Consider the Following – Observation tower proves terrifying — for the parents

A couple of weeks ago, my family and I, along with some other relatives, went on a weekend getaway to Bemidji. Although the trip centered around visiting Lake Itasca State Park, it happened to coincide with the Lake Bemidji Dragon Boat Festival. While planning the trip, we noticed there was a Relay For Life cornhole tournament at the festival so my father-in-law, Dale, and I decided to enter it.
We had never competed in a cornhole tournament before and while I wouldn’t suggest we’re professional cornhole players, we’re not the worst team ever, either.
At the tournament, we got there early and took the opportunity to practice a few rounds. We both nailed several cornholes and were feeling pretty good so we sat down and waited for the event to begin.
Although there were a number of excellent teams in the 64-team field, we sailed through the first round without breaking a sweat. In fact, we didn’t even have to get out of our chairs. It turned out that we were one of only three teams to receive a bye in the first round. Nevertheless, suddenly we found ourselves among the top 32 teams in the tournament. We made jokes about how we were going to continue the success in the second round and win the whole thing.
Finally, our time came. We walked to our station and sized up the competition. It was slightly intimidating as we recognized that we were facing one of the best teams from the first round. Since we hadn’t thrown a bag in about two and a half hours, they let us have a couple of practice throws. I nailed two cornholes and Dale had a few nice throws, too, so we felt like we had made a statement and given our opponents something to think about … a feeling of confidence that lasted as long as it took for the game to start. I will spare you the gory details of what happened in the two and a half minutes that followed, but Dale and I did our best to make them earn their 21 points.
The final score was 21-2 … and yes, it was as embarrassing as that sounds. However, much to Dale’s chagrin, I must note that I scored the two points that enabled our team to avoid the shutout.
Later in the trip, we visited Lake Itasca State Park. It was fun wading in the Mississippi River headwaters with the daughters, who are 4, 6 and 8. It was also neat to see some of the state’s tallest trees, which are located in the park.
One of the things we wanted to see was the Aiton Heights Fire Tower, which is 100 feet tall. People are allowed to climb it and view the park from the top — if they dare.
I was ready to go to the top until I was face to face with the tower, which seemed to be assembled out of pieces from a giant Erector set that were wrapped in chickenwire.
We started going up the tower but then, it started swaying in the breeze a bit and I started to experience some vertigo so my wife, who hates heights more than I do, and I decided to come back down. The three girls, however, bravely continued the trek up the tower with their cousin and uncle. In the end, the three girls — again, ages 4, 6 and 8 — made it to the top of this tower while my wife and I could barely make it halfway up.
We were so proud of them, especially the 4-year-old, who realized on her own that she had accomplished something special by making it up that tower.
The rest of the trip was pretty fun, except for the part where we went to this “fun zone” that had go-karts, mini golf and other similar activities. Even though it was a Friday night and the sign clearly said the place was open until 9 p.m., a teenage employee sheepishly told us they had already closed — despite it being only 8:30 p.m.! It was one of those bizarre experiences that usually only happen in movies.
One last thing … on the day we left Bemidji, we learned that the team that beat us in the cornhole tournament ended up winning it all. So even though we lost big in the tournament, at least we lost to the best team there.

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