Saturday, June 14, 2014

Moon or No Moon

Full moon camping/kayaking was in high gear (read about it here on my blog Define Normal) at beautiful Lake Alpine. I was so looking forward to kayaking on Friday the 13th, and this would be our first kayak outing of the season.

The previous night looked promising with the moon rising at 8:30pm. But due to the unexpected chilliness, we decided to put off paddling until the next night when the moon was to be officially FULL.
So on Friday, bundled up against the chill, we put the boats in at about 7:30 in the evening:
Natalie was off and paddling:
The lake was like glass. Such a difference from the fierce winds and white caps of the daytime:

We explored the length of the lake with fish jumping all around:

At some point, Natalie decided that she was afraid of seeing the granite boulders under the water. Now I kind of get this. It's a little creepy at first to see rocks underneath you, or an old tree stump lurking in the depths. I think it's like standing on something high and looking down; it gives your stomach the heebie-jeebies at first (well at least it does me who is not a fan of water in general, and deep water especially).
I encouraged her to not look down, but she had already wound herself up in a tizzy. I don't know why. Then I happened to mention it was Friday the 13th. Oh, why did I do that? This is my 11 year old, who has a wild imagination, why would I remind her of this fact?
Anyway, the fun of the trip was quickly waning at this point for Natalie, but I was still enjoying myself, and enjoying the scenery:
 The sun was setting, and 8:30 was fast approaching...certainly we'd see the moon soon:
But, alas, 8:30 came and went and my fellow kayakers were cold, and getting cranky and tired, and it was getting dark.
Where was my full moon?! I figured it would be somewhere around the same time as the previous night...but it stood me up!
No full moon kayaking for us! We ended up loading the boats and going back to camp. Even at 9:30 there was still no moon, so with the cold getting colder, we went to bed. Sometime later the moon did appear, but I missed it. Darn!
We still had a fabulous first kayak of the season, moon or no moon. We had the entire quiet lake to ourselves, and only mild hysteria from my child. It was ALL good!

Sunday, July 29, 2012

It Happens to the Best of Us I Guess

So, my claim to fame is that I don't get wet when I kayak. My friend and fellow kayaker couldn't believe it until she kayaked with me.

Sometimes I wade into the water up to my ankles, but that's it. I just don't get wet. I kinda hop into my boat, and from then on I stay dry.

I bet you can see where this is going, huh?

Yep, I had just spent the morning kayaking with my school kids (my annual I-get-paid-to-kayak day) and paddled back to the ramp to load my boat. I was on the crumbly concrete ramp (up to my ankles) trying to pull my boat in when it happened. My foot slipped, my flip-flop blew out, and I ended up on my butt in the lake.

OH, the humiliation!

Except, there wasn't anyone around to see it. Ha! Not even my friend who would've paid for a view of it!

No one need ever know...but I facebooked her later and told her.

My "dry run" is over. Now I'm the same as all you mere mortal kayakers.

My Favorite Lake

Cuz, how could you not love this
 the lily pond,
 the glassy water before the breeze kicks up,
 granite islands to explore,
and rocks.

Yep, it was a good day!

Saturday, May 12, 2012

DOG is My Co-Pilot

Yes, one pilots a boat, so when I saw this sight, the name of this post occurred to me.

This was our first kayak outing of the season! The weather is finally warm enough, and my college semester is over, so I have time to do other yesterday evening found me and the girls paddling.

The lake is full of algae clumps which freaked Shel-bell out for some reason. She kept calling them "hobo forests" and said that hobos lived in the clumps and were going to reach up and grab her or knock the boat over. Twelve-year-olds aren't dramatic at all! There were fish jumping all around us, so I told her they were trying to jump out of the water to escape from the hobos. (Who knew hobos were aquatic in the first place? Ya learn something new every day!)
 Bindi Sue was interested in the geese.
 Here's a great shot of my three girls.
And we dined al fresco on Subway sandwiches right in the middle of the lake. Awesome! What a great kick-off to our kayak season!

Friday, July 15, 2011

The Full Moony (Well, Almost)

Oh, this summer is flying by WAY too fast, and not enough kayaking is happening. Too much work is happening for me, that's for sure! It's putting a cramp in my recreation!

Knowing that Friday was going to be a full moon, and knowing that I'd be waiting tables while said moon was reaching fullness, I decided an almost-full moon was good enough, and took the girls out on our little lake for a paddle on Thursday night instead.

