Category Archives: Lake

Puddle Stompin’ in the Rain

I have always been a California boy.  I was born here, went to school here, worked here, and will most likely die here unless I am traveling at the time.

For some reason the women I have attracted have never been from California.  My first two wives were from Michigan and my current (and last) was raised in Oregon/Washington.   My sensibilities tend to gravitate towards football games, hot buttered rum drinks, and over-eating when the rains come.  This is obviously not too healthy, but the “rainy days” are few and far enough between that the lifestyle never gets too sedentary.  Of course ski trips and other “outward bound” trips break up the winter.  My skiing career started when I was 5, walking up the hills and skiing down.  The thing I never really embraced was the all day, grey day in March when there is no Football, Baseball is just in training, and BasetBall and  Hockey are not my favorites.

The  mother of my children, although we split up 7 years ago she is still a dear friend, was one of the Michi’ganders.  She was born in Kalamazoo, which is a name I have always loved just for the sound of it. “Tippy-canoe-and-Kalamazoo-Too.”

We had kidz.  We had great kidz; they were into everything.  They attended Adalante Spanish immersion school, the both got their kiddy black belts in Okinawa Karate, they played some music, held interests in teaching and journalism, partied like their parents, loved and helped people like their pastors, and were generally just great kidz.

This happens to be a very rainy day.  It somehow reminded me of some of the most wonderful things that my Michigan wife and I did with our Kidz.

There was an area down from where we lived in the hills, down by Middlefield “Little Mexico” where the fields were not as well grated, and there were big depressions in the turf, where huge lakes (at least 8”deep) would accumulate during a good rainfall. Kip (Mom) would dress the girls all up in their finest Muck-luk attire (boots, hoods, slickers, goggles, astro-hand-warmers, etc…) and we would head for the puddles.  It didn’t matter if it was raining 1” an hour at the time.  It also didn’t really matter how cold it was outside, but being California, it was usually still mid ‘60’s when we were out.

The real game plan was to totally drench everybody around you.  It didn’t matter that it was cold and wet, the action of the competition and play was such that nobody was ever cold.  There would be the unsuspecting girl (or Black Lab) standing way too close to a 6” puddle, and it was irresistible to jump in with both feet and splash the heck our of everything..   As the exhaustion became an aphrodisiac and the endorphins mixed with the lack of sensitivity to the cold, we became a bit bolder.  What were at first “foot- stomps” denigrated into full body slams into the cold rainwater.  When the splashes were insufficient, there was indeed (hate to say it as a dad) dunking involved.  There were side splashes, back splashes,   back lashes and amazing crashes.  There were times we brought our bikes, walked with spikes, floated tikes, it was all good.

The inevitable end to the day was to throw all the clothes (down to the undies) into a huge garbage bag, pile into the Astro Van (the best family vehicle we were ever exposed to until my wife decided we needed a leather lined Tahoe that got half the mileage and cost twice as much) and as hypothermia was beginning to take control, rolled back into the driveway of our Upland home.

Decontamination was efficient, concise, and incredibly poorly received.   Upon return home after this afternoon of excess mud and clayurnal bliss, the clean-up process at home was not popular.  There was the garden hose for the bulk of the mud, then the total strip search on the porch for the remainder of the mud.  Tubs were simultaneously run, and by the time the girls had recovered from the shock of the hoses and subsequent stripping, and were ready for the hot tub.  Not like we had a “HotTub” but the tub in their bathroom was by then, pretty inviting,

An hour later, dressed in their “onesies” or whatever attire was appropriate for their age, we were all snuggled in front of the fireplace.  We were always resplendent with the memories of the day, the wonderful feeling of having an athletic “outdoor” day, enjoying the contrasts in temperature,  the sheer excitement of the splashing and wallowing, and sharing the “Aprè” experience with our family.

Every time I see a puddle on the side of the road, I have to drive through it or stomp on it.

I love you, my girls!  Kayla, Kelsey, and Kippy


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History of Cabo San Lucas

Before Cabo San Lucas was known as the tourist town it is today, the beaches were inhabited by a nomadic Guaycura Amerindian group called Pericu. The Pericú were hunters and gatherers; the shores around Cabo made it easy to live off of shellfish, small game and wild plants. There is also evidence that they were skilled weavers and potters as well.

