‘Bucket list’ shrinks after kayak from ‘heck’
I’m sure he felt much older — and heard a few words normally reserved for adult ears — somewhere along our route. For some reason, probably over exuberance on the part of Dad and a desire for an ice cream from the Blue Moon Ice Cream Shop on the part of Cody, we put as tops on our list a kayak journey from our house by the Lake Leelanau Narrows down to Cedar.
Figuring it difficult to get lost on a lake with really only one major inlet, I never pulled out a map of south Lake Leelanu to plot out the journey. What a wise choice that turned out to be, as questions about paddling 10 miles down a busy lake in 90 degree heat followed by a two-mile upstream paddle through a set for Deliverance never came up.
I can now suggest a tag line for a movie of our journey: “Real men don’t plan. They just do. Then die.”
With spirits high, we settled into our kayaks about 8:30 a.m. for that short run to Cedar. I told my lovely wife that we’d be done in four hours or less, so please have lunch ready. She offered up her knowing smile, nodded her head, and wished us the best, figuring the rest of the day was hers.
A couple hours into the journey we came upon a marina of boats that I was certain must be congregated at the mouth of the Cedar River. Turned out they were docked at the Lake Leelanau RV Park. I was about nine miles off. We stopped for a snack and a pop. Both were about air temperature, a good 85 degrees. The journey was turning into a marathon, and I’m neither a runner nor a walker.
Cody’s boredom was broken by an occasional jet ski whizzing by, a trolling fisherman whose speed seemed much too fast to interest a half-way intelligent walleye, or my encouraging wailing for Cody to keep paddling.
Noting my reddening skin tone, I took measure of the lake, my expectations and my age. They seemed unrelated.
We joined a floatilla of boats at a sand bar, and called Mom with the good news that she need not worry about preparing a big lunch. She didn’t seem shocked.
A few short hours later the southern shore of the lake seemed near. I had tied Cody’s kayak to mine for a few pulls, but otherwise he had made the journey by himself. Some lake residents who seemed quite amazed that we had paddled from nearly the bridge in Lake Leelanau pointed to the opening to the Cedar River, and assured us that we were about a 45 minute canoe ride from ice cream. We called Mom with more good news. She agreed reluctantly to meet us in Cedar in 35 minutes, as I expected our kayaks would make better time than a canoe.
Cody was pooped. We paddled upriver a bit, lost some ground, then paddled again. I pointed out a bald eagle to Cody, but I think he knew it was a buzzard.
I think he was also starting to figure out what happens at the end of a bucket list.
A boat — with a motor, no less — sped by, heading to the lake. It’s occupants looked upon us with pity. We restrained from begging as what we figured to be our last chance at survival droned into the distance.
A mere two hours after we had called Mom, the lights from the Cedar ball field came into view over a field of swamp trees. We rounded the corner, and there was Mom. She seemed not to appreciate our journey, or the extra 1½-hours she spent in the parking lot next to the recycling bins. But she was hungry for ice cream, which was delicious.
Now the top line on our Bucket List was ready to be crossed off.
The pen must have slipped, though, as another item was deleted. Gone was camping on North Manitou Island, which we heard has developed a problem with ticks. Or maybe we made up the rumor. Either way, the list shrank by two.
We kept “swimming with family,” and added “eat ice cream with family.”
Now that’s a bucket list I can live with.