We called this place home for the last four days:
Mikayla and I arrived early on Thursday to set up camp so that by the time everyone else arrived, we'd be ready to hop on the boat and get in an evening run. Mikayla and I worked like pros together, setting up the tent, setting up my outdoor kitchen, and taking some hikes down from our campsite to the lake. We expected company within a couple of hours of arriving, but instead, it took about 5 hours for the next group to arrive, Mom and Dad. The Schillings arrived about 45 minutes later, and then finally, around 7:30, my "boys" arrived, John and Brayden - as well as Travis who was just coming for the evening. (That guy amazes me in his love for driving - it's how he spends a big chunk of each of his day at work, and instead of spending the night on an air mattress, he was happier to drive the hour home late Thursday night and then return again by 8am on Friday. Not me, no way....I get way too sleepy!)
So, sure enough, we got our evening run. I (selfishly) volunteered to go first, and therefore was the only one that had enough light to take a clear picture. The water was SO GOOD, and SO WARM - it was GLORIOUS!!!! (Michele and Travis, who both took runs, readily agreed!)
As good as the water was on Thursday night, it was even better on Friday morning. Again, Travis, Michele, John and I went out (on Thursday night, our kids came too, but never got in the water). There's something magical about that first morning of our annual camping trips, we all still have energy to wake up early - and have such a longing to be out on the water.
Look at that GLASS! It's even more obvious in the action pics - unbelievable!
In an effort to keep himself from getting too "busted up" - Travis opted to do only slalom skiing during this trip. He felt like it would be easier on his neck as he usually "pays for it" after each wakeboard run that he does. He definitely dazzled us with his skiing, but sadly, he did end up with a migraine. His create many different symptoms than mine - less actual pain (as long as he takes something), but a whole lot more numbness and as he describes it, "wonkiness". It, along with the presence of poison oak, were honestly the only bummers of the entire weekend.
Me again - I feel kind of silly putting up "self" pictures, but the "happy factor" is obviously quite existent in my face - and that's the sort of thing you love to be able to have recorded in the family history. (Again, look at that glassy lake.....it's such a contrast to the literal white-caps that form in the afternoon!)
The guys thought it would be fun to capture my attempts to wash my hair....I mean, if I've already jumped into the water and gotten used to it, it's the perfect time. =)
Despite him being quite amazing at wakeboarding and ESPECIALLY slalom skiing, John rarely does it as he loves driving the boat more. But, even he couldn't resist the peer pressure of his three closest comrades as well as the conditions of the lake. John goes all out when he skis - it's a kick to watch, but a bit scary as the speed in which he likes to go is very fast.
We had left the kids back at the campground knowing that eventually we would meet up with them on the lake with Mom and Dad. At this point, they were attempting to catch fish. This lake has not proven very successful, but that didn't stop the kids from trying - in fact Nati and Brayden opted to stay on board and continue trying.
These two, however, hopped on board with us:
On to more skiing - this time, Michele, who'd already had an earlier run, but went again. When the water's like this, it pretty much comes down to only quitting due to exhaustion....
Next up, Michele hopped on the wakeboard. It's not her watersport of choice, but when she's teaching, the kids are generally more impressed if she tells them that she can wakeboard vs. the old-school "slalom skiing" - so she wanted a few pictures for proof that she can indeed do it (and she "did it" great...)
After returning to the campground, the kids still hadn't had enough "water", so they begged us to take them to the swimming area. Right as we were leaving, Amy, Jackson, and Christina showed up (Mark and Andrew were gone for the weekend on a hunting trip). I spent some time wearing Sydney down by throwing balls into the water. She loves swimming, but gets a little ADHD about bringing the ball back to us....she doesn't always get that hole "retriever" part of her name.
Meanwhile, the kids swam merrily...
And, we got in a little time to relax (and for Syd - dry off)
A little while later, we took Brayden and Traig out on our boat, while Mom and Dad took the rest of the kids on theirs to innertube. They were far-and-away the "popular choice" by all the kids who LOVED being on their boat and being pulled in the tube.
