California’s Hidden Travel Gems – The River
(Names in this article have been changed due to privacy)
When you’d ask me about the best spot to spend summer in California, I’d tell you straight: at the beach. I am sure I am not alone with this opinion. But during summer 2012, I was being introduced to a whole new world (which I’d never thought people who live in Southern California would even consider since we have the beaches right in front of us) – “The River.”
Before that, I had no clue there was such a thing as “The River.” I mean, yes, I have seen those crazy Spring Break Lake Havasu images in the news when living back in Europe, but I had no clue that a lot of people actually do own vacation homes in areas where degrees can reach up to 115-120, just to be on a boat all day, drive a jet ski, or water-ski.
When my close friend Dan asked me at that time if I would come to the river with him and a couple friends for Memorial Day 2012, I was a little hesitant at first. Why would my friends not want to spend the holiday in Huntington Beach, where we would have so many fun options? But when I figured out that all of my close friends were actually going on the trip, I gave in and took his invitation. And what can I say; I definitely did not regret it.
Early on Friday morning before Memorial Day Monday, 11 friends were packed up in three cars to drive approximately four hours to the Twin Palms Resort by Blythe, where my friend’s vacation spot was located. The drive wasn’t too bad; we mostly headed through the desert without being stuck in traffic. Thanks God we decided to leave Orange County early: when we arrived at our destination, temperatures had already reached up to 100 degrees. Since my friend Dan and his family only use the house a couple times a year, they turn the A/C and fridge off during their absence. Therefore, when we arrived at the house it was boiling hot inside. We had no other option besides waiting till the A/C and the fridge finally started running properly so that we could unload the cars and store our food and beverages.
Once everything was stored, it was time for the fun part: getting the boat out on the water and spending the day at the little island in the middle of the river. When it comes to boats, I am usually a little hesitant because I have a tendency of getting seasick. I remember getting seasick from just laying on a floatie while being out on the ocean. So yeah, wavy water and boats are not what I would call my natural habitat.
But at the river, it was different. Everything was different: the extensive heat didn’t bother me much due to the fact that we were on and in the water all day. I also didn’t get seasick at all because of the calmer water. I was just having a great time with some of my closest friends. I actually started to understand why people sometimes just want to escape even a beautiful place such as Huntington Beach. Being at the river is just a different kind of fun.
Since we were 11 people and the boat only held room for about six, a couple of us had to wait at the shore while Dan was transporting the first group over to the river island. The ride over was just amazing: the resort was surrounded by pure nature. On one side, you had the mountains, while on the other side you had grassy areas and little coves. It was just picture perfect. When we landed on the island, tons of other holiday vacationers had already set up their spots. The boats were parked close to the edge of the island, so all people had to do was jump out of the boat and walk through the water towards the sand.
Our group stood out because we brought a volleyball net with us that we set up on the island to play matches against each other. But that was not the only leisure entertainment we had: We brought floaties as well as water-ski and a tube that could be attached to the back of the boat with us. It was super easy to make new friends on the island that invited us over on their boat for a drink or a ride. We all had one mutual interest: to just have fun and let go of everyday life.
While we were spending most of the time during the day on the island, we also made the most of the evenings and nights by hosting barbecues, playing games, or just laying on top of the roof watching the stars. It was beyond amazing to be surrounded by basically nothing and looking at the night sky while getting into really deep conversations with my friends. That weekend really made me appreciate my life in the states even more and all those possibilities this country has to offer. You only have to drive a couple hours to end up in totally different scenery. That is just one of the reasons why I love to travel.
While I was hesitant at the beginning to go on this river trip, it wasn’t my last one during the summer of 2012. The next one was even more special and adventurous, but I while get back to that next time.
Image: ©Anne-Kathrin Schulte
Anne-Kathrin Schulte, is a contributor for CaliforniaGermans.com. She writes on her personal experience of the American Dream as well as on working as an au pair in CA. She was born and grew up in Düsseldorf, Germany, where she completed her degree as a state-approved Kindergarten teacher. After her au pair engagement in the US and a quick return to Germany she decided to attend university in California and moved back to the United States. She has been living in Southern California since 2011.
If you would like to contact Anne-Kathrin, please send an email to californiagermans(at)gmail.com and place her name in the subject line.