Wednesday Night, August 22nd, 11:35pm A great educator friend, Steve Davee, once told me, "if they are right in the thick of it, going strong, then that can be the perfect time to take a break - that way they are gung-ho to get started when they come back to it." I'd like to retroactively claim that that is exactly what I was thinking when I started doing beach day, because it seems so obvious now that he's pointed it out to me.
There was palpable excitement as we drove down to the beach, but there were also a lot of "we're going to work on the roller coaster tomorrow, right?" checks. It's clear that the whole group feels that going to the beach is a good idea, but let's not forget that we're all building a roller coaster.
The morning starts with some paddle building and last minute tweaks to the boats. Some of these boat designs are radical (to say the least) and "tuning" them up is deemed important.
Then we take a quick trip down the hill to get the trailer - which means of course that everyone gets a ride on the running boards.
Even big kids get giddy when they can ride on the outside of the truck.
Ethan opts to ride in the trailer on the way up the hill.
Then we are on our way, and somewhere just north of San Gregorio we start to see the first real sunshine we've seen in three days.
At the trailhead, we present a particularly amusing tableau as the tinkerers portage their boats to the shore.
Inspired by Elijah's prodigious leap across the creek, Gardner forgets for just a moment that he has a cast on and launches himself across the water.
Which inspires Leo to try as well.
Elijah comes back for a second try.
And Sam can't resist either.
And neither can Althea.
With that impulse out of our collective systems (at least temporarily), we grab the boats and head up the cliff to the lagoon we spotted last session.
The trail proves doable, but tricky, for the tinkerers and their somewhat unwieldy boats.
The aptly named "Flying Fish" is particularly persnickety on land.
We turn around when we discover that the higher tides have filled the lagoon with big waves. Deciding that if we're going to mess with waves, we'd like to do it on a sandy beach rather than a rocky one.
Miles and Elijah opt to go first and tentatively set their outrigger in the water.
Where it floats pretty well until Elijah climbs on board.
Portrait of a Tinkerer: Tara
With a little perseverance, Elijah manages to get into the outrigger, but even in calm seas it fills quickly with water. Gever diagnoses this problem from the beach as "insufficient displacement," but doesn't tell anyone.
The continually surprising Althea demonstrates a very good handstand.
Next to try the waters is the skiff...
...and right off the bat we all see that it does not suffer from insufficient displacement.
In fact, it's fairly sprightly, if a little tippy, and it clibms the wave fronts nicely.
Which causes no end of squealing and whooping on the part of Natalie and Sam.
With a little help from Josh, it can even surf.
The sailors spend a few idyllic moments floating about in our little cove.
Miles takes the outrigger out for another try, and quickly brings it back in.
Next, Isaac, Leo, and Althea, of the Flying Fish crew are eager to try their radical design.
But, like the outrigger, it too suffers from insufficient displacement.
Josh's advice, as a wave rolls in during Flying Fish testing, is to "run!"
We may have to apologize to the Natalie's parents - it's possible that she's having a little too much fun at Tinkering School, professional help may be needed to help her adjust to normal life.
Leo manages one or two strokes of the paddle before the Flying Fish sinks beneath the waves. The tinkerers dub it "second best boat".
The boats are deposited on the beach - for mere moments.
Let's just try the outrigger one more time, now that the actual outrigger part has broken off in the waves.
Tara takes out the boat she helped build and putters around just outside the break.
Portrait of a Tinkerer: Sam
Portrait of a Tinkerer: Isaac
Tara gets a push from Josh and surfs in.
Christie and a sea lion play peekaboo for a few minutes.
A few minutes later, the sea lion comes back and plays with Elijah and Josh.
Althea and Isaac decide to see how well the Flying Fish can fly.
Ducking is the better part of valor, decides Althea.
Which turns out to be wise when if nose-dives right in front of her.
Ethan points out that the center-of-gravity will be lower if they turn it over, and as it turns out, he is right. If not graceful, it's at least more stable in the air.
Running with it on the beach turns out to be just as much fun.
Althea takes it for a solo spin.
Some clay-like dust is found at the edge of the cliff wall. Water and tub are it takes to create sticky, gelatinous, mud.
Althea and Ethan take the good boat out for a spin.
Meanwhile, Josh plays the role of Pied Piper and lures the tinkerers into the waves for one last romp.
Gardner keeps an eye on us, and keeps his cast dry, on his perch up on the rocks.
Even Gever can't resist taking the working boat out.
He discovers that the paddle is just too short to use without tipping over.
Althea and Isaac adopt the role of beached seals after getting too cold in the waves with Josh.
Here's my advice; go to the beach for the day. Don't worry about the roller coaster in the barn, go to the beach and spend the day doing every whimsical thing you can think of. Going to the beach will help make the roller coaster better. Bring a shovel, and a towel.