"From the lakes of Minnesota, to the hills of Tennessee..."

I can’t believe it.  I truly cannot believe it!  The universe allowed me to survive another full year to enjoy yet another Fourth of July in Spicer, Minnesota.  Life is good, and here is how it all went down:

The Second.  After a short pit stop in Nashville to visit some good friends (a whole ‘nother story/video coming), I continued my journey north to the Land of 10,000 Lakes.  Upon arrival in Minneapolis, I spent a moment with my mother downtown and then hitched a ride 100 miles west to Spicer in the jump seat of my high school buddy, Luke's, 1994 Toyota Tacoma.  About half way to Spicer, we ran into some construction and were stopped for 10 minutes or so.  After a minute or two, Luke looked around and got out of the car, grabbed something on the roof of the truck, and chuckled – as if the keg in the bed of the truck wasn’t incriminating enough, we'd driven a solid 50+ miles of Minnesota interstate with the tap on the roof.  I can’t think of a more fitting way to start the Fourth festivities.  Upon entering Kandiyohi county, we paid a visit to the side of County Road 8 to fertilize the dandelions, then gave a friendly two finger wave to the single car we saw on CR8 before getting to Spicer.  The boys dropped me off at the house I grew up in, known as the "Score's Sandbar", around midnight, and I headed off to sleep with stars and stripes dancing in my head. 
Ridin' out!

The Third.  After some much needed sleep, I woke up and greeted my old man (who was already sleeping when I arrived the night before).  Next, I found my favorite coffee mug, dirty in the dishwasher, poured in some Joe and headed to the deck.  A glass calm lake, birds singing, sun shining, and coffee down the hatch’.  My heart laughed – “this will never get old!”.   Next priority was a bike ride around the lake.  This could possibly be my favorite activity in life.  Twelve miles of pure bliss, nature sightings, endless waves to familiar faces, and UB40 blaring out of my cell phone – welp, Lex is in town.  Before I peddled off, Tiff had called  to let me know she and Steve were on their way from Minneapolis.  When I arrived back from my ride and they weren't at the house yet - I ditched my bike and jogged straight for the liquor store, which I assumed would be their first stop.  A mile down the road, liquor store in site, I saw Tiff and Steve’s faces through the windshield of the truck driving towards me, laughing, “How did you know where we were?!” “Just a hunch”, I said as I hopped in the bed of the truck and cruised with them home. 

Just after high noon, my dad, his girlfriend, Sharon, Tiff, Steve and I headed out to the "front yard" (actually the back yard, but Dick insists the lakeside be called front yard).  With the same mixed-tape that has been in the CD player since I was 9 years old cranking out from the Sandbar speakers, we cracked open a few cold ones.  The first gulp of Leinenkugels had yet to make it down the hatch before a pontoon full of people pulled ashore.  Once word reaches town the Score clan is in Spicer, it's not long before people start flooding into the Sandbar.  Naturally, my dad felt it necessary to host a quick “communion", so we cheers’d with a shot of Mogen David wine and made a toast to Louis Zamperini, WWII Veteran, American hero, and author of the book “Unbroken”, who had passed away the night before (a most highly recommended read). 

As evening approached, we cleaned up and cruised down Lake Avenue to the Seventeenth (OMG) annual 3rd of July party hosted by patriotic and Honorable Cathy and Ed Anderson at their “cabin” on the north side of the lake.  Open bar and live music provided by Cruise Control – most excellent!  You know you’re at a small town party when you're drinking with both your childhood dentist and the doctor who delivered you – nice work, fellas, look at me now! (kidding) After the party, we headed back to the Sandbar, grabbed walking beers, and headed off on foot to the street dance just a half mile down the lake road in the opposite direction.  Flags a flyin’, beer a pourin’, and music pumpin’.  All 1,180 Spicer citizens and hundreds of other Green Lake enthusiasts united, just as they've done year after year, for a party in the street.  We danced, we drank, we laughed, old friends, new friends - the whole nine.  After I’d had my fill, I walked home with my childhood best friend and neighbor, Chad, who parted ways with me once we reached his driveway, and  I continued on my own to Tiki Town, better known as Home.

It's true, ya know.
American Babes at Anderson's Party

Post jog cruise!

Dancin' in the street!
The Fourth.  GOOOD MORNINGG!!  Hungover or not, everyone in the Score household, including numerous random crashers who annually find their way back to our house, wake up buzzed on the Fourth of July.  I quickly ran down and peaked in the fridge; the red, white, and blue jello shots were looking extra jiggly, and coffee was quickly replaced by Bloody Mary’s and mimosas.  As thousands of people lined the street and filled the chairs they had set up the day before, the Score tribe and crew that had gathered between 9 and 10am made their way to the end of the driveway just as the sound of sirens and drum lines came into range.  Uncle Sam, Chairs Gone Wild, and Corn were just some of the many memorable floats in this years parade.  The Mayor came down in a convertible, and like every year before this one, my fathers stars and stripes speedo made a full appearance.  It’s so fun – every year it is the same crew at our house for the Parade, most of whom I don’t see the other 364 days of the year, and some of whom I still don’t even know by name, but year after year they show face, and it is as though it was meant to be. 

