With us in town and a bunch of our friends up in the Apostles, the VOR and I decided a kayak picnic would be a good plan for our Friday off. We recruited BDahlieOfMahtomedi and the IrishPirate and headed for Square Lake in eastern Washington County, a 30 minute drive from our joint. Square Lake is the cleanest and clearest lake in the metro area, the lake that a number of local dive groups use for scuba training. We feared overcrowding on a beautiful day when lots of people were off but were pleasantly surprised. The park, the only park on the lake, requires a $5 parking pass and once again the truism, 'if you tax something you'll get less of it and if you subsidize it you'll get more of it' held true.
It is an interesting lake on a number of levels besides its amazing clarity. They have a slot from noon to 4pm on weekends and holidays where you can buzz around on your speedboat or jet ski, but after that the entire lake is a no wake zone. Its probably not as effective in limiting them as my Modest Proposal for a Jet Ski Hunting Season (two jet skis bag limit per season, either sex, license $28 Residents, $145 non residents), but it more in keeping with my 'lets all get along' philosophy from the last post. There is also a complete and refreshing lack of 'McMansions' on the lake. The common thing around here is to buy a parcel on a lake, tear down the small vintage cottage that was built in the 1940's or '50's, and erect a monument to yourself and your undersized male appendage for all to enjoy as it looms over the lake like some medieval castle. I don't know if its a zoning, historic, or just a common sense thing but the lake still has those tiny cottages from another era. The most interesting aspect however, is the clarity of the water.
Most paddles involve cruising along the shore at a steady pace, getting the forward stroke dialed in, and conversing about the sights along the shoreline. There was some discussion of the scenery but the focus quickly went downward into the water when the VOR spotted a turtle cruising below her boat. For most of the rest of the paddle we moseyed along, looking at the fish and vegetation, sometimes doing more sculling, bow rudders, and draw strokes than forward strokes. The vegetation was all native with none of the despised Eurasian Milfoil or Purple Loosestrife in evidence (thanks a lot for those fine invasives, Great Lakes ballast water!). There are lots of native snails and bass and bluegill nests, as well as the fish themselves, were evident all along the shoreline. It was a refreshing change from the lake weeds and algae blooms that we are starting to see here in lake country this time of year.
The day ended with an old fashioned picnic with grilled burgers, shish kabobs, potato salad, and beans. Oh, and an adult beverage or two was ingested as well. Another quick lap around the lake, a few rolls that could not be avoided in such pristine water, and we were outta there, some of the last folks to leave the park at around 9pm. Maybe this staying in town thing ain't so bad once in awhile.