Sunday, August 23, 2009

Lazy Days at the Lake

Well, it's nice to think it could have been lazy days at the lake, but with three kids under the age of 8, lazy is hard to come by.

I had promised myself that I wouldn't try to leave town more than twice this summer. In fact, I even combined our camping trip with our San Diego trip for that express purpose. In the end, of course, it served more to leave time to schedule something else entirely.

After the nostalgia I experienced during our winter trip to Lake Tahoe, I felt the urge to see if I could get my family together for an even more nostalgic summer trip. After all, we didn't spend a lot of time there in the winter when I was a kid. And look, it worked! We even had a big family breakfast at the Old Post Office Cafe.Of course, this added trip was largely squished in there right before the start of school. Aunt Karen and SPENCER! were visiting and my parents joined us too. It took a little doing to find a cabin that we could rent for just three nights, would fit all of us (sort of), had wireless internet (for Daddy) and took dogs (for my parents, who ultimately decided to leave the dog at home.) But I found this little place, in just the neighborhood we were hoping for.It's in the same neighborhood we used to stay in. If you rent the right cabin, you get access to the neighborhood pool and the private pier. This cabin had it all. Turns out it also had a broken internet connection and at least one resident mouse, but I digress.

We arrived just before dinnertime on Thursday, so we had that evening and two full days to spend by the lake, Karen and I trying to relive our childhood, the kids excited by all the possibilities for getting in trouble and my parents just trying to put up with it all. I think Daddy found it relaxing.After a relatively long walk to breakfast on Friday morning, we lazed around the cabin for a little while, then made ourselves a picnic lunch to take to Sugar Pine Point State Park. It was a lovely spot with a historic mansion, a pier, beaches, forest and picnic areas. We never quite made it on the hike we'd intended to take since the rocky beach took up an awful lot of time, but everyone had fun and it was a lovely day. The kids got pretty wet trying to keep their balance while wading in the slippery rocks. We managed to take a short hike out to the "lighthouse", which turned out to be more of a "light beacon" than a lighthouse. I should have taken a picture, just so you could appreciate how unimpressive it was! Still, there were some beautiful views of the lake along the way.The kids and grandpa all jumped in the hot tub out on the deck when we got back to the cabin. All in all, the hot tub was probably one of the most recommendable parts about the cabin, which had sleeping space for 10 people, but not nearly enough living space. And Aunt Karen should probably be recommended for sainthood for being willing to sleep in the loft with the three kids.

On Saturday, we tried to fit in everything we hadn't managed to do on Friday. That meant that, after a brief, but exciting, bear sighting in the street, we had a quick breakfast and zoomed out to the pier to teach the kids how to catch crayfish. Another beautiful day, but it was breezy and kind of cold. Even though we had no intention of going in the water, we wore our swim suits because our next planned stop was a beach north of there.The kids were thrilled by the idea they could catch crayfish just by lowering bacon on a string into the water. They spent a lot of time doing that, with Cassie probably being the most enthralled, as our resident animal lover.The three kids caught 25 crayfish in all. Not a bad catch for a first time. Not being big fans of steamed crayfish, we threw them all back at the end. But before that, see this?This is my family (including me) fishing off the pier. See anything wrong with this? Well, no, there's nothing intrinsically wrong with this. Now, a friend of mine recently wrote a blog post espousing the lameness of swim lessons. I was inclined to agree. It seems like neither of my kids have made much progress. But this little incident changed my mind.

You'll notice that everyone's leaning over the side. It's not because anyone's down there. No one is. We're all just scouring the bottom, looking for crayfish. But if you lean too far over, it turns out you fall off. And the water's cold. One particular Smunch discovered that for himself...falling from that height where we're standing, right into the water. And he could swim well enough to get to a pillar and hold on until Daddy jumped in and got him. I, being ever so concerned and helpful, just yelled "Don't forget to get his shoes!" (His Crocs were floating away). According to Daddy, that suggestion was met with "I don't care about my shoes. I care about my life!"

Smunch was rather proud of himself for getting to go swimming in the lake, but said he wouldn't be getting in again at the beach. You can see how well that worked out.We actually missed the beach we'd intended to stop at and ended up at a beach we'd wanted to go to but had decided it was too far away. Oh well. It was lovely and sandy. And how often do you find yourself sitting on a sandy beach with forest and a giant granite mountain behind you?It turned out to be pretty hot sitting on the beach, but too cold for many of us in the water. Daddy went for a little swim, but I wasn't so tempted. The kids waded and dug in the sand. We had a picnic and headed back. We went to the community pool...which was also cold...and got the kids ice cream, while they shivered. Getting ice cream at the snack bar was another childhood favorite of mine and Aunt Karen's. I doubt we were ever quite so cold while we ate it though. All the more reason to jump in the hot tub when we got back!

And that was it. The trip was short and sweet. It was really much too short. It would have been great to have a whole week up there to unwind and let the kids run around the cabin while we all drank margaritas on the deck. Instead, we battled traffic to get back on Sunday...the Sunday before the Wednesday when school started. Aunt Karen and SPENCER! stayed until Tuesday...and then it was another bittersweet goodbye. Good thing we'll be seeing them again at Thanksgiving!

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