I grew up in Northeast Iowa, just minutes from the Minnesota and Wisconsin borders in Allamakee County. “Home” for me is nestled in the middle of corn and hay fields, dairy or beef cattle farmers, and the hills and valleys of numerous tributaries to the Mississippi River and the mighty Mississippi itself.
Northeast Iowa, in the heat of summer, has its benefits – like an outing with the old girlfriends for a Saturday kayak and canoe trip down the Upper Iowa River. With age and kids the planned gatherings have lessened and mainly they are limited to weddings, funerals and class reunions. A couple weekends ago I found myself drifting to the lazy current of the Upper Iowa River, struggling to steer the canoe, but lucky enough to be in the company of nine old high school friends. It was a girl’s day out with the old gang thanks to the return of Amy Schaller-Hacker, an Ohio resident now, to her native Iowa.
It only takes seconds to feel at home with old friends – it is like you just spoke yesterday when it really was years. Mostly I just listened, taking deep relaxing breaths that stirred up the good old simpler times, strikingly funny old memories, our old creative songs and chants, and I relished the beautiful scenery and companionship.
The Upper Iowa has many bends… And around each corner, and with every straight-away, we met a new troop of people, most of them tubing (including a band of pirates in full costume!). In laid back Allamakee County we would join these other floaters, talk like we were old friends and eventually paddle on past. One meet-up even allowed use of the First Voice First Aid Cube! (Severe cuts on the palm from a canoe with sharp edges or something glass that needed stitches but the triple antibiotic, waterproof tape, steri-strips and gauze bandages in the Cube bode him much more comfort than the soaking wet t-shirt being used as a compression bandage.) Yes, I took the Cube and the First Voice in my submersible Aloksak waterproof protection bag – appropriate equipment for the outing.
Big thanks to my friends for planning and partaking in that awesome daytrip! No matter how busy you get – or if you have the chaos of raising kids and growing a company like I do – it’s crucial to take time to relax and enjoy some quiet moments with friends.