What makes a vacation? A trip. A change of scenery. Lots of relaxing (or, as my brother-in-law would put it, chill-axing). Indulgence in the sort of luxury you wouldn’t get to enjoy regularly at home.
And, for our family, any quality vacation must involve water. My Alabama-raised husband is a born water baby. I — to the furthest extent that any Eastern-Montana-short-grass-hardpan-gal could be — am a water baby. And we have given birth to four little water babies.
Look at our littlest tadpole leaving his daddy’s arms. All our family in Alabama was amazed that 18-month-old Muggins thinks he can swim. It’s adorable to be sure, and we’re very proud of him… but his confidence means we are on nonstop watchful duty to ensure his safety because, again, our 18-month-old thinks he can swim.
Beau and I had saved our dollars and carefully planned this summer’s vacation to ensure a couple things: 1) we would be on the water as much as possible, and 2) once we got there, we would stay in one place and invite family and friends to come to us — instead of us driving all over the state with our gaggle of carseat-hating kiddos.
We wanted to be on Lake Martin in Alabama because Beau’s entire family gathers at Ma’s (Beau’s grandmother’s) lake house there for the Fourth of July. Beyond that, we decided to go big and go grown-up this year and rent our own lake house!
Here’s our rented lake house (hello-oooo-oooo, beautiful!):
Here’s a couple pictures of the dock that came with it:
Just across the cove from our rented lake house, here’s Ma’s lake house (where the entire family congregated):
And here’s Ma’s lovely and floaty-filled dock:
We could just barely see Ma’s dock across the water from ours:
Our rented lake house made sense for a couple reasons. First, we are a family of six and we kinda require our own space. Second, since the kids are my 24/7 job and there’s no getting away from them, I needed something really luxurious to help the trip feel like a vacation for me. The lake house, which we rented through HomeAway.com, didn’t disappoint. I could very happily spend a lot of time there:
Beau and I have this lifelong dream of building a house and ever since the vacation our ideal floor plan has started to look a lot like this lake house’s floor plan!
Lake life is truly other-worldly compared to our normal rush-all-the-hot-summer-to-get-enough-feed-put-up-to-last-all-the-terrible-winter routine here in Eastern Montana. I think it’s just because people vacation at the lake more than they actually live at the lake… so the lake is perpetually on vacation time… and vacation time is awesome!
There’s time, for instance, to just hang out in the water. Our family spent hours every day in Alabama just bobbing in the lake. Not exercising, not trying to accomplish anything, not dreaming of making a run for the hot tub like we do in Montana (because the lake is just about hot tub temperature anyway)… but just floating. Just outsmarting the heat.
There’s time, too, to just sit and watch the boats go by.
Time to watch the sun set over the water.
Time to pull the kids on the tube… again… and again.
There’s time to just put your feet up on the dock. This is my father-in-law Mike Blake, also known as Papa. Now that we’re back home in Montana, we’re cheering for Papa from afar as he goes through chemotherapy for pancreatic cancer. Thanks to all my blog readers who’ve asked after him! His treatments are wearing him out, making him sensitive to heat and sunshine, but he’s been a super good sport about the whole deal. Gooooo, Papa!
Muggins sure liked hanging out with Papa on the dock, the only difference being that Muggins preferred to hang out naked. He was also more than willing to help anyone in need of applying sunscreen.
To Beau’s delight, there was time to hop in a canoe or a kayak and paddle just for the fun of it. It’s one of Beau’s very favorite things to do:
At the lake even I can be found in semi-appropriate lake attire — so different from my usual jeans-and-baseball-cap look:
(Note the wet diaper in my right hand. Because what else would I be holding? Photo by Asher… or maybe Emi.)
I even bought a sunhat while we were at the lake this year. Now that I’m almost a grown-up, I’m starting to think about sun protection and its role in my life… not only because my top half is permanently 10 shades darker than my bottom half.
This is the marina where I bought my sunhat. By our last day at the lake most of the extended family had departed for their real lives, so those of us who were left — Beau and the kids and I, his parents, and his cousin Sawyer (who’s off to college this fall!) — all hopped in the boat and spent a couple hours exploring the lake. Lake Martin boasts over 750 miles of shoreline, so we saw but a small piece of it.
Its shores are home to some ultra-fabulous lake houses. I snapped a photo as we sped by this one:
Also snapped a photo as we sped by these rocks. Eight-year-old Asher was begging his Papa to stop and let him jump off like all the big kids were doing. Luckily Papa turned a deaf ear!
While we were out exploring the lake we made a stop by Goat Island, which is inhabited by (you guessed it) goats! The goats waded out to meet us and we fed them all the Wheat Thins we had — not enough, as far as the goats were concerned.
Ahhhhhh. The stuff lake life with Beau’s family is made of:
Yep, lake life is mighty fun. I always wonder… would it continue to be that wonderful even if you lived there all the time? Or is it just wonderful because it’s such a well-deserved respite from the real world — a work-free, worry-free getaway?
Being there was good. But being home is good, too. We have been blessed with the best of both worlds.
© Tam Blake