After our first regatta day of the spring, we had another rowing event the following week. This time we headed out on a longer road trip, to the University of Virginia, to watch our friends from Texas take on some of the top teams in the country. There was a second purpose for our trip–I left my single scull in Texas when we left, but the team made room for it on their boat trailer and brought it out to Virginia. We told Elena that we were going to watch rowing and pick up daddy’s boat, but she put that together with some of her own thoughts and came out with a somewhat different idea. I’ll get back to that a little bit later.
Before the trip I had to figure out a way to transport my boat out of there and back here. Elena and I went to the hardware store to pick up a couple of two by fours and some screws, which was all I needed to build a boat rack. I’ve built one before, so I had a clear plan in my mind and was able to put it together in just one evening of work. When I told Elena what it was for, she didn’t quite understand the last word, and so she kept wondering how I was going to build a boat out of the materials at hand. Jenny had some doubts about the feasibility of my design; she wasn’t sure that the boat would stay on while we were driving on the highway. She said that she believed and trusted me, but I could tell she still had doubts and there wasn’t any way to convince her other than a successful trip.
Due to the threat of inclement weather the first round of races was moved from Saturday morning to Friday evening, and even though we tried our best to get there early, we only made it in time for some of the races. It was then that Elena’s true intentions became clear. She made a beeline for the beach, where all the boats were stored and next to which the rowers were doing wet launches and landings. At this point, it became clear that she really intended to take action on what she had been asking about all day long: “Daddy, I row boat?” When boats landed, she was ready to wade out and hop in. I guess she had her fill of watching the previous week, and now was ready to participate.
Jenny told me that I had to figure out a way for her at least to sit in a boat the following day, even though it wouldn’t be out on the water. I had some ideas and plans in place, but they never came to fruition because the ongoing threat of severe storms postponed racing until the evening, and we had to leave in the early afternoon. It is still a top priority for us to get Elena out on the water, although probably not in a rowing shell. On the next warm Saturday we need to find a nearby canoe rental and go out in something that feels a little safer than a racing boat.
The postponed races did give us a chance to spend quality time with Coach Caroline and Coach Kelly. As Elena hadn’t been with us when we last saw them, they were happy to see her proudly wearing her burnt orange. We found a cute brunch place in historic downtown Charlottesville partway down a pedestrian-only street that the GPS told us to drive on. We had a nice time catching up, hearing all the news, talking about Texas, their team and how everything was going.
After that, we went back to the race venue to pick up the boat. Elena again thought that she would have a chance to row, but we managed to distract her with the straps used to hold the boats down. She twirled them like ribbons while I used others to securely fasten the boat to the rack. Jenny tried not to think too much about her ongoing worries that the winds would pull the boat off and send it flying into traffic at an inopportune moment.
Despite the bad weather, our drive back was uneventful. We avoided most of the rain. Our place doesn’t have enough space, so we delivered the boat to my parents’ house, pulling up just as my father (who was on his own that weekend) took dinner out of the oven. He abandoned the dinner and helped me find a place to store the boat–the garage was too small, so we hung it under the deck, where it has room to stick out a little bit. I need to find a more permanent location for it, but for now I’m thankful that they are willing to store it.
After taking care of the boat, Jenny and I made a new dinner for everyone while he had some quality playtime with Elena. She is more boisterous when playing with him than at almost any other time, and that’s one of the reasons she loves him so much, because she knows he’s willing to wrestle. After so long in the car, it was good for her to be active. It tired her out for our drive home and helped her to be ready for bed when we finally made it back to our house, with our mission accomplished.