Backpacking Around Fish Lake

I sit down at my computer, trying to put 101 mosquito bites out of my mind for now. I have a post to write, I remind myself, and no time to delay: I’d better get it down on paper while my memories, and those bites, are fresh. But how did I come to have so many bug bites and memories to write down?

It all started with an idea, like most adventures. It was simple enough: Mom and I were going to backpack around Fish Lake, Utah. It was, allegedly, an eleven mile hike, and we planned to take two days for it. We would hike up to the summit, set up camp and spend the night, and then we would head down the mountain again and around to the car.

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We reached the lake at about 1:00, and started up with a pre-hike paddle. Kind of ridiculous, really, but we  kayaked for an hour. It was a good warm up. Then we tied the kayaks back on top of the Jeep and put on our backpacks. It was time to get going.

At first, my backpack felt a bit strange. I wasn’t used to carrying something this heavy, and it cut into my legs and shoulders a bit, but I ignored the discomfort and it soon passed. After a short while we had gotten around the edge of the lake and we were on the other side, but we hadn’t yet started the assent. We needed to stop, however, because we were already getting eaten by mosquitoes. We put on leggings and long-sleeve shirts to protect ourselves, and then got back on the trail.

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The hike was fairly steep once we started up the mountain, but we were fresh and energetic, and we got up easily with the help of trail mix. I was, at the time, practicing for a Radio Drama, in which I was doing sound effects, and so I passed the time by practicing. Mostly, it was frog noises. Angry frog, encouraged frog, hungry frog, offended frog… the list went on, and I had to come up with a sound for each. As Mom and I walked up the trail, I discovered and perfected each noise, with her help.

A couple of hours before sunset we had arrived at the peak, and it was time to start looking for a campsite. Ideally, it would be a fair-sized clearing amidst the quakie (also called aspen) trees, close to the trail and with plenty of wood at hand for a fire. After a while of “That one’s good,” and “But maybe there’s a better one just ahead,” we found a site that was indisputably perfect. It was even near a nice overlook from which we could see over the whole lake. We took off our packs and I started clearing up the site, gathering kindling and bigger bits of fire wood, while Mom made our tarp tent in the trees. When camp was all ready we made a fire. Mom had brought a lighter, but we made the kindling up in a sort of “nest,” as is the primitive way. While tending the fire we started on our dinner, eating pineapple out of cans. Once we had finished, the cans were our pots to cook soup, which was eaten with beef jerky. Mom had brought a book on constellations, which I read while we ate. After dinner, we crawled into our sleeping bags, on our ground pads, under our tarp tent, and fell quickly asleep.

The next day we woke early and had a breakfast of tea and sandwiches, before clearing up camp. We were back on the trail by nine o’clock, and I was terribly sore. The places where my pack rubbed on my legs and shoulders were bruised, and it took quite a while to get used to. Our first hour or so of walking was uneventful and quiet, until Mom found a raspberry bush. We picked berries for a minute, and then got going again, but it wasn’t long before a second patch came up. It was absolutely huge, and after a minute we had the sense to take off our packs. With mine on, every time I leaned over to get a particularly juicy berry I nearly toppled over. After several minutes of raspberry picking, however, Mom remarked that it was like the Land of the Lotus Eaters. You couldn’t leave, you simply couldn’t, but the paradise was guarded by monsters… er, mosquitoes. Same thing. Finally, we hoisted our packs on our backs and got going again.

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Picking raspberries.

We headed on until two o’clock, by which time Mom and I both felt we ought to have reached the end of our journey. We had walked at least five miles since the morning, and that was what we had estimated was left. Had we really covered such a small distance yesterday? There was a bridge just ahead that lead over the creek at the end of Fish Lake and connected the lake to a bay about a mile north. We would stop for lunch in a trail-head parking lot near the river.
We ate sandwiches and, since our water was running low, made a fire and boiled some river water for tea. I made three trips across a trail to the creek to get water, but all in vain. For when I finally sat down  with my lunch, I spilled my tea all over my leggings. I drank the remaining half a cup and changed into shorts, but my legs were much more susceptible to mosquito bites after that.

