Jocelyn Sheets’ column about the America’s Cup competition had me reiminiscing about the “good ol’ days” of covering life at the Iowa Great Lakes.
Trust me, I’ll get there in short order.
I wrote for two Lakes-centered publications. DISCOVER, a weekly entertainment guide, afforded me the opportunity to conduct interviews with all sorts of famous entertainers, ranging from Bill Cosby to Larry the Cable Guy and from Go Fish to Buddy Guy (and, literally, every possible entertainer in-between).
Taking on the monicker “Okoboji Bob,” I also got to “work” my way around the Lakes region. Eachw eek of the summer, I tackled a new odd job, and then wrote about it. One week, I ran the go-carts at The Cart Ranch; the next, I piloted the Queen II excursion boat around West Lake Okoboji.
Best. Job. Ever. Except, I also was the primary writer for OKOBOJI Magazine, which is very similar in format to Jasper County Living (if you haven’t read it yet, you need to crawl out from the rock and pick up a copy today).
We published nine issues a year in which I wrote feature stories about two Lakes-area homes, and personality features about area residents. I got to do a feature on the late Bill Krause’s 35-minute “commute” flight from Spirit Lake to Des Moines.
I also wrote a Lakes-area tribute to the late Bill Reichardt, the former Iowa Hawkeye and Green Bay Packers player who became best known for doing his own men’s clothing store commercials (eat your heart out, George Zimmer).
At the Lakes, however, he was best known for his talents on the tennis courts. He was a multi-time champion of the University of Okoboji Tennis Tournament.
Speaking of the U of O, my job came with being named an “adjunct professor of journalism” at the famed post-secondary institution. My dean was my good friend, the Iowa Boy himself, Chuck Offenburger.
And while OKOBOJI Magazine was a bit more high-brow than my work with DISCOVER, it did have many fun and entertaining opportunities attached to it. I had my pick of four different golf courses pretty much anytime I wanted to play (since leaving, the number of rounds I’ve played has dropped off substantially).
But perhaps my favorite activity was the weekly Saturday and Sunday sailing races on West Lake Okoboji hosted by the Okoboji Yacht Club.
See? I got there.
Anyway, I loved to watch all the sails dotting the waters of the northern half of the lake. And while there’s a lot of national pride that comes with watching an America’s Cup race, watching the OYC races was all about admiring tactics.
As a Navy guy, you have to appreciate good sailing when you see it. And, frankly, some of the best inland racing in the country happens every weekend at West Lake Okoboji.
Although my favorite class to watch is the faster, more agile Yngling Class, a E or MC Class race is just as fun. And the best time to watch was when the Inland Lake Yachting Association.
Ironically enough, those folks are taking to the waters of West Lake Okoboji today. I wish I was there.
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If you’re reading this, thank a teacher. If you’re reading it in English, thank a soldier, sailor, airman or Maine.