Thursday, August 24, 2006

Vacation part 1...

“You said it would be a corn roast, not a million people would be there, too!”

This about summed-up B’s experience with the big social event of the weekend at the yacht club (sigh). He had been looking forward to the corn roast, too, because he loves corn.

Our car trip to Pennsylvania last Friday was uneventful, although I did have to work so hard to get the last-minute organising & packing done (I really have to re-define what’s “last-minute”) that I was in a mini-panic by the time we left. I even managed to lock my purse in the house, but of course, C had his keys & let me back in. It took me a while to calm down, but the rhythm of driving a well-known route took over, & I was pleasantly distracted by B’s exploration of his travel-bag once we hit the “open road”. I always pack some treats for the trip & he really looks forward to them. This time I put in a supplemental pack of pokemon cards, some japanese candy & snacks (including one with a japanese pokemon card enclosed), & a Calvin & Hobbes anthology :) C & I got the giggles when B requested I translate the kana on the pokemon card while driving on rte. 90 toward Buffalo... mom can do anything!

We checked into the state park around 3:00 pm & had the car unpacked & beds made by 3:30. C was worried about the local grocery stores closing times, so we stopped unpacking the kitchen & went over to his parents’ yacht club, where they stay in a trailer (as all the club members do) when they come to race their sailboat (they have been members for more than 30 years).

They were glad to see us & we decided to go to the larger (& slightly farther away) of the local stores, since they would be more likely to have everything we needed. Shopping with 5 people is a serious cat-hearding experience, & that doesn’t even include trying to keep B away from the meat aisles. Luckily, the store was small enough that you couldn’t lose anyone for very long :) We found what was on the list I’d made before we left home (even the veggie refried beans, after some searching), then dropped my in-laws back at the club & returned to the cabin to put it all away. They had offered to make the first evening’s dinner, so they arrived with a lentil stew & rice cakes to serve it over (a new experience for us) & newly-veggie B even tried some of the stew, to our great delight. During dinner they discussed the next day’s racing, & granddad said that B was welcome to crew with him (along with dad) if he wanted to , since he hadn’t found a “middle” crew (unlike our smaller Snipe class boat, Lightnings require a 2 crew plus skipper to sail them well). B jumped at the chance to crew in his first race. The weather wasn’t looking promising, with rain forecast, but at this club (generally), if there’s wind, they sail... I felt a bit apprehensive, but I knew C would keep B together no matter what happened.

Saturday was a weird mix of rain, clouds, & slight blue sky peeping out occasionally. The rain had begun after midnight, but was intermittent, so it appeared that the day’s racing was on. The corn roast would be the dinner-time event, after the race was finished. While the guys raced in the afternoon, my mother-in-law had plans for the 2 of us to go exploring, to look for a new place to eat she’d heard of in the little town nearby. We planned to stop at the smaller grocery store, too, since I’d forgotten to get water, which we needed because of the sulfur in the local water supply. Granddad had brought a couple of model boat kits to work on with B (he checked this out with us beforehand & we thought B was ready for the challenge), so they spent the morning getting one of them started. My father-in-law has been building boats since he was in his teens, went to MIT in the 50’s to get his degree in Naval Architecture, & spent most of his life managing a shipyard in Pittsburgh. Retired for some years, he loves to build half-models & full ship models. C has a gorgeous model of a Snipe that his dad built & gave to him for his birthday. B & granddad have tried woodworking projects before, but they ended in frustration for all parties involved. This time, when we asked B if he’d like to build a model with granddad & he said yes, so we gave the go-ahead. Both the models C’s dad brought were seaworthy ones. He primed all of the pieces before he came, so they would be ready to go in the water as soon as they were made. B asked about them when we arrived, & was clearly wanting to do it. His granddad got him started by having him read the instructions & make sure all the pieces were there. They talked about what kind of “rig” the boat was (how the sails are configured), & before I knew it whey were happily glueing & hammering. I kind of giggled to hear my father-in-law saying “hit the nail, not my fingers” because I was saying essentially the same thing when B & I were putting the hammer-on snaps on his body pillow. B does love to hammer...