The Cabo coastline remained untouched by European explorers until 1542, when Juan Rodriguez Cabrillo, a Spaniard, made the first contact with the Pericu people while exploring the waters of the Pacific for the Spanish monarchy. The Spanish forces remained because of the threat of English pirates in the area. The harbor at Cabo San Lucas continued to be used by pirates until the mid-18th Century as a hiding place after attacks on Manila Galleons (you can see a ship similar to these in the harbor). The pirates also enjoyed the many coves and inlets, perfect places for stashing loot. After pirating became a thing of the past, the port was mostly ignored because of the lack of fresh water available there.

More activity came to the harbor at the end of the 19th Century. Baja-californianos began exporting bark from the local palo blanco tree, to be processed and used in leather tanning. This made Cabo San Lucas a main shipping port. With the increase of nautical traffic, the Faro Viejo lighthouse was built in 1890 by port authorities at the nearby Cabo Falso.

The abundance of tuna in Cabo was discovered in the early 20th Century, and in 1917 an American tuna cannery was moved from San Diego to Cabo San Lucas to take advantage of this new resource. This brought a new population that continued to grow even as the native population dwindled. By the 1930s, a small fishing village had developed to supply the cannery. The harbor was then occupied by about 400 people, all of whom were involved in the canning industry. This remained the driving force of the local economy until 1941, when a hurricane destroyed a large part of the factory. The damage was devastating and Cabo San Lucas was all but abandoned during World War II, when Japanese submarines patrolled the coast.

After the war, leisure travel became a popular activity and Cabo was rediscovered as a game-fish paradise. Word of mouth brought a sport-fishing craze to the cape in the 1950s and 1960s and Cabo became a hot spot for catching prize-winning marlin and other swordfish. During this time, the small village grew in size to about 1500 residents (not including the many seasonal fishermen that were brought in by plane or boat to fish the cape). The slow but steady pace of growth changed in 1973 when the Transpeninsular Highway was completed. This new link by land between the United States and Cabo San Lucas brought even more traffic to the area. The city soon became a popular destination for people traveling by car and recreational vehicle, in addition to those who already came by boat or plane.

Nowadays, the small fishing village has become a bustling tourist attraction. Cabo San Lucas has increased its numbers and now boasts a population of almost 25,000. The majority of people who call this place home make their living from the tourist industry and most of them are recent arrivals seeking work. Many small shops and boutiques line the streets with souvenirs and handcrafted Cabo clothing. Tour guides are ready to show off the spectacular coastline (and the sights under the water too). Affordable boating adventures and tours await those ready to take to the waves and are a sign that Cabo is no longer an exclusive yacht club just for the upper class sports fishermen.

Great fishing is not the only activity that brings people to the southernmost tip of the Baja peninsula. First class golfing attracts sportsmen of a different kind, while the beaches bring legions of sunbathers each year. Scuba diving is also a popular draw for visitors; the beautiful waters are great for watching exotic, colorful marine life.

Despite deep roots in the past, so richly displayed at the Museo de las Californias, Cabo San Lucas has a distinctly modern feel. It is far enough away from home to be a great getaway, without feeling too foreign.


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Why Would a “White Bread” Ex-Republican Neo-Moderate Like Me Want So Badly To Go To Montgomery Alabama?


It started with the Northern California Folk Rock Festival at the Santa Clara County Fair Grounds in 1968.  This was an event that, for the times, blew Woodstock out of the water.  It was two days of music and love from Country Joe and the Fish, The Animals, Jefferson Airplane, The Doors, Big Brother and the Holding Company featuring Janis Joplin, The Youngbloods, The Electric Flag, Kaleidoscope, Taj Mahal and Ravi Shankar.  There was also an un-announced appearance by a small local band known as The Grateful Dead.  This was my first concert.  I was awestruck by the mixture of love, and music, half naked women, and patchouli oil in the air.  Swept into a “oneness” that would have made the Buddha proud, I found myself wandering through the vendors tent, spinning and whirling in my mind right past the US Army enlistment desk (no joke) to a desk that offered me an alternative to going to Viet Nam to fight an un-seen un-known “enemy” with whom I had no issue.   Although only 16 at the time, I exercised my illegal right and registered with the Peace & Freedom Party (an act that would eventually not escape the personal scrutiny of J. Edgar Hoover himself, nor the ramifications thereof forever effecting my suitability to serve in the armed militia of my country as it chose to hate a particular Indo Chinese group of people who had ostensibly irritated the French enough as to incite us to eventually not declaring war on them as we dropped roughly 5 pounds of bombs on each and every square foot of their land).

