Motorboats and merpuppies: A Gruber family gathering
By Ben Gruber
It is late, and we are exhausted but happy to be back at the ranch. We just returned from the second annual Gruber rendezvous.
I snuck out earlier than I had hoped. With rain looming I had to get home and catch up on some work.
This week will be a busy one at Bear Creek Ranch with 40 acres of fencing going in, a dozer cleaning up some debris, and building a new field road in preparation for the arrival of 15 beef steers soon. We cut down a bunch of hay and bedding today on top of it, and I am behind on writing in addition to a 48-hour work week. Even so, it just goes to prove that even busy folks can make time to enjoy the outdoors.
My younger brother and sister and their clan and my girls and I met up at Dexter Park for the second year in a row. Dexter Park is a fantastic family campground with spacious sites, plenty of mature trees, a nice beach, playgrounds, and the lake.
Lake Dexter is great for a day trip or weekend campout with children, sporting plenty of willing pan fish. Shallow water and lots of stumps keep out any heavy recreational traffic or speedboats, giving the lake a quiet feel.
I launched the boat after we set up camp, ready to see how the “new and improved” motor would work out on the old aluminum flat bottom. There was no electric start here, and it pulled hard. Luckily for me, it started on the first pull. I just had to start over 20 times.
Having worked up a good sweat now, I put it in forward gear and gave it a little throttle, and the old girl gave one big shake and a bigger clunk and gave up the ghost. Good thing for the electric trolling motor and a small lake.
I had worked the night before and was running on about four hours of sleep, so it was quite a feat to make it to 11 p.m. chatting around the campfire. My dog, Belle, was pretty tuckered out too, having made at least 40 retrieves of her training dummy out of the lake. When I snuck out of the tent a little before 7 a.m., Belle was ready to get back in the water.
She thinks she’s a fish, and my daughter, Addy, has been trying to convince me that Belle’s a merpuppy. You know, “Like a mermaid but a puppy, Dad, it’s a real thing. That’s why she has a fish tail.” Hard to argue with that logic.
Throughout the weekend I never even put a line in the water. Most of my free time was spent dog training and eating.
Speaking of dog training, I have decided to enlist some professional help and will be sending Belle to retriever boot camp for three months. It will be a bummer not having her around for that long, but I am just stretched too thin right now, and I really want her to achieve her full potential. I will keep you posted on how that works out.
Ben Gruber can be reached at [email protected]