Exceptional day. Britney’s Birthday, turned 32, we’re numerically equal now. My Mom came over to watch our boys so we could go on a canoeing adventure. She got my older sister to bring her two little ones. Other younger sister joined her to help. It was hard getting out of the house, but worth the effort. We packed a delicious picnic, special treasure Prosciutto Americano from Iowa-native La Quercia, Willoughby, a soft stinky cheese from Jasper Hill, Wilde Weide from Holland, and from Switzerland an ultimately delicious Challerhocker from Chas & Co. Felt like we were going to forget something. I had to declare it was time to go two or three times, but finally we did it.

Morning interstate. White truck almost got us killed, slowed way down to get on, missed his spot. I make Britney nervous when she drives, but just like in other areas, she sort of likes my criticism. It can be helpful. My strong intuitive element can just sense that problem about to develop. Out of nowhere, cars started slamming on the breaks, again I gave her a heads up. She played it cool, slowed down, and we got passed it. Something had exploded on the road, causing cars, to go swerving between lanes. Greenish white packing foam type stuff. That’s what everyone was avoiding. That’s the type of thing and moment that can end it all, on the way to the perfect day.

I’m following this Brexit thing. I love the watching the spectacle that comes from things like that. Some random bloke being interviewed down at a pub. Just spitting bullshit. It’s all a game of chess, and everyone sort of knows that, but you can’t stop playing. I get ranting about this for a moment, but stop myself. I put on the Sam Cooke CD which I bought on our first date. It’s the perfect accompaniment to a beautiful summer drive in the country. The hour plus drive seems like nothing. The interstate activity seems to slow down, the flow is established and the day is perfect.

It’s a quiet day at Seven Oaks Recreation, only two other groups, another couple, and a family. We admired the unused ski-lifts. Note we should go tubing with the kids, better than the death slope a block up from our house. It’s weird being away from the kids, how easier life does become. Maybe that’s not a nice thing to say necessarily, but it is true.

After a brief but pleasant ride on a school bus, we pulled up and there was river and canoe. Britney wanted me to get in first, in the front. She was nervous, there was something heavy about the river, like it was a living thing, later we would discover it’s generally shallow, but right there at that first moment, it was so glorious, magnanimous, it provoked that little pang of instinct that says big river could be dangerous.

My stroking overpowered hers. I made dirty, everything is a metaphor for sex jokes and we giggled. We paddled for a while and saw a large sand bank, with some shade and pulled over. We found an appropriate log and sat down for feast. It was heaven. Perfect weather, blue sky, tasty treats.


We smuggled a glass bottle of Fritz Muller “Perlwein”, from the website “this lightly sparkling wine is meant to be the German answer to Prosecco”. We took turns straight from the bottle, absolutely delicious and perfect for the heavier cheese. It was one of those beautiful moments in life you can’t help but keep reflecting on with cheap sentiments like that, it’s great, it’s beautiful, I love this. (BTW shout-out to the pros at The Cheese Shop of Des Moines that supplied all these goodies)


When we hopped back in, I took the back end and it was much better. I mansplained that it was best this way, that this is how most things work, that you need like broad strokes and fine strokes, and how she was much better as the steerer up front. It was true too. We settled in, realizing the river would do a lot of the work if you let it.



We came to the main attraction, excluding the river and nature itself of course, which wins outright in all estimations of value. From the website, “the longest and highest double-track railway bridge in the world with trains passing 185 feet overhead,” There are two bridges, old and new. A super long train comes rolling across it right as we approach. The old one was made with welded steel, the new one concrete. The towering structures influence the water, create a little stream, my paddle went all the way down, made it harder to paddle around them.



Could have spent another half an hour or so on the river. Right as we ended a group of kids were getting out. A nice chaperon in a Cornell shirt greeted us, and chit chatted about how great it was out there. We packed in with them on the bus. One of the other chaperones instructed us awkwardly (nothing unseemly had been said) to watch our language. We smiled and nodded and took the last seat at the back, kicking out a sprawling middle schooler, and packed in next to the chaperones.

We didn’t say anything, nice and relaxed from the paddling and everything. I realized how cool kids are. How special that time is in life, when you got people running everything for you, where the adults take care of you and you’re just carried along. I think about all the lives, all the stories, that will be lived and told on that bus. All the great things that will be accomplished.

We’d decided to look up a place to eat in Ames. High ranking on google or whatever lead us to Shogun Japanese Steakhouse, sushi is also a favorite of Britney’s. Again, and I hate to be pouring glitter all over you here, but it was a perfect lunch/dinner. The ginger dressing on the salads, the soup, the chicken pot-stickers, all perfect. I went for the somewhat boring, but delicious Yakisoba noddles with steak. Birthday Mrs. went for Chef’s choice sushi plate. She had another beer. I drank a virgin pineapple frosty thing, and stole some of her sushi, it was excellent, sense it could become a thing. Perfect.




She took a nap on the way home, after a brief argument about who had the right sense of direction. I ultimately was wrong, I guess, it’s hard to tell when you’re spinning around and pointing your fingers every which way. Sometimes in moments like this, moments today, the world can start to feel so thin, like it could just slip to something else even more beautiful and transcendent. Like people say floating on cloud-nine, I don’t know where that’s from, but it’s like that, floating on a cloud. Just like on the river everything feels light, right, and easy. I realize how this woman is a god to me, and how I am carrying her around in this medal basket, racing down the concrete, and she sleeps easy because she knows I am a super safe driver, and that I love her. She rests content, knowing her treasure waits at home.

It’s back to earth when we get there. 3-5 is tough anytime. Kein doesn’t like to skip naps. Coen is harassing older kids, slapping on the side of their tents, presenting a knowing coy smile. Perfect. My older Sister arrives, pick up her little one. I water the summer squash patch I am waiting on.

Today gave credence to the currently bemoaned speculations of horoscopes and astrology, the study of the orientation of stars and planets on your particular birthday leading to certain characteristics manifesting in your life and personality. The day was Britney McMulin. It was beautiful, warm, pleasant, breezy. It was a delicious bite of cheese, and a sip of wine next to a gently flowing river. It was a day were you could reach out and touch your partner’s arm, and let it rest it there comfortably, wordlessly, and know that you were loved. It was a day like that.


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