Monday, April 20, 2009

Learning to Water Ski!

After our trip to Heber Springs with my sister's family on a camping trip, we decided to concentrate on learning to water ski. The closest place to ski was across the Mississippi River at Moon Lake, which was only about 3 miles across the bridge from Helena, Arkansas, which was where we lived. It was not a large lake, but was fairly long and was shaped like a half moon and in the middle there is an Island. It has several retirement homes built around the lake and a public boat ramp with a nice swimming beach nearby. On the weekends, it was very growded with swimmers and boat traffic, but during the week it was very quiet and a nice place for beginner water skiers. We spent many afternoons after work trying to master the art of sking until we all managed to "get up" and became fairly good skiers. The motor was a little small (35 h.p.), so I started looking around and found a fairly new rig with a 60 h.p. motor on a 16 1/2 ft. Fiber Glass boat. The engine was a v-4 and had a lot more power than we were used to and we could now ski double and triple and carry people in the boat at the same time. We had a lot of fun learning new tricks and taking others and showing them how to ski. Now when we went camping, we had to take two vehicles, but we didn't mind because it made it more fun and gave us more things to do.

Friday, April 10, 2009

Vacationing with my sister's family!

With the ski boat finished and vacation scheduled for the week of the 4th of July, plans were made to go with my sister and her family on a camping trip into the Ozarks. My sister and husband had 6 boys....3 in the teen-and pre-teen range and 3 in the toddler and baby range. Mike, Gerry, and Vince in the older group and the younger 3 were: David, Norman, and Richard. (who was about 6 months old). With our three: Darleen, Hugh, and Karen, and 4 adults, there were 13 in the camping party. We planned to pull the boat with our car and the trailer (the one I built for the La trip) loaded with all the camping equipment with their car. They came down the night before from Memphis and stayed all night in order for us to get a early start.
We left out the next morning with myself leading the caravan headed toward Little Rock. After we passed Little Rock and Conway we came into Morrilton and turned toward the Petit Jean Mountain. Going up the mountain, we had to circle on the way up......we had never seen anything so high, until we arrived at the State Park. We checked in and sat up camp in a nice area near the lake. It was a small fishing lake, nothing larger than a 10 h.p. fishing boat allowed. The kids got out their fishing poles and caught a few small fish....not big enough to keep, but fun to catch. That night, we had a nice campfire and roasted weiners and marshmellows, told stories and had a good time. The next morning after breakfast, we went to the Win-Rock Farm and took the tour and saw all the prize bulls and inside of some of the cleanest and nicest barns that you could ever see. (Win Rockefellow was Governor of Arkansas at this time and maintained a home at this location. His son, Win Rockefellow, Jr. later became Lt. Governor and was planning on running for Governor, until he was diagnosed and later died from a long battle with Cancer.) We went and toured the Antique Auto Museum, which was stocked with a lot of Rockefellow's vehicles. Most of his cars were maroon or a wine color, which was his favorites. There was also a rubber plant in the basement, that manufactured special tires for the antique vehicles.
We went back to camp and loaded up and got ready to head out for Greers Ferry Lake at Heber Springs. After we had loaded up, My brother-in-law told me that he had heard a noise on the way up the mountain that sounded like the bearings were going out on one of wheels of the trailer. I told him not to worry, if it went out, we would just dump it somewhere since I didn't have a lot of money in it. On the way down the mountain we were again leading the way, when my brother-in-law passed me blowing his car horn and speeding down the mountain around the curves at break neck speed. We followed and tried to keep up with no avail and smoke was pouring from the rear of his car. When he reached the bottom and pulled to the side of the road, the tire blew out, sending the hub cap flying, the doors opening and people rushing to get out of the car. Smoke was everywhere, but everyone was safe. The noise that he had heard was the bearings in his car that was going out, not the trailer. I drove down the road and found a place to unhook the boat, went back and got the trailer with the camping gear. We managed to get their car up to where the boat was to get it out of the way. I loaded all the women and small kids in the car and headed out to Heber Springs. Brother-in-law and the 3 older boys stayed behind with the car and boat. The plan was that I would go to Heber Springs, find a camp site, set up camp and come back for bro-in-law and the boys, Pick up the boat and return to Heber Springs. We would come back the next morning to fix and pick up the car. This was late on a Sunday afternoon and nothing was open until Monday morning.
Everything went as planned, after going back picking them up and the boat, we made it back to camp around mid-night. The next morning, we stopped at a Ford Dearship in Morrilton and picked up parts and fixed the car and returned to Heber Springs to start our camping. That afternoon, we finally got the boat in the water and starting doing a little water sking or at least trying to. Bro-in-law was the only one to get up, but we all gave it a good try. The motor was a little small to get anyone up with riders in the boat, so we quit for the day. We were able to take all the kids for a good ride on the lake and had a good time.
The next morning after letting the kids swim and boat ride, we had lunch and my sister and family had to return to Memphis to go back to work the next day. They would take the trailer back with them and we were staying a few more days. We would load the camping equipment in the boat when we returned least that was our plans. That afternoon a storm started coming in and the rain started....water was pouring off the tent all night long. The next morning everthing was wet or damp. With the wind blowing it was getting cold. About 10 a.m. a friend that we knew that lived in Heber Springs came out and took us to her house and fed us a good hot meal. The longer we sat there, the more we decided it was time to load up and go home. We went back to camp and loaded up everything wet and went home. After getting home we had to set it back up to dry out for few days.......

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Our first ski boat!

After our trip to Holly Beach in Louisana, we continued camping at Sardis Lake and decided that we wanted to give water sking a try. I had been noticing an old boat parked in a yard in the area that we lived. The owner worked at the same place I did, so I started talking to him about it. It was a 14' Aluminum Ski boat with a 35 h.p. motor. He hadn't used it in a long time....the last time used, he had a flat tire on it and not having a spare, he had drug it home and bent the axle and ruined the tire and wheel. I went by to look at and check it out. The motor was in great shape and started very quickly with a fresh battery. It had two windshields that went with it.....the canvas top was a bunch of rags and the seats were all rotted and other words, it really looked bad! We settled on a price of $100.oo and after borrowing a tire and wheel, I pulled it home.
When I got home and backed it into the driveway, I was so proud of my treasure and no one would come out to look at it. I backed inside the back yard out of sight and started taking it apart. I took the motor off and all the controls and pushed it off the trailer. I flipped the trailer over and took the axle off and took it to a welding shop where they heated and straighten the axle. I next went and purchased a new tire and wheel and reinstalled the axle and wheel to the trailer. After repacking the wheel bearings, I removed the wood runners on the trailer and replaced with new wood and carpet. I spray painted the trailer and had it looking like new. By this time, the family was getting excited , started helping finish stripping the boat down to get ready to paint. After a couple of days, we couldn't wait any longer to try the boat out. We put the unpainted boat back on the trailer, installed the motor and controls and took it to the St Francis River to try it out. It ran like a dream, which added to the excitement of getting the boat ready. We went back home and really got serious about getting the boat finished. We finished the stripping of the old paint, repainted it white with red strips down each side, redid the seats with new vinyl, installed the windshield with a new canopy. We were now ready to start learning to water ski!