Back to Traig and Brayden though - the goal was to see if we could get them up tandem. Brayden wasn't used to the boat speed initially, so on this pull, it was just Traig that took the ride back to where Brayden was in the water- love the smile on that guy's face.
And, finally - SUCCESS! They did so great - it was such a hoot watching them smile at each other and eventually start dancing to the music being played from our speakers.
The water was pretty cruddy at this point in the day, which is why we positioned ourselves near the dam. But, I couldn't resist getting in another run. Each year, I try and advance my skills just a little bit further, with the goal being one day to be able to catch some air (and land it) while going over the wake. I am extremely cautious due to my own neck issues, but this was the weekend where I finally worked up the nerve (and figured out a way) to not absorb the wake by bending my knees, but to instead keep them straighter to allow for a little jump. This picture proves there was some air in between the board and the water! Not a lot, but it was a big deal for me. This morning, when the camera wasn't being used, was my favorite run ever - as I landed a few more of these..... Yes, I've been doing this for many, many years and this is all I have to show, but hey, at the end of the weekend my neck is not hurting and I don't have a headache, so I think it's all good in the big picture!
After my run and another ski run by Michele, we joined up with Mom and Dad - and brought Jackson and Ellie back to camp with us - while the rest of the kids opted to stay and tube longer.
I'm pretty sure this is Saturday now - and we got Miss Natalia to join us so that Michael could get her on video as well. She used the same board I use this time, and I think it made a big difference - as it offers much more stability. I love watching her board - because she loves it and it shows. (She also shows a lot of skill - way to go Nati, Traig, and Brayden!)
Some proof of how much fun the kids were having with Mom and Dad....
Outside of the poison oak (which Michael is extremely allergic to) our campsite was rather ideal. The bathroom was close by, we were in a small "group site" so there was lots of room for parking (which we definitely needed with the Schillings trailer, Mom and Dad's camper, Mom and Dad's boat, our vehicle and boat, and Amy's vehicle and boat (which never actually got used)). We were also in our own little loop, so we were kind of separated from other neighbors.
Oh, I guess Amy's boat did get used - as this is the one the kids were hanging out in next to the campsite.
While the dogs were a bit of a challenge as we had to keep them from getting anywhere near the poison oak, there's no denying how much we love their company - even when the get in the way of reading - either literally, in Michele's case - or just by demanding attention in mine.
As Mom and Dad were so popular, the kids barely gave them a break - so when we did settle in to the campsite for a while, seeing this happen was no surprise. =)
I can't imagine where we might have inherited our love for reading....though Michele and I apparently need to "get with the times" like Dad and get ourselves a Kindle....
It wouldn't be camping without a constant campfire and nightly s'mores...
Amy has a project that she's really "under the gun" to complete on her computer. So, she and John did a lot of collaborating Saturday night on different resources to use when working with website design.
A couple of years ago, the girls got the opportunity to have a special breakfast with Grandpa and Grandma. Well, if you know my daughter (who takes after me), if something good can be turned into a tradition - then by all means, make it so! That's why it was planned by Mikayla, right from the start, that "the girls" would have breakfast with Grandpa and Grandma on Saturday morning. (We didn't get a picture...I opted to take a nap instead) Not to be left out, Brayden wanted to know when it would be the boys' turn - so Grandpa and Grandma offered them the timeslot on Sunday morning. This is the view from the outside of the camper...
And, then, a view of the cozy interior and three happy boys.
And, a bit later, the happy crew of kiddos on board Mom and Dad's boat and ready to tube!
There's always a lot of dynamics that go into making a successful vacation of any sort - but even more variables when it involves a group and the "outdoors" of camping and boating. Not to downgrade any memories of the past, but I would have to say this trip out of all of them, has to be my favorite. There was no drama, no arguments - just a lot of sunshine, silliness, sarcasm, and smiles.