“That was the best sleep I’ve had in a long time,” Kai woke up saying. His little brother mimicked him, making us all giggle. It sure wasn’t quiet with the road workers drilling away all night, and I could tell by the bags under Eddie’s eyes that he hadn’t had a good night’s sleep either.
Nikko had snot running down his face. Our campsite did not have a shower. Forget about hot water, or soap in the bathrooms. Suddenly we were camping. Really Camping. And within three seconds, the boys were in the dirt, faces brown, NIkko’s snot a pale shade of tan.
I suddenly wondered if this was a good idea. Two weeks straight of dirt. No showers. Cooking outdoors?
I didn’t have time to think much, because a friend had set up an aerial arts class at Tahoe Flow Arts, so we motored around the lake, charmed by the timbered A-framed huts, modeled after the conifers surrounding the massive lake. Shades of blue only seen in clean tropical oceans winked in the sun. The boys checked out some of the magnet toys I got them for the trip and listened to Curious George. Eddie and I rejoiced in the silence.
Before becoming a parent, the part of motherhood I most worried about was the lack of sleep. I don’t function well on less than 8 hours, and for an insomniac, that’s a rough life. Almost 7 years later, I know I can do most anything on no sleep, but it still isn’t fun. I am a crappy mom with little patience. Today, arriving at the studio to meet energetic Kelly, I was glad to have her playground available for my boys to get out some energy.
Kelly is a former snowboard teacher turned aerial arts performer. She taught us how to climb, swing, spin and cocoon ourselves into 20 foot colorful silks suspended from the ceiling. Kai was in heaven pulling himself upside down to spin on the silks. And when Nikko got in the cocoon and was spun for a good five minutes, my little hedonist joyfully whooped that he loved Lake Tahoe.
They didn’t like their fancy barbeque at the Ritz Carlton’s Backyard BBQ as much as Eddie and I did. I was there to check it out for an assignment and loved sitting before the mountain eating yummy chicken with an array of sauces and mustardy potato salad. The kids preferred to play volleyball on their outdoor game field, so after lunch, I found a shower in one of the hotel bathrooms and (ignite the harps and angels singing) took a shower, then lubed up with the lotion testers in the spa store. Little traveler tricks from hoofing it through third world countries is that the best bathrooms and coffee can often we found at fancy hotels, just when you need them.
We spent the afternoon lounging at Meeks Bay, letting the kids throw rocks into the lake, while Eddie read the newspaper and I spaced out on just how pristine this lake manages to stay despite all the usage.
We wanted to stay at the campsite and whip up some dinner, but the visitor’s bureau had invited me to check out dinner at River Ranch Lodge. Ambitious eats like elk, bison and a couscous with curry make this white tablecloth restaurant a good choice for tourists and celebratory dinners. While the locals crowd the riverfront patio, downing cocktails and beers post raft trip.
After dinner the boys and I sat by the Truckee River, getting ready to go back to the campsite to roast marshmallows. Kai asked questions about the differences between lakes, rivers, streams and oceans. Nikko deftly tried to answer: “They are all water.”
As we stood over that raging river, the boys tossing rocks, I saw clearly how easy it was for them to learn about the world while being in it, rather than reading about it. For that, I’ll take the cold, the discomfort, the lack of cleanliness. For that, I’ll give them the world.