A Chance Encounter with “The Boat Launch Goddess”
I was about two years old the first time I started playing with crayons and paint. Miki Schneider was about two years old the first time her parents took her camping at Lake Cachuma.
50 some years later… I am still futzing with crayons, and paint, and making my living talking about the thing I loved to do when I was a toddler. Miki is making her living talking about the place she fell in love with when she was that age. So I feel a kinship with this woman I only just met for a moment.
Our paths crossed this weekend in the middle of a quick photo safari my husband and I went on early Sunday morning. After breakfast in Santa Barbara, we set off on a scenic back-road, hoping to find some miniature horses I had seen years earlier. On a whim we took the turnoff for Lake Cachuma, a man-made lake located in the Santa Ynez Valley which neither of us had ever visited. After parking where we could look out over the water, we were greeted by the words, “Hey, folks! How can I help you?” It was the woman who manned the boat dock trailer. We said hi, asked how she was doing, and she replied, “I’m great. I love my job, and the view doesn’t suck.” That was our introduction to Miki, The Boat Dock Goddess.
Miki works 20 hours a week, in exchange for which she gets two things: a great spot to park her trailer, and a chance to spend her hours telling people about her favorite place — and she can spend hours talking about it. If you don’t think you can get excited about boating and fishing, or about which rivers feed California lakes, or about the threat to waterways from quagga and zebra mussels, then you haven’t met Miki. Her exuberance and passion for her job — for her life — are infectious. With her dog Annie cradled in her arms, looking out over the water, Miki became my new poster child for the possibility of turning simple living into an art form.