Hey, guys!! I have returned from family vaca, music festival madness and some much needed R&R! I hope you all have had a lovely last couple of weeks! Those that were in Cincinnati suffered from quite a bit of rain and are now entering the hot, humid dog days of summer. We had perfect weather while we were up in Michigan at Walloon Lake so it was difficult to come back to.
I have had a crazy couple of weeks since my last post and have a lot to fill you in on! My next official challenge will post next week as I’m just getting back into the swing of things in my normal every day life. It’ll be a good one so be sure to tune in!
I spent 10 days surrounded by my family relaxing at our place on Walloon Lake. I got my cherries, spent time with my grandparents, learned how to drive a boat, fished, watched a parade, cooked, roasted marshmallows and took in some of the most beautiful sunsets you’ll ever see. I also stood witness to the most incredible fireworks show I have ever seen, standing directly beneath it!
Just because I took a little vacation from the blog does not mean I did not see my fair share of challenges along the way. For starters, I learned to wakeboard!! I’m a bit of an odd man out in my family in the sense that I am incredibly uncoordinated. Like constantly tripping, bumping into things and seriously injuring myself uncoordinated. My brother, John, and sister, Abbey, are both athletically inclined and are generally successful at everything they attempt. As mentioned before, I’m the artsy one. That being said, I have been wanting to try this for awhile and since water skiing didn’t go so well, I figured I stood a better chance at wakeboarding.
The reason: both legs are strapped to the same board and can’t get twisted all around, spread into splits far more than my flexibility allows and if you catch an edge, your whole body falls in the same direction. These are the same reasons I prefer snowboarding to skiing.
My parents got us a new MasterCraft wakeboarding boat for Christmas so I have been planning on conquering the sport since I first looked at the pamphlet. This thing is pretty sweet. It has more storage than any boat I have ever seen in my life. Naturally, this is to conceal all of the sweet water sports accessories he got to go with it. We have skis, tubes boards, surf boards, knee boards, etc. It has a killer sound system and definitely isn’t hard on the eyes. They said it was for us, but I’m pretty sure it’s dad’s new favorite toy.
Determined to pick this up, I asked my Dad to take me out on the boat and give it a whirl. He had arranged for a pro to take us out the next day and I did not want my first attempt at the sport to be witnessed by someone who competed professionally. I know that sounds kind of backward because he could obviously teach me better than my family members, but whatev. After receiving some guidance from my siblings and reviewing a few instructional videos I found on YouTube (because everyone does that kind of research first, right?) I strapped the board to my feet and got into the lake.
For those that aren’t aware, this is the hardest part for me. There is something about sitting in water where I cannot see what lies beneath me that causes me to become compleeeetely unglued. So after a small fit of squeals and Ohmygodohmygodohmygod’s and a bit of splashing around to scare away lake creatures (like that really works…) I adjusted. Dad put the boat in gear and off we went!
Popped up on my first try!!! Sure I face planted 4 seconds later, but the point is I got up!! Feeling slightly defeated, and again floating helplessly in the fish-ridden abyss while the boat circled back around, I analyzed what I thought I’d done wrong, grabbed the rope and gave it another go. Up again. Down again. Followed by a few bouts of being dragged through the wake when I didn’t make it up. I’m a *bit* stubborn so my sister is hesitant to provide criticism on my technique, but I asked nicely and she obliged. We concluded that this kept happening because I couldn’t figure out how to stay within the confines of the wake. For some reason my alignment is off and I pull to the left. I also wasn’t pulling my knees close enough to my chest and instead of letting the boat pull me up, I tried to stand on my own too soon. I tried a few more times and had a few successful 10-30 second rides. And after a particularly wicked wipe out, I mastered the graceful landing by surrendering the rope once I realized I was going down. After the 6th or 7th time I sat defenseless in the lake water, I became acclimated and didn’t mind it so much. It was actually kind of pleasant. I guess there’s an adjustment period for everything. I’d had enough for the day so we boarded the boat and returned home.
The next day, Brett Dense from Action Water Sports (the pro I mentioned earlier) arrived to show us how it was done. After watching my sister do her thing and learn to jump the wake, it was my turn to show him what I was bringing to the table, which was not much. He was, however, impressed that I managed to get up on my first try. He saw my first run and I pulled off a decent ride, though he told me that my legs were too stiff and my body was too squared up with the boat. We also adjusted the rope. Contrary to popular belief, when first learning to wakeboard, the rope should be as long as possible. My sister put his advice into terms I would understand by comparing my stance to what I would do in Pure Barre. Pelvis in, shoulders back, core tight. This solid gold information proved extremely beneficial when I not only popped up and stayed up, but I also stayed within the wake. We hit a bump that shook my ego and I let go, circling around and sinking gracefully into the water. My brother called this my “pirouette.” Armed with a new sense of confidence and the tips of keeping my arms straight and leaning on my toes or my heels to steer my board, I tried again. I glided along the glistening waters of Walloon Lake like a pro, weaving from side to side within the wake. Then I got a little too close to the waves, caught a wicked edge and ate it. Bad. And my brother caught it allll on film.
My brother gave it a go after I did, but he’s been doing this for years- well over a decade if my memory serves me right. He worked on the technique of trying to jump from one side of the wake to the other. He had a few wipe outs, but he had some pretty impressive jumps!! Brett gave us a treat by showing us some pretty great tricks and acrobatic feats that I could only dream of accomplishing. It was a very impressive show.
Wake surfing followed. I have never even seen this before so I was intrigued when they brought out the board. John and Abbey mastered it almost immediately. Wakesurfing is different from wakeboarding in many ways. For starters, you are like RIGHT behind the boat. The idea is to ride the wake coming right out of the prop. The rope is MUCH shorter and eventually, if you get in the right spot on the wave, you can release the rope and continue to surf as your normally would on a regular surf board. Since you’re just surfing, your feet aren’t strapped into the board like they are on a wakeboard. It was pretty cool to watch, but sadly, I was not lucky enough to figure out how to do it.
Other than that, my dad and I spent some time fishing on what I presume to be is an almost fish-less lake. He hooked one by the fin and I had 2 on, but didn’t bring them into the boat. We spent the week with Belle, all completely fascinated by the little munchkin. She is walking (everywhere) and starting to learn how to talk. She mastered “Mama” while we were up there and my mom seems to think she is now Gaga instead of Grandma. I continue to be completely enamored by her and her development. Since my mom is sick we all took turns taking care of the meals that she normally puts on the table so effortlessly. We celebrated my Dad’s 56th birthday and my twin uncles’ 54th birthday. My uncle brought his kite surfer over to test out on the water to no avail, but it drew quite the audience and was hilarious to watch him try. Becky and I also spent some time tubing in the new three seater that dad got to go with the boat!