I Suppose

I should write something.

Deborah's and my long weekend up at the cabin is drawing to a close today. We drove up on Saturday and had a pleasant and largely drama-free time with my extended family.

Some drama threatened when the Democratic Convention started and Deborah and my mom - political junkies to be sure - started tuning in to it here and there. They largely did this in private though, sparing my soul undue torment.

I caught a whopper smallmouth bass yesterday evening on my fly rod using a popper, while my nephew Ty looked on. I usually manage to catch one or two fish of this magnitude each summer. I let Ty hone his beginner fly fishing skills on my alternate fly rod and he managed to catch a small bass before it got dark and we came in from the lake. I cleaned the big fish I had caught and we grilled up the filets ythis morning and shared it for breakfast. Yum. Deborah did not partake, stating that the thought of fish for breakfast "turns my stomach." She likes fish, but apparently adheres to a philosophy of no fish before noon, similar to the roxtar ethos of no rocking before noon, which I follow. So that tells me that Deborah must really like fish a lot. See the logic? No? OK then.

Earlier in the day yesterday, we all paddled down a slow moving segment of the Namekagon River north of here. The weather was superb and the experience was quite peaceful, punctuated by the excited yelps of my niece and nephew as they encountered several turtles and one aquatic rodent that was probably an otter, though possibly a beaver (no tail slapping observed) or a muskrat (it swam too fast and often dove underwater for several long seconds).

Our first full day up here was Sunday and as I recall we mostly just chillaxed. We went on a bike ride around the lake and tubed on it's wavy waters (storms on Saturday left behind high winds out of the south).

It's late morning on Tuesday. In about an hour, Deborah will be comfortable eating fish again. I am not sure when we will hit the road to go back to Madison, but there's no urgency to do so.



"How far away is it?" Deborah asked as we chillaxed on the porch of the cabin after breakfast.

"Not sure," I replied. "I think maybe 45 minutes. Or 30. It's near Hayward."

My sister called it the Leonard Family Triathlon, consisting of a bike ride around Shell Lake, a paddling excursion on the Namekagon River, and a swim in Shell Lake. Deborah and I had been discussing the paddling segment of the event.

Deborah declined the bike ride, opting to continue chillaxing on the porch while the rest of us tooled clockwise along the road around the lake. We stopped at the Potters Shed Cafe for lunch and Deborah drove there to meet us.

We returned to the cabin and prepared for paddling.

"Where is this place?" I asked my sister.

"It's Jack's Canoe Rentals," she replied.

I drove with Deborah in her car and she put the address in her GPS.

"It's only 20 minutes away," she observed.

"Oh, I must have been thinking about a different place," I said.

It was actually in Trego, not far from Spooner.

We rented a canoe for my folks and some kayaks for the rest of us. Deborah and I got a tandem kayak, which we soon determined was a mistake, as I am a more rambunctious kayaker than she is.

We paddled a calm section of river for about an hour and a half, then got picked up by a kindly member of Jack's staff at a landing just past a bridge and returned to the rental office for ice cream.

Highlights of the paddle trip included seeing an otter (or possibly a beaver or muskrat...hard to say) and some turtles.

When we got back to the cabin, we jumped in the lake. I went fishing with my nephew Ty and caught a whopper of a smallmouth bass.

The End


What year is this?


OK, then that means this year's BIKE WITH JOE scenic social bike ride over Labor Day weekend in northern Wisconsin is the 17th annual.

Who's in?

In 1999, some #RAGBRAI friends and I got together over Labor Day weekend and rode our bikes from my folks' cabin on Shell Lake WI to Stone Lake WI, some 23 miles away, stopping at various locales for refreshment and socializing.

Then we just did it every year thereafter and it became a thing.

Attendance has varied year to year. Originally, the ride was called BIKE WITH MELINDA after my friend Melinda who was one of the early attendees. But after she stopped coming a few years into it, that moniker just confused future attendees. So...since I am the only consistent participant every year, a consensus was reached a couple years back to rename it BIKE WITH JOE, retroactively effective to the first year.

One year, I was the only attendee, and I decided to run/walk the 10 miles around Shell Lake rather than bike to Stone Lake. I was a better runner then.

Anyway, we usually congregate at the cabin on Saturday of Labor Day weekend and chillax. Then on Sunday, we leave the cabin at a leisurely pace and bike to a breakfast stop by way of a beverage stop. Much merriment ensues as we bike the rolling hills on to Stone Lake. Anyone not wanting to bike the return trip from Stone Lake (56 miles round trip) can get picked up in the "sag wagon," which is basically my car with a bike rack on it, driven by my folks or another volunteer. On the holiday Monday, we help my folks tidy up the cabin before it gets closed up for the winter (this is the "entrance fee" for the ride). Winter in northern Wisconsin starts in mid-September and ends in mid-May, just before Memorial Day weekend.