This previous weekend, when I should have been preparing my house for the big move, I was out with Sara and two of her co-workers/friends, Beth and Lori, on a cookout/kayak adventure. I bought my kayak in late March, just as I thought winter was ending (which was of course wrong – 50 inches of April snow). It was a key element to the getting mobile phase of my GOAL 298 manifesto. But alas, it sat in the basement of my apartment building, gathering dust and collecting bits of plaster from the ceiling until Saturday. On Saturday I brought it out into the sunlight, into the fresh air of outside. Since I would also be attaching Sara’s kayak to my roof I went about attaching the roof racks, one from Thule and one from another brand that I got cheep (I think a returned product) off of Amazon. It turns out that perhaps the Thule products are worth the extra price. The rack fit poorly, and even with a pool noodle space it took forever to tighten, and even then it was a little wobbly, but I went for it. After some serious wrangling I got both kayaks locked in place, and we were off (to the liquor store and gas station) and then on the road for real. The ride was pleasant and the day was as beautiful as a Northern summer can be (74 and sunny). The boats stayed put and we got to a little used lake about an hour North of Duluth. I know what you are thinking, but there really are things North of Duluth that are not Canada (I also wasn’t totally convinced of this either until this road trip). We got to the spot and Lori got out the weed whacker to tamp down the undergrowth so we could have a pleasant area to sit and an easier walk to the outhouse. We chilled out for a little bit, having some beers in the sun, while Rio tromped through the forest and water. Rio found sticks of every size to retrieve and chew. She is still bad about not giving them up, but she will bring them back, often racing between two people with a stick too wide to fit. This caused a bit of consternation when she ran between peoples chairs, scraping knees and shins. But she is a lovely dog and even a scraped knee is no match for Rio’s half-closed eyes, happy face while she gets petted. After a bit of beer, we decided to head for the water. I was excited; I had yet to get my own kayak on the water. We got them unracked without much trouble and pretty soon it was at the water’s edge, just waiting for some paddling. I got out without much problem (only almost flipped it once) and was soon paddling away across the lake, following my friends. The water was warmer than the air and it all felt pretty good. Since I wasn’t competent enough yet to bring my fishing gear, we just putted along exploring the lake shore, and having a couple more beers. I snapped a few pictures of all of us. It feels good to be on the water again. I love the water, which is probably a good thing since I’m an aquatic biologist/toxicologist. I could have stayed on the water forever, except that I don’t think that my arms are in good enough shape to paddle for much longer than I did. Paddling around the lake with my feet dangling in the water was about and fantastic as I’ve felt for a while. The real highlight of the trip was when I had to jump out of the kayak to remove the processed beverage from my system. I went to some shallow water and hopped out, hoping that I would be able to hop back in (but not 100% sure of that fact). It turns out that getting back in wasn’t too bad; it only took me two attempts. While out, I took the time to adjust my seat and foot pegs to the appropriate place. This made it much easier to paddle back to the group (I had paddled away to take care of processed beverage relief). This made it much easier to paddle hard without thinking I was going to tip or get off balance. I really got going fast for a little bit, but slowed down to take in the last few hundred yards with Sara. It was quite pleasant being on the water, having a quiet conversation, while loon frolics in front of you. After we got out of the water, we hooked the kayaks back up (which was surprisingly easier) and headed back to the camp to have a cookout. The food was great and the company better. Rio searched among my friends for the easiest mark. We sat, talking and enjoying a wonderful sunset. Then we packed up and returned back to the “big city”, of Duluth. All the while I had not thought once about the impending move, not once about what needed to get done and what had yet been accomplished.