After lunch the guys got ready to sail. They went down to get the boat ready & we followed them down to get pictures (my baby’s first race!!) & chat with people. Granddad was clearly very happy to have both his son & grandson on the boat with him, even though conditions were not optimum, sailing-wise. The sky was full of fast-moving, puffy grey clouds & it would spit rain occasionally. Foul-weather gear was stowed in the boat & B’s life-jacket securely on him. He was quietly psyched to be going out. There were a lot of unfamiliar people around & B was polite, but subdued, but also quite comfortable, from what I could see. He needed alot of help getting on board the boat once it was launched, but that was partly due to having to avoid the goose poop on the dock while having to get his feet in the right places to get on board. Then they were off...

My mother-in-law & I went off exploring, but it wasn’t long before we were overtaken by rain. We found everything we wanted, rather damply, & headed back to the club to see if the race had been called. On the way back the thunder & lightning began in earnest & I nearly had to pull over, it was raining so hard. I was pretty concerned about what was going on with my husband & kid out in a boat, but also trusted the good sense of my father-in-law & husband when it came to weather. Just walking from the car to the trailer soaked us to the skin, where the rainjackets didn’t cover, but my mother-in-law insisted that we had to walk down to the club to see what was happening... It was surreal. The graveled paths (just big enough to let one car pass) past the trailers were now rivers, running very fast. My rainjacket was soaked through & I could hardly see in front of me. When we finally got to the clubhouse, the whole world seemed to be on the front porch. We found our sailors, as soaked as we were. As it turned out, the race was never officially called because the rain & storm came up too quickly. My father-in-law heard thunder & started back before anyone else, but he is well-known for his weather sense & other boats started following him in. The rain hit, which killed the wind, so C started paddling toward the club. When it started pouring, his father turned the tiller over to B & joined in the paddling. B navigated them into the dock, quite unperturbed by all the fuss. When I think about it, he probably had the best eyes for the job, since he doesn’t wear glasses, & dad has taught him very well how to steer for a point on land. We decided to head straight for the car & get back to the cabin. The rain had stopped by the time we got back to the trailer, but we still had to put our wet butts on the car seats & drive back. B headed straight for a hot shower, which he thoroughly enjoyed (hooray! we’ve been trying to get him to shower for ages...) & C followed him in. I managed to towel myself off & change to dry clothes, but where to hang all the dripping clothing? (even after 3 days we still had clothing festooned about the cabin, drying).

We headed back to the club & the corn roast when we were dry. C’s parents’ Lightning fleet was sponsoring the corn roast & their contribution every year is to take the money as people arrive & then stamp everyone’s hands. So they were busy for most of the time we were there. The weather was still rather iffy, with rain spitting occasionally, so there was quite a crowd on the covered portion of the porch of the clubhouse. C connected with people he’s known since he was a kid & introduced me to anyone I didn’t know (I’ve been coming here with him for about 20 years). B was diverted by the soft drinks for a short time, but the crowd of strangers was making him nervous. Luckily, the corn was brought up before B decided he had to leave. There were hot dogs as well, but neither B nor I eat meat, so dinner was basically corn... C’s parents never did finish taking in the money before we needed to leave. B held on as long as he could, but by the time we left he was screaming with frustration. My mother-in-law tried to protest our leaving before they could “see” us, but we were out of there. We got B back to the cabin & into bed without mishap, thankfully. it had been a very full & exhausting day!

To be continued...


At 8:45 PM, Blogger Kristina Chew said...

Full, to say the least!

My husband really wants to learn to sail and we've found two programs that teach sailing to kids with disabilities.

B did great----we would have left soon as the rain hit. Vacation is a lot of work.

At 10:00 PM, Blogger Lisa/Jedi said...

Is it ever! Glad that you've found sailing programmes to try. B has been sailing since he was 3 (started swimming lessons when he was 1 1/2 to prepare him) & it's been a wonderful family activity. We are very lucky to have found a very small, nice club & fleet to sail with. Our Snipe fleet is like family & has accepted/positively challenged/nurtured B from day 1 (literally, since we joined when I was pregnant :).


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