Heading out to go kayaking, Saturday, June 29, John Grunewaldt and his wife had loaded up their two matching kayaks onto the trailer.
“We lost one — mine — while driving to Okobojo Point,” said Grunewaldt. “It decided to jump out and hide. No idea of how it came out of the trailer.” Thankfully, all the paddles had been stored in his wife’s kayak.
The two went back over their route between Gales Gas on Highway 14 to Okobojo Point, looking for the 10’6” bright orange kayak. “We looked and looked. Sunday morning we walked for miles in the ditches. We found other people’s stuff, such as a trailer license plate (turned into officials) and a large pink floatee. We got hold of Sully and Hughes County Highway Departments to keep their eyes open. We contacted the local police.”
Lost and found advertisements were published in The Capital Journal and The Reminder. Flyers were put up anywhere people would see. Facebook was flooded. “Hoping people would talk, which they did,” said Grunewaldt. ”Thing is, you have got to believe in people.”
Still, a $100 reward and a $50 finder’s fee were offered.
“It’s a mental way of looking at society, I guess,” said Grunewaldt. “About half of the people we talked to said people are honest. About half said some people are ‘opportunists.’ People have always got that chance do the right thing. Kind of ‘where you grew up’ way of thinking. It was nice hearing from people asking if we had gotten the kayak back yet, people we didn’t even know. There’s a lot of good people out there.”
A young farmer from the Harrold area — with the first name of Colton if Grunewaldt remembers correctly — was haying on the side of the road. Colton glanced down from his tractor to see bright orange in the fairly deep gulch. He somehow loaded the kayak onto the tractor.
Later, his buddy who had seen a flyer at the sale barn told him that someone was looking for the kayak.
The young man got hold of Grunewaldt, “He called us on Friday, saying ‘I think I’ve got your kayak,” said Grunewaldt. The young man even delivered the kayak to its rightful owner, but not until after 9 p.m., after he put in a full day’s farm work. When told of the reward and finder’s fee, the young farmer initially refused it.
“He didn’t know about either, and was reluctant to take it.” But, Grunewaldt, glad to get the relatively new kayak back, insisted. “They can cost between $500 to $800, depending on how many bells and whistles you want on it,” said Grunewaldt, who had grown fond of how this one fit and handled.
“I’m amazed. Only one good scuff on a corner. Couldn’t have been any better. Coming off the trailer at about 50 miles per hour, it went floating across the top of everything green for close to 50 yards, to end up in that deep gulch. Kayaks are pretty aerodynamic, going over the terrain pretty much like going over the top of water,” said Grunewaldt.
“Getting the kayak is great, and two-fold; good to have it back, and a stronger faith in people,” said Grunewaldt.