We had a great turn out. There were probably 12-14 couples plus kids. Since The Beach Trip our SS class has been fruitful and multiplied. At one point we had 7 expectant couples. Something was definitely in the
My girls were pretty stoked about the party but mostly the chance to fish. The other things were somewhat foreign to them. I had warned them the fishing on the river is different than on a pond. (They may not catch anything) We had just put the fishing poles down by the pier and had said hello to about three people when I hear the host say, "Come on, Kipp you ride with me." He was sitting on a running jet ski. I checked with my wife to make sure she was cool with it...I mean I said "Heck yeah, let's go."
There was a couple, who I did not recognize, sitting on a second running jet ski. My host explained the couple was engaged to be married and while she was still in school he was working for the host. Host (who will now be called Thurston) had invited them to join in on the fun. Thurston wanted to take them out on the river and show them where they could ride. I was instructed I was going for the same basic reason, when I got back I would relieve Thurston of jet ski duty and show others where they could ride. This would ensure more people would be aware of where to ride quicker.
The river house was up a creek/slough about 500 yards from the river. We had to cruise at idle speed as to make no wake until we reached the river. Once we hit the river there were three options left, straight and right. Thurston chose right. I grabbed the bar on the back of the seat as he throttled down on the jet ski and we planed out within seconds.
He is yelling over the motor pointing out the landmarks to help me identify how to find my way back. We made it through a few turns and out to the big river where it appeared most everyone in the area was hanging out. There were party barges, wake boarders, tubers, other jet skis, joy riders, you name it. The water was bit rough in the main river so Thurston made a U-turn and opened the throttle to get back to the smother water.
He was sure to point out the creek/slough that led back to his house. As we passed it, we took a right (which would have been the straight option when we started out). This path turned out to be very smooth water but had about 4 hair pin turns involved within a short distance. As we approached a bridge, there was a big wide spot in the river. Thurston slowed down to idle speed and hollered to the other couple that had been following our every move, "I am going to let Kipp drive. If you guys want to switch up and let her drive this is a good spot."
Jet ski's have gotten a lot bigger than when they first came out years ago. I consider them to be about the size of a small boat. Thurston starts explaining that although it appears to be big and stable it can tilt about like a canoe. "We need to be careful about our weight distribution." He removes the kill switch leash from his wrist, hooks it on the left grip and stands up. Almost under his breath I hear, "OK this is a lot easier with my wife."
I did not fully understand this comment until he stood up and I realized there is not much room to exchange positions on a jet ski without having to possibly rub up against the other passenger. Then he offers some real enlightening advice. "Just go slow on that side so we can counter balance as we go." We were both standing with our arms out as if on a high wire yet somewhat leaning over the seat. How can I describe this next part...guys...most guys...some guys...real...I ...me...I am not comfortable...shaking hands is about the most...we were trying our best not to hold each other nor inadvertently rub against each others...middle parts. When it became apparent that certain "middle areas" may get too close for comfort Thurston reacts rather suddenly and leans back and says, "Counter balance!" As I try to counter the balance, I reach over and forward for the handle bar for support.
Somehow as I blindly reached for the handle bar I was successful at grabbing the right side of the handle bar and pulling it toward me. However at the same time, I was very successful in squeezing the throttle. My reaction time in releasing the throttle was enhanced by the thrust force of the jet ski which was suddenly no longer under my feet. I found myself in a picture perfect Nestea plunge pose. Having seen the movie Inception recently, I would have to say, this is the moment I would have woken up from my dream.
I was laughing before I hit the water. There were so many things to laugh about. First why did we just try that? Really...the one place on the entire jet ski you grab is the throttle? Thurston's employee is going to have a story to tell his coworkers Monday about the day he saw his millionaire boss being thrown from his own jet ski.
I breached the water to hear Thurston saying "I cannot believe that just happened."
I said, "You were right, it has to be easier with your wife."
I glanced over at employee and his finance' and notice that finance' was in the drivers seat. Employee says, "Yes it was much easier for us. She just crawled over then turned..."
