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Where do Hawaiians go for vacation?  The most popular destination is Las Vegas.  Never being one to blindly follow convention, I went to Minnesota.

A friend of mine has a family vacation home on a beautiful lake in Minnesota.  Last year, a group of us decided to get together for a "Boy's Week" there.  It was immediately after that vacation that I marched into my horrible office job at EA and wrote "I quit" on a post-it note.  I had no idea what I was going to do for employment but I knew I wasn't going to stay there.  Life is too short to waste it working at a job you hate.

I'm pleased to report that a year later now I am still happy with my decision.  I never would have guessed that I'd end up as a coffee farmer in Hawaii.  Things still aren't perfect.  As nice as it can be here, farming definitely isn't a job for everybody.  There's no steady paycheck, no company benefits (such as health care), and the work is much sweatier, dirtier and more dangerous than sitting behind a computer.  But any time I feel tired or overwhelmed, I imagine working at EA and that keeps everything in perspective.

Skiing1 Skiing2 Skiing3 Splash

I had a great time in Minnesota again this year.  The weather was beautiful and we spent plenty of time out on the lake.  Last year I got a little crazy water skiing and managed to bruise a rib.  This year, without health insurance, I decided to take it a bit easier.  I still did plenty of water skiing and I still managed to get some bruises and sore muscles but no chest x-rays were required.

After skiing for awhile, it was time to try standing on the little floaty toy while being towed behind the boat.  That didn't work so well.  Not ready to give up yet, we decided to switch to the Bass big floaty toy.  After lots of practice I'm proud to declare myself Master of Standing-On-The-Big-Floaty-Tube.  John was Master and Champion so I had to do a little more waterskiing to make sure he wouldn't show me up.

John is definitely the better fisherman.  I managed to catch a healthy bass but that's nothing for that lake.  John borrowed my pole once to demonstrate the finer points of casting.  I was glad to have the coaching.  As he handed the pole back he said "I better give this back to you before I catch a fish."  Sure enough, as I was reeling his cast in another bass hit the line.  John doesn't just try to catch fish, he tries to catch them on the first cast.

Beam Jack John's Uncle Steve is building a new house.  As a bunch of engineers, we all had to go over and "help" with the construction.  Sometimes having too many cooks in the kitchen can make things go slower.  It took us all morning to raise a single beam half way up into position.  After all us "helpers" left, John's uncle raised the beam the rest of the way by himself.  Keeping the monkeys from playing with the jacks may have had something to do with his increased efficiency.

After building some stuff, it was time to destroy some stuff.  There was a large pile of debris left over from clearing the road and construction site.  What's the best way to get rid of a large pile of debris?  A burn permit of course.

Not wanting to waste any matches, we made sure we added enough diesel fuel so the fire would start easily.  It's amazing how quickly a well fueled fire can grow.  It's also amazing how much heat a large fire can produce.  Try standing next to a large fire and you'll have plenty of respect for all the fire fighters in the world.

Even though it was quite large, our fire stayed well controlled.  It burned most of the night.  Two days later, even after a hard rain, it was still smoking.

Fire1 Fire2

When not outside trying to get into trouble we'd head indoors and break out the games.  Computer games, board games, card games, whatever it took to keep us occupied.  I really suck at the card game Sargeant Major but I managed to hold my own at the board game where we flew little cardboard airplanes in imaginary dog fights around the dining room table.

If I can find the funding in my bank account then I'd like to visit Minnesota again this winter.  It will be a bit colder and the lake will be frozen but I can probably figure out how to stay warm and have some fun.

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