At last! Many thanks (all thanks) to Geoff for saving my 2GB of memory on the laptop and getting all of it to transfer to our dear iMac. Now I can relive all the joys of our week of relaxation and fun, new adventures.
On any road trip I love anticipating and discovering bizarre, absurd and novel sights. Sadly, as the country grows more and more uniform, with a Walmart and Dennys every 17 miles down the road, it gets harder to find something truly different. I know it's best to get off the main highways in order to find local color or original specimens. So, when we got off the 99, then travelled the 4 and made our way along the 49 everything got more and more interesting. We found ourselves in the western foothills of the Sierras, gold mining country. Oaks, creeks, rolling hills, ghost towns, wineries, distant snowcapped mountain peaks and expansive blue skies were bountiful. We were truly seeing places we have never seen before, like Angels Camp, Lake New Melones, Mike's Pizza, Murphys, Calabasa's Big Tree State Park and these...
These were in the breakfast place Bill suggested, Rodz Grill. I call it "Bacon and Eggs." I call it weird. I kind of like it. I like it at Rodz, in my memory, where I can reflect on the peculiar things we get to discover when we go to new places.
Bill and Alison, with baby Dominic, met us in Angels Camp, a short drive from a family cabin, so we could follow them to the Lake. I have long heard about "The Lake." Alison's family have been coming to the Lake forever and now it's part of my brother's life too. Now we were going to have our first introduction to water sports. Confession: I was doubtful, concerned, anxious, ignorant and hesitant. Unlike Alison, I am not inclined to be athletic and the thought of combining athleticism with a high speed boat was, frankly, scary. Naturally I extended my fear to my children, but only in my thoughts; I did not want to deprive my boys of an opportunity that they found quite intriguing. All three boys were willing and eager to see what you can do with a fast boat, wake boards, tubes and life vests.
All new ventures should begin with some training, so, some miles from the docks, we found a quiet bay, where Bill and Alison began teaching us the finer points and safety rules of wake boarding. Basically, I was agreeing to let the boys be strapped to a fiberglass board and then towed behind a speeding boat in a very cold and deep lake. I don't know that the depth of the lake matters, excepting it isn't shallow, but a "deep lake" sounds vaguely ominous.
The boots fit snugly and like a wetsuit, it takes some coaxing to get them on. Alison uses Joy.
This is Alison waking up the Lake with her first ride of the season. Water temp? High 50s.... brrrrrrr. She's very good, and the boys were encouraged and excited as ever to give it a try.
Next up was Alex. The board is awkward and difficult to maneuver in the water. It sounds a little harsh to say that Alex and Max were not successful. Technically they did not get a good ride, but they made many attempts, which was challenging in the frigid water, learning to manage the new gear. I was thoroughly impressed, and could not imagine getting in the water, let alone subjecting myself to the added challenge of standing up on a boot bolted board... it looked really tough!
Max was not discouraged, even when Alex climbed aboard sore and shivering. Once they fall, and everyone falls, they are left floating all alone, until the boat comes around to reel them back in. It's not easy looking back and seeing your little boy dropped off in the middle of the deep lake. Okay. So, I was a little anxious, but I was careful not to be a panicky mom. I loved seeing my guys embrace adventure and discovery.
It helps to try new things under the watchful eyes of cautious and caring family, like Bill and Alison. They are experienced and diligent. Once we established that wake boarding was best taken in small doses, Alison proposed "tubing." I've heard Bill talk about tubing, about wild rides, flying through the air, crashing in to a rock hard lake surface. Hmmmm....
Want to ride in a tube Max?
Tubing is awesome! I could have built up some suspense, and told you I was really doubtful, but it would be a waste. I have found my water-sport and it is sitting in an inflated donut and being hauled around a lake at crazy speeds. We all loved tubing. We were screaming, crying, eating, drinking, soaking-up tubing! We crashed and splashed and bumped all over Lake New Melones. William and Alex went first and the looks on their faces were priceless. I could feel their joy.
I could not resist, even though the water was painfully cold and I still had fast=scary fears. It was entirely worth overcoming my fears, because it was so much fun. Excuse me a moment while I abuse the adjective "fun." Going fast is fun. Splashing is fun. Bumping up and down on the wake of the boat is fun. Sliding out, as the boat turns, and feeling like your body is being flung from a rubber band is fun. Swinging back toward center and colliding with the other tube is fun. Fun. Fun. Fun. I had fun.
Normally, I am not a screamer. Tubing forced out a primal scream of exhilaration from the very ends of my toes.
And what's with my legs? Total bounce action. Max advised me, "Don't let your butt sink in to the water, because when we start moving it will feel as hard as a sidewalk." His advice was good. Though tubing is mostly about sitting back and taking a ride, there is some muscle action involved... holding on tight, keeping your booty elevated and your head back. I'm just trying to make it sound like it's an actual athlete's sport. Grin.
My brother likes to make it look totally mellow. He showed us how to take it easy.
Of course, if you take it too easy,
you may not be able to hang on when the ride gets wild!
Even after the tubing, William, Alex and Max were so taken with the lake, they stayed in the water, swimming and reveling in the thrills and spills.
Dominic is casual, relaxed. No worries. No hurries. He's having an awesome life! He spent the day kicking back and taking it all in. He's just waiting for his turn in the tube.
We definitely kept our promise to ourselves: We went someplace new and did things we've never done before. It's great seeing new places, and obviously I liked the day at the Lake. When can we go back? New sights are a treat, but meeting family there made it special. I miss my brothers, their families... family. For the rest of the trip my thoughts and heart wandered and wondered, "How can we be closer? When can we be together again? What's our destiny?" The rolling hills and old oak trees of the western Sierra, the history of fortunes found and lost, the ascending road with twists and vistas, inspire reflection and yearning.