Grand Lake Vacation

by Erik Craddock -
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This year Rodney Craddock and I decided to take a vacation together. Of all the friends and family I have, Rodney and I have stayed the closest. This is despite living about seven hours away from each other. This is despite not being able to agree on much of anything. This is despite him always being wrong and me always being right. Ok, that may be debatable. Lately, we maintain this friendship with weekly phone calls that usually revolve around music or the Sooners. So this year we decided to rent an Airbnb and do those things in person. We even let our families tag along. Well, it was more like they let us tag along. We chose a location on Grand Lake of the Cherokees. It was a beautiful spot. Linda and I had no expectations except to relax and play with Rodney and Erin’s two little ones Matthew and Sarah. Our son Ethan was up for whatever. None of us were disappointed.

Rodney had a few outings planned to keep the kids from getting bored. The first trip was to Har-ber Village. It is an outside museum celebrating the pioneer era in Oklahoma. There were somewhere around one hundred exhibits in the form of building modeled after those in the mid 1800s and early 1900s. We saw everything from old jailhouses to an example of a tannery. There was an old schoolhouse and the local church. We saw a wishing well. There were old fashioned hats and dresses and a lot more. It was good exercise too. By the time we got to the end, I was ready to fall asleep. In fact, I got Linda drive us back so that I could take a nap. This ended up being a thing. I took several naps that week.

We stayed at the lake for a week. We would either go on a trek to a local restaurant or attraction, or we would stay at the house and play music or fish. Matthew was the fishing champ. He caught the most in a day at four. He was so proud. Erin and Sarah caught their fair share too. Even I caught one. In true dad fashion, Rodney spent most of his time removing fish from hooks, untangling line and putting fresh worms on the hook. He did manage to catch a couple.

At night, we put on some old tunes and played games, mostly Yahtzee and dominoes. The first couple of nights it was Yahtzee. Erin tried to teach me the way but it didn’t really take. We decided to play six games and then tally up the totals from each to crown a champion. For a little while it looked like I was going to win. Eventually, Erin passed me up. We just laughed and taunted Rodney and Linda. In the end Ethan snuck up on us all and won the whole thing. When it came to dominoes though I was the champ. When we played doubles Ethan and I won.

About midway through the week, we met my brother in law Sal in a little town in Kansas to pick up my niece Sofia. She got there just in time, I think Ethan was in need of backup. She was a big hit with Matthew and Sarah. They chased each other around the house, played hide and seek and generally made a lot of noise. Ethan and Sofia were right in the thick of it. Those two little ones, though, they had me nervous the whole time. The back porch was elevated. At one end of it was a little playground. There was a swing that if you swung high enough, it would swing out over the railing. The railing was a good ten feet above the ground below. Well let me just say that little Sarah was not at all afraid to swing high enough. Matthew on the other hand is infatuated with insects. He kept catching them and bringing them in the house for us to look at. I kept worrying that something would bite or be poisonous. I don’t remember being that nervous when my own were little. I guess I’m getting old.

Near the end of the week, we all drove to Tulsa to visit the zoo. The Tulsa Zoo was pretty impressive. It was a pretty nice day for it. We saw all of your usual suspects, including Elephants, Giraffes and even a leopard. The fan favorites were the Meerkats and Sea Lions. One of the meerkats was laying flat on his back almost as if he was playing dead. That got a good laugh. Around lunch time we stopped at a little restaurant at the zoo to get a bite to eat. Word of advice for the unwealthy, bring your lunch. Anyway, while we were there, we were assaulted by a gaggle of geese looking to be fed. They marched around like bullies looking for lunch money. They were pretty brazen and obviously felt entitled to our food. Rodney had to save the day while marching around real big and making menacing noises. If any of you happened to be there and videoed that event, I would pay well for the footage. Our only disappointment was that the Lions wouldn’t come out. I guess I can’t blame them, I probably wouldn’t be keen on a bunch of strangers gawking at me either.

Eventually all good things come to an end. On our last night, Rodney started a fire in the fire pit. The kids roasted marshmallows over the fire and made smores. It was a good send off. We headed home the next morning, leaving Rodney, Erin and the kids one day to themselves. It is always a good time to hang out with family, especially those we admire as much as Rodney and Erin. Initially a few other family members planned to come as well but circumstances prevented it. Maybe next year we can do this again.