Our end-of-year recreational gathering in fact turned into a gathering of past USCA champions (Betsy Arnold, Lori Blaylock, Roger Crisp, and myself). Or maybe we’re just a bunch of has-been’s. But we had fun! Roger technically missed his own championship opportunity, but he seems to have made up for it by helping to train Betsy and Lori, and by passing on good advice to me. Like reminding us that boats are generally faster when you keep the open side up… 🙂 Our lower attendance was apparently the result of the potentially inclement weather that was whacking parts of Michigan and Illinois scaring off a few potential attendees, car trouble another, and trailer-lust another set, plus a few other excuses, but those who came had a blast – including the couple of renowned ex-Hoosiers who saw the light and returned (Bill and Betsy Arnold).
Food was abundant. Roger Crisp brought his charcoal grill, some brat burgers, and a blueberry pie; I brought a gas grill and some beef/bison burgers, chocolate/carrot/zucchini muffins, lemonade, and San Peligrino water; Lori Blaylock brought an excellent home-made carrot cake and a spaghetti pasta salad that we never even touched; and the Arnold’s brought vegetables with dip and chips. In other words a complete, well-balanced meal. No one left hungry… We had a great time catching up and keeping warm around the grills in the morning. Much of the conversation initially centered on the goings-on of the Arnold’s in their moving adventures, but then it turned to classic Rogerism’s and Roger’s very humorous recounting of his young adventures.
The first hour or two as the morning turned into noon was overcast, breezy, and a bit cool, but then things brightened up with some warming sunshine and soon temps were in the mid-70’s. Great timing for us, as it was time to grab a paddle and hit the water! Roger paddled his beautiful strip-wood kayak, Lori went out in her Stellar S18S surf ski, Betsy paddled my Scorpius XS OC1, and I went out initially in my Stellar SR surf ski. Bill guarded the remaining gear and listened to some books on tape. A support crew is invaluable!
Betsy is still on the mend from back surgery, so the OC1 proved to be the perfect boat for her. Lake Wawasee is always somewhat wavy, but stability was no problem in the OC1. Unless you’re trying to help someone lift her surf ski to the dock from the non-ama side, but more about that later. Needing to keep things mellow to prevent re-injury, Betsy turned back after paddling 1.5 miles out, so I escorted her back so I could carry the boats (not good on her back) and switch to the OC1 for a bit of cross-training. After saying goodbye to Bill and Betsy I headed back out in the OC1 to meet up with Roger and Lori. Lori hasn’t had a lot of wave experience, but she undertook the challenge under Roger’s tutelage and we all headed across the lake with decent size beam waves the whole way. By the time we got across Lori was a pro and looking quite comfortable in her S18S. Paddling further up we encountered some fun surfing waves coming off speed boats, very clear water, and just a beautiful day to enjoy. Eventually we turned around and headed back in, totaling 8 miles of paddling. Now being racers, just cruising along doesn’t quite cut it. Periodically I would see Roger off to my side start to pick up the pace, leaving me with no choice but to try and run with him. All I have to say is that Roger has returned to being quite a strong paddler. I could get ahead of him in the OC1, but he made me work for every inch of it!
Returning to the boat launch we found it clogged with powerboats loading up, so we opted to try to get the boats out at the dock (a foot+ off the water). Lori got out first, only to be a bit confounded in her attempts to get her boat lifted up. A helpful gentleman on the dock went to lift part of the boat, while I figured I could lift the other end with my “stable” OC1. Note that 35 lbs of boat offset to the right of the OC1 isn’t easily countered by 1 lb of ama on the left side, and I soon found myself sampling the refreshing waters of Lake Wawasee. I am happy to report my PFD kept me afloat, especially in the shallow water around the dock where I could stand, and my waterproof bags did indeed protect my phone and key fob. Roger opted to head to the rocky shore, get out in the water, and hand his boat over to us over the rocks. Good choice.
Back at the picnic table we chatted a bit more, ate a bit more, loaded boats, and everyone headed out. I left last, around 5:00 pm. Just as I was in my car about to pull out the winds picked up substantially and I suspect the rain in the background was probably no more than a minute or two away. I pulled out just ahead of it and stayed dry all the way home. We couldn’t have asked for better weather halfway through October. A great day to cap off a great season! Unfortunately I was too busy cooking or eating earlier to remember to get a photo of our feast. Or myself! 🙂
Don’t forget – the annual Fall meeting is coming up in November. Hopefully the first Saturday (we’re still confirming the Culver Beach house).