At the start of this summer, I wanted to make sure I'd finally do more of the outdoor things I wanted. I'd bike more. I'd hike more. What I especially wanted to do was to take my kayak out. My hope had been to explore the local lakes and rivers of Northwest Iowa, and maybe take a bigger trip to a larger lake in Minnesota or float down the Niobrara in the Nebraska Sandhills. I was all set to begin my more outdoorsy life, but it all ended on a set of concrete stairs. I had gone on a bike ride with some friends. Immediately after we left the parking lot where we gathered, I took off. I then couldn't stop, raced down a hill and crashed. My ankle was shattered, and so were my dreams of spending more time outdoors. Instead of hiking the Loess Hills or Kayaking the Little Sioux River, I sat on my couch in a boot listening to podcasts and binging The Simpsons and King of the Hill. My only respite was my crummy retail job, and even that was a bummer. I had to ride around on a scooter all day, and then I'd come home and crash on the couch. For two months this was the routine. Work, crash, maybe see my family on the weekends I had off. I kept my spirits high, but still I was anxious to get back to normal, especially after the doctor told me I could start bearing weight. I still however was disappointed that I couldn't do more outside. While I could eventually walk, I got sore often and knew I couldn't hike, and I didn't want to risk going on a bike. Even my Kayak was risky as I thought I couldn't lift it on my jeep, let alone drag it to some lakeshore. I figured that I'd have to wait until next year to try any strenuous outdoor activities, and even that depended on if I healed up well. Labor Day weekend came around and I was finally at one hundred percent weight bearing. I had to work the weekend and was a little bummed about it as most other people were off three days, including my wife and her family. They too hadn't had much of a summer as they had been busy with a number of projects at home and didn't have enough time to make a trip to Lake Shetek, their preferred spot in Southwest Minnesota, worth it. My daughter had especially been bummed. While I was sure she couldn't remember our earlier trips, she always talked about "Minnesota" and how it had the "big water." She talked about it all the time, and how her Grandpa and Daddy were going to take her there. Well, once I was off work, I got a call from my wife to head up to her folks, about ten minutes north. I figured we were just going to have a small cookout and maybe enjoy what probably was our last big break for a while. I drove up, and that's when I saw my father in law and my daughter standing by his silver pickup. "We going to Minnesota" my daughter said. She excitedly repeated it a number of times, and then I asked my Father in Law what we were doing. He told me that he wanted my wife and daughter and my sisters in law to go to the local lake to grill some hotdogs and take my Kayak out. At that point I was still in a boot but could fully bear weight. "I'll even help you get in and out" said my father in law. Our local lake , Hillview, was basically just a large farm pond. It had been dry that summer, and the water level was down, leaving a ring of mud around some of the shoreline. It also was quite stagnant and stank a bit. However, it was the closest thing we had to "Minnesota" and we took advantage. My wife and daughter and I grilled some hot dogs and my sisters in law set up some blankets and we sat under a decent sized oak tree and watched the sunset. We all lamented how summer was over, but we'd have plenty more chances to go out. After dinner, I finally got my Kayak out. My father in law offered to help, but I was able to pull it out of the bed of his truck and safely drag it to the water, all the while conscious of my ankle. I then removed my boot. I but my bad foot in the Kayak, making sure it was balanced. I then put the other one in and found my paddle I'd folded inside and took off. I finally did it. Sure, it was the only real outdoor thing I did that summer, but it was also the most meaningful. I finally was free out on the water. I ended up kayaking around the lake for an hour. I mostly just circled around looking at the fields and groves of oaks and cottonwoods nearby. I even got to give my daughter a short ride. All the while she screamed "Thanks for taking me to Minnesota, Daddy." None of us corrected her. We didn't have the heart to tell her it wasn't Minnesota, but I don't think she cared. I was just happy to be free and finally go on an adventure, and I was happy to have another passenger on board with me for a short time.

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