I keep waiting for Dad or one of the kids to share some of our Chincoteague Island vacation adventures on here, but each of us is as busy as the next and no one is finding the leisure to post. So I am going to set the timer and allow myself 10 minutes to indulge in communication with my dear family.

Ready, GO!

Highlight 1: Of special interest to Nessa, Talia, Sadie, and Micah. This goes with Luke’s picture of Elsie below.

Rudolph Surprises Grandpa

Grandpa was outside in the backyard of the house where we were staying. He was very preoccupied with cleaning out the van and fiddling with the trailer and concentrating very hard on what he was doing. He was leaning over. All of a sudden he felt something very strange on his back. Something – some animal,”A dog, maybe, “he thought, was putting its feet up on his back and pawing at him. He thought, “Wow this is a BIG dog” he turned around and it was a deer. It had come up to Grandpa and put its front legs up on his back like an overly friendly dog might come up to you and do. Grandpa was VERY surprised! He came in and got Elsie, Elaina, and the rest of us to come out and meet the deer. We found out from a neighbor that the deer lived there in the neighborhood, under one of the houses, (All the houses are up on stilts because they are on an island.) The deer is very tame and friendly and the neighborhood people all feed him. His name is Rudolph. We saw him and enjoyed him off and on all three days we were there. Chincoteague Island is a funny place. The ponies are wild and the deer are tame.

Highlight 2:
Captain Hake and First Mate Bump Seen Wearing Boxer Shorts and Coats of Marsh Mud

Good news. The motor on the sailboat works and can get the boat from a boat launch out to sailable waters, that is if there is at least a few feet of water for it to move through.

I had the bright idea of renting a house right on the bay with its own boat slip dock where we could put the sail boat in and leave it there to be used easily and the kayaks too. It seemed convenient and cozy. It might have worked as I imagined except that there was not enough water in the channel in front of this house, especially at low tide. The lady who rented the place to us either didn’t catch the word SAIL in front of boat, or she just wanted to rent the house. At any rate she did not tell us our plans were not workable.

After weeks of working on the boat and days of getting it ready for this trip, and hours of getting it safe and battened down and the trailer working before we could start the trip, and six stops along the journey here to tighten things up etc. and then after working hard just to get it in off the trailer into the water at the launch, Dad was really psyched to try his first sail. The rest of us were happy for him that the time had finally come. Isaac volunteered to help him while the rest of us went off to explore the island and look for wild ponies and hike on the beach.

They motored the boat from our little dock out into the wider waters and were headed for the place where they could hoist the sails and try her out. The motor went along encouragingly well until they were almost there. Then suddenly Dad and Isaac realized they were no longer moving forward. They were stuck. They could not get unstuck. They tried everything they could from the boat to get loose, but finally Dad pulled off his pants and stepped over board into what seemed like only about three feet of water. It was three feet of water, but under the water was soft sucking mud into which Dad sank up to his waist, with the water then up to his chin. There was no traction. Nothing to push off. No way to budge the boat.

Finally, Isaac, reluctant to strip to his underwear which he knew he’d be glad he did later when he wanted warm dry clothes again, and reluctant to get cold and muddy, stripped down to his boxers and descended waist deep into the muck with Dad. They worked at getting unstuck for a very long time, envisioning the coast guard having to come to their rescue in the mud. Finally, Dad got back on board and Isaac was able to push him off out of the mud. The real trick was Dad getting close enough again to where Isaac was to be able to bring him aboard without getting stuck again.

They came in very cold, tired, and covered in mud. That was the only time the sailboat we trailered along behind us for five hours got used. But Dad says he learned a lot, especially during the hour and a half it took to get it back onto the trailer. 

Dad says what’s going on with the sailboat is a learning curve. I’m sure he’s right. The question that remains is how many years of our lives will be left by the time the learning curve is behind us.  I think it will be great. There are questions and concerns but it’s a neat thing and it does have all the potential dad sees in it. Hopefully we can laugh our way along. So you all may be treated to numerous entertaining stories until we sail out of the other end of our learning curve! Hopefully we can get all the bugs out of it before any of you take it out.

Highlight 3: Rosy Cheery Family Outing- Hake Style

As the sailboat was feeling “learning curvish” we all looked forward to an adventure together in our more tried and true kayaks. There are many guided kayak tours offered on the island that are supposed to help you get exposure to all the wonderful wildlife that you might otherwise miss. (We had already seen lots of wild ponies, a neat bald eagle on a tree branch, many awesomely interesting birds including beautiful herons of many types. It is a pretty neat place for birds!) )

Anyway, true to our maverick tendencies and our explorer complexes we decided to plan our own “ex-pō-ti-tion”. Isaac looked carefully at Google Earth and mapped out a neat route from Chincoteague, where we were, over to other little islands and up creeks across them, through, and over to Assateague Island. The route would take us through places that looked like they would be fun, beautiful, and maybe also off the beaten path and therefore conducive to seeing wildlife.

