Last August, Bryn and our friends, Julie and Cherry, invented Annual Waterslide Day. Originally they were planning to go to Mariner's Reef, the largest waterslide park in the Okanagan Valley just across the lake in Westbank. Unfortunately, earlier that summer Mariner's Reef had been closed down and the land sold to contractors eager to turn the area into a subdivision. Bryn, Julie and Cherry had to amend their first plan and decided instead that Waterslide Day would be held annually at Atlantis Waterslides just outside Vernon, 40 minutes north of Kelowna. I already had plans to spend Sunday to Thursday on a Shuswap Lake houseboat with my dad, aunt, uncle and cousins, so I wasn't able to attend the inaugural Waterslide Day. But yesterday I was finally able to participate in Annual Waterslide Day!
This year, in addition to the three original Waterslide Day members making the journey to Vernon, there were five of us "new inductees" along: Chris, Andrew, Keli, Max and me. Everyone gathered at our house at 11 a.m. and then waited half an hour for the always-late Chris to drive up from his house in Oliver, an hour and a half south of Kelowna. While we waited, Max tried out my dad's massage chair and Andrew worked on a solution to our Log Stacker puzzle in the living room. Bryn, Julie, Cherry and Keli took over the TV room and cheered on Canada's Olympic women's softball team. I divided my time between talking to Andrew and Max in the living room and running to the TV room whenever I heard a loud celebration go up from the Olympic cheering squad to find out what had transpired in the game. Finally Chris arrived and we set out in two cars — the girls in Cherry's car and the guys in Max's jeep — to Vernon.
We spent a fun and eventful four and a half hours at Atlantis Waterslides waiting in long lines, plugging up the River Riot with our tubes, and warming up in the hot tub. When everyone was too extremely hungry to think about going on anymore waterslides, we gathered our belongings, took a few pictures together and drove back into Vernon, where we ate supper at Taco Del Mar. It was immensely delicious! When Julie, Andrew and Bryn were done their food, they ran just down the street to Tim Hortons and brought back some doughnuts, Tim Bits and other Tim Horton-y delights. Bryn and I decided that before going to Dairy Queen for a second dessert, we needed to make a detour and see the Vernon Community Music School once again. From 1998 until we graduated from high school, Bryn, Tyler and I had taken music lessons at VCMS and we wanted to make sure it still looked the same. It did and we continued back to the highway for DQ treats, which very few of us actually finished since we were so completely full by this time.
As we started back to Kelowna, those of us in the girl's car (now numbering five since Keli had decided to join the more exciting car) took another detour toward the north end of Okanagan Lake. We found a small public beach just past the Vernon airport and piled out for the first of three Lake Dunks. Max climbed a willow tree while Andrew found some of its branches tied together to form a swing, quickly climbed into it, and got Keli to push him. Bryn and I documented Andrew's tree swinging experience on video with Bryn's and Julie's cameras and then I took pictures of Cherry, Bryn and Julie on the beach and also an airplane that flew over us on final approach to the runway. Chris meanwhile was sitting on a log and twirling his key lanyard while he watched the rest of us run around. Bryn was in the process of trying to figure out how to get a picture of all eight of us sitting on the log when a little girl came walking across the beach, so Bryn asked if she could take the picture, which she kindly agreed to. Then it was time for us to dunk. The guys had all changed back into their clothes at the waterslides, so only us girls were adventurous enough to get wet again. As Julie and I started wading into the water, I joked that I should throw her in. When she asked if I was serious, I replied that if someone would help me I most definitely was serious. Immediately Max, Andrew and Keli, who had heard the exchange, were at my side begging Julie's permission to throw her into the lake. She agreed, sat down in the shallow water and held up her arms and legs. We all grabbed her hands and feet, swung her counting, "ONE-TWO-THREE" and threw her a couple feet into the water. Julie shrieked and yelped and splashed. The rest of us were helplessly giggling on the shore, half because we hadn't exerted ourselves enough to throw her very far and half because on TWO I had lost my footing and fell straight back into the water on my bottom. Later I found out that Bryn had caught the whole thing on video! When our laughter subsided, Max suggested they throw me next. It looked like fun and was an easy way to get wet so I also agreed to the Lake Toss. They must have swung me in just such a way that I turned mid-air and ended up landing in the water stomach-down. When I splashed my way back to the surface, I found Julie laughing so hard that she fell back into the water. Her fall caused me to start laughing too and when we tried to stop giggling, one of us would start again so it took a few minutes to stop completely. I think if we wouldn't have stopped we might have had to get one of the guys to rescue us from laugh-drowning. I wanted to try for a more dignified landing so while Bryn and Cherry waded into the water for their own Lake Dunk, the three guys tried the Lake Toss on me again. Although I didn't know it at the time, Chris, still sitting on the log, had picked up Bryn's camera and got this throw on video. This time Max and Andrew let go of my legs just a tiny bit before Keli let go of my arms which made it possible for me to land crouched in the water, but still on my feet! As it dawned on me that I had made a pretty good landing, I realized that I needed to finish in good Olympic style. I sprang straight up and threw my arms into the air like a gymnast who just nailed a difficult vault. Then Julie and I swam out a little ways and proceeded to get our legs tangled in a forest of seaweed. I mentioned that I'd heard this area was the Ogopogo's feeding ground and we both hurriedly headed back to the beach. Us girls dried off and we all ran back to the cars to continue on to the next lake.
