Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Long Line of Lake Lovers

  Dontcha just love a little alliteration? haha!
1971 - How cool was I? I had a swimsuit with SLEEVES!

But it's the truth. My family comes from the midwest, so we weren't often running to the beach each summer. We were, however, running off to The Lake. As a kid, we'd go to the Lake of the Ozarks with other families in the neighborhood. It was the most wonderful vacation! One of the families had access to a giant lake house. The kids would sleep upstairs on the balcony and in the bedrooms while the adults...well I don't really know where they stayed. We would just go to bed listening to them laughing and playing cards downstairs. Our days were filled with Shasta sodas, open-faced grilled cheese sandwiches, and fishing for perch off the covered dock with various dads as they took turns showing us how to bait a hook and remove a fish without snagging ourselves. Delightful memories!

Later, when I was a teen and well into my twenties, my dad owned his own pontoon boat on Lake Ray Hubbard outside of Dallas. We'd gather friends, pack a ton of food and drinks and moor the boat off a sandy edge of the lake. We'd swim, play on floats, relax and enjoy the sun. It was definitely The Party Boat.

And, when I was going through my mom's pictures during her recent move, I found this one. It must be around 1922. My dad is the small child on the man's shoulders. They were swimming in the lake outside Fort Scott, Kansas.

Sailing in California
So, not being one to break with tradition, my kids have had plenty of lake experiences. In Alaska, we spent a lot of time at playing at Mirror Lake or Goose Lake on Elmendorf AFB.  We put a sailboat in at Folsom Lake outside Sacramento and resumed our love of boating.  We'd head back to Texas to sail with Ron's brother Scott and their family on Lake Tawokoni, east of Dallas. And when we moved back to Texas, we'd have a boat at Lake Arrowhead and then later at Lake Travis.  Our family camping trips would always be near lakes or rivers. Ron was the sailor and I was the swimmer - so we must have been hardwired for spending time on the water.

Now that the kids are grown, we're still on the water. And this past weekend, we enjoyed another weekend on the lake. This time, it's Lake Texoma - a huge lake that is on the border of Oklahoma and Texas.  Ron went ahead of us and got the boat ready.  It's big enough for us to sleep aboard, and this was the first time we've all joined him on this kind of sailing adventure! Ron's "New" Boat.

Katie was able to make trades for her work, Alyssa is off on these days. All we had to do was wait for Josh to finish his firefighter shift. Dodging rainstorms all day and evening, Alyssa and I packed the car. Katie had to work the closing shift, so she didn't get home until 2 a.m.  Luckily, Josh was at the fire station near our house, so we were able to be on the road by 7 a.m.! They were all pretty sleepy, so I drove the whole way.

When you have to drive for 4 hours, you have a lot of time to ponder. I missed having Michael with us - he would have stayed awake and chatted the whole time with me.  Katie falls asleep the minute the car pulls out of the driveway. That's only a slight exaggeration - she's just always been this way!  Poor Josh had had calls all night long, so even though he was tired, he just couldn't sleep in the car. Luckily for smart phones, he was able to pass the time looking up all the different fish he'd be able to catch on Lake Texoma, what bait he might need, what the weather would be like, etc.

By Dallas, everyone was awake again.  I felt like a tour guide as I explained what some of the downtown buildings were, and the different parts of Dallas. Growing up there, I had lots of stories of learning to drive there, knowing people from different parts of town, and silly stuff my dad used to tell me as we'd drive around. The kids all humored me!

We made it to the Bait and Tackle shop, kind of a grocery store at the edge of the lake, and bought fishing licenses. Josh has really turned Alyssa into a fisherman! She loves it. Of all the kids, she was the least fond of lakes. She LOVES swimming, but when lake water is murky, she's just SURE some Alligator Gar is swimming near her and about to take off her toes.  Ron was never a fisherman - he's the only person I've ever known that could go on a fishing trip in Alaska when the salmon were running and catch NOTHING. The fish practically jump into your arms then - but not his. So watching her get excited about rods and reels has been fun. Listening to Josh and Alyssa quiz each other about  how to tell a white bass from a largemouth bass and a carp from a catfish is pretty interesting too.

It wasn't long before we had the car all unloaded and Ron was taking us out onto the lake. The kids took turns lounging on the the bow of the boat. The wind wasn't that great so we sailed out toward the dam and took down the sails.  The kids fished a little, but didn't have any luck.  So they pulled out the rafts we had brought, ate our sandwiches, and just hung out on the water. Ron had installed a great new ladder on the side of the boat. But I had major coordination issues and just couldn't seem to master it!  Once again, mom ends up the butt of the jokes for that afternoon - but, hey, I'm used to it!