Following the parade and consumption of silly amounts of tootsie rolls, we made our way to the “front yard” for the opening ceremonies.  Tiff and I prepared the 12’ x 8’ American flag I purchased when I was 18 and has since become a tradition to hang from our balcony during the week of the Fourth.  As we prepped, the 30-40 people running around the Sandbar and in our yard began to accumulate in front of the balcony.  Gradually and quietly, the singing of the Star Spangled Banner emerged and grew in strength until it was a full fledged concert.  Arm hairs  straight as needles.  After we paid our respects, we jumped in our respective water vessels and headed to “Emerald Bay”, one of two hangout areas on the lake where we met dozens of other boats for some lake fun: splashing, celebrating, cannon balls, etc. 

As evening came near, we headed back to the Sandbar where we lost a few early departers to “dehydration”.  Those of us remaining walked down to, of all places, the town’s Mexican restaurant, El Conquistador (which happens to be my old church building).  Ping pong and a brief and inappropriate puppet show were a couple of the many tequila induced activities... Nightfall was upon us and people began to gather in the town square for the annual fireworks show.  We all headed outside and split up to watch the fireworks with our respective loved ones.  As the lone wolf, I was about to begin my walk home by myself when I bumped into two high school buddies, Ian and Matt.  Next thing I knew, we were in the best seats in the house, sitting on the roof of the town’s local businesses on the main street, sipping whiskey, and watching 'bombs bursting in air'.  A fairytale ending?  No.  Just the best ending to the best day with the best people.  I walked home alone and hit the hay.  Thank you, George Washington and friends.

Breakfast is served

Patriotic cat nap

It's a family affair.
El patriotic puppet show
Best seat in the house (city)!
The Fifth.  Another morning with coffee by lake - same mug, same place.  Sunny skies and butterflies.  Don’t mind if I do zip around the lake on my bike...trying to keep up with my old man who, not hesitant to remind me,  had already ran five miles earlier that morning.  He rode on a mountain bike in flip flops and I rode a road bike.  What a shit head!  After some yard work, we headed back over to Emerald Bay and again floated around and visited with happy lake goers still celebrating America's birthday.  Later, Tiff, Steve, and I walked to Zorbaz, the bar on the lake and sat on the lakeside deck with hundreds of friends who enjoyed live music and a few Blue Blobbin's, the unofficial official margarita of Minnesota complete with mini bobber.  Next up was O’Neil's Pub, who also had a live band.  For the last time of the weekend, the town came together for laughs and we danced until our shoes fell off.  Around midnight I made the call, and it was time for me to go.  Walking home solo (again), I YouTube'd Neil Young's “Rockin’ in the Free World” on my phone and couldn’t help but get emotionally sentimental.  Keep on rockin', Spicer, and God Bless the free world.
Steve and DO are Blue Bobbin'!
The Sixth. Sunday came and the whole family fished, kayaked, and rolled in the grass. Everyone in Minnesota and their right mind was on the lake, swimming, tubing, skiing, etc. Late afternoon I decided to take my father’s brand new jetski out to pull Tiff and Steve skiing, a hilarious time until I ran over the rope and sucked it up into the impeller. We swam the jetski in a quarter mile to shore, which just so happened to be in front of my high school classmate, Ellary’s house. Luckily, her parents were home and were kind enough to let us use their boat lift, tools….and beer. After spending an hour under the jet ski, and being told by the neighbor that I should consider a job as an auto mechanic, the rope was free and I was able to put the jet ski back together. As a matter of fact, I think it runs better now than it did prior to my mishap! (haha!) The long, shameful, and hilarious ride back, three-up on the jetski to the Sandbar house was classic. 

Us "kiddos" swam some more while my father filleted up the sunfish we had caught earlier in the day off the end of the dock on worm. We were wrapping up the weekend in true Minnesota fashion with a good 'ol fish fry by the lake, and I can’t think of a better way to do it. Just before the sun started to set, I couldn’t help but take one last lap around the lake on my bike. This time it wasn’t for exercise. This time it was for me. As I left the driveway, I told Tiff and Steve to meet me at the Dairy Queen 40 minutes later, and sure enough, as I rode up to the town's only fast food restaurant, there they came from the opposite direction on their bikes. We sat at the Spicer beach and ate ice cream, then rode off into the sunset. 
Yoga by the legs. We have mannequin legs as yard ornaments.

Yoga by the lake.
As much fun and shenanigans we Scores like to have over the Fourth of July, we are the first to remember and the last to forget the true purpose of the Holiday. We couldn’t be more thankful for freedom, those who have fought in its defense, and the opportunities that being an American offers us. Being a citizen of the USA is a privilege and comes with a high level of responsibility. While we are free to celebrate as we please, we must maintain respect and responsibility for our country we love so much.

“May the sun in his course visit no land more free, more happy, more lovely, than this our own country!” – Daniel Webster

Thank you.
No, thank you!

Now go forth, skol, and prosper!