The kid and I spent the 3rd of July in South Burlington at my cousin's house. It's big enough to qualify as a mansion. Bigger than our house. He could sleep 8 guests the night we were there without breaking a sweat. We were there for his 4ht of July party. It was huge. At least a couple hundred people. Complete with a bouncy castle for the kids, open bar for the grown-ups, all-you-can-eat barbeque, strawberry shortcake (or chocolate birthday cake for the weirdos who don't like strawberry shortcake), and culminating in fireworks.

The kid was impressed with the vast display of wealth on parade. Who else has a pool table in their 3rd floor game room, 2 giant screen TVs, a house that big, feeding all those people, and two jet skis in the garage? "How can I make that much money?" he wanted to know several times. And I said, "I have no idea." My cousin is a real estate lawyer. I guess that's how you do it.

My parents and aunt and uncle were also visiting for the occasion. They have gone most years to the party, but it was our first time. We hadn't been to visit the Vermont part of the family since my grandmother's funeral. That was 7 years ago, so the Kid had very few memories of the place. I'm guessing he'll remember this trip better.

We got back to Potsdam on the afternoon of the 4th to celebrate on a smaller scale with our Presbyterian Pastor friend. She brought hotdogs and hamburgers, frozen marguarita mix, a veggie tray, and fireworks from Price Chopper. We had planned to be at her house for the evening, but moved it to our house on account of the heat. She lives in an upstairs apartment with no air conditioning.

We have limited air conditioning, but with strategic operation of the windows and doors, we can keep the downstairs and one room upstairs comfortable, and the rest of the upstairs almost livable. I went to Lowes on Monday to see about getting a second window air conditioner, but they were sold out. They said they had a truckload on Sunday afternoon with a line out the door and had sold them all. The next truck wasn't until Tuesday. Same story at Walmart. We were back at Walmart on Friday afternoon to get a new bike for the kid. They still didn't have any. At this point, I'll probably go get one or two when they're on sale at the end of August and just leave them in the boxes until next summer.

Back at about the same time we last went to Vermont, some friends gave the kid a bike. It was a nice bike, a hand-me-down from their son who was going off to college and had bought himself a bigger one. At the time it was too big for him, and it took him a year or more to grow into it. But this summer it got too small for him. Several of his friends got new bikes earlier this spring. (I suspect they were out-running him on the trails they ride together over at Clarkson.) It was time.

There is a bike shop over on Market Street. They sell bikes for serious riders. We went to Walmart. Because bike season is short here, we're not looking at this as an investment, and we don't have two jet-skis in the garage. They had two models that the kid was interested in. After test driving both of them up and down the Walmart aisle, he picked one. It's a decent bike for high school. If it gets him out riding around and away from his video game console a few times a week in the summer it will have been worth it.