Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Labor Day Weekend at Johnson Lake

Saturday morning we asked the boys what they wanted to do for Labor Day Weekend. We got a resounding "Camping at Johnson Lake!" Last year we went for the first time. They had such a good time they were determined to make it a family tradition. I tried to make it happen before school started but the weather did not cooperate. This time it only rained a little bit one night and the wind blew pretty hard the second night. But the days were still warm and dry enough to enjoy fishing and paddling around on the lake.

Maya was a happy camper. She is always up for any of our adventures. She loves to be outside and doesn't seem to mind cold weather. Like most toddlers, she doesn't like to wear a jacket very much. On the second day I just threw her overalls on over her fleece pajamas and off she went. When the wind blew she would say "cold!" and run and get her jacket. Every time the boys went out on the water she cried to go along. She even waded into the very cold water in her swimsuit. I think her favorite part of camping was the bottomless bag of marshmallows.

My favorite part was picking berries. There were so many different berries around the lake. I don't even know the names of all of them. I picked some low bush cranberries and a few high bush cranberries. I only found one blueberry the entire weekend! There were just a few raspberries. Those were Maya's favorite. Today I made cranberry chocolate chip muffins. I know it sounds weird, but they are actually quite delicious. I have a special fondness for them because they are one of the first things Matt ever cooked for me when we were dating.

The other thing I love about Johnson Lake is the abundance of quaking aspens. The first time I ever saw the leaves shaking in the breeze I was captivated. Last fall Matt and I dug up 6 little aspen trees from Johnson Lake and brough home. We weren't sure where to plant them so we stuck them in the vegetable garden for the winter. When we got back from Vietnam at the end of May we transplanted them around the yard and I am pleased to report that they all made it!

I love to sit by the fire. Matt gets up early and gets the fire going so I can sit by the fire first thing in the morning, sipping coffee. I find that we do not sit by the fire late into the night here because there's no stars to look at in the summer time. By fall it's starting to get dark at night but it was too cloudy to see many stars.

I also love to sit and watch the fish jumping on the lake. Sometimes there's a mist on the lake early in the morning. I've always loved swimming in lakes the most. The ocean can be terrifying, even if there is no surf. Oceans are salty and their vastness sends me into a panic attack. Lakes are calm and finite (No, I've never been to the Great Lakes of Michigan). You can usually see the other side. The water is cool and fresh, not salty. I contemplated swimming across the lake for two days. I really wanted to do it but it was so cold. I finally worked up the courage on the last day, as Matt was packing up the last few things. I decided I had to swim across the lake before we left. I had to prove to myself I could still do it. I think I love the way it makes your whole body feel alive.

Tips for swimming in a very cold lake: 1. Don't think, just do it. 2. Don't tiptoe in, just run and take the plunge. 3. It only hurts for a little while. Once you get about half way across the lake, your whole body is so numb it doesn't hurt anymore. There's only one caviat: I do not recommend swimming in lakes when it is less than 40 degrees. If you do, don't stay in very long. I once skinny-dipped in Crater Lake. I think the temperature of Crater Lake in Oregon is around 40 degrees. But it was a hot day so I warmed up quickly. 4. The last rule: it's lots more fun if you're skinny dipping.

Dewberries on the left, low bush cranberries on the right. Aren't they beautiful?

Mom's annual swim across the lake.

Maya checking out the kayak on dry land.

Wise guys fishing.

Maya makes a good poster girl for the Kids Don't Float Program.

Maya likes the camping chair with the cup holder.

Chris hitching a ride on Riley's inflatable kayak. These things are untippable!

Maya loved being in the kayak. She actally took a nap while I paddled around.

Chris loves to climb trees. He was about 10 feet up this tree.

Going home, tired, dirty and happy. They were all happy, Chris is the only one that smiled for the camera, if you can call that a smile.

Maya laughs and smiles all the time, she just doesn't do it for the camera. Here's a rare shot of her smiling.

1 comment:

Kelshel said...

Irene, I really admire you for jumping in that water. Honestly, I just can't even imagine doing something like that. It's hard for me to get in 90 degree water.
Now you're going to have to do that every year for sure - just to prove you can!
Did you skinny-dip?