Wednesday, October 08, 2008

Think Globally, Paddle Locally...

This is the third year we've closed the shop for a few days to get together with the Rutabaga staff and have our Watercolors retreat.  For the past two we've driven up north to New Auburn (pronounced "Nawburn" for those of you who have the misfortune of not living here in Wisconsin) to Camp Manitou, an old rustic Y camp that is lovely and fun to visit.

However...we have a mission to reduce our impact on the landscape, plus driving five hours each way reduces our time actually spent paddling.  Lovely rivers and such up there, but for the most part, it was a lot of driving.  This year we decided to stay local.

Day One we decided (okay, I decided) that we should paddle from the shop to the little Norweigian burg of Stoughton* via the Yahara River.  It's a little over 16 miles, a healthy day's paddle considering the lack of current and wind.  18 of us headed out a little after 10:00 A.M.

It's quite a lovely site to see a large fleet of canoes on the water.  And they were mostly solo canoes, which is even sweeter.  The weather was cool and windy and the forecast was for rain.

Paddling in the rain is one of those things that is wonderful if you're prepared and a completely miserable experience if you're not wearing the right gear.  I was wearing a Kokatat set-up, both a Goretex Paclite Parka and Paddlers Pants.  I was impermiable.  Or as the French would say, impermiable.  Kudos to Kokatat for making excellent kit.

The boys from Nova Craft canoe came down (note Canadian flag) to paddle with us (and drop off a dozen boats).  They brought a "special" canoe, this Bob's Special, which was laminated with tie-dyed cloth to make it a Bob Weir's Special.  It's cool in the same way a Delorean is cool.  I appreciate the concept, but I'm not sure I'd buy one.

And yes, I saw a dragonfly.  It's Sympetrum, probably an S. rubicundulum.  He was on the sidewalk, barely moving, so I perched him on my thumb and breathed on him until he was warm.  Then off he flew.

We finished Day One with a big feed at Brocach, an Irish pub downtown.  The food bill was a decent chunk of change, but the Guinness bill was almost as much, as the good proprietors of Brocach manage to pull down $6.00 a pint.  I swallowed, handed over the credit card and thought to myself of the frequent flyer points I was earning.

I highly recommend this place, even if you are not a drinker (I am not).  The Shepherd's Pie contains very tender shepherds, it seems, and the Bailey's Cheesecake is to die for.

Tomorrow...Day Two, the Sugar River.

Respectfully submitted,


*Reminds of the old joke:  What do you get when you mix LSD with lutefisk?  A bad trip to Stoughton.

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