The last several miles were draining. It was threatening to rain, and Mom was on the lookout for a patch of quakies to set up a temporary camp in. She was even up for hitchhiking  the rest of the way, but I wouldn’t hear of it.  We had come at least eleven miles, I wasn’t going to give in at the end! After a while, lightning flashed. In Southern Utah, lightning is no laughing matter. Everyone in Wayne County has a story about someone they know being struck, or almost struck. So we headed for the quakies (which, though trees, are great protection, because they’re so much shorter than the others around them), and made a hasty shelter. Pushing under our backpacks, we sat under the tarp until the storm passed over. It never got really bad, but it poured pretty hard, and better safe than sorry!

 

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After the storm we started up again. It didn’t take long to reach a marina store, where we got sodas to give us a bit of fresh energy, and then we lost the trail several times and followed the water instead. Eventually we made it back to our path, and found we were so close to the car, but yet so, so far away! Mom began a song about “The trail that never ends,” and we were kept occupied by trying to make up new verses without messing up the rhythm. For example:
And when your back does cease to bend
It is the trail that never ends!
And when your knees will never mend
It is the trail that never ends! 

It went on for quite a while, while we searched high and low for the Jeep. Finally, Mom looked back and saw that we had passed it! Needless to say, we hurried back, dropped our packs in the trunk, and drove home, exhausted. We ate at a burger place that night with Dad, and whenever Mom or I tried to walk we stumbled and tripped over our own stiff legs.

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The finish!

 

BY THE WAY: I updated the About Page.

 

Remodeling our Class C!

Hey guys!

I know, I know, we’ve been gone for a long time. But after our break, we’re ready to proceed telling our travels. The main reason we took such a break, at first, was the lack of subject matter. We hardly did anything blog-worthy. A few sleepovers, trips to the public pool, and every-day studies are nothing to speak of. We then reached Wayne County and started on some more adventures, but still didn’t write! Now it’s time to tell you all about the biggest thing we did during our break. That thing was a remodel.

The “before” layout 

Do you remember how our motorhome was arranged? Come to think of it, I don’t think we showed many pictures of our little house, so I’ll describe it as it was.

There was a loft above the cab, and and a dinette on the left (when facing the front) side. A couch took over the right side in front of the door. The kitchen was behind the dinette, and the bathroom beyond that. In the very back there was a set of bunk beds, right in the middle of the room. Gordon and I slept in them, though he eventually moved into the loft, and I got both bunks (one for sleeping, one as a desk). That had been a queen-sized bed, but we remodeled it at the beginning. Once you’ve got the picture in mind, we can move on to the new floor plan.

The “after” layout

I’ll begin at the back. That big bedroom with the bunks has gone back to a queen bed. It’s a really beautiful little room now, with light green walls and a pretty, white, embroidered bed cover. The big picture-window in the back is framed with wood, and provides a great view wherever we are, because we’re usually somewhere picturesque. In the daytime the windows are covered with thin white curtains, stenciled with red and green flower patterns on the edges, while at night they’re blocked by thicker snap-on curtains.

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The kitchen, bathroom, and dinette are the same as ever, though there are still ideas to change the dinette into an L shape, and to make the table removable. Across the way to the right side, however, things have changed. There’s still a couch, but it’s a lot less space-consuming, not to mention far prettier. Our old couch came out a good foot or so further, and it’s great to have the extra floor space. This new couch is entirely hand-made. Dad made the frame, with some helpful little compartments underneath, out of beautifully dark stained wood, and Mom and I made cushions with a nice cream-and-orange patterned fabric. The couch is adorned with a considerable amount of pillows (five, to be exact, but it seems like a lot more).

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The wall leading to the cab is the same green color as the back bedroom, as is the wall alongside the dinette. There is a strip of stained wood along the cab wall, just there to be pretty.

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And finally, the loft. Above the cab, the space is divided into two separate beds by about a foot and a half of space. I have the right-hand bed, and Gordon the left. Each bed is extended a few feet over the couch and dinette, to give us plenty of room to sleep. They, as well, are made of pretty dark-stained wood. You might imagine that it would be hot up there, but a Fantastic Fan is whirring away as I write.

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Gordon’s bed (left), and mine (right).

