Actually the gales did not come early this year for our 8th annual Gales of November paddle. The event has found a home on Goose Island on Lake Minnetonka and has kind of settled on the Thursday closest to the anniversary of the wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald on 10 November. Weather has been a crap shoot over the years, with everything from 65F, sunny and flat calm, to horizontal snow being driven by a 20 knot northwest wind. It's a testimonial to the paddlers that have regularly attended that said attendance has not varied too much due to weather conditions. What has impacted attendance is that pesky activity called work, the main thing that limits and inhibits all types of paddling.
As we sat around the fire in relatively balmy conditions after a nice paddle of an hour and a half or so, methods of disengagement from our vocational activities was discussed. I was a bit disappointed to hear that pretty much everyone just said, "I"m outta here this afternoon". Heck, I even threw up a photo of a car, suspiciously similar to my car, with a Valley Aquanaut on the roof and the teaser, "it would appear to me that hooky is in the afternoon plan". It's just a bit more delicious to sneak out but I guess that the eight of us all possessed the flexibility to just head out for the rare afternoon work week paddle. As the rare sales guy who disdains golf, even in scrambles events which allow a second shot from the fairway rather than some guys back yard, another tee box, or the creek, I look at the rare afternoon of kayaking as a make up for the time I could have wasted on the golf course. Heck, if you want to use the argument that lots of business takes place on the golf course, I could tell you about the roll ling student up at the GLSKS that turned out to be in management at a company we were looking to do business with. Given my intense work focus, even when out playing, I didn't even realize it until a couple weeks later but that's OK. I did approach one of my cohorts with a work question at our post paddle event at The Narrows Saloon, but I doubt that he has a solid memory of the conversation. I don't think I'll attempt to write off my beer and Dirty Stew on such a slender business connection. What I really need to do is interview those who didn't make it, those for whom work loomed more importantly than the tradition, camaraderie, and mental health benefits of an afternoon on the water. A couple folks showed up that couldn't paddle but enjoyed the happy hour with the crew, a plan that's perfectly acceptable.
This is pretty much the end of the open water paddling season around here. Gitchee Gumee will remain open until well into January and this year I've vowed to get out on the water if the snow refuses to cooperate, as it did last winter. Pool sessions have already begun and at least a couple warm water paddle trips are being organized. At our place in Washburn the view of Gitchee Gumee was restored with one wind storm and we can now see the lake and the city lights of Ashland across the bay. With any luck we will be skiing across that bay in three short months. Once again the change of seasons in the Great Lakes region give we individuals with painfully short attention spans a reason to continue. Embrace the change and enjoy the next season that's in the on deck circle.