August 7, 2010, was Vicky's 50th birthday, so Val and I planned a surprise visit to the West Farm in Turtle Lake, Wisconsin, to help her family celebrate this special occasion. But since Vicky had such an intense working schedule, we had to let her know our plans. Val drove to Florida and we made a few local trips to nearby attractions in the little Toyota Scion before departing on the camping trip to Wisconsin in the GTRV Westy, which we parked in the driveway at the farm. Our traveling adventures are covered in Wisconsin 2010.
Val and I arrived at the West Farm about 11 am on Wednesday, August 4, and Lucas gave us a tour of his greenhouse and the gardens. Vicky, Isabella, and Amie came home about mid afternoon and we spent the remainder of the day walking in the gardens. In the evening, their two canoes were loaded on their truck, Isabella mowed the lawns with a riding mower, and we watched a beautiful sunset about 9 pm.
A lot of activity goes on in the horse corral. Captain (Vicky's first horse) is usually surrounded by a harem of ponies and carriage horses. Vicky teaches the girls the proper maintenance of the feet of horses, grooming, the feeding program, and organizing the tack room. After all this work, the girls usually end up in the pole barn where the covered wagon and freezer pops are stored.
When Tom arrived at home from work, things quieted down in the house before dinner. Games, puzzles, and music are the next activities. Lucas and Isabella take violin and piano lessons, with Lucas expanding his musical talents into other various instruments. We enjoyed several violin trio performances.
Preparations at the end of the busy day included loading the two canoes on the truck for the canoe trip on the following day. With still a few moments left, Isabella runs the riding mower on their extensive lawn, while Amie, Vicky, Lucas, and Val watch and we all enjoy another beautiful sunset on the farm.
The following day was beautiful for canoeing. I did the car shift, driving the truck from the Barron County Johnson Landing to the Red Cedar Landing downstream takeout, where I got several photos of insects and scenery. The rest of the crew loaded the canoes and had a little wind, but the weather remained very comfortable.
Val and Lucas begin paddling on the river, with Tentha in the middle.
Vicky, Isabella, and Amie paddling the second canoe as they get into the current.
It was about a 3-12 hour trip to the next landing where the truck was waiting. It took a while to unload the canoes after their landing and another hour or so was spent playing in the river and gathering creatures and water plants for the greenhouse pond and inside aquarium.
On Vicky's birthday, Val's treat was a dinner with fabulous food at the exclusive Big Kahuna Lounge. We were seated on the patio overlooking beautiful gardens and a calm lake. The children sat very patiently for a good while, but eventually were allowed to run around on the outside terraced gardens.
On the way back home, we stopped at a park along the road and played in the Apple River, even though we did not have appropriate wading shoes.
That night, Vicky and Tom used the little tractor to remove a huge circular bale of hay from the pole barn and put it in the horse corral. The horses couldn't wait to sample the tasty treat which Vicky said might last a few days. After she cleaned up one of the horses, she loaded up the trailer and truck for Isabella's riding lesson and then we drove to Barron high school track for the all-night "Relay for Life" marathon fund raiser for cancer research. Lucas and his friends were setting up the shelter for their station along the track and Tom drove in with his "OL ' 55" restored Pontiac car.
Vicky had a special 50th birthday celebration programmed and choreographed by Lucas and the girls. This involved an elaborate set-up from the first floor, up the stairway, and climaxed in the foyer on the second floor.
That Saturday night a big storm knocked out the electricity around midnight and a gas generator was being used to keep the refrigerators and freezers running. The storm front finally retreated in the morning and electric was restored about noon. While the electric was off, Vicky, the girls, Val, and I went for another "field trip" where Tom had mowed "trails" in the tall grass throughout the farm and it was very enjoyable hiking with hardly any annoying insects.