I remember it vividly. The lake. The beach. The boat. Uncles, aunts, cousins, Grandma and Grandpa — and of course, my own siblings and parents. Together, on the lake, boat and beach, we would play. We’d have splash contests off the back of the houseboat, make drippy castles with the watered-down sand. We’d swim till our arms were tired, then swim some more.
For as long as I can remember, my family’s annual trip to Lake Powell has been a staple in my summertime adventures.
As a child, the week on my grandpa’s houseboat, ol’ Moki Sunrise, meant days filled with adventure and not a care in the world except for a sunburnt nose and water up that nose. It meant improving upon skills from the previous year and trying new things, like water-skiing. My dad would drive the boat ever so patiently as we’d try over and over the art of water-skiing until we mastered it.
Part of that mastery included watching my dad whip back and forth across the wake on his own ski. He’d go to the right, then immediately throw his head to the left, pulling himself at lightning speed back and forth. I could watch him all day — yet, he would only ski once during the trip, and I never understood why until now.
Now, as a parent, the annual Lake Powell trip still remains a staple in my family’s summertime plans, yet my experience is very different. The carefree days and nights have been replaced with hyperawareness of everything. Who needs to reapply sunscreen? Do the nonswimmers have life jackets on and are the swimmers using their swimming abilities wisely? Is everyone drinking enough water? Is everything in the cooler staying cool enough to eat so we don’t get sick? And for heaven’s sake, why is it so stinking hot at night, and please, please let’s have no sleepwalking while we’re asleep on top of the boat! Scream and cry all you want, but please don’t wander off the boat!
I often wonder why my husband and I subject ourselves to days of torture in a place meant for joy, happiness and sand-filled britches. Why do we pack our van full of excited children to go to a place where there is an inherent threat of danger that only we adults understand entirely?
The answer to these questions lies in the water-logged hands and feet and sun-dried faces and shoulders of each one of my children. It lies in the wind-whipped hair from a wacky tube ride or the matted hair created by the underwater toss of a wakeboard wipeout. It lies in the screeching sound of a houseboat water slide that never got hosed down, and the ill-executed cannonball off the houseboat that makes a “smack” sound rather than the favored “ker-plunk-boom.”
It lies in the exhausted smiles that reappear day after day, year after year.
And just like my dad did, I am given the chance to revisit my own Lake Powell why. With the 45-year-old Connelly ski strapped on, and with early morning glassy water below me, I have my moment that brings me back to my carefree times.
Back and forth, back and forth.
With so many memories made and so many more yet to be made, Lake Powell will always serve as my home away from home — hot, sleepless nights and worrisome days and all.
Arianne Brown is a mother of nine who loves to run anywhere she can and write about just about anything that comes her way. For more of her writings, search “A Mother’s Write” on Facebook. She can be contacted at email@example.com.