History of mid-2009 (abridged)

I’ve kept faith through weeks of crumminess that Minneapolis would get one more golden day before we’re buried alive. The sun’s finally out, but they’re saying flakes by Saturday. Shows you what my prayers are worth. With summer’s demise impossible to deny, let’s rewind to balmier times.

Settle in, cuz I couldn’t decide on much to leave out.

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While this isn’t the “original” corn maze, we visited one of the grander specimens located near Elgin, Iowa, which legend has it is where this surprisingly fun roadside attraction began.

We’ve been here twice, and it gets more baroque every year, with scavengers hunts and trivia among the rows and additional maze-like puzzles right outside.

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We were in the area for the 2nd Annual Christmas in July, a plan hatched by my grandfather so that neither he nor anyone in the family needs to drive in snow EVER. He chose July because “what the hell’s it matter when you do it?” The weather’s fine, and we can swim, shoot arrows and toss the lawn darts. I’ll admit, he’s onto something.

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My cousin’s son Hunter can only drive the ATV with an adult, which means if you’re an adult, he’s badgering you to get on. The passenger here, my mom (some people just look so natural on an ATV, you know?), happens to be flying a freaking kite WHILE SHE RIDES. I’ll believe she’s the first to multi-task in this manner until the Internet sets me straight.

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Graycen (4) and Hunter (10) of Polk City, IA. Franklin (4) of St. Paul and Johanna (3) of Minneapolis.

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Hell yeah, Christmas in July.

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We won the corn maze.

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So cute you could puke, right? In recent years, the Weaselhawks softball club has been doing a lot more procreating than practicing. So rather than paying attention to the game in progress, this kind of thing happens.

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Three volcanoes sighted on our way out west.

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Same volcanoes, visible from a hill in Portland.

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In Oregon for the Voget Family Reunion were an endless parade of cousins: Argentine cousins, German cousins, long-lost cousins, fifth, sixth and seventh cousins and regular old first cousins like shirtless Jack Whitney from down the street.

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Sarah made T-shirts and 1″ button flair for the event, avidly collected by the youngest cousins.

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Hiking among the soft-barked sequoias of Portland’s Forest Park, the country’s largest urban park.

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My brother-in-law Mike of Portland and Kai Van Der Smissen of Dortmund, Deutschland, way-distantly related dudes enjoying cake in a church basement.

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Henning Voget, Berlin-based family historian and rail station designer. Our labored but penetrating conversations are one of the highlights of Sarah’s reunions for me.

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Sarah’s not-so-distant relatives started a butcher shop in Hubbard, Oregon, that still makes fine meats. The reunion crowd made a pilgrimage there. I got some jerky.

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After Portland, we made a beeline for Salem for some QT with our favorite non-cousin Sheila Mullooly and her partner Dan.

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They greeted our arrival with champagne, as we typically demand.

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We may have seen 90% of western Oregon’s waterfalls on this trip without any real intention of doing so.

Under the falls

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There was a poorly planned segment of the trip on the way to Seattle (which so happened to be the piece left to me) where we drove for hours on soggy highways like this one to get deep into a rain forest where—would you believe it—it was raining.

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Ferrying across the Sound with my Dad’s family, clutching my 5th coffee.

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Sister Emily and Jo got along great, though the Children’s Museum we visited fairly sucked.

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From blondness to a love of sports, I am dubious that I share any DNA with these kids. But we are all fond of sweets.

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Our kite obsession continues at Carkeek Park on the sunniest day of our trip.

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All these people, a good chunk of our remaining Seattle friends, live on the same block in Ballard, mostly by coincidence.

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Friends and globe-trotting landscape architects Anna and Ken, with son Kenzo.

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A crack-of-dawn goodbye to Grandpa before we leave (though he’d probably been up since 3).

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Marc and Evelyn joining us in a dejeuner sur l’herbe moment, but with canoes. Splotchy sunlight aside, I like it when my life passably resembles the Olden Days.

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Seed Art is the greatest gift to state fairgoers since Type-2 Diabetes.

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The girl is 3 going on 13. Dressed in the latest Chinese threads from Godfather Kirk.

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L-O-L-A Lola.

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Bathing beauties at Lone Lake.

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They heard S’mores were being served.

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Just before Jessica got married and went to Paris for a month. Are you back yet? Her sister (in pink) is wearing Jessica’s 20-year-old prom dress for laughs.

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The champion!

Taking requests.

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Did you think you’d seen the last of the waterfalls?

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With our smiles at half-mast, visit season is officially over.

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