The air conditioner hasn't been on—or even thought about—for three straight days. After such a rancidly humid spell of weather, there is truly no better tonic. So let's be clear: Team LOD had a terrific time in the Midwest, home of logic-defying casseroles and tubular, processed meat. (I'm sure someone out in the Upper Flyover saw "Brat Camp" in the TV listings and thought it was a cooking show.)
The only real drawback was all that time in transit. The plane experience, four people in three seats, went about as well as could be expected. (Which is to say pretty goddamn cramped). But we also clocked 1,017 miles in the car, and TwoBert spent around 600 of them resenting his bondage within his little baby bucket. He showed this by giving his signature moan, which is not a cry, per se. It's more of a loud grimace that makes him look and sound like he's just eaten bad sardines.
During the longest leg of our trek, TwoBert woke up and began moaning. Robert put on his Older Brother hat and hoped to soothe him by singing Bob the Builder's theme song. Soon, my wife and I joined in, because those lyrics are tattooed onto our brains for life. It was a lovely family moment, three people hurtling down I-94 and singing the praises of "playing together, like good friends should." And TwoBert was indeed calmed—for approximately 49 seconds, during which he was presumably too busy wondering about the lame-ass troupe of Pollyannas he'd been born into.
When we weren't on our way someplace, we had a ball. We immersed ourselved in Lake Culture, oohing and aahing over the fishing boat's depth-finder and exhibiting the requisite alarm when zebra mussels were found in Lake Mille Lacs. (We didn't even question why it's pronounced "Millacs" or why a lake would be called "Lake 1,000 Lakes.") We went to a colossal family reunion, after which some local cousins invited all 2 billion of us over to their farm for beers and buggy rides. And Robert caught his first fish, a bluegill with the fight of a lion but the size of a Pop-Tart, while Daddy beamed in approval and chomped on a homemade venison jerky (one of the most exalted members of the meat-tube hierarchy).
That's life in Big Ten country: The time passes slowly, the people are incredibly hospitable, and a jerky is just a jerky. I heartily recommend it.