Today was our first real swim since before the goddamn pandemic hit.
We’re easing our way back to “normal”, in this case meaning a more fun summer than last. ☀️ I jumped on a pool pass at the Austin Motel (“So Close, Yet So Far Out”). This hotel pool turns out to be less crowded and more fun than neighborhood social club the High Road, which we tried the summer before last.
One thing I love about Molly is that she’s not trying to be an adult yet. She made a “sea raft” out of swim noodles, held together with goggles. We played with our pool toys, Sammie the Seamonster and Ollie Octopus.
And we took lots of underwater photos, using my iPhone as a bit of a pool toy itself. I guess it could use a cleaning anyways. 🤷🏻♂️
We were heading out for an errand, when Molly notes that she looks like a “basic Austin kid.”
She’s right! And so self-aware. 🤔
The Whataburger drink gives it away. This is her favorite restaurant and has previously done a cartwheel 🤸🏻♀️ when told we were getting Whataburger.
Molly and I had the morning together while Claire finished up a sleepover at a friend’s house. I asked Molly what she wanted to do, and we ended up combining the top two things on her wishlist: going for a bike ride and going over the Pfluger Pedestrian Bridge in downtown Austin.
In a hilarious turn of events not well captured in photographs, Molly ended up riding her bike right past an active film set on the bridge. The crew yelled, “We’ve got a biker! Heads up!” Molly was not the only such biker, but she was the funniest by far.
Here is our route for Molly’s ride.
Molly is really motivated to ride her bike but is so far frustrated with the process and thinks the training wheels aren’t working right.
Also, isn’t she adorable on that bike?
Almost every weekend this summer, the girls andI have gone to our favorite hangout: Barking Springs. A cold, rocky, slippery, green water paradise downstream from Baron Springs pool, this shallow swimming spot is a favorite for dogs and all kinds of people. We walk over there and join the families, dog owners, slackers, fitness nuts, teenagers, and people on dates for an afternoon of splashing and floating in the water, and trying not to hurt ourselves or drown. We had a 100% success rate this year on not drowning, but we did see a couple of other people almost drown, including a toddler in a floaty that got away from her parents, so that was a disturbing lesson to see in person. Within five seconds on trouble, about a dozen people were scrambling to help the bobbing toddler, and they got her out safely. One of the great things about Barton Springs is that everyone is nice and in a good mood. You just can’t help it there!
The we run things is to go to the flat cement part on the west side of the river and wade into the current coming from the waterfall. We float downstream for a while and do it again, trying not to trip and kill ourselves in the process of getting out of the river. Sometimes we invite a friend of Claire’s to come along, which makes it even more fun. Managing three kids at Barking Springs is not easy, but it does make the day more fun.
On the walk home, we always stop by Sno Beach, a snow cone stand that makes the best snow cones in town. It makes for the perfect summer day.
This Father’s Day was broken up into three distinct parts. First there was the part where we took the girls and Uncle Bob to Austin Java for a nice breakfast. This was the part before the whole family had all fallen into Ladybird Lake. Then came the part where Bob left for Corpus Christi and the rest of us went canoeing on Ladybird Lake, tipped the canoe, and the whole family fell into Ladybird Lake with all our clothes and possessions. The third part was when we and ruminated on everyone falling into lake, who reacted which way, what it meant for our upcoming boating trip to the Pacific Northwest, and so forth. The discussion also touched on whether this was the best Father’s Day ever or the worst.
We had decided to finally go canoeing on the lake for Father’s Day. Everyone liked the idea. After breakfast with Bob, we all geared up in sunscreen, water shoes as available, and hats as available. Claire did not have good water shoes, so she wore her waterproof pink and yellow Crocs sandals. I got to wear my cowboy hat, which I had purchased late last summer as the “perfect sun hat” since it was light, waterproof, and has good sun coverage all around.
Being the honorary father of the day, I picked Zilker Park Boat Rentals for our put-off point since I always liked that little shady spot just downstream from the Barton Springs Pool. Thinking we were being overly careful, we left our cell phones in the car, and I left the car keys in a little plastic box at the rental dock. (You know, just in case. Not that anything would happen.) On the canoe, we took only a small bag with Molly’s diapers, wipes, and some bottled water. The dock guy gave us all oars, including one for each of the girls. The instructions were to keep the girls sitting on the floor in the middle of the canoe.
We rowed down the stream to Ladybird lake, then upstream toward the Mo-Pac bridge. It was great. The weather was warm but pleasant, the kids were having fun. We counted turtles, dodged a seaweed-like stringy plant growing on the water, and just enjoyed the day. We looped under Mo-Pac bridge feeling relaxed and confident and headed back to the springs. Kit and I took off our clumsy life jackets but left them on the girls, just in case. By now Molly was sitting on Kit’s lap and “helping” row the boat. I had to row a little harder to make up for Molly’s “help” but sort of enjoyed the physical challenge.
Then it happened. If you ask Molly, she dropped her oar. From my perspective, I would swear I saw her throw it clear of the boat. It does not matter, really. Molly’s oar went over the left side of the boat. But the missing oar did not in itself cause the canoe to tip over. It was the fact that we all suddenly reached to grab the oar at exactly the same time that tipped the boat. It did not take much. The boat just tipped to the left and spilled us all out into the green lake, full of turtles, fish, weeds, birds, probably snakes, and now two adults and two kids.
