Wednesday, April 30, 2008

It wasn't a perfect day...

...but it was just a few clicks short of perfect. Maybe 3-5 degrees warmer, maybe 3-5 mph winds rather than 10-15, and add my wife with me, it would have been perfect. But I'll take what I can get and be grateful.

While the Sugar was not at flood stage, it was definitely at bank full stage. There was some great tree paddling to be had. But I am getting ahead of myself. First, music for the ride to Attica, WI.

Charley bought some popcorn, Billy bought a car
Someone almost bought the farm, but they didn't go that far
Things shut down at midnight, at least around here they do
Cause we all reside down the block inside at 23 Skidoo.

Driving to the Sugar is always more fun because I take the back roads. Better gas mileage since I'm not pushing the Brick through fast air, and I can leave the windows open and crank up the John Prine, possibly the best road music ever. Not the best voice, not even the best musician, but he has a John Prineness that no one else has, and his music makes it pleasant to go slower, something of which we can all use a little more.

There's a big old goofy man
Dancing with a big old goofy girl
Ooh baby, it's a big old goofy world.

Yep. Goofy.

I dropped the canoe at the landing and headed for the takeout at Dunlap Road/County Hwy EE, dropped the Brick and started walking, wearing a PFD and carrying a canoe paddle with a little sign that said "To Attica, Thank You." That was 10:37 AM. After two Chevy Luminas full of older ladies with blue hair (I wouldn't have picked me up if I were them), a truck passed, checked me in the rear view and stopped to give me a lift. I love Green County. People are nice if you carry a canoe paddle. It took me six minutes and three cars to get a ride. Try that in Los Angeles. On second thought, don't.

I got to the truck, opened the door and said "Hey! Thanks a lot." The driver looked at me and said "Wait a minute...Darren! From Rutabaga! We met last Spring." So it turns out the third car to pass was a customer and a guy I had met before. He took me all the way to the put in without a thought (considerably out of his way), but as he said, "Hey, anything for a fellow paddler." Thanks, Jim.

The birds were totally out of control today. I saw herons (of course), mallards and geese (of course), kingfishers (not uncommon), etc. But I also saw two barn owls fly away as I paddled unexpectedly under their roost. I saw wood ducks, grebes, and a bunch of warblers, including a pair of curious yellow-rumped warblers on their way north. I tried to get a picture but it sucked (optical zoom, over my shoulder, etc.). At least there is proof. :-)

The water levels allowed some tree paddling, so I did some out-of-bank exploration. All you have to do is follow the grass. The Prism was a little long for some of the tree paddling, I wished for my Argosy, but what are you gonna do? You don't paddle with the canoe you want, you paddle with the canoe you have. Sounds sorta Rumsfeldian, doesn't it?

Because of the current the paddle was over too fast, despite my attempts to go slow and poke around in the backwaters. All good paddles must come to an end, but the adventure was not over.

Rather than take the straight route home, I opted for the meandering route, which I hoped would take me to Monticello, home of the M&M Cafe. The M&M has great service (two sweet older women who even serve you five minutes before closing), and most importantly, great pie. In Darren's world, a day paddle is not complete without good pie that is made on-site. I cannot abide outsourced pie.

"I think we have one small piece of banana creme left," said Waitress A. Waitress B corroborated the story, and a cup of tomato bisque soup and this small slice of pie was produced. It was in the top three BCPs I have ever eaten.

I like to buy things that you can only get one place. It helps remind me of the time I was there, and it pumps a few extra dollars into a local economy. They had these cool M&M Cafe mugs, so I bought one. It was six bucks, four for $18.00. I got one, needing four mugs like I needed another canoe paddle. With the pie, soup, and a Pepsi, the total was $12.15, so I left fifteen and headed home. With my new mug and a collection of great memories.


eric said...

This was a GREAT report; and with the hitch-hiking and the stop at the cafe, you really touched on some old-fashioned paddling traditions.

That's a great quote about "the canoe you have," and I'm wondering if the Prism gave you any trouble while going with the current?

canoelover said...

Eric, while I would have preferred the Argosy, the Prism was fine if I heeled it over (to the gunwale) and gave it a good sweep stroke. I think between the Prism and the Argosy, I have things well and truly covered.

Glad you liked the report, I'll keep sending them if you keep reading them. :-) DB