Was your all-too-brief summer enjoyable? Summer ‘vacation’ for me was a couple of sporadic days off, here and there. The two outings I do count as true vacation days were definitely memorable, each in their own way.
In late June, my daughter and I went to San Jose and met up with my niece Kristel and her husband Jon, attending the National Hockey League draft day event at SAP Center. We got on the special guest list, which gave us access to some free food and drinks as well as the opportunity to meet and have a brief ‘Q&A’ session with one of the San Jose Sharks broadcasters, Randy Hahn.
The draft itself was broadcast on the big screen, there were some trivia games, fan interaction with arena hosts and retired player Scott Hannan, and, of course, photos with mascot SJ Sharkie. A special day for our family, as we are solidifying our position as Sharks fanatics.
Fast forward to early August, sneaking in one more day off before school resumed. My sister Sue lives an easy drive away, about 80 miles or so, near Fairfield. She and her husband had redone their kitchen a few years ago and, amazingly, I hadn’t been there to see it. Our last several family gatherings have primarily been at River Islands in Lathrop, where my nephew, his wife and their three young kids live. They have a big house and it’s an easier trip for everybody to meet there.
But I wanted to see the kitchen, wanted to do a little geocaching – kind of like a treasure hunt, using coordinates and traipsing around the countryside – to find what other people had placed in out of the way spots, and wanted to enjoy a relaxing day.
After getting held up by a train in Escalon, roadwork on I-5 in Stockton and a drawbridge on Highway 12 in the Delta, I finally made it.
After the full kitchen renovation tour and admiring some other interior design changes, we met up with Kristel to get a few items needed for dinner that night, then my sister and I set out on our geocaching adventure. She is a seasoned pro; I like to join in when the opportunity arises.
She wanted to hit a couple of locations in Benicia and we scrambled over rocks, searched through trees and went down a grassy embankment or two, finding two of three we actively searched for. We also found something we definitely were not seeking when we went off the beaten path … discovering when we got to my niece’s house (when one jumped or fell off me on to the kitchen table) that we brought ticks back with us. My sister had one on her and one on her backpack. They liked me more. A lot more.
Somewhere, somehow, I must have disturbed their lair and they did not like that. They were everywhere. Everywhere. Literally crawling all over me. In my hair, in my clothes … I shudder every time I think about it, like a creepy crawly horror movie where the bugs keep multiplying.
It was an infestation to the point where I had to borrow some clothes so we could throw mine in the washing machine with hot, hot water and dry them at high heat in an effort to de-tick.
My niece gave me an all-natural dog/cat flea and tick shampoo to use in a hot shower – “Just don’t get it in your eyes,” she warned – and afterward, she used the tick comb and combed out a couple of dead ones. Not to mention the dozen or so live ones my sister tweezed from my hair before the shower. Gag.
Not trusting we found them all, I literally threw out the sneakers I had worn that day. Done. Not putting them on again. I borrowed an old pair from my sister for the drive home.
I also wore the borrowed clothes home and re-washed my tick clothes, just to be sure. And spent several days making sure that phantom itch I kept having was nothing more than my imagination.
As much as I enjoyed seeing my sister and her kitchen, I don’t think geocaching will be on my to-do list next time I visit.
Marg Jackson is editor of The Oakdale Leader, The Escalon Times and The Riverbank News. She may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or by calling 209-847-3021.