Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Camping Trip, Day Two (A Day on the Lake)

The planned activity for Day Two was a trip to New Melones Lake [click], a reservoir about 45 minutes from where we were camping. I suspected (and later confirmed) that New Melones was created when a larger dam was put up that drowned Melones Lake. These are lakes on the Calaveras River that were created by damming the river. We went with all our families and rented two patio boats for the day. We hauled all our gear (tables, food, towels, cameras, clothing, various and sundry floating devices) out there and got read for a day of fun. A patio boat is like a floating deck with a roof on it but no sides. There is an open deck at the front with a ladder for coming in and out of the water. The marina provides a bbq grill and a full tank of gas and you are off!

The first excitement was hauling all our gear down to the boat. We figured out that putting it all into our truck and then backing the truck down the boat ramp would be a good plan so we did that and then I parked the truck and walked back down. The marina had a couple of hand carts for hauling the gear. It is amazing the amount of stuff that 5 families think they need for the day.

Our cast of characters includes: our family -- the kids are 8 and 6. The F family whose son is 13 and daughter is 9. The H family who has one daughter who is 10. The B-G family with one son who is 8. And, the W-H family with one son who is 12. Each fmaily has both sets of parents with it -- so you can see why we need two patio boats! As we were loading up and going to the bathroom and getting everything ready, Greg was appointed as one of the drivers for the day. He went into the Marina store and found a terry cloth captain's hat and felt that he HAD to buy it. So, he was officially The Skipper for the day and we dubbed our boat, "A Boat Full of Gilligans." It seemed appropriate!

We headed off and found a little inlet where we could pull up kind of on shore and swim for awhile. The water was pretty warm here and most people were in the water in short order. The dads and kids headed off to swim to a nearby island and those of us still on the boats cracked open beers and got the boats organized. Later, we found a great spot to bbq in another part of the lake and had a great hamburger lunch. Everyone brought something different -- we did the hamburger patties and buns, others brought vegies and fruit, chips, and dessert. Great meal!

After lunch, we found another great place to park -- more out in the middle (away from the mud!) and everyone (but me) swam. It was delightful. Seriously -- I'm fine with not swimming. The kids would jump in off the dock and swim around. We had plenty of adult supervision and floaties and life jackets. All the kids are strong swimmers anyway so that was fine. It was a great way to spend the day.

I saw some amazing birds out there -- Great Blue Herons [click], Pileated Woodpeckers [click], and a young Bald Eagle [click] were among the ones that I identified. I also saw several smaller woodpeckers and various other water birds that I couldn't id.

At the end of the day, we headed back to camp and hung out and relaxed. We ate dinner and hung out making s'mores and chatting. While I was getting dinner ready, I stepped out of the 5th wheel around dusk to the most amazing sight. Right in front of our door was a small grove of trees -- a couple of Douglas Firs and a couple of Giant Sequoias. Dancing around in the middle of this grove were about 12 bats. They were swirling all around the space right at eye level. I could see them easily because there was another trailer behind them. It was just magical. I called one of the kids to see them that night and more of us saw them the next night but those moments when I was alone watching them . . . wow!

We were playing a really fun game in camp called 31 [click]. This, of course, was played into the late evening with much consumption of red wine by the adults after the kids went to bed.

More Photos [click]

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