Did I mention that I was born in Oakland, at the Kaiser Hospital on Grand Avenue, a poor black child in a white man’s body.  If you have ever seen the Steve Martin movie “The Jerk” I have too.  My dad was quite literally colorblind, a fact that kept him out of WWII much to his chagrin, and I was raised that way too.  I literally had no idea what people were talking about later, that peoples skins were blessed with a greater or lesser amount or tone of melanin.   Of course they were. So what? They had always been.  I’m told I had a black part-time nanny as both of my parents worked.  I was not aware of her blackness until subsequently informed.

At the time that the United States Army wanted to take a closer look at me (my draft lottery number had turned up 17 – the subject of a subsequent blog) I was again summoned to Oakland.  This time it was to the Army Induction Facility.  In my adolescent arrogance and ignorance it was appalling to me that this was indeed not an Army Interviewing and Social Interaction Facility, but that the word INDUCTION was to be taken literally.  If you met their criteria for being fit to travel abroad to burn women and children they put your freeking arse on the bus and carted it off directly to Ft. Ord for basic training.  This was entirely unacceptable and I was sure mother would be quite upset if her baby were to take that minor excursion instead of returning home straight away sans body bag.  I was, however, equipped with a rather damning letter from my Canadian Allergy Doctor ( I shall never forget you Dr. Chardon) extolling in great detail the myriad afflictions of several bouts of pneumonia and asthma that had  rendered my lungs fit for nothing more than keeping my ribs from crashing into my spinal vertebrae.   This, combined with the aforementioned communist affiliation which the Army interrogator was quick to mention as soon as I was officially classified 4F, was enough to have me set on the “group W bench” and marked as unfit.  As my running-mate (thankfully with a much higher draft number) was not similarly dismissed, I was left with the afternoon to kill in downtown Oakland.  With nothing better to do, I settled into the nearest movie theatre to watch the newly released “Super Fly.”  Written around a black pimp/drug dealer, with music by Curtis Mayfield, it felt like home for Oakland.  The fact that I had the only white face in an otherwise packed movie theatre had little or no effect on me, and thankfully no-one else in the place.  I was grooving to the tunes, muttering an occasional “right-on” and generally keeping to myself.  I had a great afternoon, my friend was released and told not to leave the State, and we made it home.  Upon notification of the imminent departure to war that her son had so nearly averted my mother was hysterical.  Upon notification that I had spent the afternoon literally in the middle of roughly 150 urban black folks she merely said “oh, that’s nice dear.”

Next up:   Sacramento and Caesar Chavez, Ronnie and the Dart Board, Willie the Pimp, and the Italians


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If You Have Had Trouble Accessing a WordPress Blog…

Alexia Tsotsis Mar 3, 2011

You have no idea how hard it was to get this post up, as, our blog host, is currently under a denial of service attack. It’s been almost impossible to access the TechCrunch backend for the past 10 minutes (everything seems to be stable now) and users have been receiving a “Writes to the service have been disabled, we will be bringing everything back online ASAP” error message.

From the VIP blog post: is currently being targeted by a extremely large Distributed Denial of Service attack which is affecting connectivity in some cases. The size of the attack is multiple Gigabits per second and tens of millions of packets per second.

We are working to mitigate the attack, but because of the extreme size, it is proving rather difficult. At this time, everything should be back to normal as the attack has subsided, but we are actively working with our upstream providers on measures to prevent such attacks from affecting connectivity going forward.

We will be making our VIP sites a priority in this endeavor, and as always, you can contact us via for the latest update. We will also update this post with more information as it becomes available

WordPress did not mention the origin of the attack (DDoS =! Anonymous) and I have contacted founder Matt Mullenweg for more information. currently serves 30 million publishers, including VIPs TED, CBS and TechCrunch, and is responsible for 10% of all websites in the world. itself sees about 300 million unique visits monthly.

Update: Automattic and WordPress founder Matt Mullenweg tells us that this is the largest attack has ever seen, and is likely to be politically motivated:

“There’s an ongoing DDoS attack that was large enough to impact all three of our datacenters in Chicago, San Antonio, and Dallas — it’s currently been neutralized but it’s possible it could flare up again later, which we’re taking proactive steps to implement.

