On the water again

“Last Saturday, we had a winter weather advisory and a few inches of snow, and this Saturday, we’re going kayaking,” I commented to my husband and daughter as we pulled out of our driveway with three kayaks atop our Honda Pilot.

Wisconsin weather! A day like Saturday—when it was sunny and 65 degrees—is well earned after a long, cold winter and a much-delayed spring. I felt giddy in my anticipation as we drove north to Green Lake in the city of Green Lake in the county of Green Lake. While not especially creative with their naming conventions, Green Lake proved to be a great destination.

My husband, Greg, and I first visited there last year on Mother’s Day weekend. Our plans to kayak then were kyboshed by winter-like weather: 40s, windy and rainy. I spent most of that Friday curled up in a freshly purchased blanket on the couch with hot tea in our Airbnb rental. Rain showers continued on and off Saturday, giving us enough of a reprieve to go for a few walks and explore area greenhouses. Sunday was picture perfect, warm and sunny, much to our dismay as we drove home!

Noting its easy one-hour drive from Madison, we vowed to return to Green Lake another time—in good weather, with our kayaks.

On Saturday, we finally had our opportunity. Greg, my daughter Rebecca and I launched our kayaks from Beyers Cove boat launch mid morning. The skies were blue with fluffy white clouds and the winds were gentle as we made our way out of the quiet bay where several fishermen cast their poles and waited for the fish to bite.

Once facing the lake, we were in awe. Green Lake is quite large, featuring 27 miles of shoreline. It will require several more kayaking trips to explore it all! With a depth of approximately 237 feet, it is also the deepest inland lake in Wisconsin.

We paddled our three kayaks along the shoreline, admiring the homes and chatting. It’s always fun to stay close to each other and talk. With Rebecca’s college graduation coming up in less than two weeks, we did a lot of reminiscing about her classes, roommates and travels. Plus, she can crack up anybody within listening distance with her boisterous tales of college life and sarcastic “Daddy needs an enema” stories (yikes, maybe don’t ask her about that one)! Good grief, the fishermen probably blamed us for scaring away the fish with our laughter and noise.

Rebecca loves her “mom” time and did her best to stay next to my side, leading to a couple of scuffles as Greg tried to push his way between us—only to be smacked with a paddle or left behind as we raced our kayaks across the lake. I scolded them a couple of times, telling them to take it easy—I didn’t want anybody tipping into the icy cold water.

We eventually moved away from the shore, taking a shortcut across the lake near the Green Lake Conference Center. Distracted, we stopped about three quarters of the way to consume a paltry (according to Rebecca) lunch—a choice of yogurt, granola bar, apple and/or cheese stick. Thankfully, Rebecca baked homemade cookies on Friday evening, so at least we had one tasty treat. Her Turtle cookies and Browned Butter Bourbon Pecan Chocolate Chip cookies are worth fighting for—and yes, maybe my half did end up being slightly larger than hers when I insisted on splitting one of each.

We paddled for about two hours before turning around. As it often seems to happen, our ride back to the launch point was much choppier, giving us a good workout as we paddled into the wind and through the waves. Without the lunch and photo ops, we made it back in about one and a half hours. Our butts were sore. Our bellies were hungry. And our skin was dry from the wind and sun.

Yet the trip wasn’t quite over! Our excursion to Green Lake was really twofold. Primarily, we wanted to kayak; secondarily, we wanted to pick up a couple of hanging flower baskets. During our chilly explorations last year, we came across Bloch’s Farm & Greenhouses, where we purchased incredible hanging flower baskets that flourished all summer long. After loading up our kayaks, we first stopped at Crossroads Market to stock up on “cowboy” burgers (another fantastic Green Lake find!) and then on to Bloch’s where we picked up a couple of gorgeous hanging baskets.

If you’re looking for a day out with your kayak within about 60 miles from Madison, try Green Lake! It’s a clean, peaceful, good-size lake. We’ll be back again one day to explore another portion of the lake.

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