Our annual Gales of November paddle happened to fall on the actual 35th anniversary of the sinking of the Edmund Fitzgerald on 10 November 1975. The weather on Wednesday was nothing like that legendary storm 35 years ago, but we had a small preview of things to come. Temperatures were a relatively balmy 60F at 2pm when we launched but we had a southeast wind of about 15mph, judging by the whitcaps and foam lines in the lake. Rain hit about dusk, when happy hour on Wild Goose Island was winding down, reminding us once again that 'an east wind blows no good' in these parts. We paddled back to the launch in the artificial dark, our path lit by our headlamps and the ring of lights around this decidedly urbanized body of water.
The Gales event began six years ago with the trio in the image deciding that it was a rare nice day in early November and that we should play hookey and go paddle. Given the 'customer golf outings' at my company and many others, I think that a 'customer paddle outing' once a year is a perfectly acceptable activity. I actually have a couple customers and potential customers that I paddle with, although I suspect that the same amount of business conversation takes place at these events as takes place at golf events; little to none. I don't think the majority of us know what the other person does for a living and I like that just fine. One of the more interesting observations is the weather from year to year on roughly the same day. Year one was 70F and balmy, and year 3 had horizontal sleet and 33F temperatures. This weather does not seem to faze the core group, and in fact a few people hope for miserable conditions just so they can haul out their heavy duty paddle gear. We always bring out campfire wood so we can pretend we're on a more remote island and to take the edge off on cold years. This year was a kind of in between year with some wind and rain but balmy temps but there is just something about a nice wood fire.
The evening ended at the Narrows Saloon which has an excellent dirty pork stew, a posole like concoction without the hominy, and a fine tap selection. As in past years, a blues band showed up and began playing at a decent hour, inspiring the BessemerConvivialist and I to dance to a couple of completely unrelated covers, Dave Dudley's "Six Days on the Road" and Zep's "Black Dog".
I plan on paddling a bit more, even though I've already seen ice on some ponds and there is venison to be packed in the freezer. Open water is all we need and it seems like that can be found most of the year if a person looks hard enough. Pool sessions have started and I suspect I may be talked into one when GalwayGuy returns from St Louis, although my anti-chlorite sentiments are well known. For the next month or so I will need to pick my paddling spots when opportunity arises and that's OK. Its been a great season.