Much like the Marines, the three of us had accomplished more by 10:00am than most people do in an entire day. And by more, I mean that we sat on the porch and ate roast beef and onion sandwiches, chips and dip, and drank cherry beer for our second breakfast at 9:30am.
My morning began at 6:00am when the sun started shining through my curtainless windows. I was eager to get outside and take some photos of the lake, and hoped I might run into some local wildlife, like a fawn or a rabbit with a can-do attitude.
I didn’t find any deer, but I’m pretty certain I saw a baby wolverine sitting atop the burnt out remnants of a previous bonfire.
It was damp and cool outside, and as I sat on the pier to get some photos of the mist hovering above the lake, I heard the call of a loon.
I could live here, I thought. I could lead a simple rural life, roughing it here in my 5 bedroom, 3.5 bathroom cabin with stainless steel appliances and satellite TV. Keep Manhattan, just give me my countryside.
After our first and second breakfasts, we were ready for some exploring, so Dee handed Natasha and me some life preservers, pulled out the two kayaks from the boathouse, and told us to hop in. Nat hadn’t kayaked in a very long time, and was a bit apprehensive at the start.
“I’m gonna tip over. This is totally wobbly. How do I steer? I can’t make it turn! Where’s Jenny? Jenny! Slow down – I can’t even see you! This isn’t going where I want it to go. How do I make it go that way? Jenny!”
“Nat. I haven’t left the dock yet. Look behind you.”
Dee was giving me some last minute instructions, since I was in her mother’s high-tech kayak.
“Okay, so yours is built for speed, so be sure not to leave Nat behind. And if you tip it over, there’s an air pump in the bottom that you can use to flip yourself back up.”
“Flip myself back up? Air pump? What the hell are you talking about?”
“Don’t worry about it. You probably won’t need it.”
Dee-Dee told us that we needed to head for the shallow channel that fed into the neighboring lake. She said it was the best area for kayaking because boats couldn’t get in there. As we started off, Dee pointed in the direction that we would find the channel, and then headed back to the cabin to read her book about dragons.
“Just head toward that buoy! But don’t get too far into the middle of the lake, or the wind will tip you over!”
Despite all her initial theatrics, Natasha quickly eased into the rhythm of kayaking, and was soon passing me up.
“Right on, Nat! You’re totally getting the hang of it now.”
“I know. I think I feel the call of my people.”
“Well, you are 5% Cherokee. Hey! Can you paint with all the colors of the wind?”
“All of them.”
After about 20 minutes of paddling around the edge of the lake without finding anything resembling a channel, I started to get concerned.
“Which way is the channel? Did we pass it? Dee told us to aim for this buoy. Why did she lead us astray? SHE’S PROBABLY IN THE CABIN STEALING ALL OUR MONEY RIGHT NOW!”
“No, I think it probably has more to do with the fact that she lost her glasses over a month ago and thought she was pointing us in the right direction.”
“Ohmigod you’re so right! What the hell were we thinking letting Mr. Magoo drive us 400 miles into the wilderness?”
“Okay, the channel has to be around here somewhere!”
“You’re 25% Cherokee – can’t you track where those other kayakers went?”
“I sense their presence.”
After kayaking across the entire lake in search of the channel, we decided to give up and head back. It wasn’t until we were almost to the cabin that we realized that the channel was only about 100 yards away from the dock. We eventually made our way through the shallow channel and back to shore, where it was Dee’s turn to test out her kayaking skills.
“Don’t go too far, Dee! Isn’t it time to get our fishing licenses?” I yelled. “We’re still going fishing, right?”
After Dee got back from kayaking, we all piled into the Suburban and drove off to a bait shop in the nearby town.
The store was empty except for the woman in back, stocking leeches.
“We’d like to buy some fishing licenses.”
“All right – so how many days do you want them for?”
“What? One day? Well… I’m afraid the shortest I can sell you is four days. Now Michigan? Michigan sells a two-day license. Heck, I think Minnesota might even have a one-dayer. Not sure about that though. Don’t know why Wisconsin only has the four days. Can’t you girls call in sick to work?”
“All right then. Are you girls from in-state?”
“Oh boy. That’s where they getcha. It’s those out of state licenses that’ll kill ya. Aw boy. This is going to be expensive. You sure you’re just gonna fish the one day?”
“How much will it be?”
“$24 each. That’s one expensive day.”
“Well, maybe we’ll try to get in some fishing tomorrow before we leave.”
“All right then, so that’s $24 for the license, and that’s it? Just the two buckets of crawlers there?”
“Oh yeah… four dozen should be plenty for us, right Dee?”
“More than enough!”
The entire way home, Natasha studied the 2007 Guide to Wisconsin Hook and Line Fishing Regulations to make sure we understood the daily limits.
“Panfish, 25 a day. Walleye, 5 a day. Muskellunge, 1 a day. One a day? Geez. How stingy.”
“No doubt! I’m totally gonna catch 6 muskies!”
“Oh hey! Did you know that it’s currently open season on frogs and turtles? Oh, but get this: It is unlawful to take frogs by firearms or airguns. They take the fun out of everything.”
“Well then what am I supposed to do with all my ammo? I totally wanted to shoot me some bullfrogs.”
“Hey there’s more: It is illegal for anyone to possess more than 600 minnows except licensed bait dealers and residents younger than 16 years.”
“What? Are you kidding me?! You mean that I can’t have more than 600 minnows but some punk ass 16-year old can? This state is a joke!”
“That’s crazy. I mean, a full-blooded Cherokee like you should be able to spear all the minnows you want.”
“I’m just gonna adopt a 16-year old and have unlimited minnows.”
“Nice! That’s probably why Angelina Jolie adopted all those kids. For the minnows.”
As soon as we got back to the cabin, I ran downstairs to change into my fishing pants and my fishing hat, and then ran back upstairs to start loading up the boat.
“I can’t wait to go fishing, Dee! Do you know where we should go?”
“Well, first I’m going to take you guys on a speedy tour of the lake. You should see how fast my dad’s boat can go!”
“And you know how to drive it?”
“Oh, it’s totally easy!”
Up Next: Chapter One – The Journey