April and May passed me by with only one kayaking excursion with my daughter in rented kayaks in Milwaukee. I finally got out on the water with some friends in my own orange kayaks on Tuesday, June 1. Where did the spring go?!
Greg and I had requested the day off from work weeks earlier to move our daughter into a new apartment. Luckily, she got her new apartment keys early, and we completed the move over the weekend, leaving June 1 free.
Seeing a forecast of sunny skies and little to no wind, we knew how we’d be spending our time off: kayaking!
Our first quest was to see if anyone was free to join us on a Tuesday morning. We instantly thought of our friends Deb and Dick, who had mentioned a few times that they’d like to try kayaking.
On such a calm day, Madison’s largest lake is fun to explore, so we launched from Governor Nelson State Park into Lake Mendota in late morning.
First-time paddlers usually have some misconceptions about paddling, such as kayaks tip easily or they’ll feel claustrophobic inside a kayak. In my five years of kayaking, I’ve only tipped my kayak once, and our kayaks don’t have enclosed cockpits that make you feel trapped. In fact, the time I tipped my kayak over, I fell out immediately, along with my waterbag, shoes and water bottle. You’re in the wide open so much that you must remember to apply sunscreen to your legs, and if you’re on the sit-on kayak, even your feet and toes.
Dick has canoed before, so he took off and never looked back. Deb seemed comfortable in her kayak and experimented with her paddling, realizing she had to put some muscle into her strokes if she wanted to move faster—definitely not a problem since she’s a fitness instructor!
Lake Mendota was smooth, and the water was so clear we could see fish swimming beneath us. Dick and Greg saw a bobber floating in the water, and when trying to catch it, noticed it was still attached to a live fish. In addition to “the fish that got away,” we saw a few fishermen scattered about the lake.
The guys paddled ahead and talked about guy stuff, while Deb and I talked about our upcoming trips, our daughters and jobs, our workout regimens and our mutual dislike of spiders.
We ate lunch while floating on the water and while finishing up our meal noticed an animal playing in the water. We tried to get close to it, debating whether it was an otter or a muskrat. I wanted it to be an otter, but it was most likely a muskrat.
We reluctantly got off the water a few hours later. Life is busy, and there’s almost always other stuff we should or could be doing—mowing the yard, weeding, sending emails and making calls. We returned home, happy for our time on the water and the chance to introduce Dick and Deb to kayaking.
The following Monday, I saw Deb, who said, “Guess what’s in my garage!”
My first thought: “Spiders!?!”
“No,” she laughed, “a kayak!”
Welcome to the world of kayaking, my friends!