Storm Lake Sunset

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A full day in trial and a four-hour drive home in freezing temps at the end of a Friday. Part way through the journey, I cut through Storm Lake. I had never been there but wanted to take a look, even though it was iced over and barren.

Just as I turned onto the lakeside road, the sun began to slip behind the horizon, the skyline erupting in colored brilliance. I turned around in the parking lot of the Sail Inn Motel, pulled over on the road and wrestled my work camera from its bag.

After stepping into the wind, I fired off a frame and realized the camera was still set for the interior of a dark courtroom. The image was washed out. I quickly re-metered and resumed shooting. One frame, and the sun was a sliver peeking out from trees on the distant shore. Another frame, the sun was a thinner sliver and gone on the third frame.
A lot of things in life involve just the right timing.

Photo: Lilly pad kayaking

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Photo: Frozen lake

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Frozen Lake. (c) 2018 J.S. Reinitz

Thanksgiving walk

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 Greenbelt Lake was down a bit during my Thanksgiving Day walk. The edge had receded about 20 feet from the usual shoreline, so I took the opportunity to beach-comb and look for objects that would otherwise be underwater.

Here’s a chronological list of what I found :

— Evergreen with Christmas ornaments. Just inside the treeline.

— Beaver lodge built along the treeline and starting to expand into the lake.

— Plastic fishing bobber in the sand. Green and white sphere.

— Submerged golf ball. Titliest No. 1 with a single crack in the shell. It was halfway buried in the muck, and I used a stick to dig it out and roll it shore.

— Submerged domestic beer can. Too far into the water to tell if it was opened, unable to reach it with the stick.

— Submerged golf ball. Jack Nicklaus No. 4. Used the stick to roll it in. In bad shape, appears to have undergone some terraforming.

— Fishing thing. Short plastic spike surrounded by styrofoam with a spring on one end.

— Second beaver lodge. This one blocked the beach, so I had to go up into the forest and back around. Lots of gnawed sapling stumps jutting out of the ground like punji stakes.

— Thin sheet of ice floating on the lake’s southeast edge.

— Hockey stick shaft, minus the striking surface.


Photo: Lilly pads

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  Lilly pads floating on a lake. Photo from our “get out of the house and enjoy these final nice days” picnic. Also saw two frogs hop into the water as we approached the lake.


Trip Shot: Cloudy Sunset

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Cloudy sunset on Lake Delton, Wisconsin.

Trip Shot: Kayaking Mirror Lake

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Approaching the interstate bridge ove Mirror Lake, Wisconsin.

Location: Mirror Lake, Wisconsin

Conditions: Overcast, cloudy, light mist. Temps 60s F. Calm water. 

Gear: Two single kayaks, one double kayak, paddles, PFDs.

Trip shot: Lake view

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(c)2017 J.S.Reinitz

  View of Roosevelt Lake, Arizona, from the trail to the lower cliff dwellings at Tonto National Monument.

Video: Marsh kayaking

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(C)2016 J.S.Reinitz

Rivers around here have been a bit too harsh as of late. A massive storm unleashed flash flooding with creeks and streams overrunning their banks, covering roads and washing away cars, cattle, towns.

Amidst the devastation, I happened across a few unscheduled hours. And the one thing I wanted to do was take the kayak out. Luckily, there are a few lakes nearby that weren’t troubled by the downpours.
At one, I skimmed across the main pool and maneuvered into a backwater marsh where I cut through sometimes thick vegetation and floated past partially submerged trees to follow a small army of Canada geese.

Gator Hike, in comic form

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We took the kids on a short hike at Lake Apopka. A boardwalk trail leads from the Oakland Nature Preserve, past ferns, palms and Spanish-moss laden trees to the lake. Our 12-year-old son spotted three baby alligators swimming around by the dock.

Dry lake exploration

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Walking on the dry lake bed. (c) 2014 J.S. Reinitz

Walking on the dry lake bed. (c) 2014 J.S. Reinitz

I always knew there was a car sunken in the depths of the old sand pits. I just took a late-season drought to drain the murky lake enough to reveal it.

The pits were dug decades ago to quarry rock and sand for local construction. When the digging stopped, it became a litter-strewn, out-of-the-way drinking spot for teens. For law enforcement, the lake was also a regular go-to place for dragging when someone went missing.

More recently, the pits have been transformed into a “recreational area.” At least that’s what the sign says. The city named it after a long-serving council member, put in a picnic shelter and a sandy beach (although swimming is verboten) and paved some bike/walking trails. It’s a stopping place for migrating geese and a winter home for eagles.

Even so, people still call it “the pits,” and cops still visit when they are looking for bodies or ditched guns. I figured there should be a stolen car down there somewhere.

This fall has been dry, and the lake has receded, exposing much of the sandy bed. So, on Christmas afternoon, we headed out to explore.

What water remained was covered with patchy ice, and the kids took turns hurling rocks that crashed through or skipped cross the frozen surface with cartoonish twangs.

My son, age 12, dug a piece of quartz the size of his fist from the lake bed, and my daughter, 8, drew pictures in the mud with a stick. There was a collection of rocks and charred logs where other explorers had built a campfire.

And sitting upright, partially encrusted in sand was Matchbox’s rendition of a 1971 Oldsmobile Vista Cruiser station wagon. Its wood panel decals were still intact.


Inaugural journey

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Canoe on the lake (c) 2014 J.S. Reinitz

Canoe on the lake (c) 2014 J.S. Reinitz

We took the canoe out  on its inaugural voyage last weekend. Along the way, we saw geese and ducks and found a beaver lodge.

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