 

“Where do you keep your clothes?” is a frequently asked question when people see our home. Gordon and I each have a cupboard, mine above the couch, and his above the dinette. We keep bins up there to organize. They’re long cupboards, stretching from our beds to the door, or in Gordon’s case, the kitchen. I bet you can’t say that your space to keep clothes goes all the way to the kitchen!

But where do we keep things? Just, you know, stuff? To be honest, I can’t think of too much stuff that we have to keep. There’s a cupboard in the back to keep computers in, and school supplies are kept in a bin between the two seats in the cab. Gordon keeps his X-Box supplies (controllers, games, etc.) in his cupboard, and the X-Box itself under the table. We each have a bag in the back, under Mom and Dad’s bed, about half filled or less with random items, and that’s also where I keep my sewing supplies. But when you walk into our house, you can only see that we keep one type of thing: books. There’s a bookshelf stretching out under the couch, books piled on ledges in Mom and Dad’s room, and usually at least a couple laying around. I am a book enthusiast, so I had to have a place to keep mine, as well. Gordon and I each have a felt bin at the foot of my bed, the head of his (we sleep opposite). My bin is stuffed to bursting with what I plan to read next, while Gordon uses his for every-day stuff he needs easy access to: magazines, his phone, stuff like that.

So next time you need to remodel a 28′ Class C motorhome to accommodate the needs of four people (as I’m sure you will someday), you know what to read, and who to ask. Just drop by Turtletells.

Four Reasons Corvettes Aren’t Just for Old Guys

You know the stereotype: a sixty five year-old retiree driving through Palm Beach in his brand new Corvette. Now that his kids are gone he can finally spend the money on his long-time dream car. There’s no denying that old guys love Corvettes, but are they really the only people who appreciate them? I think not. The new Chevy sports car is of such quality, beauty, and speed that it really makes you consider purchasing one. I’m going to give you four reasons the Corvette isn’t just for old guys.

 

Track time

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As you may know, last year, at Car and Driver’s Lightning Lap, Chevy’s Corvette made it around Virginia International Raceway in 2:44.6 that’s 2.9 seconds faster than the Lamborghini Huracan LP610-4’s time of 2:47.5. The Corvette also won Road and Track’s performance car of the year, made it onto Car and Driver’s 10 Best list, and, among many other awards and accolades, won Autoweek’s Best of the Best New Car Honor. Performance-wise, this is no longer your dad’s sports car.

 

Power, pure power

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This car is a beast. With 650 horsepower and 650 lb-ft of torque, you can go from 0-60 in 2.95 seconds. The raw power holds your back to the seat and urges you to press the pedal down just a little further, until you reach the top speed of 205 mph. You can hit the drag strip and do a quarter mile in 10.95 seconds; that’s half second faster than a Ferrari 458! And for a third of the price, too. The Z06 package comes with Michelin Sport Cup 2 tires, Brembo carbon ceramic brakes, and a variety of downforce-alicious aero bundles to choose from, including that dark-tinted transparent spoiler that looks so cool.

 

Features

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The same stereotype that says only old guys drive ‘Vettes also says they can’t use computers. Whether or not that’s true isn’t the point right now, but the 8-inch My-Link touchscreen is. It can record track data, analyze lap times, take video of your ride, show your record top speeds, 0-60 times, quarter miles, and more. You can get real-time data overlays with the Cosworth toolbox program and save your data and video with an SD card reader in the glovebox. That’s not all, though: Bluetooth, premium Bose audio, Sirius XM, and Apple Car Play make this a killer entertainment system. You can remotely unlock and start the car with your iPhone and stream music all day with built-in 4G WiFi from Sprint. That’s a lot of tech for an old guy car.

 

Classic

63 fastback

The Corvette has been around since the early fifties and has become a part of our American heritage. I’m talking baseball games, apple pie, Coca Cola, and Corvettes. There’s something special about a car that’s been around since ‘52 and will likely be made by Chevy for the rest of time. This car is as much of a legend as a Mustang, as beloved as the FIA Cobra, and as powerful as a Boeing 747. Okay, that might have been a slight exaggeration, but the point is, it’s a classic and the perfect car for anyone.

