Monthly Archives: June 2013

Ponca State Park

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It wouldn’t be a complete summer without at least one camping trip put together by everyone’s favorite Happy Camper, Jenny. This year, we elected to go to Ponca State Park, a place I’d visited a couple times while living up in Wayne, America. It’s the home of tall trees, tall views, and tall grass all around our campsite. Vivian and I headed on up late Friday in time for a campfire, hot dogs, and a spectacular viewing of Super Moon, which shone down on us like a lunar spotlight, making flashlights almost unnecessary.

That evening, however, a thunderstorm blew threw our campsite, turning muggy and hot to actually quite chilly overnight. Dan and Katie brought a propane grill that made breakfast burritos possible in the morning, and Vivian dished up Spam for everybody. I was quite surprised not everyone had eaten the stuff posing as meat before.

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In-between storms, we headed down to the lodge to buy a souvenir or two and then spend an hour doing group photos by the Towers of Time monument. We hiked through the woods long enough to get lost by the pool, and then I managed to sneak a peek at the view of the Missouri River before the next storm hit. Of course, we had to walk slowly.

We retreated to town for ice cream as other camping guests showed up. Once the rain was done happening (again), a couple of us went for a dip in the pool as everyone else went down to the sandbar to see the river up close and personal. That evening, Jon brought out some Big Bubbles as potatoes and burgers cooked over by the fire, providing ample amount of goofy photo opportunities for everyone around. We had a group photo or two before people started taking off, and then had quality time with s’mores around the campfire before camping it up for the night.

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The next day, those of us left (Vivian and me and Libby and Jon) headed into the park to throw some tomahawks around. I swear, there’s something therapeutic about flinging a large, deadly, sharp object into a tree stump, and after a few tries we all seemed to get the hang of it. Around the corner, people were trying out some muzzle-loading rifles, which were a bit tricky to load. Libby, Vivian, and Jon all got to try firing a couple off. Then Libby and Jon squared off in some random bout of Mortal Combat before we called it a day.

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Of course, since we were only a few miles away from Martinsburg, we had to drop by Bob’s Bar for a quick lunch of Big Burgers and a big plate of onion rings. Libby and Jon had never been there and were quite suspicious whether it were a real restaurant, just from the curb appeal, but that’s all part of the charm. We headed on back to Bellevue and had tasty ribs for dinner with Jack and Donna, who had been kind enough to watch Hannah for the weekend. Our little girl turned 19 months, and we celebrated by letting her drink from the hose for the first time.

Another camping trip success! Next year, though, we have to try horseback riding. Hopefully the weather will cooperate the next time around.

Fodder’s Day

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We’ve entered the busy season of summer, which means a few weekends full of blog-worthy fun for the Johnson family. On Saturday, Vivian and I threw a wine-tasting at our house. We invited a cluster of our friends and classes it up with a glass or two of reds and whites. There were plenty of worthy contestants, and Mark was awarded a Grape Goblet for his tasty, sparkling bottle of Piemonte Brachetto. Afterward, we has some tasty appetizers and played a round of Apples to Apples and a cutthroat game of Pictionary before calling it a night.

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Sunday, of course, was Father’s Day. Twin Valley Church had a cookout with plenty of burgers and hot dogs for all the dads in attendance. Vivian and Ben manned the grill and I mainly kept an eye on Hannah who was either snatching food or getting dragged around the church by her slew of little girl friends. I spent the afternoon watching Rubin and Ed with Vivian, a goofy buddy comedy I’ve wanted to see for a while. Then Jack and Donna joined us for dinner. Vivian grilled up some tasty rib-eye steaks for Jack and me. We got to open presents afterward, which included some great dad-related T-shirts for Jack and me. I also got a nicely framed pair of Hannah’s footprints to hang in my new office. We finished off the evening downtown spending a few gift cards at Coldstone to get some ice cream (which Hannah seemed to enjoy helping herself to).

Playing outdoors and an arm-wrestling wedding

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Last Friday was the kickoff for a new season of free outdoors movies at the Sumtur Amphitheater in Papillion, so the Johnson Family rounded up a bunch of our friends from church and elsewhere to see the 2012 Pixar movie Brave underneath the stars. To give the evening a bit of Scottish flavor, the clan from Omaha Pipes and Drums were invited to come and play some bagpipe music for everyone, including a few Scottish folk dancers who did a jig or two for the couple thousand people in attendance (with Hannah and Lily joining in). The evening couldn’t have been more perfect, though Hannah wound up staying well past her bedtime to see the movie in its entirety.

On Sunday, Vivian and I stopped by Aksarben Village for Lindy in the Park. Billy and Lindsey were on hand with their kiddos (among several others) for some outdoor Lindy Hop underneath the pavilion on the corner of 67th and Mercy Rd. Vivian and I had taken Hannah last year for the outdoor dancing experience, and this time she was actually able to dance with daddy on her own two feet. She really seemed to enjoy it, and she came home with a new word in her vocabulary: Dance! A handful of Jitterbug veterans were also on hand for dancing, including Dan Wondra (of course), and a rare appearance of Cliff, who joined me in taking pictures of everybody.

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The weather on the following Friday was exceptionally gorgeous, so Vivian and I decided to take Hannah down to Haworth Park for the very first time. We hadn’t been to the park since the horrible flooding of 2011, and much had changed since our Comic Genesis cookout there three years ago. The pavilions had all been torn down, as had several trees. A few new playground areas had been constructed, so Hannah got the chance to go down a slide or two. She seemed to enjoy playing in the dirt much more, however, especially crumbling clumps of sand in her little hands. Vivian also got to show her how a dandelion works before we headed for home.

On Saturday, Donna was kind enough to watch Hannah for the afternoon so Vivian and I could attend the wedding of her two co-workers, Cliff and Amber. It started off at St. Margaret Mary’s Church feeling very traditional. Then the garters came off at the Comfort Inn and Suites as everyone started to arm wrestle. Cliff is apparently a competitive arm-wrestler, so in-between a reception dinner and bouquet-tossing, we had everyone joining in with a little hand-to-hand throw-down. And I mean everyone, from the best man to the bridesmaids to the flower-girl. Everyone except me, of course. I needed full use of both arms to take pictures of all the single guys ignoring the wedding garter. It was certainly a unique experience, and an example of what a wedding reception is supposed to be — fun!