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Concentrated family time
JOHN GIBBS is a resident of Gays Mills, Wisconsin. He is an award-winning weekly columnist for the Crawford County Independent newspaper in Gays Mills, Wisconsin.

GAYS MILLS - We raised our two kids to be independent and darn it, it worked. They both moved about as far away as they could get from the old home base and still be in the U.S. of A. David spent 21 years in San Francisco and Rachel and her family live in Ashland, Oregon.

Thankfully, David moved back to the territory a year ago and seems to be relishing the change in culture and getting back to his roots. Rachel and Erik literally researched and shopped around for where they wanted to settle. They are very happy in the college and outdoor recreation-oriented city where they are in southern Oregon. But….it’s a long distance from the Driftless and visits are few and far between.

So the last few days have been very special. We were all together again for a few days and grandson Bodhi brought a friend along this year as well. The friend is a classmate and is also named Bodhi, now what are the odds of that? We tried to pack as much visiting and fun into the time together as we could. Oh, and food, too. We celebrated our reunion through food, as is the custom.

Thanks to the miracle of Skype, we do see each other face-to-face on our computer screens almost every week, but nothing beats the togetherness of, well, being together. The visit happened to coincide with the recent flooding, which brought back memories and stories of other floods we have survived.  No flood is fun but the problem of flooding in Gays Mills is not what it once was thanks to the relocations and house raisings.

I was busy during the visit channeling my inner 10-year old and the three of us had some fun. I broke out the Big Wheel, an 8-foot diameter metal reel made of square tubing used by cable companies when they un-spool and bury fiber optic cable. It makes a great toy if you have the room to use it.   We call it the human hampster wheel and it’s sort of a mobile jungle gym. The boys get inside of it and, by stepping on the crosspieces, walk in it along the drive by themselves or together.

We also resurrected an Apple Box Derby car from the shed. This was built for the North Crawford Apple Box Derby about 25 years ago and it still functions (rolls down hill, steers, and stops). We “tuned” it up and coasted down a few grades.

The boys enjoyed riding on the Ruckus scooter with or without an adult. Another good pastime for the rainy days was playing with several boxes of yard sale Legos. Like all modern youth some time was spent playing video games on their laptops, but most of the time they were active, outside, and moving. They also went to the pool in Boscobel a couple times since the Gays Mills pool was closed due to the flood.

The final night of the visit was spent around a small campfire on the patio with a few old and new friends. All in all, the visit was very full and busy and time well spent.