After the longest week in the history of man, Saturday morning rolled around. Tara and I were up bright and early. Our destination? Pactola Lake. We’d been looking forward to trying out our new kayaks ever since hauling them back 300 miles from North Dakota.
The day dawned clear and warm. It was perfect weather for our maiden voyage.
We arrived at Jenny Gulch at 8 a.m. Would have been there sooner, but Tara took a wrong turn. I promised I wouldn’t throw her under the bus on my blog, so this is me officially not throwing her under the bus.
It wasn’t even a big deal. Maybe just a 20-minute detour. We still got there in time to beat the crowds, and as we slid our new kayaks into the pristine water and began paddling away from shore, there was no doubt in our minds that the long journey to procure these vessels was well worth it.
Being out on the water is so peaceful. We could see dozens of fish just beneath the surface; occasionally they would leap free with a splash. A turtle glided past at one point. There were ducks and geese and dragonflies. Our kayaks are sleek and track easily.
Aside from a slight mishap in which I gashed my right middle finger on the paddle clips we had bought and mounted onto the sides of our kayaks mid-paddle, all went smoothly. They only protrude from the sides about an inch, but are directly in the way of our hands every time we dip our paddles into the water. I was bleeding so profusely for a while there, I was glad we weren’t out on the ocean because I surely would have attracted every shark within miles. Lesson learned: we are going to remount them on the front of our kayaks, where they’ll be out of the way.
At one point we paddled to shore, got out, and took a dip in the lake. The temperature was well into the 80s already, and the water felt cool and refreshing. After a couple of hours on the lake we decided to call it a day, but were already planning next weekend’s kayak outing before we’d even finished this one.
An hour after we got home, ominous clouds built up over the Black Hills and a severe thunderstorm with half-dollar-sized hail struck Pactola Lake. That alone validated our early arrival.
I got back from my business trip across South Dakota Wednesday afternoon. Almost right away, my boss asked, “Want to go back?”
Not right away, thankfully. But I do have another trip scheduled in two weeks. It’ll just be an overnighter, but it’s in Hartford again—clear across the state—and will involve meeting with three more people.
I don’t mind at all. Because, while there was a lot of driving over consecutive days, I also had time to stop and enjoy the scenery.
And nothing makes you appreciate home more than returning home.
Last night, we sat on our back patio for hours, drinking a few beers and listening to music. We grilled burgers and were treated to a spectacular sunset and lightning flickering in the distance.
It’s been hot, but I refuse to complain. Because at least we haven’t had inferno-level heat like the Pacific Northwest experienced last weekend. Besides, summer is very fleeting here. Last year, it snowed the Tuesday after Labor Day. We’ve got to take advantage of as much patio time as we can while the weather permits. Even if we do end up sweating a little.
We’re not planning all that much for the 4th of July. We’re going to head downtown and hit our favorite pub, maybe stop by another one, and then come home and chill. Grill some ribeyes, drink some stuff. We won’t even have to go anywhere to see fireworks because a few of our neighbors have pretty good displays.
Happy Independence Day! And for my Canadian readers, happy…day!