Simultaneously Thurston and I interrupt with "We know how she did it!"
We were fortunate the jet ski had been powered upstream while missing the jungle gym couple. The river current brought the idling jet ski back toward Thurston and I. Thurston reached the jet ski first but while he was trying to explain to the jungle gym couple what happened to us, I went ahead and climbed up on the jet ski and into the drivers seat. Thurston finally crawls on board explaining he will not ever try that again with anybody other than his own wife. He had no sympathy for my hat as I explained how nearly lost it.
We arrived back at the dock to looks of wonder and bewilderment. The first question we hear, "What happened to you two? Wasn't Thurston driving when you guys left?"
I heard Thurston inhale and before he could get a word out I went ahead with my response, "We hit a killer wave out (using my hands to display a jet ski jumping a wave) on the main river behind a Contender, as I leaned forward upon our decent, pointing the nose of the jet ski toward the water (pointing my hand down), we went all the way under like you see on TV before popping back up; it was killer dude."
"You fell off didn't you?"
KJ was standing there laughing at her father. I asked her if she wanted to go for a ride while I still had dibs on the jet ski. Thurston was being beckoned to take the boat out for some of the ladies and a few tubers. KJ was ready to go. She put on a life jacket. I put her in front of me and off we went.
After the no wake zone we stayed out of the way of the weekend warriors. KJ loves going fast (I suspect her mothers driving). We started going in circles and jumping our own wake waves. She was loving it. We hit one wave that sprayed water all over our faces. She giggled like a little girl about that. We zipped around for a few more minutes before heading back to the dock. I asked her if she thought Squirt would want a ride. "O-Yeah."
We get back to the dock and I send KJ to find Squirt over by the kiddie pool. "Tell Momma about the plans and see what she says." Within a few seconds, Squirt was standing on the dock wearing a life jacket telling her mother "See ya later mom."
Squirt's experience with vehicles of any kind is limited to a mini-van, a compact truck that would not be able to pull my hat off my head, and her Sea Turtle training wheel bicycle. Squirt excitedly hops on the jet ski between me and the handle bars. I instruct her where to hold on to the handlebars as to not hit the throttle ;)
KJ screams at Squirt. "Tell Dad to go fast!" So the next 500 yards all I heard was: "Dad can we go fast? When are we going to go fast? Can we go fast yet?" I told her I would let her know when so she could hold on.
When we reach the river there was a boat that appeared to be out of gas. The girl in the bikini was tinkering around near the motor. I think I figured out she was switching out the gas lines on the outboard. But just in case, we pulled up and asked if they were OK or if they needed any help. "Naw man, we are good. But thanks for checking on us. Have a good day." (That was the man in the boat by the way)
"No problem ya'll too."
"Squirt, now we are going to go fast so hold on." I opened up the jet ski about half way. Squirt squealed like she was riding Thunder Mountain at Disney World. Then she started laughing. We took a ride around the 4 hair pin turns on the smooth water back up in the creeks at a pretty good clip. She was loving the speed and the wind her face. We got to the place of the earlier incident and turned around to head back.
When we got back to the open space just before the slough and no wake zone, I cut loose on some circles. I was not going quite as fast with her as with KJ, so the waves were not causing the same splash in the face affect. I stepped it up just a little and finally got the affect that KJ liked so much. Well Squirt laughed out loud as well. I guess the shock of the cold water is exciting.
We slowed back down and started the long idle speed trek back to the dock. I was pointing out some things in the yards of the river houses. We got quiet about 100 yards from the dock. Squirt turns so I can see her face. She is grinning from ear. Then she reduces the smile and raises her eyebrows. She gives me her cool look. Looking up at me under her eyebrows with a half smile, "Dad that was waay cooler than the kiddie pool." I could not help it, I laughed out loud. "I think you are right Squirt. This is way cooler."
Many thanks to Thurston and his family for inviting us out for the day. If you aren't taking time to get out with your family or spouse, you are missing out all kinds of fun.
By the way - I have no idea why some paragraphs have more line spacing than others.