Waterbombers? Float planes as buoys? Where are we?

It is when I’m deep in labor that I’m relaxed enough to envision the big picture or dream how to meet the next goal.

But it’s when I’m off schedule and on vacation that I take time to see and experience the little things in life.

One of my favorite traditions on our annual Canada vacation is, after flying out of our fishing camp, stopping in Red Lake (Northwestern Ontario) and picking up the local newspaper — The Northern Sun News. It costs $1.

When I pick up the 20-page tabloid-size paper — maybe made from the paper mill 90 miles south in Dreyden — I always dream about what it would be like to live in this charming community full time. I mostly appreciate and enjoy the unique news items that set Red Lake apart from Greenwood.

For instance, this year we trekked the usually 21 hours by automobile, but were told we needed to fly in Saturday afternoon rather than the usual-for-us morning flight. The reason?

There was a Red Lake Triathlon being held the next day, and they were using the fleet of float planes as buoy markers for the swimmers. That, my Johnson County friends, is not only inventive, but ingenious and resourceful.

I must admit for a brief moment, I considered staying back and participating in what would be my first triathlon, even though I’m not a distance swimmer — more like a professional water-treader. But after our five days of fishing, when I picked up The Northern Sun News and saw the front-page photo of youth participating in the run segment of the triathlon, I was heartened.

What really motivated me was the back page of results from the 26th annual Red Lake Triathlon.

Of 52 participants, there was only one adult female in the Olympic Distance. I actually could have come in second place. I’ve already begun to envision how next year I can tread water from plane pontoon to the next float plane pontoon to finish the swim portion to pick up my second-place trophy. I’ll look like a little red and white bobber crossing Howey Bay.

Of course, I’ll also need to get my bike out of the garage and dust it off this year, and there’s that running issue. But still, it’s a plan. Wait, who am I kidding? If Jennifer Szaflik doesn’t show up next year, I take first place.

Page 9 of the newspaper educates and brings me back to reality when I read the headline: “Stay Clear of Waterbombers.” I read this article out loud as we headed back home.

“From April 1 to October 21, waterways are used by CL-415 water bombers to suppress wildfires. When CL-415 waterbombers approach a lake, people in watercraft are asked to move close to the shore so the waterbombers can perform their scoop.”

It’s quite obvious where my journalistic mind wandered: what if during the swim section of the triathlon the CL-415 needed to scoop up water? The professional firefighters would be so concentrated on extinguishing the forest fire quickly and ensure the safety of the public, I could never blame them for not seeing the red and white bobber-looking triathlete-wanna-be that accidentally drifted out of Howey Bay into Red Lake.

I could never tread water fast enough to make it back to hanging onto the side of a float plane pontoon — and before I got scooped up with thousands of gallons of water, I would glance over and see that Jennifer girl accepting my trophy.

Vacations are always a reminder to be grateful for where you are.

Janet Hommel Mangas grew up on the east side of Greenwood. The Center Grove area resident and her husband are the parents of three daughters. Send comments to letters@dailyjournal.net.