Monday, October 18, 2010

Lakeside Fun and the Little Boat that Couldn't

During our staycation, high on our list of Out-n-About activities was a trip to the lake. There is a lake in the center of our city; the city has grown up around it, so to speak. It has recently been expanded and really has some lovely landscaping, pretty paths, and of course the traditional asian chintzy amusement park type rides. Instead of Six Flags, it's more like One Flag. Or maybe a half.
Anyway, we had this great idea. "Let's pack a picnic, go to the lake, rent a boat for an hour, then go out and eat our lunch on the boat! We'll have privacy, it'll be fun to be out on the water, and it'll be restful and relaxing!"
Not so fast! We arrived at the lake and went directly to the boat rental place, only to discover that we weren't allowed to rent a boat that day. "What? Why?" we asked. The best answer we got (after much discussion) was that the leader in charge of boat rentals called and said, "Don't rent any boats." And that was that. They had no idea when, if ever, boat rentals would again be allowed. We tried to protest: "but we see other boats already on the lake!" "Yes, but we cannot rent you a boat. We don't know why." Argh!

So, on to plan B. (There hadn't been a plan B until that moment.) We made the rounds to all of the "exciting" rides, and as is typical when we are out as a family on a day off, had a fun time anyway. Skip over this first picture and look at some highlights of our day out below. . . Just a perk of living where we pictures with the stone lion 10x our size; he was one of a pair "guarding" the entrance to the lake. Cute Chloe!

Just inside the front entrance, there was a huge flower display celebrating the national holiday. This feat was accomplished all with potted plants! I think the girls are pretty, too. :)
Following the path down to the lake. . .
Christin had fun hopping her way down.
If you can believe it, this was an average day of pollution. The sun was still shining (albeit dimly) through the haze, but as you look in the distance, it's obvious how much pollution is in the air. Exhibit A: (There is a large downtown area with many tall buildings and mountains behind that that should be visible; obviously on this day you can only see the first row of closest buildings.)
Having fun climbing on the "ancient" architecture. (Most, if not all, of the buildings at the lake have been remodeled to look old. They are beautiful!)

This mom and daughter were having fun watching my girls play. I just had to snap a picture of this fun hairstyle!
Yes! The Carousel! It may not be Disneyland's Cinderella Carousel, but don't tell my girls. They think it's great! And it is pretty fun. There are no lines and the girls get a nice long ride!

Even Christin had fun. . . as long as Daddy was right next to her!

Clara Anne convinced me to go on this tilt-n-spin ride; it was fun to do that with her! For balance purposes (I assume, no explanation was given) that huge stuffed teddy bear was put in behind me. Fun times!

For the first time, we stopped to see a seal show. No one else was around, but as we paid the fee and entered the seal was pretty excited to see us. A performance for him meant lots of tasty fish to eat! The seal trainer, on the other hand, seemed pretty bored and was merely going through the motions. The facility wasn't so great either, take a look at this ceiling:
But, nothing collapsed around us so we settled in to enjoy the show which was put on for just our family. Here's the performance area:
The audience, doing its best to cheer on the seal. I especially love Christin's expression. She dutifully clapped her hands with the rest of us!

Way to go, seal! Nice work! Have some raw fish!

So that was a glimpse at the fun we had while waiting to see if the boat-renting-boss would call back and say it was ok for them to rent out boats again. No go still, so we found a place to sit down and enjoy our picnic lunch. I had packed crackers and a cheese ball, slices of salami, apple slices and even some Jelly Bellys for a little treat. It was yummy, the weather was pleasant, the only thing better would have been to be out on the water. Then, just as we were finishing eating, a man came running up to us and said that we could rent a boat now! Woo-hoo! We made our way over to the rental area, noticing that the park had cleared out noticably. See those little specks of pink and blue in the picture below? That's my kids, running free! There were no crowds! In our city of 6 million people, that almost never happens. How refreshing!

Of course, the day wouldn't have been complete without some mangling of the English language. "For safety, please don't across the cordon.!" But then there was no cordon there!

We finally got in a boat which the manager said was one of the faster ones (they were all electric motors), and headed out for the other side of the lake. The picture at the top of the post is the only one I took of us on the boat itself. We had a lovely time, floating quietly through pretty channels, under bridges, admiring the landscaping and design and feeling relaxed out on the water. But, we only had the boat for an hour and so soon it was time to head back. As we were trying to head back, John kept commenting how it seemed like the boat was going slower and slower. At first I thought he was overreacting, but then even I started to notice that we were hardly getting anywhere. Thankfully by this time we were almost back, but it really seemed like the motor had almost no power! As we finally got towards the dock, the manager turned on some other boats to move them over and make room for us to park, and our boat could not overcome that little bit of wake in order to get to the dock! We shouted to him what the problem was, and he seemed irritated and skeptical, perhaps thinking that we just didn't know how to drive.
Finally, though, even he could see that we truly could not get the boat to the dock, and came out on another boat. He pulled up alongside us, helped us transfer to the new boat, then he took the old (now almost completely non-functioning) boat and tried to bring it into the docking area. No success! He then turned and offered for us to take this boat out for another half hour or so, and as we began to move away I threw one more glance over my shoulder. The last thing I saw was the manager trying to use a metal pole to row his way into the docks! Oh my! It was the funniest thing I'd seen in quite some time!
So, despite the little boat that actually couldn't, we had a lovely time at the lake. We're just thankful that we were almost back when the problem happened! I am not sure what we would have done if we were out in the middle of the lake when it conked out on us. But all's well that ends well, and we had a fun day. Lots of fresh air (well, relatively, anyway) and exercise meant that everyone slept well that night!

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