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Either of my loyal readers may recall that for the past couple of weeks, Grandma Renee has been out in the wilds with three grandkids, Brock, 10, Camryn, 9, and Lexi, 5, while I have been in town. So when I finally got to the lake they had settled into their routine, which is mostly composed of taking something out and once bored, just dropping it anywhere and chasing the next butterfly that passes. Thus, the ensuing trails of debris has caused Grandpa Dan to engage in more fairy work (work that you don’t notice unless nobody does it) than usual.

One of the more important tasks involves clearing a path from the bedroom to the bathroom, because the last thing Grandpa Dan needs is to run into some unknown obstacle on his routine 3 a.m. rest room requirements.

Once a pathway is assured, Grandpa Dan settles into whatever happens next. Usually that involves loading up the pontoon and heading onto the lake. Once we hit the no wake buoy, the wind determines our heading. For you landlubbers, if you don’t have a particular destination in mind it’s best to head into the wind. There are two reasons for this. One, if the motor dies, your odds of drifting home improve. Two, if you want to play in the water by jumping off the pontoon, you've got to remember to jump into the wind because it’s better to have the boat drifting away from you rather than over you.

As you may have surmised by now, the aforementioned nautical advice comes from experience. Once, I was alone and ran out of gas on our pontoon and drifted for a couple hours with the wind (most pontoons have a canopy that acts like a sail in the wind) to other side of the lake, where I got off and hiked up to the Farmer’s Union Camp to use their phone. Now here’s something that will date you; the only call I could make was a collect call. So I called our neighbor, Bob Dykshoorn, and thank goodness he not only accepted the charge but rescued me.

Example No. 2: We locals know that there is nary a day around here without wind. At one point, North Dakota was declared the Saudi Arabia of wind, but I digress. Lake life requires some knowledge about wind, waves, water temperature, etc., before launching your water craft and before you jump into the water.

In our case, the water temperature presently hovers between 76 and low 80s, perfect for aquatic endeavors. The wind has been blowing out of the west at somewhere between 15 and 30 mph. The waves are pretty big but we consider it fun to head into the wind for a few miles, then shut off the motor and drift for a couple hours.

I haven’t kept very good track but offhand, I’d say I’ve spent thousands on water toys, tubes, and skis – you name it, we’ve likely had it out here. So a couple nights ago we headed west for the sole purpose of jumping off the boat in the middle of the lake. We have a ladder attached in back and folks can either leap or slip off it or re-board on it.

This particular evening, the kids jumped off into the wind. Noting that the wind was whipping us pretty good, I realized that it would be a struggle to get back to the boat, so I tied a rope onto the bow and the stern and tossed it to them. They grabbed on and let the wind drag them for a couple hours. Just think if I had thought of that sooner I could've spent that money on something else.

Hope your summer’s going great, too.

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Dan Ulmer is a parent, grandparent, as well as a retired teacher, counselor, politician, lobbyist, public employee, nonprofit executive and opinionated citizen who believes that we need to do what we can to leave the world better off than we found it.

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