We just got back from a week at the beach. I went on this vacation with the following crew: My mom, my sister, her husband and their three boys, my other sister (her beau stayed a few days) and her two kids (one with boyfriend who came along as well) and my kids. Sounds insane, right? Yeah, it kinda was. But in a good way.
We rented three cabins on the beach in South Haven and the location could not have been better. Cute cabins, giant deck, right on the beach. It was the best kind of vacation - the kind where there is no schedule, no agenda, no plan. Each day started with coffee on the deck which eventually led to breakfast, then groups would begin to migrate to the beach. Kids would wander back up, famished, around lunchtime and sandwiches were thrown together. Dinner would usually be discussed late in the day and a volunteer would head to Meijer for supplies.
We sat on the beach, listening to the water, talking, laughing, watching the kids play, with our toes in the sand. The kids were exhausted each night. The true, complete exhaustion you feel only after a full day of water, sand and sunshine. When night came we played euchre on the deck then transitioned to a bonfire on the beach. Complete with singing.
Euchre crew killin' it.
Before you choke on the sweetness of it all (I'm sure the singing put you near, if not over the edge) let me explain. My Dad came from a very musical family and shared that history and love of music with us girls while we were growing up. He would sing and play the guitar and we would all sing along. Around campfires, at church and at home. When we were very little he would sit in the hall outside our bedrooms and sing us to sleep. It's very special to us and it's a tradition we work hard to continue. Truth be told, I don't actually work that hard. Kelly taught herself to play the ukelele and practices all the time - I just hold the songbook for her and turn the pages. Anyway, the kids love it. You might think they wouldn't but they do. Each day they asked if we would sing and have a bonfire that night.
And also, we rented a jet ski. Everyone was SO excited! We rented it for two hours and had the time all mapped out with who would ride it when. Really not sure what I was thinking when I agreed to give my daughter and neice a ride. I've ridden jet skis before, though, in hindsight I may not have actually driven one. You see, I'm not what you'd call a water person. At all. Not sure why this didn't occur to me when it came my turn to ride. My sister, her husband and my son had already taken their turns on it when they handed it over to me - racing, jumping waves, having a ball! They brought it in to about 3 ft of water so I could climb on from the back. No problem. Life vest in place, kill switch tether attached. My neice on board.
I barely touched the throttle and found it to be very responsive. A little too responsive, if you want to know the truth. And here's the problem with jet skis. They're completely counterintuitive. When you feel like it's getting out of control or a wave is coming at you the wrong way your instinct is to let go of the throttle but you're SUPPOSED to slam it down and maneuver away. The other problem is that when you let go of the throttle the whole thing gets incredibly tippy and sinks. I mean, not completely, but enough to make a non-water person like myself panic. When you try to take off again it's like you're on a submarine with all the stupid water coming at you. Let's also add to the equation that the water was spraying in my face like a damn firehose so I had to take off my prescription sunglasses and I really couldn't see much. At one point I remember yelling, "Can you see any boats or swimmers around here? I can't see anything. Tell me if I'm going to hit something." Seriously should NOT have been driving it.
But then. Then. It got worse. I fell off. Not just fell off, was thrown from the crazy thing! Took my niece with me too. Came up sputtering, choking and panicked. Looked around and saw the jet ski. Check. Saw my niece. Check. Then I thought about how deep the water was and what was beneath me and I lost it. I wildly, frantically clawed my way back to the machine where my niece was patiently waiting. I was practically hysterical in my attempt to get back up. If I could have stood on her head for quicker boarding, I'd have done it. I'm not proud but it's true. I needed to get out of that water. Quickly.
So you'd think, that when it came time to give my daughter her ride I would've turned over the reins to my sister or her husband but I didn't. Took my daughter and got thrown from the stupid thing AGAIN. But this time I was far more tired. Pulling myself onto the machine felt like pulling myself out of a deep vat of mud. It suddenly occurred to me that I may not be able to get back up. That I may require some sort of Coast Guard rescue (Do they do that for terrible jet skis drivers? What a horrible waste of taxpayer money) and that this could take awhile. My lovely daughter would have none of my defeatist attitude and cheered me on (and pushed my butt a little too) until I was back up on the machine. We immediately returned it to the rental guy. Machine must've been defective or something.....
The second "incident" involved Mom. She and I were sitting in the sun and decided to go in the lake for a quick swim to cool off. I should note there was a yellow flag flying on the beach but, here's the thing, we didn't pay much attention to the flags. When the red flag was flying you weren't supposed to swim due to the undertow and high waves but those were the days the kids liked best! So red days - don't swim. Yellow days - swim carefully. Green days - all good. Back to the story, it was a yellow day. I headed into the water first and found it to be cold but refreshing. I was a few feet from the shore, maybe about up to my mid-thigh. Mom was just entering the water. Then everything went into slow motion. You know how that is?
Mom started to lean to the left a bit, then a bit more, then she was down. I started to move towards her and glanced up to see my sister on the beach - laughing, reaching for her phone - and then a wave CRASHED right on top of Mom. I mean BOOM. No escape. She came up sputtering and looking like a drowned puppy. I reached for her - still laughing - then a man from the shore came in to help too. I was laughing, Mom was laughing and this poor guy was struggling to save her. We were laughing so damn hard we could barely stand. Sister, on shore, still snapping photos. Mom had a death grip on this guy - would NOT let go of him until she was safely on shore. The photos are hillarious. I look like hell but I'm not even mad. Totally worth it.
So, in conclusion, the vacation was hillarious, sad, messy, loud, frustrating, happy, enlightening and real. Wouldn't trade it for the world.