Wednesday, August 26, 2009

I'll always remember: Camping at Foster Lake

Please view note below regarding all photographs in this post.

Foster Lake was, and still is, my favorite camping spot. I have so many memories from Foster Lake . . . all of us singing in the car on the drive down, catching salamanders down by the docks, walking to the beachy area to go swimming, our yellow boat, and Mom's dishwashing station with separate bins for soap water, rinse water, and bleach water. Coolers with melted ice and our lunches floating around in it (bagel for me, sandwiches for everyone else). I remember eating lunch on the boat and playing hand games with Mindy. Do I remember all the words?
Miss Sip! Miss Sip! Miss Sip from Alabama, let's have a party! Let's play tic-tac-toe. A tic! A tac! A tic-tac-toe. Mama's got the measles, Papa's got the flu! I ain't lyin' and neither are you! Sittin' at the table, peeling a potato. Sittin' in an alley, throwin' back a ladle. Sittin' on a bench, waitin' for a friend. Waitin' for the the clock to go boom chicka wah wah, boom chicka wah wah, boom chicka wah wah, three Siamese FREEZE!
I remember running with Mindy across the field and tripping and breaking my collarbone. I remember no one thought I was really hurt and they all thought I was being a baby, but I cried for so long they finally decided to take me to the hospital. Everyone was mortified when we found out what was wrong. I remember the doctor looked like Clark Kent. We were supposed to have spaghetti that night, and it got burnt because it took so long at the hospital.

I remember the feeling when we first arrived at Foster Lake, and as we pulled into the campground we all would start scoping for our perfect camping spot. The best spots were closest to the docks because the overhanging trees helped keep the temperature cooler. We were like a well-oiled machine when we arrived and started setting up . . . everyone wanted to get out on the water.

I remember launching the boat (or rather, watching the boat get launched) and every year Mom would tell the story about the time that the boat got released too quickly and she was left holding the rope and got a really bad rope burn on her hand.

I remember the moment when the boat was finally in the water and we all held our breath, hoping the engine would start and that there weren't any leaks.

I remember sometimes Daddy would let me drive.

I remember the long drive through the channel to get from camping side to the actual lake, and how we all loved tooling along slowly. I'd sit on the bow of the boat with my feet dangling in the water. I remember the tugging feel if you let your feet go in too far, and how it felt like they were going to get sucked under the boat. Sometimes Mindy and I would sit together, but usually we'd take turns because it was always better to sit centered on the bow (if you were sharing then your leg was resting on a metal bar and your foot would fall asleep). While we puttered along I sang Barges, and sometimes Mom and/or Mindy would join me.

Out of my window looking through the night
I can see the barges’ flickering light
Silently flows the river to the sea
And the barges to go silently

Barges I would like to go with you
I would like to sail the ocean blue
Barges have you treasure in your hold
Do you fight with pirates brave and bold

Out of my window looking through the night
I can see the barges’ flickering light
Starboard shines green and port is glowing red
You can see them flickering far ahead
I remember passing under the big bridge that we drove over in the car on the way in. Sometimes you'd see daredevils up there, working up their nerve. If you were lucky . . . you'd see them jump!

When we left Foster Lake to drive back home, we'd always stop at the same place for one last swim. It was not too far from the bridge where everyone jumps, and I remember Mindy always said she wanted to do it. Dad would stop the car, but she always changed her mind. So we'd keep going to our Last Swim Spot for a quick dip, and I remember sitting in the Suburban on a towel waiting for my bathing suit to dry.

I remember we used to go out at dusk to drive around on the lake, and how we'd turn on the lights of the boat and how pretty it looked. The water would be calm as glass, and the sky would be pink. When it finally got too dark we'd make our way back to the camp, all ready to do it again the next day.

Out on the lake, we'd take turns with whatever suited our fancy. Scott would always waterski . . . he was the best of all of us at it. Sometimes he'd drop a ski and just use one, and we'd have to go back to pick it up later, and I always wondered if someone would steal it before we made it back for it. I remember for the longest time we only had one set of wooden waterskis and they were too big for me, but Scott, Mindy and Dad would all take turns skiing. I remember watching the skier behind the boat, bobbing in the swell and trying to get organized with the ski line between their skis. They looked so little, as the rest of us waited for them to yell "Hit it!"

I rarely took a turn skiing; it just wasn't my thing. Even when we finally bought skis that were a more appropriate size, I would try it once or twice, get out of the water and actually ski for like three seconds, and then I was done. The skibob was much more my style, but even with that . . . I preferred riding it when we were tooling back to the docks. I've never been the risk-taking type (except maybe when it comes to riding horses). Sometimes Mindy and I would go on it double, but neither of us liked that much. She is much more adventurous and always thought I was boring. Mindy liked it when Dad drove in circles to make her go over the wake, or went really fast, or went flying over someone else's wake . . . I remember I used to jump off if I saw something really scary coming up. Or rather, I wouldn't jump, but I'd scootch down until my legs were dragging in the water and then I'd let go. I remember the shock of the cold water, but the anticipation of jumping/falling in was the worst part. If we were going too fast and I was scared to jump off (slide off), I'd grip the skibob for all I was worth, hunch down until my back and shoulders were stiff with tension, and I'd squinch my eyes tight and squeal/scream until it was over.

Then I'd bail.

Regarding the three photos above:
I don't have any digital pictures of Foster Lake or our camping trips. I found all three of the pictures I used in this post on the
Linn County Parks and Recreation website. The pictures are various shots of the campground we stayed at. I couldn't find a good shot of Foster Lake itself.
  • Top: "the docks" where we'd moor the boat for the night. You can see the view of the narrow channel I talk about -- following it takes you to the lake. It loops to the right side of the picture and if you could see around the corner, that's where the boat ramp is.
  • 2nd/middle photo: the boat ramp where you launch the boat. You can see the channel in the background.
  • Final picture: the bridge that takes you from the highway to the campground. This is the one that some people jump from; it's high but not a suicide jump. From the water it's just before you get to the lake from the channel.
This is the best one I could find and it's not
from the Linn County Parks & Rec website.
Wikipedia knows everything.

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