Tuesday, August 14, 2007
Both the Great Taste of the Midwest beerfest and the Womyn's Paddle Extravaganza came off without a hitch. In Madison, beer was consumed, rolls were practiced, fine food was consumed, and trip plans were laid for a Keewenaw paddle the week after Labor Day. I'm always struck by the number of non chain dining establishments and non sports bars drinking establishments in the Capitol Square and Willy St area of Madison's east side. People support them and most do a very nice job. The Comeback Inn however, is off the list for next years pre beerfest base preparation. For the second year in a row they seemed unable to produce a standard breakfast in less than an hour. Last year we got our breakfast free and this year a round of drinks but come on! Its breakfast; it just ain't that tough! We will continue to enjoy their extensive tap selection and just play to their strength; pouring beers. No more breakfast attempts however. Jamerica restaurant on the other hand was superb once again. A small storefront located a short half block from beerfest base camp and classic neighborhood hangout the Crystal Corner, the Caribbean food there is simply wonderful. The jerked chicken and pork are out of this world. Even a veteran chef/food critic like the Bessemer Convivialist raved about the chow there.
Speaking of the BC, all went well on Oak Island in the Apostle Islands National Lakeshore for what is now the first annual Womyn's Paddle Extravaganza. It was quickly pointed out to me by the VOR that the menu was completely different than when we menly men are along. Vegetable Thai curry, cucumbers with hummus, and cherry tomatoes have replaced venison stew, beer sticks, and a large block of cheese. I'm not sure how a person can paddle on unsubstantial fare such as that but they managed to hit Oak, Raspberry, Hermit, and Basswood islands without weakening. They also rendezvoused with the Mayor without incident, although she had been prepared to paddle off toward Hermit Island after misidentifying it as Oak. Being a woman who knows everyone, she immediately ran into one of her 'constituents' on Oak Island....amazing! The other 3 members of the expedition were the IrishPirate, lady friend of the Bjorn Dahlie of Mathtomedi, the SuperiorHikeTrailDiva from Como Park, and the GlobalPaddler, a woman who's thrown the boat in the water around the globe. Given that this was an intro paddle for a couple of relative newcomers (first Lake Superior crossings in a couple cases) , they covered some serious water and did very well. The only one who screwed up was the BC who, upon stopping for lunch, discovered that she was the only one with no beer! This could ruin her reputation as a convivialist but Im sure there will be plenty of opportunity for redemption. I was also proud of the way they maximized their Sunday time on the water. A 6pm Sunday call to my cell phone from Morty's Pub in Bayfield,WI confirmed that the ladies knew how to properly debrief after a long weekend of paddling. I received the call as I was clearing the brain with a rolling session on Snail Lake, accompanied by GalwayGuy. He and I wound up in Mahtomedi at the B.Dahlie residence where we dined on fine cuisine and debated the merits of Bombay vs Tanqueray in our favorite quenching summer beverage. The VOR and Mayor stayed in Herbster at the town campground for another night and did a sisterly Meyers Beach sea caves day trip. Two very different weekend but both rewarding in their own very different way.