Growing up, I didn’t appreciate Lake Wazeecha as I do now. I took advantage of growing up next to the lake but never realized what a gem it really was. Back in the 60’s my girlfriend and I couldn’t go to Red Sands unless one of our older siblings would go too. I’m not sure of the significance having them take us, they never kept an eye on us. Now that I think of it, I don’t remember seeing them at the beach … where could they have been? I think their biggest responsibility was to get us across 80th Street. Once we crossed the (not so) busy highway, we were on our own. We pedaled our bikes down South Park Road, turned into the woods between 2 trees and proceeded to Red Sands. As we approached the beach, in one smooth move, we leaped off our bikes, dropped our towels and plunged into the lake. We spend the afternoon rolling down the hill, building sand castles and … wondering where our older siblings disappeared to. By 4:00 our peanut butter and jelly sandwich was wore off and it was time to head home for supper and hose the red sand from our … well, everything.
We "matured" into the age that we became the regular kids hanging out on the raft executing our Olympic dives. When I say “Olympic dives” I mean playing “King of The Raft”. We would hang on the buoys surrounding the swimming area and would reluctantly get off after the lifeguard would blow their whistle at us. From a distance we admired the “cool kids” swinging from the rope around the corner out of view from the lifeguards. On slow “cool kid” days, we made feeble attempts to swing from the rope and usually ended up in about 6” of water or slamming back onto land.
When our teen years began, we discovered the other end of the lake … White Sands. Traveling to White Sands took us through the woods on a dirt path and across the dam to a place that was mystical. Who were these other kids we had never seen before? By now, I had my first job. I was babysitting every morning. I would tuck those hard earned quarters into the front pocket of my cutoff jeans and head to White Sands Miniature Golf. The days of building sandcastles had crumbled and lying in the sun, playing miniature golf and riding our bikes was how the afternoon was spent. When we left our little country school and attended school in Rapids, we saw some of the kids we thought of as strangers. Wow, there is life outside of Kellner.
Entering high school and obtaining our drivers license opened up new opportunities at the lake. The beach scene was for taking naps and drinking “Jolly Good” after spending an evening at Willow Run. We became brave enough to take a dip in the forbidden territory of the dam. When the lake froze over and the snow began to fall, we could be found skating, sledding and warming up in an ice fishing shack or by a campfire on the lake. By our senior year, we owned the lake. The campground was full of campers and coolers. The lifeguards and rafts were long gone.
We left the lake for the next generation. It wasn’t as in good of shape as when we used it. Years passed and the lake and its surrounding began to show its age. The creeks were silting into the lake, the weeds began taking over and the buoys for the swimming areas were gone. The lakeside picnic areas had missing seats on the swings. There were rusted charcoal grills and picnic tables floating in the lake.
Life happens and years passed before I started using Lake Wazeecha again. During my time away, the lake was dredged. The campground was given a family friendly atmosphere and the picnic areas starting swinging again. All of this was completed in time to start taking my family camping, swimming and boating. To this day, although we only live a few miles from the lake, we camp there every summer. A 4 mile walking/biking trail will have you crossing paths with all ages and some of those friends from way back when ... when I saw you at Red Beach, first met you at White Beach or shared a bottle of TJ Swann with.
If you haven’t done so lately, go catch a fish or a sunset on the lake.