Enjoying the life in Imperial Lakes, an oasis in the desert
Tracy Justo prepares to take a sharp turn while water-skiing in Imperial Lakes Sunday. Union Pacific withdrew its application to build an industrial uploading facility across from this community in western Imperial County on July 16. (ALEJANDRO DAVILA PHOTO / July 22, 2012)
“A lot of people don’t know we are here and people tend to disregard there is a (viable) community,” said resident James Taylor on Sunday while relaxing in his swimming trunks in front of one of the two lakes that divide this residential area in two.
Two lakes parallel each other and run from north to south while homes and their respective docks stand on the shoreline.
The lakes were designed for skiing and water-skiing and water-related sports — aside from jet-skiing — are what residents here practice.
However, some residents also have horses, which are kept in a stable within this gated community comprised of 21 homes.
“Most of the residents have very athletic lifestyles,” said Ashley Taylor, who agreed it would be fair to describe Imperial Lakes as a community of water skiers.
“It’s really neat,” Ashley Taylor said, “it’s such a nice neighborhood and we have that common interest.”
Moreover, many of the residents are serious water skiers, among them some world champions who train for competitions, James Taylor said while joking about him competing “like 100 years ago.”
There’s even a 77-year-old female resident who still competes, added James Taylor. In fact, he said, “a lot of people are away on a regionals tournament and that’s why it’s so quiet today.”
But it wasn’t so quiet near the home of Ken and Tracy Justo, who were listening to Eric Clapton and Winton Marsalis as they got ready to water ski.
The Justos picked up water skiing about 10 years ago during a trip to Acapulco, said Tracy Justo, who describes that experience as “falling in love” with the sport.
Some five years ago Ken Justo began to look for a place for water skiing, and the couple was “lucky enough to find this place and bought this piece of paradise.”
The sport, however, is demanding and “one of the hardest sports I’ve ever done,” said Tracy Justo, who like her husband enjoys an athletic figure that evidences her observations about Imperial Lakes residents.
After doing the course some six times — what is considered a set, she gets “exhausted,” Tracy Justo acknowledges, however, it is a habit of hers to do two sets when she skies.
Expectedly, Ken Justo shares his wife’s passion for water skiing.
“It’s exhilarating,” he said while warning that once someone tries water skiing “you either fall for it or you don’t.”
And if someone does fall for it, he notes, they become addicted to it.
This healthy addiction is also “a tremendous workout,” he said. He explained that most of the body, short of the chest, is trained when water skiing.
But the benefits of water skiing are not only physical but emotional as it galvanizes the family “and that is very cool,” said Ken Justo.
To prove this he explained that being in a boat with his children incentivizes interacting with them and the friends that may be invited, “and that is cool especially with so many (negative) distractions like drugs.”
Resident Jim Valentine, one of the pioneers of this community built 21 years ago, considers Imperial Lakes not only fun because of the opportunity of water skiing but also because it’s safe.
“My kids grew up here,” Valentine said proudly before noting that he also moved here because he loved the desert and he loved skiing.
“Good, clean living,” said Ken Justo while referring to his life in Imperial Lakes. “It might sound a little corny but for me it’s a big deal.”
Staff Writer Alejandro Davila can be reached at 760-337-3445 or firstname.lastname@example.org
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