Kyle was up at 4:30AM to take his cousins to the airport. We really enjoyed having them here and can only look forward to the next time we get together especially since we did not get to see their sisters or parents. Meanwhile I was up early for an 8AM soccer scrimmage.The team is practicing for a big tournament next weekend. My right quad and groin muscles are still not 100% which makes me less of a shooting threat but it does not affect my speed or mobility. I returned from practice just in time to say goodbye to Nicolai and Jeanine who are driving to Vermont where Nicolai will spend a week volunteering as a camp counselor at a Montessori school summer program. Jeanine plans to catch a ride with friends and return tomorrow. With just Kyle and I at home I decided to exercise the full extent of my cooking ability and prepared a light dinner. The appetizer consisted of fresh tomatoes, mozzarella, and basil from the garden on top of Ciabatta bread. For the main course we had rigatoni with marinara sauce and grated Parmesan cheese.
Mario and Rory return to Minnesota tomorrow making this our last evening together. The five of us headed down to Harvard Square to enjoy the street performers and a fine burrito dinner. Kyle decided to take on one of the local chess champions and put up a respectable battle considering how long it has been since he last played. Entertainers were out in force and we enjoyed sampling the music and taking in all that sounds and smells of Harvard Square on a Saturday night. We took two cars so that I could pick Jeanine up at the airport on her return from Chicago.
Apparently 3 hours of 2v2 sand volleyball was not enough exercise for the boys today and they found it necessary to have a tag team wrestling tournament in our basement. Amazingly no one was injured and our home theater survived undamaged. I spent the morning at work and the afternoon sanding my kayak in preparation for new coats of varnish. We all had dinner together at Dino’s which has reopened for business after a lightning strike started a fire which destroyed it. The original owners have returned and the food is better than ever. By total coincidence, Kris Earle, Jeanine’s childhood friend and her family, are vacationing in Chicago and they were able to connect for a few hours joined also by her sister Lauren.
This evening after work I joined the teenagers at Kimball Farm. First stop was the driving range where Rory showed us all how it is done. His drives were straight up the middle and many went beyond the 250 yard end of the range into the forest. Kyle coached Hannah who had a respectable first outing. I made three attempts, enough to produce a 100 yard drive and a clear understanding that a future in golf for me is going to require surgery to fix my shoulder. Next the boys enjoyed a 2v2 sand volleyball game which produced a very close final score the winner remaining in some dispute. We then ordered some dinner which was better than I had anticipated. I saved my calories for the ice cream which was our main reason for coming thus completing our gastronomic tour of the local ice cream scene.
Today the boys and their cousins played a round of golf at the Stow Acres Country Club. I joined them after work when they had just started the back 9. There were moments of brilliance and moments of ugliness. Kyle played a lovely shot out of a sand trap to within inches of the flag, Mario consistently found the middle of the fairway with huge drives, Nicolai sunk a seriously long put playing the break perfectly, and Rory was on the green in less strokes on average than anyone. A great number of golf balls were sacrificed to the course, however, finding their way into forests and the bottom of ponds. After golf we were joined by Hannah for dinner at Not Your Average Joe’s and ice cream at Bedford Farms. An attempt by their parents to have the cousins return to Minnesota tomorrow was thwarted and we have secured their company at least through Saturday. It is very possible that we will be having car trouble on Saturday and the boys will be forced to stay with us until sometime next week.
The boys made use of our field this evening to practice their driving. Conveniently there were a number of geese present which made for inspiring targets. Fortunately for the geese none of the boys had the combined range and accuracy to register any direct (or even near) hits. Jeanine departs for Chicago very early tomorrow morning where she will visit with her ailing Aunt Karen for several days.
We are thrilled to have my nephews Rory and Mario visiting us for the week. They find the ice cream in Minnesota to be abysmal and have requested that we indulge in the local offerings in an effort to determine the best one. We started this evening with our new shop in West Concord, Reasons to be Cheerful. They have also indicated a desire to play golf and paintball. Stay tuned.
The next three weeks are going to pass very slowly with Maya off to summer camp. She will be returning to the Farm & Wilderness Camp in Plymouth, Vermont where she enjoyed a great experience last year. Jeanine will drive her there and then meet up with her sister for an over night visit before returning tomorrow. On the home front, my despondence over the departure of Maya is offset by the late night arrival of my nephews Mario and Rory from Minnesota. They will be staying with us for the next few days and I am looking forward to their company. My brother is an excellent cook and they have pretty refined expectations when it comes to food. My culinary abilities, on the other hand are quite modest. That said both boys seemed impressed with our midnight dinner which included freshly baked blueberry pie from Verrill Farm served once as an appetizer and again as a dessert (I believe I am breaking new ground with this gastronomic concept and may further extend the innovation to a three course pie dinner). In between they enjoyed a very spicy Curry Chicken which Jeanine had prepared ahead of time and rice which I managed to cook correctly.
Maya and I were on the water again today. This time on the Assabet River and this time with a bigger paddle for Maya which she found to be much more to her liking. We did a 3.6 mile upriver run into a strong current which took us a little longer than two hours. We stopped often to check out the wildlife and to share a snack. We put in at the Old Cow Pasture and took out next to Dino’s Restaurant in West Concord where Nicolai shuttled me back to my car while Maya guarded the kayaks. At the current water level we encountered three rapids, two of which we were able to power through, the third requiring a short, over water portage. Maya is a natural in the kayak and looked strong all day. She leaves for Farm and Wilderness camp in Vermont tomorrow where she will spend the next three weeks.