This is the largest and most sustained attack we’ve seen in our 6 year history. We suspect it may have been politically motivated against one of our non-English blogs but we’re still investigating and have no definitive evidence yet.”

You can check here for the latest status updates.

Image via: blogohblog

Update 2: Looks like everything’s back to normal.


Monday morning wisdom

An old man once said …There comes a time in life, when you walk away from all the drama and people who create it. You surround yourself with people who make you laugh, forget the bad, and focus on the good. So love the people who treat you right, pray for the ones who don’t. Life is too short to be anything but happy. Falling down is a part of life, getting back up is living!!! Thanks Doug for this!


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Parting With an Old Friend – Part Three; Daisy Mae of the Redwoods

It’s been twelve years now, it will be in the fall anyway, and it still chokes me up every time I think about her. For some reason loosing that dog hit me harder than either of my parents. Good grief, I literally have tears rolling down my cheeks writing this, and its freeking noon on a holiday and I feel fine.

My first wife loved Alaskan Malamutes. She was from Michigan and had had several in her youth, so the first thing we did after getting married was to go to a very reputable AKC breeder and grab ourselves a descendant of several grand champions. His name was Duke, and he was a gorgeous creature. Like many physically perfect human specimens he could also be a bit of a butthead. I remember him getting loose once when a friend was walking him and he wouldn’t respond to his own name, but when shouted at with the name “Asshole” he responded. Fitting. Actually he was a great and loving dog, and actually did put up with lots from the kids and eccentric parents.

We had this thing about dress-up. Still do come to think of it, but that is REALLY another story. While one dog is great, I have always had a tender spot for leaving a dog alone all day while we go to work and go about our lives. Having been an only child, I could relate to wanting a brother or somebody around all the time to play with, so one dog just wasn’t going to make it. I had always loved labs, although never had one. I set my mind on finding one, much against my wife’s urgings. Not being a patient person, it had to be “right now.” There was a breeder way up in the redwoods by Humboldt that had a litter ready for adoption so we piled in the van and made the trek up to the snow to get my puppy. Immediately upon arrival we were ushered into the den with the litter and this little scrawny runt came out of the back of the pen and stuck her nose in my face. That was it. She had picked us. My wife was aghast that it should be such, as she put it, a “magnificent creature.” Guess she was all about looks, but how wrong she ended up being. There was more heart in that little ball of fur than an elephant.

We brought her home and Duke took right to her. One of the first weekends we had together we brought them to Tahoe to one of those ski cabin rentals where 10 people slept in the loft and another 6 or so crammed the bedrooms and fold-out couch. I remember them all running and cavorting in the snow with Larry’s dog Eddie, named of course after his father !?! They loved the snow, the Malamute was right at home, and Daisy was up for anything. They used to run behind my van up in the hills after getting home from work. It was a good way to combine dad’s “quiet time” (read: happy hour) with a dog run. Thankfully there are loads of quiet mountain streets with almost no traffic. That little black puppy would run for miles, keeping up with the Malamute twice her size because she didn’t know any better.

Then came the summer and the aforementioned boat. Before we found our “Shangri-la” at Sly Creek we went places like Whiskytown and Lake Tulloch. Fuzzy had already taught Duke how to swim by tossing sticks in the ocean, but Daisy needed no external motivation. She took to the water like, well like a Lab takes to the water. Once when we had been out skiing for about an hour we returned to find that she had been trying to “retrieve” the anchor buoy the entire time and almost drowned herself in the effort. It happened to be tied to the anchor at the time.

As we progressed to the great camping lake mentioned so often in the previous two blogs, the dogs were in their element. They loved all the people, the freedom to wander, and the music and attention of the evenings. Only one consideration for a rowdy bunch of evening frolickers with a minimum level of sobriety: Beware the sleeping black dog at night! Poor Daisy claimed the balance (and usually beverage in hand) of many an unsuspecting camper. Duke and Daisy both loved the boat. Duke got a hair up his backside and jumped off in Whiskytown once about a mile offshore and insisted on swimming the way back. They both used to sit up in the bow with the wind blowing through their muzzles like some strange byzantine kazoo.

Duke also decided to go AWAL once on a long holiday weekend and we had to stay over an extra day to go bail him out of the doggy penitentiary in Redding. He was getting on in years for a big dog, and his hip dysplasia was making him more and more grumpy. He made the mistake of snapping at one of the babies one afternoon and was with his honorable ancestors about an hour later. It wouldn’t have been my choice at the time, but mama bear was not happy with a 150lb doggy snapping at a two year old.

