Lake Day III

Last Monday my adviser, Howard Rockman, invited the entire lab to his annual lake day party. Howard and his family have a house on Hyco Lake which is 50 miles straight north of us almost to the Virginia border. They have a beautiful MasterCraft ski boat, a SeaDoo, and a pontoon party boat all of which are docked right at their house. For the past many years (this makes three for me), Howard has invited the lab to take a Monday (as there is less traffic on the lake), bring their families and some food to hang out, ski, eat, and enjoy themselves. Despite a rainy start to they day, the afternoon cleared up, and this year both Andy and I successfully water skied!

The first year we went, I was successful at skiing off the boom on the side of the boat. At that time Andy’s attempts to ski were pretty exhausting and, as it was near the end of the day, he and others were less than patient. Last year I attempted to ski behind the boat but never got up for more than a second or two. That second year, Andy just contented himself with tubing, riding the SeaDoo, and bouncing on the giant trampoline. This year, however, I managed to get up two of the three times Howard had planned for me. The first time I was up for a few seconds but had a hard time keeping my elbows straight and my knees bent—I felt that something needed to be adjusted so I was trying to move everything which, of course, meant I didn’t stay up long. The third time, however, I took off, got a good balance and, as Andy could see from sitting in the back of the boat, once I got settled my face turned from intense concentration to a huge grin! I got to ride around for about five minutes, including a turn and crossing the wake, after which Howard dropped me off right in front of the pontoon boat filled with most of the other people in my lab, so I got to show that I did it! Howard was happy I had skied and, while I was riding, one of the other guys in the lab asked if my passing the ski test meant I’d now earned my PhD to which Howard said he’d consider it only my second qualifying exam.

Although Andy had resigned himself to not even messing with the skis again this year, Howard convinced him to give it a shot. Since the boom had already been attached for one of the other guys in my lab, Howard had Andy first try with the boom and, when he got up no problem, Howard sent him to the back of the boat proclaiming he knew what he was doing. After one furtive start Andy too got up, found his balance and more or less repeated my tour although by the time Howard dropped him off, the pontoon boat had headed home for dinner.

In addition to the skiing we rode a new tube around behind the boat which was fun, especially hearing Andy laughing the whole time, although the multiple tubes last year allowed us to bounce one another more than the large stable tube this year did. We of course also played on the trampoline with Michael (Howard’s youngest son) and others. And, although I did not ride the SeaDoo, Andy, Michael and a new intern our lab, Chad, managed to flip it over! At first Michael was using the restricted key to drive the SeaDoo with two light-built Asian guys in my lab; when Michael swapped them for Andy and Chad, who is quite tall and also not particularly slightly built, the SeaDoo could not get up on a plane. It was hilarious watching Michael full-throttling the engine while it poked along and Andy using his arms like he was paddling a canoe! Later, though, Howard let Michael upgrade to the unrestricted key and this managed to not only get them all taking off but also got them to flip it over at high speed. They seemed to have a good time.

After the day of playing and unexpectedly getting more sunburned than we ought to have, since early in the day it was cloudy and raining, we retired to the house for potluck dinner. Especially since my lab has such diversity of East and South Asians combined with others who know how to cook well, of which Howard’s wife, Claire, is certainly not least, we had a great feast! After we got home we started applying aloe, rehydrating ourselves, and packing for Philadelphia (forthcoming post). It was a great lake day and we look forward to another one—perhaps then celebrating my doctoral defense.

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