We just got back from a weekend with my parents at the lake. Growing up in central Missouri, I was aware of two lakes. Almost anyone I encountered outside of my immediate family referring generally to “the lake” meant Lake of the Ozarks, and if my family was saying “the lake,” it meant Truman Lake.
Honestly, I was probably about 10 years old before I realized that Lake of the Ozarks was the more popular and commonly referenced of the two (by far). When I was about four, the woman who watched me while my parents worked said we were going to go to the lake and do some shopping. I cried and threw a fit because it was winter and the lake, like the pond at home, would be frozen, and if it wasn’t, it was still too cold for a boat ride, and I didn’t have my life jacket, and the marina didn’t really have anything great to shop for anyway, and didn’t they know that the lake was a summer place? Apparently my fit was enough of an ordeal that it wrecked all the plans and we didn’t go. Years later did I realize she probably meant shopping at the outlet mall at Lake of the Ozarks (sorry, Vickie!).
I had no idea at that time that there was a) a different lake, and b) that there was also a region called “the lake” that really functioned independently from the water around it. Long before the Netflix show Ozark became popular, I associated the Lake of the Ozarks mostly with news stories of Water Patrol breaking up drunken, raucous “party cove” events, and alerts to avoid swimming in the lake water for a while because e. coli levels had spiked again (some of those lake houses aren’t plumbed quite right, you know?). I also learned Truman Lake was engineered specifically to help regulate the water levels in the Lake of the Ozarks in an effort to help protect all those lake houses and businesses, and as such is under protections to specifically keep it from becoming similarly commercialized, because then they’d probably have to build another lake to regulate those levels, and then another, and another, and the madness has to stop somewhere.
So we spend time at Truman throughout the summers. We fished and boated and found a couple quiet coves that were great for paddle boarding. The first cove we tried out was nice and sheltered, but this also meant that it had accumulated a bit of scum from rain runoff and pollen, but it wasn’t bad.
This was also Pippin’s first experience with the paddle boards outside of the living room floor, and he was initially pretty concerned when Kalen and I jumped right off the boat and began to float away.
Despite the confident conjectures of many a stranger, Pippin is not a Labrador Retriever, which is heartily evidenced in his aversion to swimming. He likes to wade, especially if the water is clear, but he never goes in deeper than his elbows. He is 100% a mama’s boy, though, and was fully prepared to jump in and save me as I floated away on the paddle board, and Mom had to distract him with some treats.
He later decided he’d better be really brave and see what was going on and did climb out of the boat on to the board with me, but after a quick assessment determined that he did not want any part of this tomfoolery, and he was perfectly content chilling in the boat with his grandparents.
Inspired by Kalen’s videography skills on our previous paddle boarding adventure, I tried taking some video of my own. I don’t know what I did differently, but let’s just say I won’t be getting a call from National Geographic anytime soon (if anyone has recommendations for a reasonably priced phone mount that would work on a paddle board, let me know in the comments!). Several times I thought I got “a pretty cool shot of a heron taking off and gliding over the water,” (my exact words to Kalen) only to find that the herons in question were never actually visible in the video. Maybe I just hallucinated them and they were never there to begin with. The best footage I captured was the surreal experience of floating through the tops of (admittedly small) green trees submerged by the flood waters, although my hands and the handle of my paddle are often in the way.
Luckily, Kalen did video again, and my mom also took some pictures and videos, so I am not without visual evidence for you, my lovely readers.
Over the course of the weekend, I got in several hours’ worth of paddle boarding, and am now feeling pretty confident in my abilities. I still have not fallen in the water, even when the wind picked up or when a large boat would speed by leaving a decent wake. I did fall to my knees onto the board when a fly bit my ankle (as in, my foot and ankle instinctively reacted and I lost my balance; it wasn’t a dramatic act of emotional devastation, fists in the air, shouting at the sky kind of thing) but I didn’t go in the water, so I’m counting that as a win, even if the malicious bastard did fly away unharmed.
Kalen was not quite so lucky. He did fall in the water again, the result of approaching the boat a little too quickly, and it was double gold for the rest of us, as he is a good sport and agreed to let me share. He was videoing again at the time, so you get to see it, and the camera was pointing out the whole time.
My favorite part, though, was that the camera quit recording after he hit the water, and his phone, completely protected from the water, decided to do its own thing. Kalen fell, with a flail and a splash, into the water, came up sputtering, and climbed up onto his board whereupon he checked to see if he was still recording. Rather than the recording screen, however, he found that the camera had crashed, and Siri had decided to Google, entirely unprompted by us, “e. coli.”
I guess Siri thought we were at the other lake, and Kalen should be prepared for the consequences of his impromptu swim.
You’ll be relieved to know that, aside from some rather aggressive allergies after spending three days outside, Kalen is unscathed, and has exhibited no symptoms of e. coli exposure. I guess. We didn’t actually read what Siri had to say about it.