Lake Kabetogama and the Flipping Canoe

img_2566This past summer, my wife and I, along with my mom, grandmother, and my two brothers, went on a family vacation to Minnesota. We started out in Austin, where my mom went to a high school, a place with bars on the windows that looked more like a prison than an educational institution, then made our way to Bloomington to check out the Mall of America. From there we spent the night in Minneapolis and went to a Twins baseball game on the fourth of July, then headed to the north shore where we kayaked Lake Superior. Further north we continued to go, up, up, up on the map until we reached our destination just forty minutes shy of the Canadian border, a cabin on Lake Kabetogama, our home for the week. It was great being right there on the lake and I was eager to get out and explore the little islands that dotted the water. My wife, something of an unconfident swimmer, was a bit hesitant to join me but there was a pretty sturdy pedal boat that after inspection she deemed unlikely to tip over and dump us into the water, so we climbed in and started to pedal away from the dock.

It was quickly apparent that pedal boats aren’t as romantic as you see in the movies, because it was a struggle from the start. We kept at it though, and after about twenty minutes we’d made it to the nearest island, where my brothers stood waiting, having chosen to take a canoe, a much more efficient transportation method. We swam around and walked across the tiny, tree covered island and then decided to head back for lunch and so my wife and I could pick another water vessel that would allow us to move around the lake in a more timely manner. I don’t know how it happened but somehow it took us even longer getting back to the cabin than it did going out and by the time we reached the dock, my wife and I were in agreement that we would never voluntarily get in a pedal boat ever again.

My wife’s fear of swimming was trumped by her hatred of the pedal boat so the next time out on the water we had to decide between the kayak or the canoe. We had kayaked Lake Superior a couple days prior and to say it was the worst experience of our lives would be overdramatic, but it certainly was a less than enjoyable experience, one we weren’t eager to repeat anytime soon, so we settled on the canoe. We nearly tipped it over several times trying to climb in, and when we were both on board we started to slowly make our way around the dock, nervously adjusting into more comfortable positions on the wooden seats, tempting the canoe to throw us into the water. Pretty soon we had gotten into a nice rhythm and were well out into the lake moving across the water quickly as the wind hit my face and blew through my hair. It was a very freeing feeling and I was already imagining all of the good times we would have canoeing Lake Kabetogama, and then it happened.

My wife maintains the belief that it was my fault, and I place the blame on either her or the slight choppiness of the water due to the wind, but whatever the cause, the end result had us falling left, out of the canoe and into the dark water of Lake Kabetogama. Leticia was okay, her life jacket keeping her from being pulled under and mine doing the same, but the canoe was quickly filling with water, causing it to be much too heavy to flip back over in the middle of the lake, so our only choice was to swim it back to the dock. It wasn’t very easy swimming back, for one thing I was pulling the heavy, water filled canoe behind me, plus the life jacket was keeping me above the water, making it extremely difficult to swim normally. I was also flailing my legs in all directions every few seconds, kicking away the leeches that may or may not have been there, waiting to attach themselves to me, which certainly didn’t speed up the process of navigating through the water. We struggled for a while but we finally made it back to the dock, leech free. It was an interesting experience, but again, one that we weren’t eager to repeat anytime soon, so from then on we enjoyed the beauty of the lake from the chairs on the dock, and we were perfectly content in doing so.

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