We started to head back toward the marina, everyone feeling a little sunburned. Just as we took the sails down and decided to motor in for a ways, the wind picked up. So we hoisted the sails again and suddenly took off!

The boat went faster than I had ever gone, and of course, Alyssa got a little panicky. Not being the sailor, I don't know the terminology. Although, it would be a good idea to look it up, because when you have your husband decide to teach you how to sail in a stressful situation, it's not pretty. I know my kids are used to a little shouting when Ron and I trying to accomplish something, but poor Josh. We might have startled him a little when Ron jumped up to do something with the sails and handed me the tiller, shouting,
"Just keep us on course!"
What the heck did that mean? What course?
"Put her into the wind!"
No, it wasn't that I didn't hear him! And no extra volume would help me figure out the lingo.
"Do you mean pull the stick toward me?"
Well, I won't bother you with the deterioration of that rather loud sailing instruction. Suffice it to say that we've been married for 25 years and our language can get a little "salty" under stress. Have you ever noticed that voices can really carry on a lake? I'm sure people in Oklahoma AND Texas could hear us! Yeah.

So, the boat was heeling (tilting, to the rest of us) - a lot. Katie loved being able to reach into the water on the low-side. Alyssa was sure we were going to capsize and at one point sat on the floor of the cockpit clutching a floating cushion, just praying it would all end quickly. I wasn't really sure what Josh was thinking, but he was trying to learn those sailing terms as quickly as possible! Eventually, Alyssa got used to the speed, and while I wouldn't say she enjoyed going fast, she was able to get off the floor and sit in the seat with Josh.  Ron returned to the helm and continued to instruct us all on what the boat was doing, how it was adjusting to the wind, what we could do.  Josh told me later that he felt like he    
learned more on that little 30 minutes of sailing  than he ever thought he'd learn.  He was even able to take the boat in toward the marina himself!
Tiki Bar with stove and lights

When we came back toward the dock, fish were jumping everywhere! Our fishermen were excited. Luckily, the marina restaurant was closed so we cooked our hot dogs and sausages at the little Tiki Bar on our dock.  This way, they could start baiting their hooks and get fishing! The idea of fishing off the sailboat didn't really work out that well. Even when we were going slow, the bait would drag along the top of the water. It just didn't work right. So they were happy to get the chance to fish again.

Sadly, they didn't really have the right bait for the fish around there. Alyssa caught one little sunfish, and that was it. They were up until midnight running up and down the dock with flashlights and putting their poles into the water at different spots. Huge fish - that they later determined to be carp - were banging into the styrofoam that holds the dock up. They even spotted big Alligator Gar- fearless fish that came over to see what the net was all about.

 Everyone slept well on the boat (sorry for the blurry pic) and the next morning, Ron got up early to cook breakfast and Josh was ready to start fishing again. The temperatures were changing so there was just a little steam on the lake. Josh and Alyssa ended up paddling around the marina in the dinghy, Achilles.  Which reminds me... our 40+ year old boat has had several names and Ron pulled the last one off. He just couldn't see himself sailing Venus. So we're all making suggestions and voting on a new name. In the running are: The SusieQ, O Susanna, AlyKat, AlyssaKate. I think it will end up O Susanna! I'll keep you posted.
When I look back at family vacations we've had over the years, they seldom happened in the summer.  But we'd almost always fit a Lake trip in there somewhere - the weather usually being perfect for sailing, swimming, and fishing. Even though the kids are all grown, I'm happy to say the tradition continues!

                                              My little slideshow of the Lake Texoma Trip


MLight said...

It looks like so much fun! We didn't have a boat when we lived in Michigan, but we had friends with boats which was almost as good. :)

Sue said...

It was fun! I'm hoping we'll get to do it all together one more time before Katie leaves for L.A.
Friends with boats might actually BE better. Then you don't have to do the setup and clean up - you just show up and enjoy! :)
I'll bet the Michigan water is a lot colder than what we have here in Texas!

Reticula said...

OMG, it all sounds like so much fun! I want to sail Ron's boat and go fast. What a wonderful day for your family. :-)

Sue said...

It IS fun!! And if you need a vacation, the weather is great down here way into Fall...you can come sailing with us anytime! :)