The drive from Vernon to Oyama was relatively uneventful except for about five minutes when we couldn't see the guy's car anywhere behind us. We wondered if they had broken down and Cherry slowed to way below the speed limit so Max could catch up to us. They finally caught up just before we turned off the highway onto Oyama Rd. between Kalamalka Lake and Woods Lake. We drove to a small public beach on the south end of Kalamalka Lake and were delighted to find a small dock just a short swim from shore. Before Lake Dunk #2 we got some pictures of a really neat sand castle someone had made and was still intact near the water. Then Julie, Bryn, Cherry and I cautiously walked into the rocky-bottomed lake. Once it was deep enough we dunked under and started swimming to avoid walking on the sharp rocks. Julie got to the dock first and climbed up the ladder at the back and then helped me climb up the side of the dock. Cherry was strong enough to pull herself up and she and Julie hauled Bryn up. We decided our course of action and started with the 4-Person Synchronized Dive. When we were all back on the dock, Julie, Cherry and I executed the Lake Tossed on Bryn, then Julie, Bryn and I attempted to Lake Toss Cherry although, without her strength, we were little weaklings and barely even got her over the edge of the dock. Our final event was the 4-Person Synchronized Cannon Ball. Cherry, Julie and I cannon balled with such enthusiasm that we managed to sink our feet into the surprisingly muddy lake bottom up to our ankles and when we surfaced, we laughed and shrieked so much that we almost drank half the lake (just a slight hyperbole)!! We finally calmed down enough to swim to shore and quickly raced back to our cars for the final dip.
We drove about 20 seconds to the other side of the thin strip of land separating the two lakes and parked beside the railway tracks next to Woods Lake. Bryn got to the beach first and found a rope hanging from a willow tree. I decided to sacrifice myself and tested out the rope to see if it could hold any weight; I soon pronounced it swing-able. As I swung out over the shallow edge of the lake, I realized that I was holding the rope too high and if I let go I would surely hit the bottom of the lake so I decided against swinging my way into the lake. Bryn tried the rope too, but held on lower so her fall into the water would be shorter. In the end it didn't help too much since she hit the bottom anyway, but her landing wasn't too hard and it provided us with new laughs because she looked so funny. Then us girls swam out to one of the buoy's and tried to push it completely under water without much success. Finally, spent of all energy, we walked back up to the railway tracks and watched the strange game that the guys had invented as we were swimming and then sat around the parking lot and talked for a bit until we all were so thirsty we had to leave.
We drove to Winfield on the opposite side of Woods Lake from the highway which gave us a really pretty view of dusk settling over the valley. At Winfield we got onto the highway again and came back to our house. Again Cherry's driving got us to our destination much before the guys arrived. We had no idea where the three other guys had gone until they finally showed up and said they had stopped at Andrew's house on the way to let him change into clean clothes. Andrew had put on a plaid shirt to match the plaid shirts that Chris and Max were wearing. I told Keli that he needed one also to match the rest of the guys and he asked if my dad had any plaid shirts. I ran to find one and then got the idea that all us girls should wear plaid shirts too for some pictures. Bryn and I each only had one plaid shirt, but I grabbed two other of my dad's shirts for Cherry and Julie, which were of course way too big. We decided that the shirts not fitting right would make an even better plaid photoshoot since none of our plaid patterns and colours matched anyway. My mum had a great time taking crazy pictures of us with both her cameras and told me later that she had taken 79 pictures of us in our plaid! When the photoshoot was finished, we discussed plans for doing stuff together another day this week and then everyone headed home.
I'm pretty sure that the second Waterslide Day was much more eventful than the first, but now we'll have to figure out how to make the third even better!