Daisy gave us a scare the next summer at the lake. As always, things like bursted water heaters, broken axles, or animal emergencies, happen on weekend when there is nobody at work to help. We had piled kids, tubes, coolers, skis, and friends on the boat for the morning run and were ready to push off. As was customary there were the checks of lines, glance over the shoulder to see that nothing was behind us, and we started to back out of shore. No sooner than the prop was engaged we heard a piteous whine which caused me (thank God) to immediately kill the engine. Recognizing the source of the scream I reached into the water and hauled the 85lb dog onto the boat with one hand. Amazing what adrenalin will do. There was no “vet” open on a Sunday, so we really didn’t have anything that we could do but my Boy Scout first aid and keep her quiet. Benadryl is good for putting dogs asleep too! Later that day, thankfully, a county sheriff (a dog lover) shows up and put butterfly bandages on her arms and paws so that we felt better about her safety. Thank you God and Karma. Next morning I was in the truck and off to the vet to find that her injuries were such that her tendons were spared by about 1/16 of an inch. Daisy Mae rocks, and God was lookin out.

We had so many other wonderful experiences with her it would take months to document. God only knows what patience that dog had to exhibit on New Year’s Eve with Dad and Uncle Paul. I think we were trying to dress her up like a can-can dancer. My lasting impression of her is her loving patience, her devotion to me, her brother Duke, and most importantly my girls. She allowed them to put skirts on her, to sit on her, to pull her ears, to drag her around any physical object available; that dog had more patience than the kids mother and I had combined. I sincerely believe that was part of what made the “family” as centered and “normal” as it was. There were other things that contradicted both of those terms, but it certainly was not the dogs fault.

The last trip Daisy was to take to Sly was in 1999. We had a great time and she never failed to return the Frisbee and set herself for another toss. Ad infinitum. There was no lack of spunk in her step as she ran the campground searching for food. She was above all a loving sensitive… but LAB. She had a way about food, but didn’t hold a candle to her new sister “Oakley” who we will discuss later. There was no lack of enthusiasm in the attack of the lake and the Frisbee, nor that in the love of French fries she inhaled on the way home at “In and Out Burgers” in Davis. The only thing that we noticed was that for the first time she had become incontinent and “peed” herself while sitting on the cement in front of our favorite in-route stop (“In-and-Out” in Davis). With concern we proceeded home.

Over the next two days it became apparent the this was not an arbitration and that Daisy was winding down. She began to lie in a particular area on the side of the yard instead of her usual spot on the porch. It was bizarre, but we finally began to feel that she was choosing her place to die. The incontinence got worse, but she did her best to hide it from us. Her visits to the bush, and the restful spot she had chosen were more frequently.. The decision was somehow clear to me, my love – my little black soul-mate, had lived her years. I spent the next three nights on the porch with her crying my eyes out telling her every story I could remember; preparing her (bullshit, me) for the fact that she was going to be put down. I actually don’t really understand how it is that we think that we get to play God, but when it comes to animals it seems OK. Is it that our love is conditional? Oh jaez! My ex once said “the second she can’t make it up the stairs on her own, she’s gone.” Is that what we really want to do to the things that we love?

Anyway that is what we do to dogs, and in this case I was convinced that it was for her good. That would have been the only way I would have ever parted with Daisy. Our mobile pet doctor Petra Drake was called and responded immediately. She is a wonderful doctor and person. It made me feel much better that she was there. Daisy was laid in my lap, in front of the whole family, and given an injection that removed her spirit from this earthly vessel. Dr. Petra simply said “She is gone.” What a lovely setting for Daisy, and what a meaningful way to go out. By God’s infinite design, my great friend Martin (see previous blogs) arrived just then to say “Hi” and ended up helping me dig a grave for Daisy in the exact place that she had been frequenting for the past week.

There are no coincidences.


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Parting With an Old Friend – Part Two

In town I had become great buddies with a few of the locals that saw us every summer for two weeks.  I had taken the kids into town to get ice, make phone calls to civilization, have a cold one, and most importantly play horseshoes.  We’d leave the ladies at camp (after mom and I retired to the cove to “bathe” – lots of great memories on that boat!) and motor into the little general store at Strawberry Valley. The horseshoe pit was right next to the store, adjacent to the “group W bench” where the local loggers and pot farmers would congregate every evening to drink and smoke.  The kids would eat their ice creams, I would have my beverage, and we would trade war stories about the Grateful Dead with the locals and chill.  Since the kids were little, they couldn’t reach the end of a regulation pit, so I let them back up a few feet and throw at the stake while I sat on one of the benches and threw from there.

