Emeryville Amy

This blog will be a combination of my favorite places in the Bay Area and abroad, memoirs, recipes, restaurant reviews and travel experiences.

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Location: Emeryville, San Francisco Bay Area, CA, United States

Wednesday, August 03, 2005


Now that it is the middle of summer, I am especially thankful that I live in Emeryville next to the water. I love the cool bay breezes and the fog that pours in. Most days it is nice and sunny for most of the day and cool in the evenings. Just right. It does remind me of "hotter" times, especially of one summer vacation.

Three Feet From Hell or It's A "DRY" Heat

My father was convinced that we were located 3 feet from Hell on our family vacation. Actually, we were house boating on Lake Mead during the middle of the summer and it just FELT like we were that close to the fiery furnace. I am not sure if it was the hottest place on the planet or not, but it was darn close.

And, yes, I know it was a dry heat and not horribly humid, but after a certain point regardless of whether or not it is humid it is just plain hot. Luckily I wasn't yet acclimated to the lovely Bay Area weather which boasts of one of the most pleasant climates in the world. People here complain if it gets out of the 65-75 degree range. No, I was still more used to LA, home of smog and at least a couple weeks a year, of temperatures over a 100 degrees.

But in LA people are prepared for the heat and either have air conditioners and pools or they haul themselves off to the local mall and loiter around in the cool air there. When you are on a houseboat on a lake in a desert and it is 110-120 degrees there are no malls to run off to or even fans to turn on. Our only recourse was to jump off the boat into the lake. The top 8" were at least 90 degrees, so you had to sink below that to get refreshed. For those of us who love being in the water for 18 hours a day this wasn't too much of a problem, but my Dad likes to be dry for the most part.

Water skiing was our main diversion. Every time the boat stopped everyone jumped in the water and stayed there until the person skiing was almost ready to start. It was so hot and dry that our hair completely dried between each ski run. The sun beat down on us as we kept reapplying the highest level sunscreen available. Hats and sunglasses were a necessity.

If you think that we got a respite from the heat at night, think again. All day long the sheer rock walls surrounding the lake absorbed the sun. As the sun set, the wind picked up and that heat from the rocks came blasting at us. It was like standing in front of a HUGE hair dryer. Before going to sleep on the roof of the boat, we all jumped overboard in our bathing suits and T-shirts with a towel and then scrambled back up to the roof and tried to fall asleep before we dried off and began sweating.

One night the wind started blowing even more profusely than usual and it managed to kick up the sand from the little bit of shore to which we were anchored. Soon we were howling from the sand stinging our skin as it blasted against us. We knew we would have to move inside the sweltering houseboat. Carefully trying to clutch our flimsy blow- up mattresses we climbed down the ladder to the main deck. Someone realized that the houseboat had broken away from shore and was probably going to smash into the ski boat. The other family and couple we were with (who thankfully knew about boats, since we didn't at all) jumped over and swam to the ski boat and got it out of the way. The rest of us were not much help and just tried to stay out of the way of the sandstorm and of those who knew what they were doing. Eventually both boats were secured safely and the wind declined a bit.

The first thing we did after leaving the lake was to drive to the nearest grocery store. We raced to the frozen section and each grabbed a box of popsicles and some cold drinks. We lingered as long as possible. My dad made some comment like, "We are NEVER going to do that again!" He hadn't complained when we were actually on the boat because he simply isn't a complainer. He did find a way to express his frustration though by cranking up opera tapes on the crackly houseboat stereo at the first light of dawn. What brought sanity to him brought groans and frustration from the rest of us.

The family we went with continued to go on house boating trips because they apparently enjoyed them. It was the first and last time for us. I have gone on other house boating trips and had fun on them, but never back to Lake Mead. It was just too darn hot, even for a "dry" heat.


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