch reruns of “Hannah Montana” all afternoon.
But if WDIO Chief Meteorologist Justin Liles goes on TV and predicts only one day of heat (followed by fuzzy pictures of clouds and squirrels sent in by loyal viewers) then we know that the sun broiler is actually going to be turned up full blast for a week, and the only way to avoid turning into a sweat fountain is to head out and have some fun somewhere,
anywhere, that isn’t here. Hence, the development of the Matuszak Summer Daytrip.
The criteria for these excursions are simple: it has to be close enough to get there and back in one day, and you have to drive by a SuperAmerica or a Holiday so that everyone in the family can purchase their Big Pop, a garbage can-sized container of Diet Coke or Mountain Dew for less than a dollar. Fortified by our carbonated caffeine, we then hit the open highway for summer adventure! Here are a few of
the places we’ve already visited:
SPOONER, Wis. — A fun little town, with interesting shops and a downtown with free parking, which meant we didn’t have to pry loose change out of the sticky cup holder. (Make sure that Big Pop lid is on tight, people.)
On the way back home, we stopped at an uber-creepy antique barn that seemed to be co-owned by Norman Bates and Leatherface. Hundreds of wooden chairs were hung from the rafters in a neat, organized pattern that was actually disturbing the more we looked up at it, and every overstuffed, musty aisle we entered contained a different mounted deer head that came from animals clearly descended from the Island of Dr. Moreau.
BEMIDJI, Minn. — Bemidji rocks. They have a cool little bakery/café called Raphael’s that makes chocolate chip cookies so delicious, you’ll lie to your daughter and say you never snuck any from her order of 2 dozen even though you have been munching them down like breath mints.
(If you’re reading this, Kaylee, it’s actually Mom who has been taking your cookies. You should tell me where you hid them so I can make sure they’re OK.) Bemidji also features creative, challenging geocaches that are placed all over the town and, like Spooner, free downtown parking (Duluth could pick up some pointers from Spooner and Bemidji in that regard).
The only drawback to making it a daytrip is the loooooong distance you have to travel across Highway 2 to get there. It’s like when we used to go out to the Silver Star on the outskirts of Superior back in the ‘80s for a night of debauchery. It always sounded like a fantastic idea to keep the party going — “Yeah!!!! Road Trip!!! WHOOO HOOOO!!!” — but it took so long to get there, you didn’t want to revel anymore, you just wanted your hot milk and blankie. So, go to Bemidji, but make a weekend out of it.
McGREGOR, Minn. — We were originally going to make this a Geocache Adventure Trip up Highway 65 to find a bunch of hidden treasures, but Mother Nature had other ideas, so we stopped at McGregor and raced the dark thunder-
clouds back home.
It’s a unique place, featuring an eclectic mix of antique villages, knickknack shops filled with homemade bric-a-bracs, and a Dairy Queen with a backyard full of emus. On the down side, there were so many flying, buzzing, biting insects in McGregor,
we thought it was the
Seventh Sign of the
The Matuszak-Family-summer always finishes up with the bacon-wrapped, deep-fried, fun-on-a-stick that is the Minnesota State Fair, but we still have a few weeks left to sneak away to exotic places like Brainerd or Ashland or Orr or … wherever, and we will take full advantage of it.
Believe me, I know how fortunate we are to have this time together to create fun, family summertime memories.
Oops, gotta go plan another one! Justin Liles just said it’s going to rain all week so that means six days of sunshine, Baby!
Brian Matuszak has been difficult and demanding since February 2008. He is the co-founder of Renegade Comedy Theatre, founder of Rubber Chicken Theater, and would like his daughter to know that these aren’t chocolate chip cookie crumbs around his mouth. It’s magical pixie dust, so while you close your eyes and wish for more cookies, I’ll jusctch cscchtake tscchhemmmust ghmm fmmggh. Mmmmmmmm ….