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Ford column: Bugged in South Dakota

WATERTOWN, S.D. ó The view tonight of Lake Kampeska, its surface broken by a single boat trolling for walleye, belies the tumultuous visit we’ve had so far in my hometown.
Four days after our arrival, we evacuated my parents’ house when my dad became the seventh victim in our extended family of a virulent stomach bug.
We moved in for three days with my grandmother, whose 80th birthday summoned much of the McNulty family.
As we walked through the zoo to kick off her celebration, Grandma spotted the marble bench engraved with her name and topped by a huge bow near the monkey exhibit.
A longtime zoo supporter, Grandma loved the bench and said it lacked only one thing ó a compartment for her ashes.
Apparently, she wants to be interred at the zoo, a final resting place as unique as my grandmother.
Grandma denied my request to ask her neighbors for their wireless Internet password so I could piggyback. It’s a longstanding feud, I believe, something about garbage cans and a snowblower.
Dad recovered from the flu, but the doctor declared Mom a carrier, contagious for 10 days. So we packed up and moved to my aunt’s house.
By then, 5-year-old Clara had stopped chewing and brushing on the left side of her mouth.
A little visit to the pediatric dentist followed.
Because one tooth debacle is never enough, cousin Johnny pulled 10-year-old Nellie’s loose molar one afternoon while I drove.
Ready for extraction if Nellie couldn’t wiggle it out herself, the tooth still created a fair amount of blood as the kids screamed in surprise and horror at Johnny’s success. With no water in the car, I instructed Nellie to spit out the window, which splattered Clara’s window.More screams, and some interesting looks from passersby. I’m surprised no one called 911.
Nellie nearly hastened her great-grandmother’s interment at the zoo when she ran open-mouthed and bloody from the car, tooth in hand.
My sister Merilee and her husband Gabriel arrived after a longer-than-expected four-day drive from Oregon, which included smuggling their six finches into several hotel rooms.
They joined us for the annual Air Show in Sioux Falls, where the power of the Blue Angels was matched only by an obnoxious kid who almost smothered Clara in the inflatable obstacle course.
When he ignored a weak instruction from the supervisor to get off the toy, he met Clara’s mommy.
We’ve had some wonderful South Dakota moments as well, including 13-year-old Henry’s first driving lesson on country roads, courtesy of Grandpa.
Breathtaking sunsets, Clara’s first fish, tubing, ice cream at the Zesto, yoga lakeside, bonfires, s’mores and Ghosts in the Graveyard.
Here, “barbecue” is a verb, not a noun.
No trip to Watertown would be complete without a visit to Kampeska Lodge, home of more guns and ammo than any hunter could use in a lifetime, as well as essentials like live bait, canned meat and laundry detergent for high-efficiency washers.The Lodge always offers fascinating reading material, and I was especially taken with a flier for Gus’ Taxidermy in nearby Florence.
“Good deer taxidermy is like finding a girlfriend,” it read. “It’s not about the size of the rack but how it’s all put together.”
Emily Ford covers the N.C. Research Campus.

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