Our Summer Vacation: A True Story of Bugs and Boats￼
Since childhood, memories of summer vacations have meant a relaxing of tensions: lazy mornings flowing effortlessly into the warmth of sunny afternoons while we shagged flies or lay in the grass with open books whose pages rarely turned or sat on the porch watching the neighborhood amble slowly by. Miraculously, time itself seemed to hesitate to move on until dusk came floating in on the evening breeze, darkness fell, and the cricket chirps of our youth broke in whispering: “Easy now, listen carefully, see the world around you, we’re still here. Remember? No cares, no rush.” The summers of our childhoods; that was the feeling we yearned to recapture, but we were no longer children and thus should have known that nothing quite goes as planned.
A week earlier, we had put the final touches on a new dinghy to sail around the spectacular San Juan Islands. (Our first had been stolen out of our driveway the previous year, but this time we had installed a glitter bomb for, if not protection, at least detection of any thief who might come along with robbery in mind.) But it was not a thief this time that would force us to change our summer plans.
Instead, a flashing red light on the dash alerted us that our car’s cooling system had failed. We took it to the auto service part of the company where we had purchased it and were solemnly assured that chances were the replacement parts would come in a few days and it would likely be fixed the day before we were to leave. But they didn’t and it wasn’t. So, we had to rent a car and couldn’t take our new boat; there was no trailer hitch on the rental car. With a break in Seattle traffic, we made it to Anacortes for the ferry that would take us to Friday Harbor. With a sigh of relief, anticipation, and continuing naiveté as to what surprises remained, we were directed to pull our car into the center lane between two eighteen wheelers. To our consternation we discovered there was no room for the doors to open to let us out. The only possibility to get up on the ferry’s passenger deck was to squeeze our way out of the car by crawling through the hatchback. Once out of the car and successfully off the car deck, we found the onboard cafeteria was closed as were the restrooms.
After getting off the ferry, we were disappointed to find that Mona the Camel, a local favorite, had died in our absence. Our rental house, described to be waterfront and assumed to have easy access to the beach for our kayak, turned out to be indeed near the water though a hundred plus feet above it on a rocky cliff. But the air was clear, the water was sparkling and the kids quickly discovered two recliners and a hot tub—great fun for active young ones. Reconstituted, we set off on a morning walk in the woods, only to hear a loud buzzing and immediately feel our heads and eyes being attacked by a swarm of very angry, bald-faced hornets. A tactical retreat was undertaken, but not soon enough. It rained so we nursed our wounds. Ice and topical Benadryl helped a little. The kids piled into the hot tub! Other days were cool and bright, good for pickleball, exploring and paddling.
What remained was to name the new boat. Before our trip a number of cool suggestions had been offered, the expected choice being “Wave Breaker,” but with nominations open it was “Hot Tub!” by acclamation.
The trip home required navigation of Seattle’s rush hour traffic and two traffic accidents in 95-degree heat without a water bottle.
After returning our rented car, we picked up our own purportedly repaired car, took it home and were surprised to discover the coolant light now worked—if not the car’s cooling system. It took two days back in the shop for a poorly connected hose. We were assured that was all it needed. Now it was fixed!
And so it came to pass, that several weeks later we trailered “Hot Tub!” into the Mt. Hood National Forest to sail it on Trillium Lake on Labor Day in the clear air of Labor Day weekend. No way! (Paulina Lake and Waldo Lake were enveloped in smoke from the fires of Labor Day.) Because of this, the traffic on the forest road to the Trillium was prohibitive and a new yellow warning light popped up on the dash. It was the weekend; children were “helpful” with excited thoughts of exploding engines. Once back to cellphone service no one was available to explain the sudden appearance of the new yellow light or to tow us anywhere. So, some careful consideration and inspection was undertaken. The cooling system light was off and there was a full reservoir of coolant. Ambition overcame prudence so we went warily down the road to Timothy Lake. A good time was had sailing Hot Tub. And the yellow light? It got bored warning us of impending doom and disappeared.
All are now home again. The days have gotten shorter, and the languid afternoons of summer have gotten busier with work and daily routine. Whatever was amiss with the car persists, but events of vacation have become fond memories of small misadventures.
Comments, thoughts or questions? Email us now!