Monday, August 20, 2012

De Pere trip leaves paddlers winded

By David Horst

The 78 boats easily fit in the De Pere Lock.
GREEN BAY -- The scouting report was not good. Two-foot waves rolling off Green Bay driven by a forecasted 20 mph headwind out of the north.

Our plan was to launch the 78 kayaks and canoes that had arrived at De Pere’s Bomier Park and travel eight miles down the Fox River to the Green Bay Metro boat landing, paddling into the wind and waves with paddlers having varying levels of experience ... in the dark.

This was the Moonlight Paddle of the Fox-Wisconsin Heritage Paddle series on Aug. 10, and the plan had to change.

Before launch, we made the decision to cut off the final three miles, where we would be paddling into the worst of the wind. Only the most experienced kayakers bristled at the compromise.

We would take out instead at Zeller’s Ski and Sports, a paddle shop about five miles down river where several of us had purchased our boats. The owners welcomed us. The parking was sufficient. All that remained was to reschedule the shuttle bus from the Green Bay landing to Zeller’s.

That recalled to mind the one item on my to-do list left unchecked: “Get contact info for shuttle.”

The arrangements had been made by Jeff Mazanec, whose brainchild this whole paddle series had been. He was driving back from a business trip. I punched his number on the cell phone and asked him if he had the number for the bus company in his phone. He wasn’t sure, and there was a traffic situation up ahead so he’d have to call me back.

He was laughing when the return call came in. Out of the traffic jam outside of Kenosha, a bus changed lanes ahead of him. Painted on the rear of the bus was, “Go Lamers,” with the 800 number. The Green Bay-based bus company was providing our shuttle. A call to the dispatcher solved our problem.

But the bigger problem was yet to come.