Hotdog Boat Racing

In April we celebrated my Mom’s birthday, out at the Duckabush at her request. We tried to get an early start, but (as usual) didn’t manage to leave the house much before 11 am. Mom had asked that we have a hot-dog roast instead of the formal 7-course meal we had planned, so we reluctantly acceded to her demands and canceled our arrangement with the caterers and the troupe of musicians. Fortunately, we were able to get our deposit back on the ice sculpture swans, since it was still within the cancellation window.

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Although it was raining nearly everywhere else, we enjoyed sunshine throughout our visit to the valley, which made the whole experience a lot more fun. We ate lunch outside, happily devouring potato salad and chips. Kathy brought a tasty green salad and we took turns charring our hot dogs over a small fire. Mom seemed to enjoy the presents we brought, and we all adjourned to the ravine for boat races along the stream. The little plastic boat I selected was measurably less stream-worthy than the others, or perhaps I just had a run of bad luck … my boat seemed to spend most of its time hung up on rocks or at the bottom of a little pool.

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I tried to give my boat some needed character by sticking a piece of grass through the hole in the smokestack as a sort of a flag or mast, but it broke off the first time my boat capsized and left only a small stump. I thought it had a rather jaunty look, though, and it helped me identify my boat. Some snidely commented that I could easily identify my boat … it was always the last one. I thought this displayed poor sportsmanship and was rather unkind … relatives can be so cruel, sometimes.

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I had to keep careful watch on my children to prevent cheating … despite the fact that no prizes were offered, the desire to win was very strong. Eventually, we raced enough so that everyone had a chance to win (or come close) except for my little red boat. I consoled myself with the knowledge that, as a mature grown-up, I had no special need to win. I don’t think anyone saw me when I went back later and raced my boat by itself, apparently the only way I could be sure of a win.

Boat racing is a surprisingly fun activity, though, and we ran up and down the streambed shouting like maniacs as the kids took turns falling into the water. Kathy had cleverly packed extra clothes for everyone, although Daniel’s spare pants never did turn up until we were on our way home. Mom seemed to take genuine pleasure in having her birthday remembered in this way, so a good time was had by all.

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It was strange, though, to have Mom and Dad all to ourselves … perhaps next year there will be more cousins around at such gatherings.

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