Eventually the kids got to big to do that, my Grateful Dead buddy, “Digger,” died from sclerosis and it just wasn’t the same going into town any more.

Over the years the camping experience gradually began to decay, as did the condition of my boat, my marriage, and the kid’s relationships with each other.  My soul mate and faithful black lab Daisy made her last trip in 1999.  We had to put her down the week after we returned home.  I love our yellow lab, Oakley to death, but there will never be another Daisy Mae of the Redwoods.  She came into my life at a time I really needed a friend like her, and was the best friend to the kids as they were growing up.  That is a story in itself.

Some of the friends that used to be such great buddies with my girls (they used to put together a “show” for the adults that they would rehearse the entire week and then perform on the last night) became boring or irritating.  The great core of friends that we started out with in 1983 had gradually dwindled down.  Everybody moved out of the bay area, or had married people that had different tastes from the camping experience we used to enjoy.  A few got their own boats and just got on different schedules. The relatives that had once flocked to the shore tapered off and dried up altogether with the divorce.  I went up one last time with the Ex and her sister with the kids, and we had a great time just like the old days (without the “bath” run), but knew it would be the last for that group.

The next year we went up with my daughter Kayla, her boyfriend, his buddy Josh and my best friend and Brother Paul.  My new wife came up for the last weekend and we had a great time.  The kids had their own vehicle and started going their own way much of the time.  For the first time I was happy to stay on the beach and let them all go out on the boat and wakeboard.  They started taking their own little trips into the forest, leaving dad and Paul at camp, in other words growing up.

We had had quite a few great trips out on the bay.  We’d start .out at Oyster  Point, stop off at pier 39 in San Francisco, head through the sailboats at St. Francis Yacht Club and out through the Golden Gate bridge.  I never went very far out in the Ocean, although the boat does pretty well in seas up to about 6 feet after that it gets a bit nerve racking.  From there we would cruise past Sausalito and Tiburon over to Angle Island for lunch.  Once in a great while there was a stop at Zach’s for a cocktail, then back in the bay.  The return trip was a spin around Alcatraz Island, followed by a stop off at AT&T (PacBell) Park – Home of your WORLD CHAMPION SAN FRANCISCO GIANTS.  It’s great if there is an afternoon game on; you just anchor in McCovey cove and watch the game on the big screen while listening to it on KNBR.

There were a couple of trips (thankfully all with the “boys” where we had problems and had to be bailed out by the Coast Guard.  Once I even had to have a windsurfer off of Coyote Point radio in for help for us.  Another time we had to get towed into the base at pier 30 and walk to Western Marine to buy a battery.  All good adventure!

The year before last we got everybody up to camp and the boat wouldn’t start.  We spent literally days taking it into Oroville and picking it up only to put it back in the water and find it still broken.  When we got home I took it into a repair shop again, spent $2,300 on it and the guy let my daughter pick it up only to tell her it still needs more work.  He’s not sure how much it will cost because it entails a new gas tank, and the upholstery and trailer are shot.  I don’t have anything to pull the damn thing because the ex got the truck in the divorce.

Last year the campground at our Lake was closed, and my daughter was in Guadalajara teaching Spanish to the locals, so there was no trip.  This year it looks as if she will be going back, and our summer is getting booked with family reunions and the like.  The lake was getting too crowded anyway.  Since they doubled the size of the campground  there are all sorts of jet skis and wake boarders in the water anyhow.

The boat needs about $5,000 worth of work to make it “nice” again.  The kids are going their separate ways, and the old gang has disbanded.  It makes no sense to keep the boat.  Am I feeling this remorse because I just don’t like the fact that part of my life is gone forever?  The kids are grown, the friends are scattered, the lake is more commercial, and Diggers dead.  So is Jerry Garcia for that matter.

There are things that we do in our lives, our businesses, our relationships, that just don’t make any sense.  Am I chasing memories, or is it realistic that I can fix the thing up and enjoy it with my new friends, my new wife, my new in-laws, and my new nieces and nephews?  Can I really justify having that thing in my driveway 24/7/365 just for the few times a year we have these amazing experiences that I could never have any other way?

