500 words Travel Stories ‘ABC Open’, June 2013
Smoke rose from the vents in the pavement, trams followed the rails, steep hills, wide roads, Alcatraz and the Golden Gate Bridge. But my first day in America I went to a baseball game. San Francisco Giants vs Atlanta Braves at Candle Stick Park, the biggest baseball arena of the time. I sat in the bleachers, ate a mustard coated hotdog, washed it down with a BIG coke and sang ‘let’s go down to the ball game.’
International Camp Counsellors arrived six days before the kids so we had time to settle in. I met other counsellors, lazed by the pool, played volleyball and tennis and went to the lake for a ski. What a life! I swear I had the best position in camp, Water Ski Instructor. I resembled a prune in a swim suit.
Our lake was the size of a typical Aussie ‘70’s block of land, except round. Bushland grew around its edge except where the jetty launched out over the water. The boat was a tinny with a flat bottom and the steering wheel to one side. Incapable of pulling an adult out of the water on one ski, the kids would spring up as if their bums were bitten by piranhas.
In quiet times we’d have a ski. Josh the fanatic was always first. He’d neatly loop the rope in his hand. Sit on the end of the jetty, ski tip raised and would step from the edge.
There was a trick to it, the angle of the dangle was all important. I was driving.
‘Ready. Gun it!’
At full throttle the rope would start to unravel, he’d launch himself off the jetty… sink… then rise to the surface to ski around the lake. The boat’s steering stayed at a 45 degree angle and round we went. When finished he’d cruise in and place his bum back on the same spot on the jetty. This day it didn’t go to plan.
Josh let go of the rope, the boat’s rear lurching sideways. First to the right causing the boat to nose dive, I over corrected, it then replicated the move to the left. With every turn the boat sent me into my next acrobatic position. I panicked. I jumped.
‘What’s she doing?’ Oh shit, she jumped!’
I sat on the bottom of the lake, my eyes closed as weed tangled about my feet. Thoughts of the boat above, the motor running, the ski rope decapitating anything left. I held my breath until about to burst then finally I rose from the depths. The boat had run into the overgrowth, the motor was kicked up and screaming at the bush unable to go any further. I swam over to turn it off.
All in agreement, nothing would be said, I was now the instructor who stayed in the water. I spent my days holding kids in a seated position so they didn’t swim like a dolphin… nose in, nose out.