Over the course of an hour, we pedaled our way through the serpentine canals of the lake's eastern half, pausing to watch turtles basking on logs and admiring the electric boat at the Audubon Center. Zachary, our two-year-old, took the role of pirate captain, directing us lowly deckhands into tranquil coves and stands of lily pads on a vigilant search for fish and frogs, which we found in abundance. The verdant forest and sun-dappled water looked like something from an Impressionist painting, and we surrendered the boat at the dock with a promise to return soon.
A few tips: the place opens at noon and boats run out fast on sunny days, so try to get there by 11:50 a.m. at the latest, lest you find yourself waiting on the dock for your ship to come in. The hard plastic seats get uncomfortable after a half hour, so if you have a portable ass cushion, bring it. And the lake is bigger than you think, so choose to explore either its river-like eastern end or more voluminous western portion and save the other half for next time.
Other than that, it couldn't be easier, so don your floppy hat and get pedaling. You'll have as much fun as any yacht owner, with none of the baggage.
[Photo: Victor Ozols]