Fourth of July in Turku, and an Åland adventure
My parents are here visiting and my mom brought along a ton of Independence Day flotsam from the dollar store. She and the kids decorated the house and yard and then had a little Fourth of July parade with some neighbor kids. Every other year, we go to the huge Independence Day bash in Malad, Idaho, but the off years tend to be quiet. This year, I am grateful for my mom and dad staging an intervention and giving our kids a Fourth of July to remember!
But the thing is, I wasn't even there to see it! Jeremy and I are taking a trip all on our own right now, while my parents watch our kids. I think you will find there are two kinds of parents in the world: those who get to do this kind of thing all the time, even for little stuff like work events or evenings out, and those who almost, almost never get to do this kind of thing. Have you guessed which group Jeremy and I belong to yet? IT IS THE ALMOST NEVER GROUP. (A hazard of living far away, I'm sure our families would be quick to tell us.) The last time we were away from our kids, together, for even a single overnight, was in February 2012. The time before that was in May 2008.
In any case, this twice-a-decade experience is happening RIGHT NOW. Jeremy and I are in the Åland Islands (go ahead, check a map, it's ok! Or you can read about it on Life with Licorice). We rode our bikes onto the ferry in Turku and rode off in Mariehamn and we've been riding around the islands ever since! Today we got in 80 kilometers of cycling and saw amazing countryside, Crimean War ruins (!!!), and a medieval castle. Just now at our little camping cabin by the water, I soaked my sore legs in the cold sea. There is almost nothing better in this life.
Except, perhaps, the lunch we had today. Maybe it was the 40+ km of cycling talking, but that lunch was one of the top five meals I've ever had. I give you: Smakbyn's summer salad with chicken and local Kastelholm cheese dressing.
Today finished with a Crazy Straw adventure when we decided to pick up ice cream for ourselves on the way home - not just a cone to eat then and there, but a small tub that we could sit and enjoy tonight after a long day of riding. The place that we are staying is quite far from any services (by bike, anyway). So we bought the ice cream and put it in a small insulated bag surrounded by two packs of frozen mixed veggies. It was 22km from the grocery store to our cabin and we biked it in record time. Nothing like ice cream in your backpack to give you a boost for that final stretch on tired legs!