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Draplin Design Co., North America


So we told a bit of a fib. We lied—a specimen of the white variety, mind you—and didn’t say a thing about our Surprise Mission back to Michigan over the weekend.

Moons back this vehicle was put into motion by dad, sister Sarah and sister Leah. After the success of my dad’s 60th birthday surprise extravaganza, mom “let I be known” she didn’t want the same ordeal. Well, the “martyr role” just wasn’t gonna cut it, goddammit.

So we had time to plan, to makes moves, to shift power, to hide funds, to share secrets, to make threats, to call caterers and invite a ragtag roster of friends and relatives. And a month back, the word was put it that all systems were a “Go” and Gary and I put our heads together to get our asses home for the big event.

I flew back last Thursday—under a veil of deception and deceit—with the little man in tow. He was in a “doggie duffle bag” and put up little protest. He sat between my legs, underneath the seat in front of me. There were a couple barks here and there, and all were met with “bark-again-and-I’ll-fuckin’-stuff-ya” looks of discipline.

After a quick pit stop in sweet Minneapolis, Eric Campbell—designer and family guy—picked me up and we headed out to Elk Rapids for some undercover hanging.

Friday was spent hangin’ in downtown Elk Rapids…doing work, talking shit and seeing an old flame by the name of Megg Carney. She was in town preparing herself to get married up. Big news. She looked great, with that same pretty smile and laugh. I met the groom and well, he better “do right” for the girl, or, he’ll get a earful from us. Congrats to the newlyweds.

The big Saturday finally came, so Gary and I made our way out to the wilds of Lake Ann to the Draplin compound. Dad and Terry were getting things rolling hanging lights, as relatives and familiy friends started to show up. Sarah had mom out shopping in town as a decoy, with a return time of 3pm. Everything was ready to go around 2:45pm. “The beer finally showed up, so now we officially have a party,” is what dad had to say regarding “kicking things off.”

The crowd amassed in the driveway and waited out the final minutes up to mom’s arrival. She pulled in, and in unison everyone screamed, “Surprise.”

After all the hugs and kisses, Gary and I came darting out of woods, and exclaimed, “Did we make it for the big surprise?” as if we were “just getting in” from a long walk all the way from Oregon.

And so it went. Burgers, chicken, beers, fruity drinks, barking dogs, running kids, family friends, aunts, uncles and cousins. Good shit across the boards. The party went late into the night, concluding with a bonfire in the backyard and a little campfire strummin’.

Thanks to all who made it…from far away, from close by. And, happy birthday to my mom, who looks, acts and lives anything but that of a regular ol’ 60-year-old.

Without further ado, we bring you 14 color reproductions of said festivities:

01. “Let get this party started.”
02. “An ‘Island Theme,’ far from islands of any sort.”
03. “Thank heaven for little girls. And little dogs.”
04. “Mean, little kids getting into mean, little altercations: Jake and Mikey.”
05. “Mean, big kids getting into mean, big altercations: Ryno and Kurty.”
06. “Mother and son, reunited after years of bitter estrangement.”
07. “A ‘Stuff Birdhouse’ from the birdhouse collection of the backyard.”
08. “Stuff Birdhouse detail.”
09. “A little hobbit who went by the name, ‘Olivia.’”
10. “Wild teenagers: Jordan and Jackie.”
11. “Unka Pat.”
12. “Gift action.”
13. “Dad and another Gary.”
14. “Jim Draplin: Keeper of the flame.”

(Credit where credit is due: Shots 01-06 and 14 are courtesy of the estate of Ryno Simonson of Minneapolis, Minn.)

There Are 9 Comments

Great party. Lots of laughs, some sadness, great food (did you expect anything else?) great relatives and friends. Finally got to meet the web superstar “Gary”. I checked out my mug that you posted and was pondering whether to submit it to be the next “Bachelor”. Whatya think Aaron?

Posted by: Patrick Steele on 06/23/05 at 3:20 PM

Actually, Aaron, there’s a pretty good sized island in the middle of Grand Traverse Bay, can’t be more than 5-6 miles north of Traverse City. That’s closer than I was to your folks’ house after following your directions.


Posted by: ryno on 06/23/05 at 4:06 PM

Beautiful part of the woods. But since you never gave us absolute directions on how to get in, getting out with 1/8th tank of gas was a challenging situation at the least.

Posted by: Kurt Halsey on 06/23/05 at 6:01 PM

(Well, as we all know, Kurt ain’t exactly a “man o’ the woods,” by any stretch of the imagination. I’m sure the only thing that guided him to I-72, and out of the woodsy Michigan backroads was the sound of his “memory foam” mattress calling him from hundreds of miles away.)

Posted by: ryno on 06/23/05 at 10:30 PM

Your dad’s shirt kicks ass. It also kicked ass on the roll of film I just found in the bottom of my camera bag from last summer’s house warming.

Papa D, squelching some flamin’ weiners

Notice the f’n morons, Kale and Aaron, in the background, laughing at Jim’s impending doom at the hands of the inky black tendrils of the ‘cue.

Also of note is Aaron’s vantastic neighbor’s vehicle.

Posted by: eric on 06/23/05 at 11:24 PM

Hmm…Pat a bachelor? Are you trying to tell us something Pat?

Posted by: Uncle Terry on 06/24/05 at 6:18 AM

You haven’t slept until you’ve spent the night on memory foam.

Posted by: Kurt Halsey on 06/24/05 at 7:39 AM

dood, cutest pic of the little girl w/ gary!! too much!
oh, and your dad in the grass skirt…

Posted by: jim golden on 06/24/05 at 8:44 AM

Happy Belated Birthday.

Posted by: Roderick Snell on 06/26/05 at 12:47 PM
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