Kit, who cannot swim and was not wearing a life jack, was initially panicked, especially for Molly, who was in the water next to her. Kit managed to tread water with floating by her in her little life jacket. It was briefly pretty scary for Kit and Molly, our two non-swimmers. Claire, who had a life jacket and could swim, was as cool as a cucumber. She just floated around with a small grin on her face. Kit said I seemed panicked, but I do not remember that. I remember thinking, hmm, did that just happen? Are we really in the lake now? I guess we better do something about this. The water feels refreshing.
Within what seemed like 10 seconds, a gaggle of lake-goers showed up to help. They were mostly on kayaks and those flat boards that resemble surf boards. A dad with his own family showed up and let Kit and Molly grab onto his board, which was as stable as land, as he said. He helped calm Kit and Molly. Claire used the board as a base but would sometimes shove off to swim around just for fun. A kid 20 yards aways yelled, “Is this someone’s cowboy hat?”, waving my hat in his hand. We were still missing one of Claire’s sandals and the diaper bag.
Meanwhile, another dad was helping me out with the canoe. He knew exactly what do to with a waterlogged canoe, and I just followed orders. I swam the bloated canoe over to the edge of the lake, maybe 20-30 yardsaway. There was no “shore” per se, only a less deep area near the tree-choked edge where we could touch the bottom. I got my footing either on loose rocks or maybe turtles. I never got bit, so I am guessing they were rocks. The water weeds were thick here, and I was swimming around in them up to my shoulders. It reminded me a little bit of the garbage compactor scene from Star Wars. The other guy said I should just flip the canoe over to dump out the water, and then flip it back over. This was not as easy as it sounds, and it took all my strength. We flipped it twice before it was lake-worthy. When I loaded back into the canoe, the helper guy looked at me and make an “ick” look on his face. I was wrapped in those long green water weeds, which I had to unwrap from my arms and torso.
I paddled the canoe back to the family, who were still surrounded by friendly helpers. I was instructed to stay in the boat as ballast while Kit and the kids loaded up. Their spirits were good now, having calmed from the initial shock. Claire was happy as always. The girls were lifted into the canoe, and Kit had to pull herself in, which would later leave terrible bruises on the backs of her legs. Someone had produced our diaper bag, which was full of soaking diapers and now weighed about 50 pounds. Someone else had found Claire’s missing Croc sandal.
From there, we said our thanks to our helpers and paddled back. I told the canoe rental guy we tipped the boat when our kid dropped her paddle. He said, “Did you all reach for it at once?” He reduced our rental fee to half since we “were out of the boat for some of the time.”
There was a discussion on the way home that this demonstrated the importance of water safety and life jackets. If Molly in particular had not been wearing a life vest, we probably would have been diving down to pull her up from under the green water. And we were lucky that Ladybird Lake is nice and warm, something like 70 degrees, where you could swim all day if you wanted to. When we visit Anacortes, Washington in a couple months, the water will be much colder and more dangerous. You cannot necessarily doddle in the cold water waiting to be rescued. We would also learn after the fact that canoes are notorious for tipping, and a kayak would be a better choice for stability.
Still, it was a great Father’s Day, probably the best ever, and definitely the most memorable. Plus a little kick in the rear over water safety is a good thing too, maybe a blessing in disguise.
Claire has been going on a field trip every Friday for summer camp. She has hit the zoo, parks, museums, a restaurant kitchen, and even a recording studio. But all the parents were the most excited about this week’s field trip to the Austin City Limits theater, which in just the next few weeks will host the likes of Crosby Still & Nash, Tony Bennett, Norah Jones, and the Go-Go’s.
At the ACL theater, apparently the kids got a back-stage tour and a short performance by an unnamed guitarist who played a few silly songs, including a mixed up version of “Twinkle Twinkle Little Star”, like “Twinkle twinkle little star, how I wonder what you pizza.” And then all the kids wold roar that he got the words wrong. It sounded pretty funny.
Anyways, here are some pictures.
As she had a few years ago for the Peachtree Road Race, Kit convinced me to go run in the Capital 10k fun run today. I only registered yesterday at the “last-minute” registration at the convention center. I was not really in shape to run the full 6 miles, and our morning was squeezed for time, so I decided to take advantage of the fact that our house was almost exactly along the half-way point of the course. The plan was for Kit and the girls to drop me off at the starting line, drive back to our house, and wait for me in the crowds along Enfield Road. I would run the first half of the race, bow out at our house, and get on with the day. This was a good plan. Only later would I find out that our house, besides being almost exactly half way through the course, was also located almost exactly at the highest point on the course. So I would be running mostly uphill for 3 miles. Believe me, that last stretch burned!
Anyways, Kit and the girls were a welcome sight at that highest point. Claire, as always, had made some friends, and the girls had managed to borrow some pom-poms from someone nearby. I decided that I did, in fact, want to exit the race at our house and suggested maybe next year I could run the whole thing, when I was better prepared and we hopefully did not have haircuts and furniture shopping to deal with that same morning.
With the nice weather, everyone in a good mood, and a little time on our hands today, we decided to go out for lunch South Austin style. We went to the South Congress Ave. trailers to eat. It was a little awkward feeding Molly out among the wind and crowds on a picnic table, but everyone had a good time, as you can see.
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