After Prince’s song Little Red Corvette came out, Chevy put up a billboard featuring a ‘63 fastback. The Beach Boys, LL Cool J, George Jones, Sir Mix Alot, and Jan and Dean have all written songs about ‘Vettes. That’s because  It’s a classic, a competitor, a winner, the subject of many songs, and a ride for the generations. And, as Chevy’s billboard put it: They don’t write songs about Volvos.

 

(Images licensed for non-commercial reuse)

Five Reasons to Buy a Cayman GT4

Porsche’s mid-engined sports coupe, the Cayman, has been dominating the entry-level sports car world ever since it hit the showroom floor in 1996, but now a new iteration of Cayman arises. Behold the GT4! With a 24-valve, flat-six engine straight out of the 911, this is the car to have, and I’m going to tell you five reasons why:

GT4It’s rare

This is an uncommon car. Only about 2,500 will have been made by the end of 2016, and only half of those will go to the U.S. market. Compare that to the 428,606 Toyota Camrys sold in 2015 alone. Just the fact that you’ll be driving something so rare is enough to make you drop by a dealership today.

It’s an investment

Because there aren’t many GT4s out there and this is quite possibly Porsche’s last manual-only sports car, the car is expected to go up in value over the next 20-30 years. That means you can justify the purchase of this fine automobile easily. Call it an investment.

It’s a good value

A great reason to own this car is the price. At a base of $85,595 it’s not cheap, but it’s also not unreasonable, considering a 911 starts at $89,400. You can option it with metallic paint, leather seats, a sports chronometer, and an extended fuel tank for $89,300. That’s $100 less than a base 911. That’s value.

GT4(2)It’s fast

Has there ever been a Porsche not made for performance? This track-happy little sports car gets from 0-60 in just 4.1 seconds. It has 385 horsepower and 310 lb-ft of torque, rocketing this car to a top track speed of 183 mph. If you like to go fast, this is the car for you.

It’s fun

Which brings me to my last comment about this exquisite vehicle: the fun of it.Track days, racing guys at stoplights, drifting around corners, escaping the cops, and simply getting seen are the real reasons to buy this car.

The Cayman GT4 not only turns heads and is ranked as the number one sports coupe by Car and Driver magazine, but it will, I guarantee, make the garage your favorite room in the house

GT4 interior

 

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(All photos licensed for reuse via Google)

Five Reasons why Small Craft are Better

A small craft is any sail boat 21 feet long or less. Some of the commonly acknowledged advantages of small craft are their ability to go under low bridges and squeeze into tight places, but are there more reasons to get a small craft, rather than a larger one? Here are five reasons why small craft are better:

  1. Ease of use
    The smaller your boat, the easier it is to use. Out on a singlehanding trip?  Not to worry! Your mini vessel has you covered! Are you being pulled towards a lee shore? It’s far easier to claw off when you have a light boat, as it can still carry quite good sail.
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  2.  Trailer Sailor
    Some of us can’t keep our boats docked at our favorite body of water. Consequently, they’re on a trailer in the driveway. Those of us who still go out on our vessels in these conditions call our little ships “trailer sailors.”  These small craft are transported and placed into the water with relative ease, compared to the
    40-footers dropped in by crane.
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  3. Rowing
    You know the feeling. It’s getting dark, you’re getting cold, and the wind is dead. The dock is in sight, sure, but it’s going to take forever to reach it. That’s when a small craft, complete with a sturdy set of oars, is just what you need. She’ll get you home in no time!
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  4. Repairs
    In a larger boat, hull repairs can be a pain. But along with its lower risk of grounding, a smaller boat is far easier to repair. On a trailer, all of the boat can be easily reached. And there’s no fooling around with a 10-foot-tall fin keel, either, so you won’t have to deal with awkward positions while leaning out the side of your ship.
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  5. Teaching
    Small craft are great for teaching your kids to sail! For the reasons above, they can be great trailering boats, vessels that don’t try their patience, and great “practice” boats. In a boat designated for practice, you allow minor scrapes and groundings. You won’t have to worry when letting your child try his hand, because you can keep in mind the ease of repairs, and that grounding won’t hurt anything too bad.

