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For three days last weekend, we shared our lives with a virtual menagerie of winged and legged insects of all stripes.

We struggled to keep smoky fires burning with green, sap-drenched logs that hadn’t yet been properly seasoned.

We showered in buildings shared with dozens of strangers, using fixtures that were designed to turn themselves off every minute or so and stepping gingerly on mud-streaked floors.

We even negotiated some knee-deep puddles around our vacation spot of choice, brought on by — imagine our luck — heavy rains that had struck just before we arrived, rendering portions of the facility unuseable.

Oh, and one more thing. We had a great time.

On our way to Camp Jellystone in Bagley, Wis., we wheeled my dad’s pickup onto the historic Cassville-Millville ferry for a fantastic (and trip-shortening) ride across the Mississippi River. (I hadn’t realized it when we rode, but our trip, on July 4, was apparently the ferry’s first day of operation since mid-June due to Mississippi River flooding. Our lucky day.)

Yes, packing for a camping trip is time-consuming and slightly stressful, and the aforementioned soggy condition of a portion of the campground brought us a bit too close to conditions back home. But thanks to our accommodations (a very nice on-site cabin, which we’ve rented now for three consecutive years) and the pleasure of spending time with another family with which we’re pretty close, it became abundantly clear:

For three days over the holiday weekend, there was nowhere I’d rather have been.

Thanks, Camp Jellystone.

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It’s hard to say that our flooded communities have gained in any way from recent events, but if nothing else, I think it’s taught many of us the valuable lesson of perspective.

For our part, we’ve made some donations, and plan to make more in the near future. The kids gathered some toys to donate to the family of a co-worker who’s lost everything, and they were very much appreciated. We’ve gained something from that, I think — a sense of compassion, of knowing that our concerns pale when we see the troubles of so many around us.

I’m still hoping we haven’t lost as much as initially feared, but in some ways it’s too early to say. But will I be able to take the kids to the old A&W on Ellis Boulevard that I visited so often as a kid? Will our downtown institutions return to their former glory, so we can see great shows at the Paramount and Theatre Cedar Rapids? Status undetermined. I’ll keep hoping for the best.

This is my town, Cedar Rapids. I have so many memories of being raised here. And one of a parent’s great joys is to be able to share experiences from their own childhood. I’m still looking forward to having that opportunity.

But enough of that for now. I’ll be checking out for a few days after today, for our annual trip to Yogi Bear’s Camp Jellystone with family friends. It’ll be a great escape from what’s been our reality for the last few weeks. I’ll have an update when we return.

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We weren’t flooded. But it feels like we were.

I’m not saying, by any stretch, that our family is hurting as much as the thousands of local residents, and business owners, who’ve been flat devastated by the insidious avalanche of water that poured through their property, leaving a blanket of unspeakable gunk in its wake. Believe me, I have a keen sense of perspective here. And we’re lucky. So very lucky.

But right now, at this moment, it’s hard to think of much that’s not flood-tinged. And I find myself feeling guilty, at times, for thinking of anything in non-flood terms.

Take the kids to the pool? Some opened again this week, but water use is still somewhat restricted, and at least one pool (Ellis) is done for the year, perhaps longer.

Go to the Science Station? Not any time soon. Ditto for the Public Library, though the Westdale branch will be busier than ever in coming weeks. Feed the ducks at Ellis Park? See the pool comment above.

There will be more instances like this, when we’ll think to do something, only to be reminded that we can’t, because the flood has changed it. For a while. A LONG while.

It’s still hard to fully process what’s happened. And the impact, for us, personally, has been so minimal compared to what we see around us. I cannot fathom what folks in the flood zones are experiencing. I can see it, but can’t feel it. How incredibly lucky we are.

We’re trying to minimize the impact on our kids. But they see, and hear, and they ask questions. We don’t have all the answers for them. But my hope is that they’ll end up seeing a Cedar Rapids that’s better than ever, on the other side.

Getting to the other side — that’ll happen. Someday.

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We’re still making our way — haltingly — through the phases of potty training with our 3 1/2-year-old.

Strange. I don’t recall it being such a challenge the first time around.

Just when we think he’s interested and enthused about the prospects, he starts clamorning again for his pull-up in the morning.

It seems we may finally be turning the corner, though. The other day, as I was gathering the kids to leave for school and day care, our 3-year-old informed me that he needed to take his Caillou backpack along.

“I’m a big boy now,” he proclaimed. “Big boys need backpacks.”

Apparently he’s equating bathroom fixtures and books.

Hey, I think he’s got a point there. If that’s what it takes to convert him to underwear permanently, I’m all for it. I’d gladly make the last pull-up I change the last.

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