Alum Creek Lake, Delaware, Ohio

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Christov_Tenn

Alum Creek Lake, Delaware, Ohio

Post by Christov_Tenn »

We drove North on I-71 into the Columbus area, exited the freeway on Hwy 315, which we took into Delaware. The route is scenic, formerly rural, but now consists of what appears to be rusticated but upscale real-estate - again due to its proximity to Columbus, the road winding along a river which I think is the Olengetangy or some similarly spelled body of water.

Delaware, Ohio, is one of the most attractive small cities I've been to in a long time - has an older feel than the Southern small cities in which I've lived and worked for the last several years. Sadly, because Delaware's cancer-like growth is driven by its proximity to Columbus, I don't think it'll be beautiful for long. Many acres of lovely farmland are being developed into free-standing condominium "communities" toward what I think is west of town, past Ohio Wesleyan University (or is it College?).

We were in Delaware for the wedding on Saturday of my wife's sister, and had the rehearsal dinner Friday night at The Brown Jug, a horsey-themed restaurant in the old downtown - pretty good food (although the chicken parmesan was somewhat dry), but a really snotty waitress. We found the Italian ices at Rocky's (both places are on Hwy 36) were an unexpected treat. The flavors at Rocky's change pretty regularly, and the staff seems willing to consider requests.

Friday (7/8/05) was, for the most part, my day to goof off while my wife helped her family with wedding preparations. On the water I don't have to worry about chewing gum with my mouth closed, whether my sense of humor, which consists mainly of word games based upon similarities between concepts and sounds, that is, sound to sound, concept to concept, offends or is even comprehensible. And so forth.

I also refrained, with the exception of brushing my teeth, from shaving and my normal morning grooming activities. I won't say I stank, but I did smell of Skintastic, sweat, and coffee.

I wanted to relax Friday, to forget for a few hours the coming ordeal of the rehearsal dinner - overeating in public while on my best behavior wearing long pants, as well as having to wear a necktie on Saturday and more public overeating while having to keep my shirttail tucked into slacks.

Langdon Brothers feed company Corn-Man hat, sleeveless navy-blue T over a white crewneck, long baggy green-grey button-fly cargo shorts, ancient leather belt, Eddie Bauer water-proof wristwatch (from about 1991), and those cheap $4.00 WalMart made-in-China water shoes comprised my attire.

Some big, fat duck-like waterfowl reacted angrily to my presence at what they seemed to think was their put in. If it's paved, it probably belongs to the humans. The winged beasts seemed cowed, however, when I proceeded to ignore them and, after snapping their picture, assembled my boat.

I paddled the northern portion of Alum Creek Reservoir, following the good advice of LesG from the http://www.paddling.net message board to put in at Howard Road Bridge. The water level was high enough that I was able to paddle as far up the creek at the top of the lake as I wanted - up to the next bridge at, I think, a road named Kilbourne, maybe 521, or something like that.

I got on the water later than I wanted, maybe 7:00 am or so. The cove north and to the right of the bridge still had some mist on the water.

A couple of times during the trip, I pushed with my feet while paddling or adjusting my position in the seat, against the forwardmost B rib, dislocating it from its plastic clips. The forward B rib on a Puffin II fits into clips the openings of which face the bow, whereas the openings of all the other clips face the stern. I was able to re-install the rib, both times, while on the water in the boat without much difficulty. I'll probably wind up buying one of the Pakboat footrests.

The lake north of the Hwy 36/37 bridge (which is situated south of Howard Road Bridge) is a no-wake zone. Not many power boaters were out, and I didn't see any other paddlers on the water. Did see a man and woman on horseback on the left bank where some power-lines cross the lake. Also a number of anglers at various points along the shore.

I got out at the five-twenty-something bridge to stretch, get my lunch out of the dry bag, and apply some more bug spray.

A couple of guys fishing from a bass-boat witnessed my spill. We'd just exchanged greetings, and then I put my boat in the water parallel to the bank and tried to step in too far forward in an attempt to keep mud on my feet from crudding up the area immediately forward my seat, and went for an unscheduled swim. The bass-boaters politely ignored the embarrassing spectacle.

It's been over twenty years since I last surfed, but my reflex was to surface hands first and upon regaining (pretty quickly because of the pfd) the surface, to grab the boat (used to be board). The boat didn't capsize, but did get a few inches of bilge-water. Lost my Langdon Brothers corn-man hat, but retrieved it. Didn't lose my paddle, and secured dry bags kept the water out.

The water there was a lot deeper than it looked, but I was close enough to the bank to clamber, muddily, back up it dragging the boat behind me, tipped the water out, got back in and continued paddling- all this without uttering a single (or string of) cuss-word(s). I didn't feel like this was the time or place to practice self-rescue techniques, but I'll need to do that sometime soon.

I'll also be looking for some synthetic fiber paddling garments in the near future - my cotton togs were still wet three hours later. Fortunately, the day was warm (83 F) and clear, so I didn't have to learn about hypothermia. I'm thinking maybe a long-john wetsuit'd be good for late fall paddling.

My camera (very old Olympus D-3xx L) got dunked/ruined, but the smart-media card inside it survived. My lunch survived twist-tied in sandwich bags in the bottom of the boat. When I finally paddled back to Howard Road Bridge, it was as a humbler soul.

One odd thing about not being able to take pictures is that, after getting used to the sense of annoyance at not being able to photograph my surroundings, I felt a greater sense of peace and enjoyment just paddling and looking.

The lake was beautiful, very scenic. At the north end, ospreys nest on three artificial platforms. I got one, very blurry picture, on the way up, and saw the birds again on the way back down.

As I paddled south, the north wind that NOAA predicted gusted, pushing up small waves in the shallow water at the lake's north end. I was more prepared than my first solo outing for the boat's tendency to turn about into the wind, so was able to make pretty good progress.

While it wasn't a perfect day, it was pretty good, and I was able to face the weekend's wedding-related ordeals (which really were not so bad) with an even temper because I'd gone boating.

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