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Five Reasons to Follow Us on Instagram

TurtleTells has been a blog since April 2013 and has had an Instagram since March of the same year. We’ve been posting square pieces of fun for three years, and if you don’t follow us already, I think you should. Here are five reasons why:

One

Inside peeks of little adventures before they end up on the blog, like this trip to Lake Powell last summer.

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Two

Bad puns. Really bad puns.

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Three

Great commentary.

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Four

More puns. More really bad puns.

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Five.

Family photos. Awwww😍

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If you want to follow us you can click HERE

TobyMac Concert in Phoenix

For my twelfth birthday, Mom and I went to a TobyMac concert with my friend Cali and her mom. TobyMac, for those of you who don’t know, is a Christian hip hop artist. One of my favorites. There were five other Christian artists in the concert as well, all of whom are under his label.

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Image by Lillian Dumas.

At 5:00 we got on the train and rode until we reached the Phoenix Suns Stadium, where the concert was being held. We got there about 6:00 and the concert wasn’t until 7:00, but it took a while to get to our seats. When we finally got there, Cali and I took a few selfies to pass the time and speculated about the coming music.

It started out with two songs from Hollyn. She’s this really cool girl singer, and she’s pretty new. Hollyn’s one of my top five favorite singers now, but I hadn’t heard of her before then. She sang Alone, and All I Need is You. The latter is actually my favorite song by Lacrae, a Christian rap artist.

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Image from I Am Hollyn on Facebook.

After her came Colton Dixon, an awesome guy with an awesome bleached mohawk. It was really hard to hear some of the lyrics because the music was so loud, and I figured out how to filter out background noise! All you have to do is press down on that little skin flap on the front of your ear, and you can hear way better!

Colton Dixon played five songs, the names of which I can’t remember, and then Finding Favour came on. I did spell it the English way on purpose. They did five songs as well. By this time I was getting fairly used to the volume of things, but once I made the mistake of covering my ears; when I uncovered them it was really loud.

Casting Crowns played next. I’d heard them a lot, but I didn’t know many of their songs really well. And then Building 429 came on. I hadn’t heard of them before, but I really like them now.

Britt Nicole, I think, had put on the best show so far. She had break dancers, and did things like falling off the stage into their arms while she sang. Britt did two songs that I knew, and then four more that I didn’t know.

After these five artists there was an intermission: it had already been about two hours! We stretched, and talked, and walked around. I couldn’t believe it was already 9 o’ clock!

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Image by Mom.

After a twenty-minute intermission, we returned for the main event. TobyMac did another two hours!! I knew almost every song, and it was so fun! Hollyn is actually in TobyMac’s band, so she was up on stage then, too. I remember listening to those songs years ago, and thinking how cool it would be to see them performed live. It’s so cool that those daydreams came true!

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Image by Lillian Dumas.

The whole thing was so incredible I can’t really describe it. If you’ve been to a big concert, you understand that sort of dumbfounded amazement. If you haven’t, all I can say is, you’ve never properly understood the word “loud,” or that particular sort of excitement that goes with carefully engineered noise.

Header image from Talking Stick Resort

The Gila Monsters of Arizona (Could They Eat You?)

At first glance, you wouldn’t think Mesa, Arizona, would be home to anything interesting. It’s a desolate desert, made up of dirt and spikes. The only plants here are incredibly painful to touch, such as the tall, famous saguaro cactus, and the evil tree-like substance called cholla.

Teddy Bear Cholla, the most evil variety.
Teddy Bear Cholla, the most evil variety.

After looking over this barren land more carefully, however, you’re bound to notice a couple kinds of wildlife. There are a few birds that roost on cactus spines, and a squirrel here and there. You can hear coyotes calling in the evening. But the really incredible creature that inhabits this strange place is the Gila Monster. Pronounced HEE-luh, this strange beast is named for the Gila River, a stretch of water that snakes 600 miles across Arizona. They’re one of only two species of venomous lizards that have currently been discovered, the Mexican Beaded Lizard being the other.

The totally bare landscape.
The totally bare landscape.

