Wednesday, February 22, 2017

The Deal

Planet Earth is currently hurling itself towards the sun in a bad action movie apocalypse scenario. It’s the only explanation for the unbelievably beautiful 60+ degree weather we’ve been experiencing. I think the boys’ generation will survive, but we are actively sterilizing them with video game exposure to spare future generations the horror of burning up in the sun.

In the meantime, we had a ton of outside fun last weekend.

On Sunday, Diana found a forest preserve way out in the northwest suburbs that boasted lakes and fauna and miles of well-groomed hiking trails. It took us twice as long to convince (threaten/cajole) the boys to go than it did to actually drive to the preserve.

The place was awesome and reminded us that there is more to nature than the skunk that currently lives under our neighbor’s porch. After a few trips around the lake and a visit to a staggeringly horrifying men’s room, we decided to take a walk on one of the aforementioned trails.

We chose the red trail loop because it was red. I hesitated at the mileage (1.5 miles) because our children are not known for their endurance. But I figured we could always turn around if the complaints got too loud.

It was simply lovely. We saw huge trees, horse tracks and neat little wooden bridges. Friendly dogs allowed me to manhandle them. The only disappointment was the lack of giant piles of horse poop, which we were hoping to see after the tracks.

After an hour or so marching, Luca decided his legs didn’t work. He began to complain about his body aching and he was hungry. I was surprised we hadn’t finished the loop by then. We were slow, but we weren’t that slow.

I checked the next trail marker. Instead of bright red, the sign was an ominous black. It read “DT.” What was DT? Death trail? Doom Town? Dumb Tramp?

A middle age couple approached wearing matching vests. I feared them, so I shuffled to the side and let them pass. Diana, on the other hand, is a functioning human so she asked them for help.

Vest Man consulted his phone. He pointed us out on his map. Then he explained we were on the Des Plains River Trail. A beautiful path that will take ya all the way to Wisconsin. Then he scrolled his phone to where the red trail meets the DT. It was a long, long scroll.

We had a massive walk ahead of us. Luca knew he had us dead to rights. He informed us that our punishment for getting him lost was we had to take them to both McDonalds and Taco Bell for lunch. Feeling the gaze of the Vests, I said, “Oh no. That food is terrible. We would never…”

Once the Vests were out of earshot, Diana and I agreed to Luca’s demands and made our way slowly back to base. Diana carried Luca on her back. I chastised the dogs for tricking me into getting off trail.

My Taco Supreme Big Mac combo was delicious.

Tuesday, February 7, 2017


Our Mexican hotel butted up against a lovely beach the locals described as, “No longer where we dumb our sewage” and, “Rumors of sewage are exaggerated!” The boys and I loved it. They would tumble around the waves and I would warn them about the vicious butt biting Mexican Carp. And then pinch their butts.

One morning at breakfast, we met a very nice American couple, who described walking around Chicago dressed as Klingons when they heard where we were from. I made a mental note to avoid them.

The man, Jim, suggested we take the boys out on the hotel provided kayaks later that day. “You don’t gotta sign them out or anything. We’ll each take a boy and paddle out to the big rocks. It will be great!” Elijah and Luca burned holes into my brain with their eyes.

There was no way that was going to happen. But I was interested in a solo kayak mission with the boys. For no other reason than to prove to them I was willing to put my sons in danger like Jim.

I convinced Luca to go with me first. Eli was a little more hesitant because boating would cut into his Youtube time. We dragged the plastic kayak out to the waves and I plopped Luca on top. It suddenly dawned on me that I had never actually been on a kayak before. And had zero idea how to: a) get on it. And b) pilot the vessel. I looked out at the waves crashing on the rocks and thought, “This isn’t how you die, Hamann. You are meant for a heart attack.”

After capsizing our ship so many times it became more interesting to the beach vendors than selling their grains of rice with your name on it, we managed to put out to sea. I demanded total stillness on Luca’s part, so I could have complete concentration. But after a while we hit calmer waters and both fell in love with our tiny blue boat.

We then talked about our lives. I told Luca I was kind of scared about my new job and he described in detail this terrible video game he was obsessed with called Robloks.

I would press him for more details about his life. “Tell me one secret you’ve never told anyone, Luca. I promise not to reveal it to anyone.”

“Well, this one time on Roblocks…”

This became our daily ritual. I would paddle out into the ocean and beg Luca to tell me about his life and he would regale me of stories about this one time on Roblocks.

Finally, after days of cajoling, I managed to get Luca to tell me one non-Roblocks secret he had told no one else. It was so lovely and silly and the epitome of what a seven-year-old would consider a secret I simply can’t reveal it to you.

I did get Eli out on the kayak one time, where he told me the secrets of this funny Youtube video he saw one time.