The second day of the trip began the way most of my days begin – with the donning of the running gear and a glance at the schedule while the kids lay sleeping. I had contacted the local high school before we left to see if I could make use of their running track for my interval training. The answer was yes, and that’s where I went.
It was a nice, quiet run – only one other person was in sight, painting the lines on the football field. We left each other alone to our separate tasks and finished and left without incident.
I had worked up a ridiculous sweat, as I always do, but intervals get me going more so than usual. Soaked and smelly, I hit the grocery store while I was there in town for some “not junk” food for our home away from home. I got some really strange looks from people who looked pretty strange to me in their regular clothes.
The kids were up and awake and ready for adventure when I returned, so we headed for the boat dock to grab a pontoon boat and hit the lake.
My son was terrified – he always is in the beginning. He feels more comfortable expressing himself now, which is terrific, but the rest of us know how the story ends, so we don’t buy into it so much. By the time we were on the other side of the bridge outside the idle zone, he was kicking back and playing lookout for his sister who decided to go tubing, joking in his usual way.
Our tradition is to find a quiet cove, drop anchor, and swim for a bit. So we did. I was a little bit worried that the kids would be bored, but it’s amazing what can entertain you when you unplug from the electronic world for awhile and immerse yourself in nature.
I made my way to the shore side of the cove; I was hoping to relax in the sun on the “beach.” My little ducklings followed – all of them – and we sat on the gravelly ground with our toes in the water, skipping stones and watching tiny fish nip at our feet. Never missing an opportunity to educate, I told my kids the stones below us were shale stones and showed them the lines of sediment that made beautiful patterns. One of my daughters announced that shale was very soft (a tidbit of info deposited in her brain from her extensive 8th-grade earth science education), so we began breaking the rocks with no effort at all, showing each other our super powers when it came to the really big ones.
They were great for skipping, those flat smooth pieces of shale. One of the kids got 7 skips, I think.
I had some trouble starting the boat again after that. I tried to call the contact number I had, but our phone reception was poor and eventually I was able to get the thing going again.
We explored the rest of the gigantic lake and even saw a bald eagle take off from the side of a hill. I’d never seen one and didn’t understand the big deal about them, but seeing one take flight in person was amazing. This graceful, majestic bird commanded my attention and gained my respect.
A little while later, I was zig-zagging around an open area to pull my daughter through the wake and jazz up her tubing experience, when I saw another pontoon boat nearby that was tracking in the same direction I was. I didn’t want to chance a collision, so I made a big circle, only to see that they were following. I got a little nervous when I saw two men on the other boat.
It was the guys from the dock who had received my calls but couldn’t hear me, so they had set out to make sure we were okay. How Hoosierly of them! I told them we were fine and thanked them; they went on their way.
More tubing and joke-cracking and family silliness.
My son anxiously yelled for me to stop the boat, having seen the hand signal from my daughter on the tube. What happened? She says something sank into the water, and the gas tank was now floating behind the motor, though still attached to the boat.
I took a good look and all of the wires and tubes appeared to be intact. Gas wasn’t leaking into the water. I figured I could untangle the gas line and pull the tank onto the boat and we could proceed, but, not being a boat expert, I thought maybe I would cause further issue and decided to call the boat guys. This time the reception was better in the middle of the lake.
They were on their way. Again.
As we sat and waited, drifting in the water with the engine off, I watched my son handle the whole emergency like a champ, which amused me because this was exactly the kind of thing he was worried about.
The boat guys examined the situation and did exactly what I was planning to do – they pulled up the tank and secured it inside the boat, and had us start her up and get moving. All was well as we headed for home to clean up for dinner.
Quick showers inside – huge storm outside. Holy shit, am I glad it didn’t cut loose like that while we were still on the lake.
We headed into the closest town to hunt down some wings to satisfy my middle child’s cravings. I had some ideas, but wanted us all to agree. We settled on a place called Thirty-Six Saloon. Seemed like a good candidate for wings, and I didn’t see a bunch of cars there just yet, so hopefully it wasn’t too drunk and disorderly. We agreed to take a peek and head for the car if it wasn’t family-friendly.
We marveled at the etched artwork in the big wooden door and opened it.
Inside, we found a very saloon-like atmosphere, with wood beams in the high ceilings and mounted trophies everywhere. Where they didn’t stuff ’em, they skinned ’em and mounted the fur on the wall. Moose, deer, ducks, foxes, bears, fish… you name it – they killed it. Peanut shells were scattered on the floor and we noticed barrels with big scoops and a “help yourself” attitude.
But it wasn’t drunk and disorderly at this hour, so we took a seat and ordered a pretty good supper for these parts.
By the time we finished, the storm had passed, the sun was shining, and all was well. We stopped at the Big Berry for a traditional scoop of outstanding ice cream and dragged our tired bones home.
Day 2 was a very good vacation day, and I had forgotten all about my dysfunctional family and my stress. My kids may be the product of dysfunction, but today, they were happy kids. Happy kids make happy moms.