Possibly you’ve heard stories of Gila Monsters growing to giant sizes on desert islands, and eating any unfortunate sailors that take refuge there. I had. And though, as far as I know, it hasn’t been verified that they can kill and consume humans, I still believe it’s possible. For one thing, their two feet of length, though fairly small for a “monster,” is quite giant for a lizard, and is certainly big enough to induce extreme fear, freezing some people up. If it catches you, you’ll be lucky to make it. Why? For one thing, they don’t let go.

The gila monster Mom saw.
The gila monster Mom saw.

Gila Monsters will latch their teeth onto a human and keep them there, and not without good reason, looking from their point of view! If you could live for a year on only three to four meals, as Gila Monsters can, wouldn’t it be great to store up a whole human’s worth of meat? That could sustain a Gila Monster for all of its 20-30 years!

Another reason Gila Monsters can be deadly is their venom. It’s hardly poisonous to humans, but for smaller creatures it does a great deal. As a Gila Monster latches its teeth onto its victim, it settles in for the kill. As they chew, they work more and more poison into the body.

Now a bit about appearance. The Gila Monster has round scales, very uncommon in modern lizards, that cover its leathery skin. Its coloration is mostly black, with orange patterned bands across its back. Baby Gilas are pretty cute, actually, but still very painful.
The tongue of the Gila Monster reminds me of the back end of a fish. Strange? Maybe.
gilaMONSTER

I’ve told all the scary facts now, though! The end of this post is to motivate you, and encourage you to set another foot in the desert. Firstly, it’s incredibly unlikely that a Gila Monster will find you in the first place. They spend most of their lives in burrows underground, napping. Like most animals of that sort, they’re exceedingly lazy, sluggish, and slow. They’re rare to even see: We know some people in Mesa who have only seen one in eight years.

Mom saw one recently, but she didn’t leave the car to document the experience. She got a shot from the safety of that driving metal box. That’s probably your safest bet. So if you see a Gila Monster, take a picture and then continue on your way. Just stay out of his.

 

 

Friends in Oceanside

We have some great friends named Grace and Zoe. We’ve been close forever, but one little problem: We hadn’t seen each other in three years! The very day we were leaving San Diego (Feb. 15th.), they arrived! The Pattons were visiting their grandparents in Oceanside, an (obviously) ocean side town just a little north of Encinitas. So of course we went to visit!

Aside from just hanging around talking, laughing, and remembering things we used to do together when we were little, we went to the beach for a long time. At first we didn’t change into swim suits. Pacific Ocean water is freezing, and we weren’t planning on getting soaked. After a while, however, it became evident that trying to stay dry wasn’t quite possible. At first we just waded a bit, and kept the water below our knees. But then I accidentally splashed Gordon. Oops! That resulted in a huge water war, which Zoe and I got out of as soon as we could.

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Left to right: Zoe, Gordon, Me (Lillian), and Grace

It was just Grace and Gordon for a while, until my own brother started chasing me. I ran, with many varying futile attempts at staying dry-ish. This ended, of course, in Gordon dragging me halfway across the beach, getting sand all over my already wet clothes, and dumping me in the ocean. After all this we decided we might as well put on our swim suits. That way we would have clean clothes for later.

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Boogie boarding is old hat for Zoe, who taught us the tricks. None of us could get hit with particularly big waves without screaming out a little. It was so cold! We caught as many waves as we could, and then, all shivering, Grace suggested we go up to the sand and warm up. I never really realized how warm sand could be when you’re cold. We dug a gigantic hole, and Gordon, quite willingly, actually, sat in it. Totally burying him took a while, but we were satisfied with our work, after making the amazing starfish-man. Then they all buried me. It was really warm, but made me a bit claustrophobic.

The amazing Starfish-Man
The amazing Starfish-Man

We went out to the ocean again after this, and had tons of fun boogie boarding until we were completely numb. Frigid, we made our way stiffly to the hot tub and slipped into those relaxing waters. When we got back we had a fantastic dinner of spaghetti, with ice cream to follow, and played a game of telephone for old time’s sake (we always used to during dinner when we were little).

Our day with the Pattons was fantastic, and it was hard to leave, but we know we’ll be seeing each other soon. That’s the great thing about moving around!

Fast-Paced, Slow Travel

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