Today was perfect. We woke up, ate some fruit for breakfast, and got ready to take a ride in my Grandpa Frank's boat.
It must be lovely to live along a lake. The water whispers as it moves, never ceasing. Rich trees offer any shade needed beyond the breeze that cools admirers of the lake from the glare of the winking sun. My younger siblings, Luke and Amy, were thrilled to get out on the boat.
The last time we were in North Carolina was five years ago. We all took turns clinging to a tube that trailed behind the boat as it sped across the lake, churning the water behind it. The challenge was to see who could hold on the longest. Amy and Luke's greatest desire of the day was to ride in the tube again. A sweet neighbor allowed us to borrow their tube, which had been in storage for the last few years.
So we set out, the summer sun warming our faces and resting merrily upon each strand of our hair. The water was smooth and calming.
I was reminded of Psalm 23, which says, "The Lord is my shepherd, I lack nothing. He makes me lie down in green pastures, He leads me beside quiet waters, He refreshes my soul." This is what our trip has been so far: a sweet time of refreshment and fellowship as our Father has allowed us to sit back and admire the beauty of His creation.
We were out on the water for most of the day.
At first, we were unable to get the tube, so we took a leisurely cruise for a few hours.
Luke is the youngest of our group, and he was enraptured by the boat ride. He has since announced that whatever he does with his life, he would like to one day live on the lake and own a boat. I could see him in this world, so different from the desert plains where we live in Texas. He has certainly made himself at home here.
At one point, Grandpa Frank guided us into a small, green cove. Trees hung softly all around us. The water was perfectly still. He anchored the boat, and a few of us began to gather the floating mats tucked in storage. The biggest concern was that the flimsy beds wouldn't hold someone up, so Luke was the first to gather the courage to lie down. Amy was next.
Ali was the most nervous (as she can't swim), so Grandpa Frank blew up a floating chair, so she made herself comfortable on that, her feet dangling in the water (for the fishes, we told her). We wrapped the end of a rope around her wrist and tied it to the back of the boat, not to drag her along but to keep her from floating away. She soon fell asleep.
The rest of us stretched out on the comfortable seats of the boat and dozed under the grin of the sun. The homes, the trees, the sky were all beautiful and serene.
At one point on our cruise, we actually passed the state line between North and South Carolina. Funny that a lake extends across borders. A man and his neighbor might be from entirely different states.
We had lunch after we arrived at the house, and then the competitions began. Ali, Amy, my mom, and I have been doing a plank challenge, and Lukie began to boast that planking isn't difficult at all. "Plank then. Right now," we said, so he got into a plank position. After about twenty seconds, his arms began to shake. He said, "The ground is too hard here," so he moved into the house. He planked directly in front of a window so we could time him with a stopwatch. He managed the three minutes of our challenge, although he struggled. Of course, my funny 13-year-old brother came outside shrugging, saying, "No, that wasn't hard at all."
Soon after, Grandpa Frank came out carrying a funny wheel with handles. He had Luke try to exercise with this tool. It was more difficult than it looked.
Ali also tried, but Luke beat everyone in this exercise.
Soon after, we returned to the boat. My dad came along this time. We had the inner tube, although this one was much more comfortable than the tube we used five years ago (which dismayed Luke and pleased Amy). We set out a ways into open water, and then Luke crawled into the tube, bobbing gently in the lake water. We tethered him with a long rope to the back of the boat, and the challenge began.
At one point, we reached some rocking waves, and Luke's tube nearly flipped. The rope went slack, so we were certain it had snapped. We slowed down and returned to where Lukie was clambering to hold onto the yellow tube. It turns out, the entire bottom had been torn off of the tube! It was so old that it had been ripped to pieces by the waves. And that was the end of our tubing adventure.
A little later, Luke was even allowed to drive the boat! This may have been his proudest moment of our vacation so far.
We sat on the dock for a little while, just to talk, and watched with delight as a man paddled by in his canoe, with a little dog perched eagerly at the front of his boat. I had to snap a picture.
At the end of the day, our family went out for dinner and then ran to Target. I brought an older suitcase I got right before I traveled to Europe when I was twelve. This was the flight that ended its life. When we were returned my suitcase, it was riddled with gaping holes. We got a new, larger suitcase tonight on sale (that I will be bringing to Kenya in June), as well as the board game Taboo.
And like always, Ali and I talked late into the night.
Three years ago: Poverty: Water and Sanitation
Two years ago: Packing for a Cruise: Toiletries
One year ago: Ten Books