Every summer, my aunt Carleen, uncle Wendall, cousins Brian and Brenda and their families head for the desert. Why, you may ask? It’s where the best lakes are! My aunt and uncle own a motor boat and my cousin Brian and his wife own a trio of Jet Skis. We usually head for Lake Mohave, which is adjacent to Laughlin, Nevada, but sometimes, the destination is Lake Havasu, Arizona. This year, Emelda made the trip to Havasu and it was a unique experience for her.
Emelda lounges on the lake!
We were scheduled to arrive very late on Friday, but I got off work early, and after the six hour car trek, we arrived just before sunset. Everyone was pleasantly surprised to see us arrive so early. We quickly donned our bathing suits and hit the lake for a late afternoon swim. The temperature was hovering around 100 degrees and the water was quite refreshing. Seeing Emelda in the two piece bikini that my aunt had bought for her (which I never thought she’d actually wear) took my breath away. She was stunning. Emelda can’t swim, but she had fun wading in the water and I gave her a few lessons in dog paddling and floating on her back. I’m no Aquaman, but I was able to make her feel a little more at home in the water.
Emelda with the London Bridge in the background.
Later, Emelda and I went for a ride in my aunt and uncle’s boat. As you may know, The London Bridge was brought over from London and placed at Lake Havasu. Emelda was delighted to see this landmark and we made sure to snap a few pictures of her with the bridge in the background. (They’d surely be a hit with our relatives back in Ozamiz City.) We also visited a floating snack shop where Emelda was treated to a lovely ice cream cone. It was an experience unlike any other in her life. It was fun to watch her experiencing her first boating trip and it reminded me of the first few times my parents took my sister and I to Lake San Antonio in Central California when we were kids.
My aunt and uncle had recently purchased a motor home in which to stay while at the lake. Most of the friends and family who were enjoying the lake with us would be staying inside a small beach house next to the lake, but Emelda and I were invited to sleep inside the new motor home. We were lucky because on that first night, the electricity in the beach house went out, yet we were quite cozy inside the air conditioned motor home. My second cousin Jake (he’s about 4 years old) ended up joining us later when the temperature in the beach house became unbearable. Later, his toddler sister and brother joined us as well. They kept us awake for most of the night, but we didn’t mind that much. We were just glad that they were able to get cooled off by coming into the motor home. We didn’t want them to get sick. As it turned out, Jake would be sick for a few uncomfortable days.
My cousin Brian gives Emelda a ride.
The next day was a bit of an adventure. First, my cousin Brian took Emelda for a ride on one of his Jet Skis. Emelda loved it. I snapped a few pictures of Emelda in action. She couldn’t get the smile off of her face. Later, after spending most of the day lounging and swimming, we all took the two boats we had been using to a place called "The Sand Bar." The Sand Bar is a popular portion of Lake Havasu that is nestled inside a large cove where the water is about three to four feet deep there and the lakebed is covered with soft sand. Dozens of boats drop anchor in the shallow water, hang out and party. When we arrived, there must have been 40 – 50 boats all clumped together and full of vacationers having a great time. We all jumped out of our boats and quickly discovered that the water was freezing! Back at the beach house, the water had been so warm that we had been comparing it to bath water, so this was a bit of a surprise. It was refreshing at first, but Emelda and I started to get cold, so we headed back to the boat before long.
Earlier in the day, a few of us had noticed some storm clouds in the distance. We had basically forgotten about them as we frolicked in the cool, shallow water and enjoyed the afternoon, but eventually, someone noticed that the storm clouds were darker and were getting closer. You may be asking yourself, "What made them notice this?" Well, perhaps it was the APPROACHING LIGHTNING!!! (By the way, water conducts electricity very well.) As soon as my uncle realized that two thunderstorms were approaching us (one on either side), we were ordered back into the boat and we sped back toward the beach house.
As we skimmed across the water, the two storms continued to converge on us and the wind started to pick up. We watched as the easternmost storm’s rainfall headed west toward the far side of the lake (and toward us). My uncle tried to hide his nervousness and I wore a smile for Emelda. (I can pretend to be macho when I want to.) As we rounded the cove where the beach house resided, the wind was picking up steam and the easternmost storm had already began sprinting across the lake toward us. We had pretty much forgotten about the western storm by then. As we neared the shore, someone had already taken the truck (with my uncle’s boat trailer hooked up to it) and backed it into the water at the end of the launching ramp so that we could get the boat out of the water as quickly as possible. By the time the boat was pulled out of the water, the eastern storm was half way across the lake and coming right at us.
