My first grandson turned 9 this year....but I was in Hawaii riding my bike up a volcano when it happened.
So, in an effort to make amends for my missing this very special occasion (and my inability to manage my calendar) I told him we'd head to Tahoe for a "boy's weekend".
I picked him up from school on Friday and after gassing up the car and stocking up on skittles, sour patch kids and vitamin water, we got on the road.....with a hundred bazillion other people trying to get out of the bay area. Eventually (5 hours) we arrived in Tahoe City at my sister's house to begin our weekend.
Saturday morning dawned clear and warm and after breakfast (and coffee) Maureen, the little guy and I headed over to the ropes course at Granlibakken where they got him situated, harnessed, trained and ready to go....I wasn't sure how this was all going to play out. I've seen him sometime respond to new things fearfully and at other times with reckless abandon.
I'm never sure what triggers which reaction...is it that some days he's confident and others he's not? Is it how I present the different events to him? Or do some things just scare him and others do not?
I'm not sure. Last year for instance I took him skiing. In the morning, before his group lesson he and I went up the lift and started coming down. Immediately, there were words like "I can't, it's scary, what if...." Another time I took him on a bike ride with some pretty decent uphills and downhills and he went at it with no fear and a devil may care attitude....
Not sure which version of the kid I would get and knowing that Maureen had paid good money for him to do this, I went to great lengths to emphasize the fun and minimize the risk....but when I saw how high up the ropes were, and how fearful a couple of the other kids were, I planned for the worst. As I, in my head, began making backup plans and trying to come up with good arguments about how not scary this was, he clipped his harness to the first obstacle and was 20 feet off the ground before I knew what was going on. Ok, so that answers that question....
For the next 2 hours, he climbed, ran, walked, and zip-lined his way around the property trying new variations and ever more death defying ways to complete each section.....at one point the instructor told him to try to do the zip-line upside down and he spent the entire ride down the line trying to flip himself head over heals....gutsy, crazy, kid.
After the ropes course, we ate the lunch we had packed, drove down the road and parked to begin our next adventure. We would ride our bikes down the bike path to Squaw Valley and back. A 10 mile ride on the bike path is no big deal for anyone that rides, but for a 9 year old on a 20" bmx bike, it's a pretty big accomplishment. Of course, as you'd expect, there was a stop at the River Ranch bar for a root beer and some play time in the river to break things up.....we are on vacation after all.
Maureen had left us at the ropes course to go play in a tennis tournament she had previously committed to so we got back to the house before she did and relaxed for a bit watching football with my brother in law. It wasn't long before she got home though and she wanted to take Caleb to the tennis courts for a lesson. Wait, you want me to lay on the couch and watch football while you continue to wear out my grandson....OK!
After the lesson, we had a nice dinner and with Caleb being completely thrashed and worn out, we called it a day...more adventures were in store for Sunday.
Her husband Chris dropped her off at the start then came and met up with Caleb and I. The plan was to drive to south shore where the finish line was, unload our bikes and ride backwards till we met up with her.
Chris though, had a surprise for Caleb. He had brought his kayak so we stopped at Sand Harbor and he got to go kayaking, play in the water and catch crawdads before we continued on to south shore.
After finding the finish line we unloaded our bikes and began to ride the route backwards. We had gone back to mile 22 before we saw her....the really crazy part is that she was still smiling. We decided to ride back towards the finish and intercept her along the way but somehow we got behind her when we thought we were in front of her so when we finally hooked up again, she had already finished.