The purpose of our visit, however, went beyond that scenic lunch on the lake. We had a vision. A vision that included the five of us (JDS was working his first full day at his new job at the animal clinic!) biking all thirteen miles around the lake...as a family.
Little bit o' background...COS just learned to ride a bike two months ago during Spring Break. With all of the rain we have had this spring, she has NOT had a lot of opportunity to reinforce that learning. In addition to that handicap, *I* have not ridden a bike since AMS was COS's age! I didn't even own a bike anymore! My sister, Angie, gave hers to JSS a couple of months ago and he very graciously let me borrow it for this ride. It will be a few years before he is tall enough to handle a bike that big, but he is looking forward to the day in which he gets to repaint and remodel it like his Dad is doing. :) In the meantime, he is a great "sharer" and I am the grateful recipient of his generosity.
That said, we decided from the get-go that Simon would take the lead with JSS and AMS. I would pull up the rear with COS. *IF* at some point she was too taxed to go the entire 13 miles around the lake, then we would stop, enjoy the shade, people watch, enjoy the wildlife & landscape until the others completed our vision & came to pick us up.
What ended up happening is that the first three left us in their dust and about 1/3 of the way around, Simon turned back to check on us while AMS took charge of going on with JSS. They enjoyed a great bike ride around the lake and some one-on-one time while they waited at our cars. Simon and I made our way around at a slower pace with COS (age 6, mind you), stopping frequently for water breaks and a bit of rest.
Long story short, the girl made it around the entire lake!!!! She had a stellar time and really enjoyed it! AND SO DID I! Not only that, we made it about 11 miles without incident at all! That is quite an accomplishment for such a new rider, especially one with people, bikes and pets galore that you had to dodge the entire ride. We are super proud of her!
What happened around mile 11? We were crossing a long bridge, COS in the front, me encouraging her from behind. When we got to the end of the bridge, you had to turn left or right immediately. Straight ahead was a brick wall. I said we were turning right. I think there were just too many people in that direction and she ended up forgetting to use her breaks and WHAM! You guessed it. She went into the brick wall. I saw it all, as if in slow motion, but I HEARD from my little distance the sound of her helmet smacking into the wall! As a fellow biker who was right there and arrived at the scene of the accident seconds before Simon and me said, "THAT is why we wear helmets!" (He was very sweet helping her.)
I cannot say honestly that she came away from it unscathed. The first thing I noticed was that her knee was purple immediately following the accident. I honestly thought it was dislocated, but thankfully it is not. She has an awful cut on one of her pointer fingers, a bruise on her cheek and a scrape on her chin. She is sore and a little worse for the wear, but she also was able to get on her bike and ride the rest of the way to the car.
God was VERY present, helping her, cheering her and even protecting her. We are so thankful for His parenting of our kids.
Side note to that effect, each time COS really needed some water, we came across a water fountain...except for this one time where there was a sign that said "FREE WATER." We stopped (read that, slammed on our breaks and almost caused a bike pile up) and asked why they were giving free water away to which we were told, "We just wanted to come out here today and share with you God's love." We talked a moment while we drank (COS had almost an entire bottle!) and then thanked them. While we were biking away, we were praising God with COS with how well God continually shows His great love for us.
And THAT is a great thing to remember.