Sunday, May 13, 2007
Mad City paddle
I headed down to Madison this weekend with the Voice of Reason to paddle, visit friends/ family, hit the farmers market, and secure a decent bike for the VOR's pedaling comfort. Son Erik is a fountain of bike knowledge and assisted with fit, style of bike, and some wheelin' and dealin'. He and his lady friend Kathryn also helped us with the cask ale and fish fry at Wonders Pub on Friday night. He who journeys to Wisconsin and spurns the Friday fish is an idiot.
After a fine Madison morning with breakfast at the Comeback Inn, a visit to the Farmers Market, and a visit to a paddling buddy who broke his ankle and then had his wife break hers 3 weeks later (!!), we headed over to Rutabaga for an afternoon paddle. The joint was hoppin' and they are nice enough to allow you to launch there as long as you park on the street and wear your life jacket when you launch and return. My buddy ToddM joined us on this urban paddle. Todd is stalwart of our annual fall trip and an outspoken advocate of the plastic boat. He paddles a Prijon, being a good German, and scorns the careful exits that we gel coated glass boat owners make from our craft. With him the motto is 'accelerate to ramming speed!' no matter if the beach is sand, cobbles, or a concrete boat landing. Then you just grab the toggle and reef it up on the beach. I personally have never had trouble landing my glass boat even on the cobble beaches of the Canadian Shield rock landings on northern Lake Superior. Those boats are a lot tougher than you think. Plus, they just aren't that hard to patch up. Todd of course, is the guy who was marveling at the unusual light as we crossed from Stockton to Manitou Island in fairly tricky conditions a couple years back. The reason for the unusual light, upon closer inspection, is that one of his sunglasses lenses had fallen out. None of us told him, of course, because it was too rough to take a picture and we felt we definitely needed a picture of this when we landed.
But glass vs plastic boats and oblivious paddle buddies is another post. We paddled down the Yahara River into Lake Waubesa. The river and lake are disturbingly algae ridden, even at this early date. There was a big feature in the State Journal on Sunday about the condition of the Yahara watershed and the critical point that has reached. I guess that between the dairy farms and the idiots who insist on the perfect lawn the algae bloom doesn't seem that mysterious to me. We paddled to the Green Lantern bar and disembarked for some Capital Island wheat and the Capital Amber. The Voice of Reason suggested that maybe we didn't need two pitchers of beer before climbing back in the boats but we scoffed. Plus we had the invaluable assistance with the pitchers from my friend Woody, who had met us via land. At this point I felt it was time to don my tuliq and practice my offside roll. Once again the VOR thought it an ill conceived plan. After screwing up 3 rolls (although if you wind up vertical I guess they aren't that screwed up) it was time to head for the barn. After the Minneapolis chain of lakes last week and the Madison chain this weekend, I'm ready for the cold water, lack of civilization, and the lack of temptation of Gitchee Gumee.