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Here’s to Tomorrows’ Paddlers,
The rededication of the Story County Conservation Center,
June 24th 2001

The Skunk River Paddlers, along with a few friends, took Sunday afternoon to help the Story County Conservation Board celebrate their tenth year of providing enhanced services, made possible by the Story County Conservation Center at McFarland Park. Our mission was disarmingly simple: We were to assist paddlers into and out of their canoes and provide any other needed assistance that might arise.

And we had a lot of takers. There were roughly 75 adventurous people who took advantage of the free canoes to try canoeing a bit. Most of the paddlers were under 12, though the youngest was about 15 months old. There were so many children that Dave Kraemer, Don Wall, and Rick Dietz took a number of young paddlers in canoes with them on the lake. This was the first time some of these eager paddlers were ever in a canoe and were quite excited by it all. Some came back to shore only reluctantly.

Piper Wall graciously brought her white-water kayak and would have been the first to reach anyone that got into any trouble while paddling. She spent a good deal of the time in the hot sun, too. The rest of us would often lounge in the shade of a tree swapping stories, jokes and just visiting until we needed to assist someone with the canoes or to take some young paddlers in a canoe with them. Eventually we thought to ask her if she would like to get off the water for a bit, which she apparently thought was a good idea.

I am pleased to say that none of the visitors fell into the water as they entered or exited the canoes. And no one tipped-over while they were paddling. The worst that seemed to happen was that several managed to get stuck where the wind blew them for a bit. A few paddlers thoughtfully picked up litter while they were canoeing. All were gracious and consistently thanked us for our efforts. And, we, in turn, want to thank the Story County Conservation Board and their staff for all of their efforts and the opportunity to lend them a well-deserved hand.

Gregory Vitale


sunset at West Peterson Pit, June 28th, 2001

Summertime at Peterson’s Pit June 2001

It was hot. There were a lot of people, maybe a record for a midweek summer evening. About 40 people were enjoying the beach. Scattered all around were about a dozen more people fishing. Others were around with their horses. Before the evening was over, twelve paddlers came by too.

The now cooling evening was perfect for a relaxing canoe paddle exploring the shoreline. Sea-kayaks and white-water kayaks grace the evening waters too. Some first made a short, after-work paddle down the Skunk River. We practiced our rolls and maneuvers in the pleasantly warm waters. We also visited a bit and enjoyed the colorful sunset, darkening sky and the cooler evening air.

Gregory Vitale