Tuesday, July 13, 2010
I walked into the HEB plus a couple of weeks ago and found a display I could not take my eyes off of. At the front of the store, where they always have their seasonal displays, sat a jet ski with a flat screen TV situated somehow just above the seat (I honestly don't know what was holding it up). Around the jet ski were mountains of beer cases, punctuated by the occasional innertube or other water toy. There was also a free-standing display of sunscreen and a rack of T-shirts that said "Aquapalooza" on them. On the flat-screen, Alan Jackson was singing bad country while girls in bikinis danced on a nearby platform, and the camera moved back and forth from Alan to the girls to a panorama of boats out in front of the stage Jackson was singing from. I stood, mesmerized by the display, for several minutes. I reasoned that I was watching footage from last year's Aquapalooza concert. I wasn't sure what to make of it all. Beer and Alan Jackson are two things I don't ever want too much of, but the word "Aquapalooza" was bringing desire out from my fun-seeking brain like "Abbracadabra" would a genie in a bottle. I had to find out more.
To my delight, there were free "Aquapalooza 2010 Survival Guides" magazines planted strategically amongst the beer cases and water toys. To my even greater delight, the face on the cover of the magazine was the only country star that I could eat with a spoon- Brad Paisley. It's impossible not to love Brad Paisley because, not only does he sing funny songs about manhood and romantic songs about being in love forever, but he is also married to the cute girl from Father of the Bride, and that just makes him more precious than he would be if he were single. So there was the beer, the jet ski, the sunscreen, the flotation devices and a picture of Brad Paisley in a cowboy hat being splashed by water. I began to put together the pieces.
Aquapalooza 2010 was a free concert on Lake Travis. Not at Lake Travis, on Lake Travis. The Survival Guide read, "Your boat is your ticket." All you had to do was get there by water and you could see Brad Paisley sing about water and fishin and love- for free! I was determined to go.
I told Andy about my desire to go Palooz with Brad and all of the boat people. But to be sure that he didn't forget about the upcoming event, I'd wake up every morning and announce "Five days to Aquapalooza!" "Four days to Aquapalooza!" and so on and so forth. Of course, there was just one problem with Aquapalooza, the free Brad Paisley concert on Lake Travis- you had to get there by boat. We don't have a boat. We don't know anyone who has a boat. But, what do we have? Kayaks. :)
My husband is such a good sport. Not only did he email the Aquapalooza powers that be to make sure it was okay to kayak into this huge event, but he also scouted out the most optimal place for us to put our kayaks in, so that our paddle to Palooza would be bearable.
So on Saturday morning, we got up and started the day with a trip to a new fishing hole Andy discovered online. I reasoned that if Andy was willing to kayak with me all afternoon, then I was more than willing to sit in a folding chair and read while he threw his line into the water for a couple of hours. Once it started to get hot, we packed it up and headed home. We stopped at HEB to pick up some provisions and two innertubes. (We could take the yaks into the concert area, but to get close enough to see Brad, we'd need the tubes, as hard watercraft were not allowed in the "mosh pit" viewing area).
By noon, we were on the road, headed to the Lake. One of the best things about living in Northwest Austin, is that Lake Travis is literally minutes away. People travel from all over the Southwest to vacation at Lake Travis, and there are famous restaurants and attractions on the Lake that are such a short distance from where we live. In less than half and hour, we were at a public park on the North shore of the lake, downing ham and cheese sandwiches and slathering on sunscreen.
Out on the lake, which is a breathtaking blue, scores of motorized boats were zooming by. Speed boats, sail boats, pontoon boats, ski boats, jet skis- everything was headed in the direction of the concert. Andy and I weren't intimidated, though, even though the wake from all that watercraft was causing surf like you'd see at the ocean. I told Andy we might be like ants going to the picnic, but we were going to get there anyhow.
So we started to paddle. And we paddled. And we paddled. And almost two hours later, we arrived at Aquapalooza. There were hundreds of boats lined up strategically in front of the massive stage that was mounted on a point. There were more boats in one place than I'd ever seen anywhere in my life. People had brought their boats out the night before to claim a good space, close to the stage. The rows of boats went way back into the water, far from the stage. Those people out in the nosebleed section had to paddle use water craft (kayaks, jet skis, tubes, etc.) to make their way up to the viewing area. But the nice thing about being the ant at the picnic is that you're so small that no one notices you. It was mid-afternoon when we arrived, but Andy and I were able to stake out a prime spot on the third row. We could have gotten closer than that, but it was too loud for me. We put the anchor in the water, inflated our tubes and chillaxed on Lake Travis.
Brad Paisley didn't come on until almost six, so Andy and I got to just hang out and relax on the water for a while. It was fun people-watching. Lots of drunk people on nice boats. People swimming around and floating on tubes and noodles and rafts of all kinds. There was live music and people were playing games and singing and dancing. Finally Brad Paisley came on, and Andy and I floated our tubes a little closer to the stage, though we never got in the mosh pit area. We sang along with Brad and basked in the evening sun. By seven, as Brad was wrapping up his show, Andy and I were busy deflating our tubes and making ready for the journey back. We wanted to try to hustle across the lake, so we could get out of the way before the big boats came through. Imagine ants trying to escape the picnic before the people pack up and leave. That was me and Andy trying to cross Lake Travis and get to the opposite side, where we could hug the shoreline until we reached our destination. We made it across in one piece before the wake got too big.
It was quite the adventure on the way home, though. The trip out to Aquapalooza had been tiring, but we had excitement on our side. The trip home, we were tired, hungry, and Andy was sun-burned. But we made it back before the sun went down. On the ride home, I commented to Andy that I was really thankful that we could go out and enjoy an adventure like the one we had just had, but not have to get so drunk or feel like all there is to life is drinking or showing off your boat. I guess that being the ant at the picnic really isn't all that bad. Andy might disagree, though. He has a bad burn from Saturday and we were both really sore from all those hours of paddling. Still, I'm convinced that on days like that, my hubby and I have it made.
I'm so thankful that God has given me a friend and companion like Andy. I'm as aware as ever that life is hard for people. That's never a far-away thought. I don't want to forget about the people I know and love who are struggling with things and having a hard time. I've been in their boat. But it's good, I think, to give glory and credit to God- who can bring you out of that boat and put you in a new one, even if it is a kayak. :)