Tuesday, June 24, 2008
A vulgar artifact
In keeping with the theme of the previous post about waterways being clogged with blissfully ignorant people in all sorts of people powered water conveyances, I need to point out that I will be joining their ranks again on Saturday for the 36th year in a row. Once again I will be wedging my behind into an inner tube and floating down the Eau Claire River as part of the 36th Annual Eau Claire River Float Trip. You can read about last years event here. Sorry about the recycled photo but actual images from the river are rare. In the past I've taken the Feathercraft and a CD Scirocco but for the past few years I've gone retro and used the classic old black truck tube. You'll note some high tech blue water toys but, being a fan of Greenland kayak techniques also, I kind of like the traditional look.
What prompted this post was the convergence of last Saturdays Lake Calhoun experience, this Saturdays upcoming float trip, and an article a friend passed on to me entitled, "The Horror of Kayaks". The Villager, a local neighborhood paper, has no online edition and I'm far too lazy to type the whole article into some sort of electronic form. The gist of it is that this guy is a fly fisherman and was fishing the Kinnickinnick River in western WI, a fairly narrow stream above River Falls. As he was switching from an Adams to a Partridge and Orange (fly lingo) he heard a "rhythmic clunking" from upstream. "From around the bend appeared a vessel that resembled an elf shoe with a human torso sticking up out of it. The torso was furiously stirring the water with the ends of a double paddle in a futile effort to avoid colliding with me. I had to leap out of the stream to get out of the way". He goes on to lament "Solace denied. Serenity ruined. Mission accomplished". He even blames the flourishing of these "vulgar artifacts" on the "reign of George Bush II" and complains about the "eye frying colors, the same color as bath toys". Or maybe the blue water toys on our float trip. The similarity of his experience and the one that I will most certainly be on the other end of Saturday was cemented when he wrote, referring to canoeists that, "a convoy of aluminum-borne teenagers boomed over rocky rapids, unleashing war whoops between swigs of Leinenkugels". Has he been on the Eau Claire River and how did he know we were drinking Leinies (beer)? Ours beer is in a keg in the canoe!
In any event, it was fairly humorous and I had to laugh out loud at a couple of his metaphors, especially the elf shoe. In the photo we see a noted Greenland style rolling expert in his very own 'elf shoe'. The fact of the matter is that we just aren't very tolerant of activities other than the ones we embrace. My sister has a three sided war going on her lake between fisherman, water skiiers, and jet ski people, although the fisherman and water skiers pretty much universally loathe jet skiers. Our fly fishing writer advocates being able to tip over a kayaker or two as "restorative justice". I myself have advocated a jet ski season similar to Wisconsin deer hunting season. A person is issued one tag, either sex, with the option to purchase more 'antlerless' tags if you fill your first one. That would make the jet skiers think, as they did that figure 8 past your kayak for the 15th time, 'Hmmm......has that guy filled his tag yet? And if I do 8 more figure 8's will that put him over the edge and cause him to take me out?' I think it would foster more politeness on the water but my innovative idea has been received pretty much like Swift's A Modest Proposal. No sense of humor, I guess. So when you're out there, railing against the folks who are doing something other than what you are doing, remember that the water belongs to everyone. And please take the time to write your representative about instituting the Jet Ski Hunting License. Its a modest proposal but one who's time has come.