Tuesday, June 21, 2011

The art of travel

As our master canoe instructor deftly explained the art of canoeing with the use of a small canoe that he had borrowed from a local garden gnome, I was suddenly struck with a realization that was, at once enlightening and joyous, and yet stirred up an extreme sense of sadness of opportunities lost. As he held the little paddles in his fingers, moving them around in tiny circles as if stirring coffee, I flashed back to my days as a football coach and realized that I had really missed the boat by not using Barbie dolls to demonstrate blocking techniques to those freshmen.

Mastering the Canoe 101

Here we learn how to paddle a wooden dock. OMG, it was soooooo realistic! I mean after a few minutes we were expert canoeists, capable of paddling any canoe that sat 2 and 1/2 feet out of the water and anchored deep in the lake bottom. Bring on the whitewater! And on top of the wonderful life changing instruction I was nostaligically transported back to Miss Higbothom's 5th grade dance class with footprints on the floor and everything.

Okay, okay, so the start was a little slow. Maybe he hadn't quite realized that we were all old enough to be his parents and that he could have actually tried to pass on information in a bit more sophisticated manner (8th or even 9th grade level would have sufficed). Anyway the program was all uphill from there and in the end I give the week an A.

Eagle River turned out to be as beautiful an area as Green Lake was and the week was filled with paddling pristine lakes and rivers, sloshing across floating jelly-like bogs, calling owls, watching bald eagles soar, and meeting interesting people. Our guides were knowledgeable and friendly. Troy and Jill injected humor into the outings. The weather cooperated with pleasant cool days (I'm not really sure yet if they have summer up here).

The original plan was to find a place to leave the truck and trailer for a couple of weeks and cycle-tour Michigan's Upper Peninsula. After a long and serious discussion and reading the entrails of sheep (for clarity of mind), we have decided upon deviation.

"The art of travel is to be able to deviate from one’s plans."

This quote comes from a class B movie (plot quite forgettable) but the message has stayed with us. The Northwoods of Wisconsin have wonderful roads to cycle and plenty, I mean plenty, of water to paddle. Plus, someone has to feed these darn mosquitoes.

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