Friday, July 9, 2010
A Top Ten Kinda Day
There are those days in your life that make up for whatever else you may have to put up with. Last Saturday was one of those days. We have friends who through the interweaving of many lives we have worked with, camped with and played with over the course of time. They generously invited us to join them for their 4th of July celebration at the camp that they own on a nearby lake.
I spent Friday evening preparing food to share and getting all the myriad things that one seems to need when heading to "the lake". I'm always impressed at the number of things that you seem to need. Chairs - check. Boats - check. Paddles - check. Life Jackets - check and on and on and on...
We headed up just after lunchtime and the weather was warm and dry with a light breeze and a cloudless cerulean sky. The "lake" is actually a man-made pond with a dam and spillway at one end and that has fairly small summer camps surrounding about two-thirds of the shoreline. It's the kind of place where families have been going with their friends for generations. Goings-on always seem to be ever so laid back. This particular party was planned to coincide with a long-running 4th of July celebration at the camp next door which had very good live music played at a respectful volume all afternoon. Here's the party next door just getting started...
By the end of the evening, there were probably four times as many people!
As soon as we arrived, another one of the guests who was also a former co-worker helped me unload my sea kayak and Wee Lassie. My father arrived shortly after with the Charlotte and we shuffled that down to the water's edge as well. I was looking forward to sitting down on the table at the floating dock to relax with a beer, but that was not to be - DD was champing at the bit to go out in one of the boats. Out we went with me in my kayak and herself in the Wee Lassie. She was a bit nervous as her last trip in that boat resulted in a dunking. We returned and I hopped into the Wee Lassie and she grabbed the Charlotte. Here she is un-feathering the paddle before hopping in:
We headed up the lake...
I was then greeted with terrified squealing. "DADDY - THERE ARE BUGS!!! EARWIGS! DADDY GET RID OF THEM!!!" This canoe was stored outside with the foam blocks on the gunwales. Underneath the blocks were all of the earwigs. As the boat started moving, they seemed to start coming out of everywhere. We paddled back to the beach after much complaining from DD I rinsed the bugs out of the canoe and we headed back out. Up the lake again...
Then we paddled down the lake. It seemed we were stopped at nearly every dock or float with people on it who admired the beautiful wooden boats - we probably had the only ones on the whole lake. I need to print up some waterproof business cards to carry with me when I paddle, I guess.
... and back up to the dock.
DS wanted to go out in a boat on his own. I put him in the Charlotte and he tried to paddle away from the shore, but was very nervous and got out almost as soon as he got in. He's young, so I wasn't bothered.
I figured I might get a chance to sit on the dock but DW decided that she wanted to go out in a boat.
Yup. DW wanted to go out in a boat. She got a life jacket and went in the Charlotte. I'm pretty sure my mouth was agape. You see, DW doesn't care much for small boats. As a child, she was at the beach in North Wales with one of those little inflatable vinyl rafts and got overturned in the surf, catching her leg in the rope and holding her under the water. I'm sure this was a terrifying experience.
Still, she relaxed a bit and finally we went for a paddle down the lake and back. DD stood on the floating dock and took pictures of pretty much the whole trip. Here's a shot by DD of DW checking out the party next door as we headed back in:
I finally hopped out and grabbed a cold beer from the cooler. I went down to the dock and was sitting chatting with friends when I saw my canoe heading down the lake. My father decided to take it out for a little run:
Because she was feeling adventurous, I figured that DW should try some other boats. We were certainly spoiled for choices:
She finally went out in a fairly short and wide flat-bottomed kayak that belonged to the hostess. Strangely enough, DW was happy with the ride of this boat. I guess I know what I need to build now. Perhaps I could just cut off the claw feet on some bathing equipment? Hmmmm....
We relaxed and the kids played in the water near the shore. Happily for DS and DD there were friends of theirs from school at the party next door to play with. As the afternoon slipped easily by, the host disappeared to start grilling some steaks and people started to assemble a fantastic pot-luck picnic on the groaning board in the front porch. The variety, quality and quantity of food were truly impressive.
Dinner was consumed at tables up in front of the house, both large and small:
And down on the floating dock:
After supper, but before dessert, DS wanted desperately to go paddling with the little girl from his class who was there. It was the motivation he needed to get out in a boat. Not to be left behind, DD wanted to go again, too. I herded the small flotilla out on the water. DS had a hard time staying up with the more experienced girls and I had a hard time convincing DD that she needed to wait for her brother. I think DD spent more time with the other little girl than DS did, but he was very happy to be able to say he'd been out paddling with her.
We returned to shore just in time for dessert. As I was still full from dinner, I decided that I'd rather go out and do a circuit of the lake before it was time for the fireworks.
At dusk, a metal rowboat was moored out in the middle of the lake and cases of fireworks were stacked on a nearby dock. I was, to be honest, expecting a fairly mediocre display of bottle rockets, roman candles and sparklers. I was wrong and was pleasantly surprised.
The fireworks display started down at the other end of the lake with impressive sky-bursts of multi-colored fireworks. When the fireworks started being lit, we moved down to the dock for a better view. The kids were complaining that they were going to be too loud, even though the fireworks were very small by comparison to municipal displays. The fireworks were loaded into the rowboat by the case - each case containing maybe 20 shells. The rowboat was loaded up at least 8 separate times with awe-inspiring displays resulting - it was difficult deciding where to look!
It truly was a top ten kind of day - there were good friends, good food and drink, excellent fireworks and an effortlessly good time was had by all. The kids were so absorbed in what they were doing that they just had a great time. I hope to get the opportunity to repeat it in future!
Thanks to the host and hostess with the most-ess!