Hell, I’m only 57 and the house is paid for.  Screw it, you only go around once.  Like my good buddy Jesse says, “This is not a dress rehearsal.”  How am I going to take JC out fishing without a boat? How many people get to watch the Giants in McCovey cove?

Thanks for helping me make up my mind.  You have been a great listener, and it didn’t cost me $140 for a 50 minute hour.


Parting With an Old Friend – Part One

Since I was a young, single, just out of business school, full of piss and vinegar, strapping young buck I have owned a boat.  There is a forest service lake just north east of Marysville that I have been going to for the past 28 years religiously up till last year.

Every Fourth of July about 100 of us would descend on the lake and camp in the old loggers’ camp at the far end of the lake. It was rustic.  We brought our chemicals and toilet paper and dug our own latrine.  There were a couple of tree stumps fashioned into benches, a few more into tables, and a huge fire pit surrounded by those benches and huge boulders. There was no gas on the lake, only dirt roads into it and nobody but us at it.  Mine would be one of 5 or 6 boats, and always Pete’s power dog (Dodge truck) with a 55 gallon barrel of gasoline on the back.  Those were wild and crazy days.  We used to ski all day long, and party all night long, playing our instruments and singing old classic rock songs around the campfire.  I remember one stellar evening of serious intoxication that someone had put a full 4 x 8” panel of plywood in the fire (yes, the pit was THAT big).  In the middle of one of our favorite songs “Secret Agent Man” I jumped onto the plywood and was “shooting” all my friends with my flute as the flames surrounded me and began to melt my boots.  Good times.

Then after a few years people began to lose their wild oats, find mates and settle down.  I fell in love and started bringing my girlfriend to the lake and taught her how to water-ski.  John and Jan Pellizzer (called the fuzzzy’s because, well, they were) were the first to sport a baby but many more followed.  My first, Kayla, was born in December so she was just 6 months old when she had her first trip to the lake, sleeping under the bow cover as her mom and I took turns skiing and teaching our friends.  I guess in all the years I probably taught over a hundred people how to ski for the first time in my boat.

Gradually the number of friends started to diminish and the number of families increased.  Over the years we had various combinations of in-laws (my wife came from a big family), families from our church, and just good friends that we had known since the “good old days.”  The constant was the lake, and the boat.  Serious waterskiing gave way to floating on the lake with the sisters, nieces and nephews, dogs and other critters.

One year when my second water baby (Kelsey) was just 5 months old, we had a fuel mishap and the boat burned down to the water line.  It was a bit dodgy as mom and I were alone in the boat with Kayla.  I told mom to jump in and handed her a seat cover to float on and the baby.  Thankfully Kelsey was on shore with the rest of the families.  A fishing boat picked us up, and another boat kept my burning flotilla from igniting the forest by driving around in circles and swamping it.  That boat was replaced immediately upon my return home.  The thought of not having one never entered my mind.

As the kids grew and started to make their own friends, several of them started to join us.  We had great nature walks and camping trips, all revolving around at least 6 hours a day in the boat.  I was the driver for most of it, so the passengers came in shifts or waves but I rarely got off of my ship.  There were all sorts of waterfalls and rock slides to explore, rope swings, and beaches.  The kids sometimes took kayaks off to faraway beaches and set up their own camp for the day.  We were always summoned via walky-talky to come and rescue them in the late afternoon when the junk food ran out and the wind picked up in their faces, making the paddle back to base beach quite unattractive.

As the years past the logging camp was gated, the road paved, and the campground expanded to accommodate trailers, RV’s and the eventual onslaught of personal watercraft and mini-bikes.  What was once our serene personal getaway became everyone else’s too.  People that we had shared our sacred find with began to bring up their own groups and word inevitably got out to the masses.   Mostly it was a friendly bunch, and as we went up the same time every year we became pretty good friends with many of the campers and boaters.  There was kind of an unwritten code that if one boat went into
“skier’s cove” for that early morning “glass” the next boat would go the other way down the lake to avoid interfering.

My good friend Martin, who came up with his family for 6 or 7 years, named the place “Shangri-la.”  It fit.  The kids went to church together, we had lunch together every Sunday, and I played softball with them every Sunday afternoon for years.  There is a world full of memories with those friends, but none as special as camping, the lake, and the boat.

To be continued…


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