Kayak tour of Lake Hastings drier than expected

“Don’t fall in.” Those were the words of support my husband sent me in a text message Saturday afternoon when I informed him that I would be going kayaking later that day.

Some might think he was joking, and partially he was. However, both he and I know that he was also being very serious.

That’s because, as I have mentioned before, I am a klutz. I can fall down standing perfectly still and even after 30 years, I’m still not great at walking, either.

So I’m sure Tim was a little hesitant when I told him that my friend and co-worker Laura Beahm was taking me kayaking at Lake Hastings on Saturday.

I was thrilled with the idea after pondering my other option of spending my entire Easter weekend alone while my husband is on a business trip and my mom and brother are out of state.

With my husband’s words of encouragement in my head, I slipped into a pair of jeans, threw on a T-shirt and securely strapped my Crocs to my feet with the straps around my ankles. I didn’t want to lose them in the kayak or the lake, for that matter.

As I was getting ready, I had to laugh when Laura sent me a text telling me of the problems with her ability to get the kayaks onto her vehicle.

“I have to move the snowblower so I can get the kayaks out #nebraskaproblems.”

Then she had to stop at Bob Sass Flowers on West Second Street to get a photo of an accident in which someone drove into the building.

After a short stop at the Hastings College glass blowing studio, we were headed to the lake with the hope that the kayaks were secure and wouldn’t fall off.

The kayaks and I made the trip there without any major catastrophes.

As I prepared to step into the kayak as it laid on the edge of the lake at the dock, Laura warned me that I might get a little Lake Hastings water on my feet as I got in. That didn’t comfort me, as I feared I would fall in the lake, anyway.

I made it safely into my kayak and Laura pushed me out into the water where I felt completely lost.

I’ve never been on a kayak before, so I wasn’t real sure about how to paddle but I caught on pretty quickly.

Unfortunately, I wasn’t too great at it because I was soaked by lake water by the time we were almost to the dam.

The wind was strong enough to create some choppy waters and I ended up going in a circle several times to get myself pointed in the right direction.

Then there were a few close calls when I turned to talk to Laura and felt the kayak tip precariously.

Paddling back west toward the dock was a major challenge, as the winds kept pushing me to the north or to the south, neither of which was helpful.

Laura was a trooper, though, taking her time and often stopping altogether, giving me a chance to catch up.

As I paddled and continued to slosh myself with lake water, I remembered going to church camp as a kid and canoeing or using the paddle boat on the lakes there.

I’ve always been amazed how lake water in Nebraska pretty much smells the same wherever you go.

The problem is that it’s not a smell I enjoy being drenched in.

By the time we were almost back to the dock, I had finally felt that I was beginning to master the art of paddling a kayak.

The next hurdle to jump was my fear of getting out of the kayak without falling in the water.

I’m not great at standing, kind of awful at walking and even worse at getting out of a tipping water craft sitting on an angle in a lake.

Laura pulled the kayak partially up onto the concrete to give me a fighting chance. Still, I was shaky as the boat tipped back and forth while four adults and a dog watched my attempt.

Somehow I managed to get out of the boat without falling in or even stepping in the water.

My clothes weren’t quite as wet as I imagined but they still had a nice lake scent. I’m guessing Tide and Downy won’t be creating lake scent in their products any time soon.

After we loaded the kayaks, I found a text message from my husband on my phone asking “Did you fall in?”

Of course I didn’t but I did find a small blister just above my wedding band on my left hand. Fortunately, it’s almost gone already so I think I’ll survive.

By Sunday, I felt some weird pains in my legs from the strain I had put on them while trying to find the best position in my kayak the day before.

Other than the lake water and the few physical pains, I have to say that kayaking was incredibly fun.

Maybe sometime Laura will take me again and this time I hope to master paddling a little more and come out a little drier.

Shay Burk

Veteran Tribune reporter Shay Burk writes whatever is swirling around her mind each week. Read her columns on Tuesdays for her humorous thoughts on everyday life.

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