Monday, August 11, 2008

Weekends on the opposite ends of Wisconsin

Once again the Great Taste of the Midwest beer worship extravaganza came off without a hitch in perfect weather. The view of the capitol building, looming over the Port Potties, was majestic. There were over 50 real ales offered, naturally carbonated beer dispensed by its own carbonation rather than pushed by CO2. That would certainly have to be the most real ale this side of London and has been a welcome addition to the festival. RonO commented that its amazing how much damage that little bitty glass could cause. The most ignominious moment occurred as we pulled up to the Crystal Corner Bar, five menly men fresh from an afternoon of beer sampling. We had been listening to a compilation CD, Stevie Ray Vaughn had just finished, and, unfortunately, Cindy Lauper's "Girls Just Want to Have Fun" had begun. A young couple walking down the street glanced over and commented, "Rockin' out tonite, eh guys?". We cracked up. Now if I can only remember who gave the WoodenOne that CD......

On the other end of the state, 350 miles due north, the VoiceOfReason, IrishPirate, and KleanDeckKate were having a real adventure. TheMayor and her friend were forced to abort due to car trouble so after waiting a bit at Little Sand Bay the trio set off on a night crossing to Sand Island, three miles under a bright half moon and and 1' to 2' seas from the west. Saturday began innocuously enough but the wind began to build and then build some more out of the northeast. Small craft warnings were raised and the women decided it would be a good day to hike out to the lighthouse. Not all of the temporary residents of Sand Island made such a prudent choice. A father and his two sons, aged roughly 14 and 16 paddled out from Little Sand Bay in shorts and T shirts, day hatches stocked with Coke. One of the sons had gone over and was a bit chilly. Their plan was to paddle back after looking around the island a bit. And we wonder why some people think kayakers are idiots. Four guys that that were camping next to the women decided it would be a good day to take a peek at the sea caves, a consequential decision with a northeast wind and the accompanying clapotis waves bouncing out of the caves. Two of the fellows were members of area paddle clubs; James was from the Missouri River Valley Paddlers and Steve was from the Central Iowa Paddlers. A short time after they rounded Swallow Point a motorboat appeared carrying a kayak and one of the foursome. The third guy was being fished out of the lake by his two more experienced buddies, James and Steve. Their experience paid off big time with a northeast wind blowing into the sea caves and they executed the rescue under very difficult conditions. If a kayaker gets into the caves its like being in a washing machine, a situation which proved fatal to a kayaker a couple years back at exactly this time of year. Its an extremely dangerous situation and one in which a person needs to act quickly. It sounded like one of those situations where the rescuers and the rescued all learned something and came out better paddlers in the end.

Everyone returned safely to camp and the four guys, the three women, and a young couple from GalwayGuy's alma mater of St John's University, all decided to stay on Sand another night, share the available campsites, and the evening fire. Like last year the women had healthful fresh food such as hummus, goat cheese, sun dried tomatoes, pita bread, et al, while guys pulled out the usual male fare of freeze dried crap and maybe a beer stick or two. Throughout the chaos of kayaks dumping, campsites backed up with windbound paddlers, and all the other goings on, the folks that helped keep thing sane were the Jorgenson's, the NPS volunteers on the island. Radio messages were flying back and forth and they kind of acted as the 'concerned parents' for their temporary charges on Sand Island. They knew the history of the island and are excellent ambassadors for the park. Mrs J also divulged the secret of the beach pea to the women. I always try to avoid trampling these guys when landing on sand beaches. Their tenacity of growing and thriving in pure, shifting, blowing sand has always impressed me. Apparently they are also very tasty to eat. This time of year there are several pods from each blossum and you shuck em and eat em just like regular peas. The blueberry report is also predicting a banner year for 2008.

On both ends of the state the respective parties met interesting new people, enjoyed new experiences, hung out on a beautiful lake, and shared some laughs with a great group of folks. The only difference was that the women got some exercise and were sober for the most part. But it was indeed a good weekend all around.

1 comment:

Ranger Bob said...

The supervisor of those Sand Island volunteers you mentioned was very pleased to hear this across the breakfast table this morning. She'll be passing them your compliments later today!