As soon as the boat was parked, the wind whipped into a frenzy. A friend and I rushed over to my aunt and uncle’s motor home and attempted to take down the awning attached to the vehicle. The wind was trying to use the awning to launch the motor home into the ionosphere, so we had to get the thing down quickly. The friend I mentioned got his side down fairly quickly, but I was struggling with my end. Eventually, my uncle came over and assisted us (okay, he assisted me). My macho ‘hey I’m a man so I must be good with awnings’ façade had been obliterated. By then, our party’s second boat was being towed to safety, so we all assisted in battening down the hatches (what the hell is a ‘hatch’ anyway?). The eastern storm’s rainfall was about a football field’s length away from us at that point, so we all rushed into the beach house for safety as the windstorm had its way with anything that wasn’t nailed down.
About three to five minutes later, the rain hit the beach house. We had just made it! Whew! That was close! Another five minutes later, we were in the middle of an intense storm. We had front row seats as the lake tossed around a nearby dock and splashed huge waves onto a deck in front of the beach house. It was a festival of white water. I’ve never seen anything like it before. Before we knew it, the beach house was being pelted by a hailstorm! Hail pellets the size of marbles hit the roof of the beach house and made it sound like we were all trapped inside a giant drum that was being played by a deranged percussionist on speed with no sense of rhythm. This was another first for Emelda. She had never seen hail before. (It’s too hot for hail in the Philippines.) She commented that the storm was nothing compared to the typhoons that hit Mindanao every year, but the ice balls falling from the sky impressed her.
In the middle of the hailstorm, we spotted a guy on a jet ski coming in from the lake. He seemed to be in distress as he swerved his way toward the shore. A few of the truly macho men in our party rushed out and helped him bring his jet ski onto the shore and then invited him to join us inside the beach house. As it turned out, he had been towing a boat that was out of gas to safety when the hail hit and he had to seek refuge. He asked if he could borrow some gasoline so that he could take the stranded boaters some gas when the storm passed. Our host gladly obliged. The wayward jet skier was tall, dark and handsome. He was over six feet tall, muscular and had the looks of a male model. Every woman in the beach house seemed to be swooning over him. A few of the single ladies went into a bedroom and put on some makeup! After he left, he was the main topic of conversation in that beach house. Hell, he was so gorgeous, I wanted to jump his bones! (Note: that was a joke.)
Later in the day, we discovered that at least one boat had sunk in the storm and, to our amazement, the house next to the one we were staying in had its roof blown completely off! We hadn’t even suffered a scratch and we were quite thankful.
All in all, the trip was a success. Emelda added to the number of states she had been to. Her total went from three (California, New Jersey, New York) to four (Arizona). A few days later, my aunt took her to Laughlin, Nevada and increased her tally to five. For a woman who professes not to enjoy travel all that much, she’s becoming quite the adventurer.
Emelda, some friends and family in Laughlin, Nevada.
When the Havasu trip was in the planning stages, my aunt invited us to stay for an entire week. I had to work, so I couldn’t stay on after the weekend, but Emelda was free to remain if she wanted to. My aunt was eager for Emelda to stay on for the whole week. My aunt loves Emelda a lot and loves to spend time with her and I thought it would be good for us to have a break from each other for a week (not because of any marital problems, but because I think it’s just a good idea to spend some time apart sometimes). So, Emelda stayed in Havasu when I returned to Los Angeles. I figured that it would be great to be able to have the freedom to do whatever I wanted, whenever I wanted to do it without having to consult with my wife (like it was before Emelda joined me in the U.S.). I figured that I would go see the types of films that Emelda didn’t care for (low budget independent films) all week long and that I would act like a slob in general while she was gone. I looked forward to stretching out on the bed and being the master of my domain again.
What I discovered was that I didn’t want to be apart from Emelda for any amount of time. I missed her terribly all week long. I had trouble getting to sleep, I only went to see one movie (Buffalo ’66, a very interesting film, by the way) and I had trouble enjoying the whole ‘clothes on the floor, sitting around in your underwear’ thing. In short, I was miserable without my sweetie. It was a tough week for me. We had spent nine months apart, waiting for the INS to allow her into the U.S. and I realized that I was undeniably incomplete without Emelda nearby. I hoped that she was having a better time than me.
When she returned from the trip, her skin was the most beautiful, sun-drenched golden brown I had ever seen. It was as if she was glowing! I complemented her on her beautiful tone, but she repeated a familiar refrain: "I don’t like my dark skin." I assured her (for the 867th time) that American women would kill for her skin and that it was gorgeous. She assured me that she didn’t like it and would be staying OUT of the sun for awhile. She also assured me that she didn’t like being apart from me any more than I liked being apart from her. It was a sort of further affirmation of our love for each other. We hugged each other tightly that night as we drifted off to sleep together. It was bliss to have her back in my arms again. To borrow a line from Jerry Maguire; "She completes me." Sometimes, I can’t believe that I have such a great wife. I thank God that he saw fit to bless me with such an amazing soulmate.
To see some additional photos from Emelda's waterborne adventure, click here.