Saturday, March 10, 2012

4th of July 2011 - A Very Full Weekend

Looking at a four day weekend and there is a heat warning. Temps of 96 with heat index of 106. That won't stop us though. Mike got up early Friday morning and pulled the boat over to Marshall Park in order to avoid the afternoon holiday traffic - and the heat. On his lunch break, he rigged the boat so all would be ready for sailing later on. (What a gem!). After a light supper at home and a respite from the heat, we headed over to the lake, reefed the sails and were on the water by around 7pm. We sailed over to Picnic Point and dropped anchor for the night. Not many boats on the water, but the bugs were terrible. We had to hide in the cabin and it was HOT.

The winds shifted in the middle of the night by 180 degrees causing some major rocking and rolling, so early in the a.m. we pulled anchor and moved to the other side of the peninsula, dropped anchor and went back to sleep. Much cooler and calmer. Conditions must have been right because we slept past 9 o'clock! Mike tried out his new coffee press and really like the flavor and convenience. Breakfast was instant oatmeal with fresh blueberries. Mike played at being a fisherman and Brenda read for awhile. Then we were off. Winds picked up to 10-15 and we were able to sail on a beam reach. After our last outing with minimal winds, it was fun to kick up our heels and go. We even did a little "technical maneuvering" as we practiced rounding some of the buoys set up for the local races.

We headed over to Warner Bay early in the afternoon. We wanted to be sure to get a good spot for Rhythm and Booms. We were surprised to find only a few boats anchored along the park shore. We stayed off to one side of the swimming area and dropped anchor. We dove out of the boat into fairly clean water and headed to the swimming area. As we went under the rope marking the outer boundaries, the lifeguard approached us and said, "You can't come into the swimming area from there. You have to come into the beach and then enter the marked swimming area from there." Liability issues they said. We thought it would be safer to enter the marked area directly from the boat - but no - we had to swim around the outside of the markers, walk on the beach for two feet, and then go back inside the markers. And of course we had to reverse the whole process to get back to the boat. Oh well, it felt so good to swim in clean water that we didn't really mind.
Relaxing after our swim

As sundown approached, more and more boats entered the bay and dropped anchor. By dusk, the bay was full of boats. The shimmering navigation and anchor lights put on a splendid show long before the fireworks started.
Boats settling in for the fireworks
As we were enjoying the view, we heard bagpipes. Mike, who is not a big fan of bagpipes, thought that someone had cranked up their boat stereo, and was not pleased. But in a few minutes we discovered where the sound was coming from. A power boat was slowly parading through the anchored boats with a girl waving an American flag off the bow and their O'Connor flag flying off the stern. In the middle were three men with their bagpipes, two in costume, playing "The Casons go Rolling Along". Next up, "America the Beautiful". All movement on the other boats stopped, people whistled and cheered and saluted. Mike commented, "Now that is cool.", I couldn't say anything - something must have been stuck in my throat. We quickly grabbed the camera, as did many others, and recorded a very moving, obviously traditional, patriotic celebration.

Then came the real fireworks. Rhythm and Booms is billed as the Midwest's largest fireworks display. It is timed to music that is broadcast on a local radio station. All the boats in the harbor were tuned to the same station. We were in the perfect seats. Fireworks blossomed over our heads in well choreographed presentation. One of the first songs was "Proud to be an American", followed by a few John Phillip Sousa marches. Again something was stuck in my throat and my eyes were watering. By the time the grand finale came around, both the fireworks and the waterworks were flowing freely. The "Overture of 1812", with the gun salutes and bells ringing, was an indescribable way to end the fireworks display.


The bay was silent, in awe, for several minutes. Then the cheers went up and the boats, with their red, green and white lights flickering, exited the bay as if carried out by the tide. We stayed put. We were in good anchorage and wanted to hold on the the magical feelings for as long as possible. As we settled in for the night, we both commented that this evening ranked in our Top 10.

Boats drifting home after the fireworks

But our weekend was not over yet. We awoke late Sunday morning to another beautiful day. The skies were a brilliant blue and the winds were a perfect 10-15. After a "shower in the lake" and some more fishing attempts by Mike (he has a lot of talents, but fishing is not one of them), we sailed back across the lake to the University of Wisconsin's Memorial Union. We set the anchor and then relaxed for awhile to be sure the anchor set. Then we pulled up the dinghy, gracefully (haha) boarded the dinghy and Mike rowed us to shore where we wandered State Street looking for supper. After walking up one side and then down the other, we settled on State Street Brats. We got a table by the window so we could people watch. And what a show we got. It is unbelievable how eclectic this area is. Anything goes! From couples pushing strollers to studded and black clad groups, to multi-colored hair to cute elderly couples, to clean-cut gaggles of teens. You can see it all on State Street. And where else can you have dinner with a cow. That's right - at State Street Brats there are outside tables that set around a life-size fiberglass cows!

After a stop for liquid refreshments and a bag of ice, we were back to the dinghy and a quick row back to the boat. Surprisingly one of the frat houses was playing our music from the 70's and 80's. We couldn't believe that we would be listening to some our favorites, one after another, coming to us clearly over the water. The same frat house, next to the Student Union, was trying to set off some fireworks. They got a "boo" from the Memorial Union crowd for their first fizzling attempt. Then it got comical/scary. They were having some "technical difficulties" setting off the remaining fireworks. Some went up well, but others went sideways or didn't go up at all. There were several "@#@'s and lots of laughter. No major mishaps, or at least no ambulances came. As the sun set, we were able to watch the fireworks going off from various communities around the lake. Calm night, good company, and the end of another great day.

Monday we decided to row back into State Street for breakfast. We had seen the Sunprint Cafe's advertisement for breakfast while we were wandering the previous night and had worked up an appetite for omelettes. The food was great and we got a second floor table with a view of State Street. Then back to the boat to start heading to the launch for pull-out. It was dead calm, so we motored along the shore checking out the gorgeous houses and a small harbor we hadn't explored before. The ramp was not busy and the tear down went smoothly. What a busy weekend. But no---we aren't done yet!

We pulled the boat across town six miles and re-launched on Lake Monona so we could meet up with our son and some friends on their power boat to view the 4th of July fireworks on that lake. Aren't trailer sailers great! Watching the fireworks on this lake has become an annual event. It is not as crowded as Rhythm and Booms and it is always fun to raft up, share snacks and drinks, and enjoy the show of lights around the lake. We motored to the ramp at 11:00 p.m. and were home by 11:59. That's using up the weekend!





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