Some of my favorite people are Leos, so it didn't take me long to sign up for the fortieth birthday celebration of a friend with an August birthday.

The party was held on Shasta Lake, in the shadow of its namesake mountain. We rented a party boat for a week of fun and sun. Complete with hot tub and slide, what sounded like it might be a bore (bobbing about in a boat for seven days) proved to be one of the best vacations ever.

Just down the road from the historic city of Weed, Shasta Lake is a reservoir that keeps the Sacramento Valley hydrated. The water level drops a foot a day, revealing steep shore banks that are stepped like the entrance to an ancient roman temple.

By day it was all fun in the sun. By night we had movies to watch, liquor to drink and some of the best grub imaginable, proof it pays to include gourmet chefs on the guest list.