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The Good Ship Ridiculous

Last spring, a friend texted a picture of a plywood shanty boat to my husband, Jason. A tiny craft, its 13 feet sat trailered on a Superior side street. And at 5-feet wide, it gave off a garage-built, “I made this myself!” feel with outlandish colors and faux iron scrollwork screwed into the side. It also had balloons and a “For Sale” sign.

Squinting into my cell phone, I said, “That’s ridiculous!” Another friend, looking over my shoulder, suggested it looked like a floating puppet show. I laughed, I mean, it was meant as a joke — all of it.

That text was a response to a conversation with other middle-aged parents. Around a bonfire, we gave bold lip service to the idea of living on the water. Late into the evening, we chatted about houseboats and travel — big talk from people made of obligation, staked to mortgages and children and pets. Then, as the embers died down, we wiped the counters, fed the cat and went to bed. There would be work tomorrow because … there is always work tomorrow.

Caribou Lake Boat Parade 2017

In this drone video Dennis O’Hara captures the annual tradition of the July 4 boat parade on Caribou Lake near Duluth, where decorated boats of all kinds line up and cruise around the lake.