I spent this last week up in the Burlington area visiting with family and kayaking. Lake Champlain is amazing with cliffed banks crowned by majestic forests and gentle mountains off in the distance that welcome some of the most amazing sunsets I have ever seen.
My aunt and uncle have a house on the water so I was able to get out in the mornings without too much delay and paddle in the direction that caught my fancy. On Thursday my journey took me north, passport in hand, with the thought that I might get to Canada. After an hour and a half of paddling on extremely calm water I came to a beach that was populated with fun filled beach goers and decided that it would be a splendid place to work on my technique. And some time after that, cold and wet because lake Champlain is cold and wet, I needed a break out of the water.
I pulled up to the sunny beach, took my wet shirt off in the hope that I'd be warmer without it, walked around for about a minute and then went back to my boat. There was a park ranger waiting there. “Your not allowed to have boats in the swimming area.”
“I'm spending as much time swimming along side the boat as I am in it, maybe it's OK?” The swimming area was nicer then the surrounding areas and had more than enough room for my small boat, the swimmers, and the great distances between us.
“You'll have to take it beyond the buoys [to the area with the red growths in the water and the really sticky mud instead of the nice sand]”.
“How did you get to the beach?” He asked.
“I paddled up in my boat.”
“So then you didn't pay, did you?”
I stood accused. I hadn't paid, nor should I have to I thought, because if I had known that the beach would cost money to use then I would have kept on paddling right past it.
“I was just leaving.” Only I couldn't just get in my boat and go because I had left my shirt to dry on a picnic bench.
“Everybody that uses this beach pays for it. This woman right here paid for it.”
Random Woman: “I sure did.”
“That's why the beach is so nice. We couldn't have a beach if nobody paid for it.”
So I was being told two things. First that I couldn't use the water off of the beach for my boat and second that I had to pay for that which I wasn't allowed to use. I could choose not to pay, but then I would be a jerk.
My wallet three dollars lighter I continued in the direction of Canada. Why make a fuss over 3 dollars? If I lose 3 dollars a day more then what I currently intend to spend on my trip, that'll put me $500 closer to running out of money in the middle of my trip which is a dangerous possibility.
On Friday afternoon I went paddling with my big brother Josh, his friend Rich, my aunt, and my uncle. When we got back Josh and Rich where helping me with my off side roll when Josh, standing in the water not far from my boat, took something out of the lake and cradled his hands around it as though it where precious. “Look what I got” he said to me. And as I looked into his hands to see what he had found ...
I wiped the water off my face and with smile asked Josh if he would mind if I used his name in my blog.
And he said “Only if you write that I'm a sexy beast.”
“I think [my other brother] Ben might edit that out since he's been doing my editing for me.”
Rich suggested “Instead of writing 'Josh is a sexy beast' you should write 'Josh is much sexier then Ben, edit that out big brother.'”*
As I drove back from Vermont I couldn't help but think I was leaving something of a paradise, both the land and the family made it a wonderful place for me.
* Ben is doing the best he can with what he’s given.