All Aboard!

“I don’t know if I have ever seen you smile that broadly!”

That’s what my friend Dan Merry said to me as he helped me into the boat following an exhilarating session of tubing on Raystown Lake.  I didn’t say anything, and he said, “I am serious – you really like that, don’t you?”

Sharon said, “You know, I think that he comes out on the water and takes risks and gets a little crazy and that helps him take risks with the rest of his life.”

That's me on waterskis. The Blue Gill is in the background.

Sharon gets into the action...she feels the need for speed!

I respect these folks, and I sure am not going to argue psychology with my wife.  There are a lot of things that make me happy – but riding in a boat is surely one of them (although I’m not entirely sure that the “smile” you see in the photo is really a grin of pleasure, or simply how it looks when you’re holding onto a flimsy piece of canvas held together with duct tape while your so-called “friend” is spinning you across the lake at 50 miles per hour…).  In fact, when the people at the Lilly Endowments asked the question, “What Makes Your Heart Sing?”, my short answer was “time on the water”.   I’ve been smiling and singing a lot since Monday afternoon.

The Skipper of the Blue Gill (note the dashboard accessory)

The second phase of the Sabbatical Experience has begun, and I am now the captain of Houseboat #3, the “Blue Gill” (evidently, they assign boats on the basis of fishing expertise…they didn’t give me one called the “Lake Trout” or the “Humongous Bass”…).  This little RV on the water is a 44 ft. long 8 sleeper that comes complete with large living dining area, fully equipped galley, bathroom with full size shower. There’s a front deck with table, chairs, and gas grill, and the entire top deck is a sunroof.  In fact, on Monday night, the sky was clear and there was no moon, and I saw the best shooting star I have ever, ever seen.  It was truly a WOW moment.

The first two nights on the boat I had some company: Pastor Dan Merry and his wife, Beth, joined Sharon and me. Ariel brought a few friends up from Chambersburg for an afternoon, and we really had a good time.  We had a scare yesterday when Beth took a tumble on the waterskis and injured her leg, but she seemed to feel a lot better after we spotted a juvenile Bald Eagle off the starboard bow!

The next couple of days should be quiet (so far, I’m saving a TON of time by not having any fish to clean), and I expect to be alone on the water.  This is the first time on the entire Sabbatical that I’ve been truly alone, and I think it will be good for me.  I hope to work on some photos from South America, so maybe later this week you’ll see some good bird shots from that part of the trip.

A juvenile Bald Eagle heading back to the nest.

A young bald eagle perches above its aerie.