I have been sailing Lake Oahe on the Missouri River in South Dakota for over 20 years. I have seen all kinds of weather and wind. And so you might think I would be jaded, wouldn’t you? But I will tell you that I doubt that I will ever got bored by the amazing scenery and experience this place affords.
Recently, Deb and I were enjoying our last full day of the season on Lake Oahe. We set sail shortly after sunrise and made it upriver to my favorite place, Mission Creek. By afternoon the wind had slackened and though we enjoy the serentity that this place offers when there is little wind, we decided to go motoring.
At one point the wind died completely and I stopped the boat in the middle of the reservoir to enjoy the beautiful clouds, sky and water. The silence was absolute and I was reminded of the simple magic of that keeps drawing me back to Oahe: on this day we weren’t looking at a mirror; we were in the mirror.
Wandering Star is back in our driveway and will be put into storage soon. I put over 800 miles under her keel this summer, which is equivalent to going east to west across South Dakota and then back again. At about 5 miles an hour. A waste of time? An expensive hobby?
“Yes” is a simple answer to those questions. But for me sailing Oahe is an important part of who I am and how I live. For me (and many others I know) it is a truly uncommon place.
This is one from my early days of digital photography. This was a commissioned photo, done for Focus Watertown, an organization promotes Watertown, South Dakota, to outside businesses.
This photo is the second in a series I call “Taking Photos On a Bouncing Boat.” The first photo shows up here, and, frankly, I like that one a lot more than this one. But as lakes turn to ice around here, I take some comfort in remembering this boat ride on a warm August night in Iowa.
I had spent Friday, August 20, 2010, making small repairs to Wandering Star and then sailing, motoring and swimming on a hot, August day on Lake Oahe. Deb drove out from Watertown after work and arrived around 8 PM. I said, “We’re going to Hurricane Bay.” Because the wind had died to whisper, we motored west a few miles and dropped our anchor in a narrow, protected channel of the bay. We were alone. On this clear, warm evening it seemed like we had the bay, the lake and a billion stars all to ourselves.
The next morning, we woke up well before sunrise and around 6:30 we pulled up anchor and motored out into the main channel to watch the sunrise. The weather forecast said it was going to get to 100 degrees Fahrenheit on this day. But in the pre-dawn moments, it was beautiful. And just as the sun started to light up a band of clouds close to the horizon, I took this photo.
Yes, it’s “just another sunrise shot” but like my “just another sunset shot” from several weeks ago, there is much more here than meets the eye: I was with my favorite person on my favorite boat in one of my favorite places. Some would call central South Dakota on a 100+ degree day “god-forsaken.” I would say that you must have your senses shut down if you aren’t seeing god here – especially in a beautiful, quiet sunrise like this.
(See this on Panoramio.)
This little village is on the island of Hvar, which is part of Croatia. It was total serendipity that my friend Scott and I ended up spending two great days here. And it turns out that, according to one of the few residents who spoke English, we were the first people from the US to stay in this village. I am not a particularly adventurous traveler and get nervous when I don’t have reservations for the night. But this place (down a 5-mile long one lane road!) was a great surprise.
Click here to see this photo’s location on Panoramio.
Canon 5D 1/20s f/4.0 ISO400 50mm