Thursday, August 30, 2007



Damn... How can it be Labor Day already? Seems like the summer just got underway! But the granddaughters have been in school for two weeks, so summer must be about over. The bulk of the nations children will be starting school next Tuesday, and most will be given the assignment of writing an essay on how they spent their summer vacation. Since I am feeling rather young and highschoolish these days, I thought I might post an essay on how I spent MY summer. Yes Miss Brooks, you can share it with the class (sorry, flashback)!

I spent 20 days paddling 15 different rivers. Made a lot of new friends on the river! Thanks to the Internet, our paddling group has more than doubled in size! The highlights of the paddling year were probably the Pigeon River Camp and Canoe, the two trips we made on the Dowagiac, and the Indiana Paddler's Rendezvous. Pics of which can be viewed on my Flickr site. The low point was probably last week, when a high water trip on the Pigeon nearly cost us a paddler, and a kayak. As it is, the paddler suffered black eyes, possible broken nose, and cracked ribs. She is probably only alive because of the skilled river rescue pulled off by one of our senior paddlers, Nick Norris. He also orchestrated a skilled rescue of a pinned kayak. Our other senior paddler, 74 yr old Bob (Curmudgeon) Owens, also was responsible for a skilled rescue. Thank heavens for the geezers!

I learned a lot of lessons paddling this summer, the top 5 of which were:

5. I am a much better paddler than I gave myself credit for.
4. I am not nearly the paddler I want/need to be.
3. I have incredible paddling friends who are much more resilient and forgiving than I deserve!
2. I too often take our elder statesmen paddlers for granted. What they have lost in physical prowess is more than made up for in accumulated skill and knowledge.

And the #1 lesson I learned this summer... NEVER take the river for granted! It will bite you in the ass every time!

Now I am sure that at this point you are thinking, "Wow, what a full exciting summer! Couldn't possibly have crammed much more than that in!" WRONG, camel breath!

I spent several weekends camping, where I was introduced to a wondrous invention called a "Bake Packer." Allows you to cook an entire meal in a food grade plastic bag, freeing you from the hassle of washing pots and pans! NIFTY!

I also baby sat for my granddaughters every Friday. Among our adventures... Every Friday breakfast at Allie's Cafe, where the pancakes shaped like Mickey Mouse were a big hit! Several trips to lake Michigan beaches. Toured four separate museums. The Studebaker Museum, the Northern Indiana Center For History, including a tour of the fabulous Oliver Mansion, where the founder of the Oliver Chilled Plow Works (now White Tractor), and his heirs lived. Also toured HealthWorks Kids Museum, and the Curious Kids Museum in St. Joseph MI. The children's museum visits were bracketed by breakfast at Le Peep (which they found to be very fancy and grown up), and dinner at their favorite restaurant, Cracker Barrel.

Wow, but there is still MORE!

I discovered the best invention of the new century so far... The 5L Heineken refrigerator keg! Hold five liters of draft beer, and will keep it for a month after it's been tapped. Fits perfectly on the bottom shelf of the fridge! Also discovered that if you set the keg on the table next to the computer, you can go through a half dozen pints of beer in an amazingly short span of time. Also discovered that consuming six pints of beer in that short a period of time makes it difficult to type. Or for that matter, to get up from the chair.

I spent many a summer night watching, or listening to, my beloved Detroit Tigers. Amazing how they have hung in the pennant race, in spite of the multitude of injuries they've suffered!

I also am now officially qualified for the senior discount at McDonald's and Allies Cafe! Another milestone passed. Or should that say millstone?

And last, but certainly not least.... I began seeing a lovely young woman 17 years my junior. Who had her own adventurous summer, including three weeks in Europe.

Yes, I am bemused by my sudden abandonment of my 7 year old "never again" vow. And yes, I am bemused and slightly embarrassed to be seeing someone who is still "pre 40." But she doesn't yet seem to have a problem with it, and I am not so embarrassed as to suddenly become rational!

Okay, THAT was my summer in a nutshell!

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