We had our own three one-man-kayaks. While we all packed up a water proof bag with snacks, drinks, binoculars, jackets, and towels, Dad and Isaac went to rent two more three person kayaks. (Becky had joined us for the day. Her birthday fell on Easter this year. She worked late at Macys on Saturday night and drove through the night all by herself and got to the house at 3 AM to join us for Easter and her birthday. So this Kayaking expedition was her special birthday adventure!  )

The man who rented the kayaks was very nice. He told us that it was awfully windy for kayaks but if we really wanted to try it was fine with him. Of course Hakes would not be daunted by a little wind. It was the only shot we had at doing the adventure. So we took off. Dad, Elsie, and I took one of the three person Kayaks and Isaac and Elaina went in the other one. Becky, Luke, and Liesl each had one of our one man kayaks.

While our sailboat experience can rightly be referred to as a learning curve, our kayak adventure would be more accurately graphed like the function y=x. It was a straight one shot deal. It was an “Ok, I get it!” experience. “You don’t kayak in a big wide body of water on a very windy day.”

The kayaks were impossible to steer, especially the three man ones. They had a mind of thei
r own and did not respond to normal means of control. Everyone’s arms were impossibly strained trying to paddle. Everyone got soaked through with the breakers splashing over and spraying us until everyone was shivering in the wind. We could not make our boats go where we wanted them to go. We were finally cast up on an island. It seemed a welcome refuge from the stormy bay, at least until we stepped out onto it and sunk down into the muddy smelly mire. There we were, marooned in the muck, wet and freezing. Elsie and Elaina were crying because they were cold. We told them we could pretend we were king penguins and all huddle around them in the middle and see how it worked to keep warm. That was great. It did keep Elsie and Elaina warm, but not so much the penguins on the outside of the circle. In any case, keeping up the warm formation is great for penguins that have nothing to do and nowhere else to go, but we had to move on.

Plans abandoned, it was all we could do to get back across the bay and back to our little channel. It was not just physically challenging to paddle, not just and cold and uncomfortable, but frightening. We were each afraid in our own way. We couldn’t stay together to help each other either. Poor Becky was pretty scared for her birthday trip, but I’ll vouch this time that she did not pee in her pants. I’m not sure the rest of us can say that for sure. Isaac sang out at the top of his lungs the whole way back to keep Elaina happy and calm as he strained his way across, breathless from both the effort of rowing against the wind and from his wild choruses. Luke and Liesl were troopers. Daddy and I got back last hugging the shore and seeking as much shelter from the wind as we could once we got back across.

We built a nice cozy fire, threw all our wet muddy clothes in the washer and dryer and sat, contented couch potatoes, and watched a movie.


Highlight 4: Easter Worship

Though we missed being together as a church body to worship on Easter, we might have had a wonderful Easter worship service as a family, if only I had listened to the kids and let us have it in the family room of the house and not insisted on my bright idea of doing it on the beach. The beach was freezing cold and though it was beautiful some were too cold to be out of the van and the service was chopped up and disrupted in many ways. However, we did finish it all in pieces throughout the day, and enjoyed all the parts of it we had planned even though some of us were very sleepy when the last parts were done at night. We listened to a great Piper sermon on the resurrection, and also to Max McLean’s reading of the Easter Scriptures which we enjoyed a lot – similar to the Christmas readings we listened to with all of you at Christmas this year.

Highlight 5: Winnie the Pooh , Bear of Very Little Brain, Plays Detective.

One thing that did work without any hitches on our little vacation was enjoying together the

LibriVox recording of AA Milne’s, The Red House Mystery. None of us knew he had written a murder mystery. It was pretty good and fit well into a three or four day vacation. It got us all the way home in the van and we finished it up the evening after vacation. Not riveting, but good, with a good LibriVox reader.

We also got into playing Botticelli – a marathon round of it every night late into the night – and had a lot of fun being very silly and stumping each other. When the hours got very late Dad tried hard to keep participating and would wake up occasionally to chime in with a Mrs. F’s Aunt type comment that added to the fun.

Another highlight in terms of things we shared was something Isaac had us listen to on the trip to the island. It was very moving. Daddy and I were both weeping. I thought Dad would crash he was so blinded with tears. It is the neatest Christmas music album – a redemptive history marching through the OT leading up to Christ’s coming and his death for us. Really neat. Like a musical Jesse Tree. You would all enjoy it. Andrew Peterson is one of Isaac’s favorite musicians of the past year or so. Maybe you all know him. The album is Behold The Lamb Of God.

It was good to stop. We’ll have to do it again. Blessings.

(I reset the timer twice. Thirty minutes.  )

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