July 17, 2005

The Lame Leading The Blonde

[Part I of my Fourth of July story is here. Recall that when we left our intrepid heroes, Saint, Gunner, Mountaineer, and myself were waiting at the sandbar for DA to return, and there was some question as to whether he would return at all.]

Right about the time I was sizing up Saint and determining whether I could overpower him and take his beer (conclusion: not only 'no,' but 'hell, no!'), DA came around the point with the rest of the group, and, far more importantly, the rest of the beer. And there was much rejoicing.

Gunner's and Cover Girl's daughters had stolen half of the floating bar and were using it as a makeshift diving platform, or at least a cannonball platform, when one of them got too close to the edge of it when she jumped and inadvertently demonstrated Newton's Third Law. Nobody wanted to chase the foam raft as it drifted back towards the shore, mainly because the bottom there was 50% sludge, 50% weeds, and 50% oh-God-what-was-that. I had my sport sandals on, so I went after it figuring I was OK.

Not so much.

I forget exactly where I gave up wading towards it ('mucking' would be a better word) - it may have been just after I saw the remains of Jimmy Hoffa - and swam the last twenty feet. Have you ever tried swimming in a foot and a half of water? It's quite an experience. Anyway, about the time I returned with the raft, BB started yelping and carrying on, saying that something kept biting at her ankle no matter where in the water she was standing. As she raised her leg up to show everbody, we saw she was wearing a shiny bangled bracelet.

"Well, no wonder," DA said. "You're wearing a damn spinner bait on your leg."

She took the bracelet off and put it on the boat; lo and behold, the fish stopped bothering her.

About that time, DA asked me if I felt like taking the jet-ski for a spin around the lake. I agreed, somewhat reluctantly, because I don't have much experience driving jet-skis and this was the busiest weekend the lake had seen all season.

So I stayed well clear of any traffic and made a leisurely quarter-throttle lap of the lake. Apparently, that one lap served as the check ride for my Jet-Ski Chauffeur's License, because the next thing I knew, I was taking Gunner and Cover Girl to the [DELETED] Inn (known henceforth as the Inn I Cannot Name Because It Would Disclose The Secure Undisclosed Location, or IICNBIWDTSUL), where they had reservations and had parked their truck but had not yet checked in.

The trip was uneventful until the fuel stop at one end of the channel connecting the two lakes we had to cross. Gunner and Cover Girl had even less jet-ski experience than I did, and I had to yell at them to stop them leaning away from every turn I was trying to make. The fuel stop itself was hilarious, and by 'hilarious' I mean 'funny to watch on "America's Stupidest Vacation Videos."' The guy manning the pumps got a kick out of it, though, and he assured us that as n00bish as we were, we weren't the worst he'd seen that day.

Five seconds later, we came within an inch of flipping the jet-ski. In front of three dozen boats in the channel and fifty people on the bridge. In two feet of water and at a dead stop. But we survived that and motored through the channel at idle speed, ready for a fast dash across the next lake to the IICNBIWDTSUL. We cleared the no-wake zone and I got on the throttle...

...and nothing much happened. The engine revved fine, but we couldn't get above three or four MPH. In retrospect, trudging on was probably not the best idea I've ever had, but eventually - including a rather harrowing crossing of one stretch where the lake narrows to about 200' and every boat in Indiana was trying to traverse it at once - we were able to make our way to the big sandbar right near the IICNBIWDTSUL.

Now, the big sandbar is a sight to behold on summer weekends, and that day it didn't disappoint. There were probably two hundred boats all crowded into a space half the size of a football field, and every one of those boats featured a fabulous pair of... floats. But I digress. Right about this time, I remembered just how a jet-ski works, and that a free-revving engine with minimal forward thrust was probably the fault of a clogged intake. Two seconds later, I was over the side and underneath to check things out.

Much to the chagrin of Gunner and Cover Girl. I had neglected to inform them of my plans.

A couple of minutes later, I'd pulled several tons of seaweed out of the intake, and the last quarter mile to the IICNBIWDTSUL was but a few moments' ride. I waited at the inn's dock while Gunner and Cover Girl checked in and unpacked; they wanted to ride back with me rather than drive back to DA's addition in their own truck, which was fine by me but introduced a potential 'X people traveling on Y vehicles to Z locations' problem of the type that I have a lot of trouble solving.

The return trip was much more agreeable. At one point in open water, I had the throttle at least half-open, and we were going so fast I thought if we hit a bump we'd actually make orbit. Then I looked down at the speedometer.

28 MPH.

My nephew has a trolling motor on his boat that can go faster than that.

We were gone so long that the rest of the group had pulled up stakes at the little sandbar and were headed back to DA's place by the time we got there.

I realized when we arrived that I had gone almost two hours without beer on Fourth of July weekend. Somebody was going to have to pay. And you'll find out who in Part III.

Posted by Chris at July 17, 2005 02:59 PM

Category: Tales Of My Neighborhood