Mandan News

Dan Ulmer: Catching seagulls on a jetski


Both of my loyal readers may recall when I informed them that my grandchildren only have two speeds, off and full. Well, I think I finally figured out where they got that from… me! I came to this revelation whilst riding a jet ski at speeds somewhere between 55 and 62 miles an hour last Friday evening, so hang on, here we go.

Amongst many other wonders, we got this toy from Renee’s sister Rita after her husband Clint passed away, and although I’d sure give it all back to still have Clint around, I do have to say it’s become one of the more used toys we have out here at Lake Tschida.

An odd type of melancholy creeps into lake life this time of year as the leaves change colors and fall begins to inject its cool nights, and every nice day could be the last nice day we get. Last Friday afternoon the temp was pushing 80 with no wind… the lake was glassed out and I couldn’t resist taking the jet ski for a cruise… and here’s my report.

This time of year most of the folks who own cabins have closed them up and returned to city life… so we hardcores usually get the lake all to ourselves. As I idled out of the bay I noted that I really was the only one on the water.

I got to the no wake buoy and slammed the throttle to full. The super charger roared to life and my grip tightened on the handle bars as the ski leapt out of the water… within seconds I went from zero to 50 mph.

I was going directly into a blinding sun intensely mirroring itself off the water. I had to squint harder than usual, but for some reason it didn’t cause me to let off the throttle. The speedometer hit 60 mph as I streaked across the lake towards Rattlesnake Point. At this age one’s cheeks become rather flabby and at 60 mph they have a tendency to flap back against my earlobes, which are also flapping from the force of the wind. I don’t know how many 62-year-olds enjoy doing this to themselves, but I sure do… so I just hung on as windtorn tears streaked across my cheeks.

I got to Rattlesnake Point and without letting off the throttle leaned hard into a wide turn. With the sun now at my back I noticed there were flocks of seagulls lazily drifting around the lake… and I was headed right towards them.

As I got closer they spooked and began to get up… in an instant I was in the midst of a flock and one gull was lifting off right next to me… he quickly veered to avoid me. Then another got up and I couldn’t resist trying to catch it. I reached out and my hand came within inches of snagging his claws before he veered off.

I held the throttle open and came up on another flock of gulls, and at 60 mph they were just trying to get out of my way when two gulls came within reach as I sped through the flock and off into the horizon. I’m quite sure they were glad that I kept on going… and going and going.

I noted off in the horizon that Ben and Ryan were drifting along in our pontoon, so I headed that way. They waved as I sped by, and much to their surprise I quickly turned around and headed straight for them. I closed in on them and when I got as close as I dared, I made as sharp of a turn as I could, causing this huge rooster tail that swamped and absolutely soaked both of them.

I finally let off the throttle and noted they were both laughing, so I headed home and thought, “Wow that was fun…” and then I realized that somewhere inside of me there’s this kid always ready to get out and let ‘er rip…

Here’s hoping that you have one of those in you too, because they can be quite fun to have around…