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Lake Chelan

A few weekends back we were invited to cross over the Cascades to the Eastern side of the state and go camping with some friends in the Lake Chelan area. Quickly we came to a new understanding: This is where Summer really lives in the Pacific Northwest. Yes, I’ve been to the Tri Cities & Spokane areas and often chide Matt how much his Hometown is akin to Reno/Sparks, Nevada, a place of sagebrush-y desert sprawl where I spent a lot of time growing up searching for culture & attempting to be entertained as a teenager. Where I come from even the Biggest Little City in the World is bigger than the town in which I lived. You know, where you can Make the Biggest Little Mistake of Your Life? I jest. But the Lake Chelan area I found much more akin to the outdoor recreation enjoyed in the area I grew up. Between the Lakes & Columbia River, 300 days of sunshine and near-100 degree temperatures, it was an amazing getaway from Seattle’s overcast grey skies. I guess we have learned that sometimes you can’t just wait for Summer to come to you (most days Seattle has been near frigid throughout July). You have to go find Summer. Thankfully this was a pretty easy drive, minus getting ridiculously lost several times (note to husbands: risking running out of battery is wiser and less risky than turning the GPS on your phone off to preserve battery life then navigating us 15+ miles off course not once, but nearly a handful, including down private dirt roads with multiple hand-painted signs warning Trespasser’s will be Shot with a cow skull perched on top). Our camp site was amazingly nice, the weather was perfect and we had nothing else to do but relax & play in the sun. It was very reminiscent of how I spent much of my Summers as a pre-teen & teenager. Even the familiarity of a place overrun by tourists (us included), large pot-bellied guys with big wakeboarding boats, and sightings of 40-year old women tanned beyond human likeness (don’t see many of these in Seattle) struck a chord of nostalgia to me. I smiled at the quirkiness of the human condition.

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Surely our biggest highlight was this sweet little water park in Lake Chelan aptly named Sliding Waters. Our friends had discovered this little gem on a previous trip to Lake Chelan (they have participated in the annual Triathlon that weekend, though they secured a camp site, this year were unable to get the race registration in on time, so just camped). The Spark’s NV water park I grew up at is a far cry from the beautifully manicured green landscaping & well cared for facilities of this one. With four small slides, a kiddy splash area, inner tube slides, racing slides & lots of big twirly slides, all ages were taken care of. Even the adults got a chance to head up to the big people slides. I’ll admit, I haven’t had a chance to do something like this, nor have had that much fun being swirled and twisted then spit out into a pool for far too long. We had such a good time, we were conspiring to come back over lunch. Our girls tend towards the timid side when presented with new things and are still pretty apprehensive around water. Pia barely got it; Araiya would go down the slides on a lap, though had many reservations with me as my feet slipped several times as we got spit off the slide at the bottom; Tallis was the one who surprised us.

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Tallis, out of all of our girls, takes the most to warm up to something new and apprehensive. Typically I expect Tallis to hang back and watch until whatever we are doing is about over and then want to participate. About halfway through our day she got brave enough to go down the smallest slide by herself, with me standing at the bottom to catch her. All by herself she walked up the path, hands straight down at her side, chin pressed to her chest, one eye peering out from behind her hair- typical Tallis fashion. She patiently waited in line behind the other kids, eagerly bouncing off one another, pushing to launch themselves down the slide. Then timid Tallis steps up, steps in, and stands there. She looks so incredibly tiny to me. Another girl tries to gently coerce her into going down. A bigger boy cuts in front of her. All the while I’m standing at the bottom, waving & encouraging her. She steps back out, shoulders hunched. I’m pretty sure she’s either crying or about to cry, though I debate if I should get out of the pool to go up there at the risk of her going down the slide while I’m en route and then there would be no one to catch her. Then she gets back in line again. And gets out. Thankfully at that point Matt walks by with Pia (on their way back from the bathroom, Pia had decided that would be a great day to poo like 5 times while at the park). Matt was able to help encourage Tallis at the top of the slide, and finally, she is bold enough to sit down and ever so hesitantly scoot herself into the flow of the water, bracing her hands against the sides of the white plastic slide in vain attempt to slow herself down. I snatch her up as she shoots out the bottom of the slide, express an exuberant excitement for how great she did that all by herself, anticipating that might have been too much. Tallis smiles a shy smile, but there is accomplishment behind her eyes. “I wanna go again.” So up the path she goes. Once she got the hang of it, there was no stopping her. Matt said that he got caught off guard when he was waiting at the bottom then suddenly realized she was about to come down the slightly bigger #2 slide, Tallis has snuck higher up the path, bold enough to decide completely on her own she was ready for something more. I was really proud of Tallis’ boldness. In half a day, she must have taken about 30 or so rides by herself down the slides. Even Araiya never ventured down one on her own.

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