Despite an outside temperature of 103 degrees Maya and I completed a 2.7 mile maiden voyage with her new kayak on Lake Cochituate. There was a nice breeze on the water which kept us from roasting but made the return leg into the wind more difficult. We put in at the boat ramp on Middle Lake and traveled through a small tunnel to South Lake where we circled a tiny island before returning. The Rock Hopper, Maya’s name for her kayak, is very stable and extremely fast. Maya had no trouble handling it despite a paddle which is clearly too small for her (even though we sized it according to recommendations). According to our GPS tracks Maya was able to do sprints of 5mph into the wind. While we were on the water Maya reviewed a basic forward paddling stroke and learned forward and backward sweep strokes, reverse paddling and braking strokes. I also showed her a draw stroke and a sculling draw stroke, the latter being the only one she did not master. We celebrated our return with a cold Gatorade and later in the evening with a visit to our new local ice cream shop. This entire project has been a fantastic father-daughter bonding experience. With Maya taking the lead on many aspects of construction and demonstrating she can keep up with her dad on the water she is really coming into her own right as a young woman. I look forward to our future paddles together and hope she will remember these times with her father long after I am gone and her grand children are tooling about in the Rock Hopper.
With kayak construction completed the only remaining task is to build a carrying cradle for the top of my car. Because the Audi is so tall I need to ensure that the mounted kayak is low enough that I can still drive into the garage without hitting the door. Once inside I use a pulley system to store the kayak near the ceiling of the garage. Everything is set for the Rock Hopper’s maiden voyage and Maya is very excited to get out on the water.
Nala had a play date with Quincy (Maya’s friend Bailey’s Labrador Retriever) this evening which did both a world of good. Nala has been hesitant to explore the extents of her newly constrained domain (resulting from the new wireless electronic containment fence) after being shocked a few times. Quincy distracted her from those concerns and she was back to her old antics. Quincy is battling cancer and he too seemed to find new energy as he rough housed with Nala. Meanwhile, Maya and I with assistance from Bailey put the final coat of varnish on Maya’ kayak completing the project in one month flat.
On Tuesdays I play soccer at 6AM and on this morning had to turn back for my camera when I saw a beautiful orange sun rising over the fog laden field across the street from our home. I am still struggling to recover from a strained groin/quad muscle injury but did manage to get a good workout even though my shooting ability is still quite tentative. After work Maya and I started varnishing the kayak which she has named the Rock Hopper. In order to finish an entire coat in one pass we have the kayak suspended from the ceiling on a pulley system so that we can lower it to work on the deck and raise it to work on the hull.
Kyle spotted this fox in our field this evening and I was fortunate to have a camera close at hand. Jeanine, Kyle and Jamie (a classmate who is also attending Santa Clara University in the fall) returned from California this morning on the red-eye. Nicolai and Maya returned from visiting cousins in Minnesota this evening and Nala was collected from the kennel uniting the entire family for the first time in a week. I enjoyed having several days to myself but must confess a preference for the chaos that is my normal life.
Jeanine and Kyle spent the weekend at Lake Tahoe visiting the mother of a close friend of the family. Both reported that the 5 hour drive from the bay area was well worth the effort. They enjoyed hiking, boating, sightseeing, fine dining, and volleyball. I spent time in this area 30 years ago while attending graduate school in California and still have vivid memories of the natural beauty. When Jeanine and I visit Kyle over the coming years it will surely be one of our repeat ancillary destinations. Today I enjoyed an early morning soccer scrimmage, an afternoon spent watching the Women’s World Cup finals (disappointing finish for the US but one can only admire and be happy for the Japanese team), and the evening putting the final touches on Maya’s kayak (all that remains is varnishing).
After spending the morning working on Maya’s kayak I decided to do a little kayaking myself. It took about an hour to drive to Hingham Bay where I put in at the public boat ramp. The map pictured here is overlaid with my GPS log. I have long wanted to make this tour which included Button, Sarah, Langlee, Bumkin, Grape, Slate, and Ragged Islands. I covered 8.3 miles in roughly two and a half hours including a stop on Grape Island for a look around. I averaged a little better than 4 mph which was very respectable considering the amount of evasive maneuvering I had to do to cope with heavy boat traffic. It is safest to paddle into a big wake at right angles and this often took me off my heading. After 15 minutes on the water it occurred to me that I did not have my bilge pump on board (I removed it to size a clip for Maya’s kayak and forgot to replace it). A capsize would have been very hard to recover from and so I opted for maximum safety turning into every wake. Because the weather was exceptionally nice and and the seas were calm I decided not to use my spray skirt which in retrospect was a poor decision. A 3 foot boat wake swell looks awfully big when your cockpit opening sits only 4 inches above the waterline. About the only smart decision I made was to leave my SLR in the car. Although I missed some excellent photo opportunities, I am fairly certain either the camera or I would have wound up in the ocean if I had tried to use it while on the water.