Here's the first and last picture my camera took before the battery died.

The sky was fairly cloudy at this point and the sunset was gorgeous. We hadn't yet unloaded the boat so we quickly drove back home for a back-up camera.

By the time we unloaded and got on the water it was just about dark. I was happy to see the clouds disappating. I was afraid we wouldn't see the moon at all if they stuck around.

It's not that easy to get pictures of your crew whilst paddling and while some of the crew is screaming, "Don't drop my camera in the water!" Hence these rather awkward photos:

But the four of us "girls" fit nicely in my tandem kayak, a point I am always thrilled about.

We began to notice bats flying around us and on closer inspection, LOTS of bats flying around us! They were dipping down to the lake surface for insects and actually touching the water. I was thrilled! (of course, I love snakes too).

I've never seen so many in one place and they would come fairly close to us as they zipped by. (And I don't think any other animal "zips" as well as a bat.)

Well, Shel-bell was a little freaked out at first. She had heard that old myth about bats making a nest in your hair. After watching them for a bit though, she realized that they had no interest in slowing down their feasting for her lovely hair, as tempting as it was, and she set about trying to capture a picture of them.

Not an easy task! Out of 50 some shots, she finally got this:

She was so proud!

Natalie and Suey enjoyed the bats as well. Suey actually got up from lying down and perked her ears up. That's about as excitable as she gets, to which I am thankful!

After an unsuccessful bullfrog hunt, we packed it all in at about 10pm. It was a fun little outing and as always, an adventure!

Friday, June 24, 2011

Can't I Get Paid to Do This Everyday?

I got paid to kayak today. How awesome is my job? (Ok so not today, today, but Friday, but since my computer and/or Blogger is lame and wouldn't post thisthen, I thought I should correct this mistake. Sure I could've changed it to "I got paid to kayak on Friday." But what's the fun in that?)

We took our little preschoolers on a field trip today to my little lake. I got to meet them all there with my kayaks and give them rides. We did the same thing last year during out summer school program.

Some of our kiddos are severely affected by autism or other disorders, some are in our class for language delays, some are on the autism spectrum but have made such great strides that the average observer would never suspect that they've had challenges.

It almost seems to me that the ones severely affected get the most out of being on the water. Kiddos that are high strung and easily tantrum were calm and relaxed in my kayak today.

I was able to paddle along with a flock of Canada geese and it thrilled one little guy to no end. He's non-verbal, but he was expressing his excitement through vocalizations and waving his arms. It was so cute!

One of our boys that is main-streaming into kindergarten was my kayaking buddy today. He really couldn't get enough paddling around. I had seats for two, and when those were full, he would sit in the foot area in the bow, just so he could go out again. We would get close to the cattails and look for fish and we even spotted a crawdad.

Along with kayaking the kids "fished", waded, played in the sand, and enjoyed a picnic. A great time was had by all. I love my job!

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Why I Hate The Swedes (and how they helped me create a new clean (ish) swear word)

This is why I hate the Swedes. It has to do with a certain retailer, and their inexplicable way of designing things to be incredibly frustrating to put together. They add directions to their boxes, and include fantastic pictures for reference. However, the pictures may or may not resemble any item in your box (or your country).

I bet you all think I'm referring to that famous Swedish retailer IKEA, don't you? And while I have had a little experience with their lovely products, no that's not it. There is another company who has trumped IKEA. It is THULE (don't ask me how to pronounce it. It's part of their evil plan to have an unpronounceable name).

I had experience with them last year when I bought the roof rack for my car. The place I bought it from told me it could be a little challenging to put together and that I should find a patient friend to help, a nice place in the shade to park my car, and an ample supply of alcoholic beverages to complete the task.

In my younger years I was pretty mechanically inclined and used to do all my car maintenance myself, including replacing water pumps and a carburetors, so I thought, ok, I can do this. Well, it was a challenge indeed. And although I don't drink alcoholic beverages, the installation process made me consider having a swig of something fermented and nasty tasting to relieve my stress.

Well, yesterday, I picked up a fairing (or as I like to call it, the wind deflector thingy) for my roof rack. The roof rack is a handy thing once it is installed (and the installers blood pressure has returned back to normal), however, the wind roaring over the roof rack gives the passengers of the car the impression of being in a wind tunnel. The radio has to be turned up to top volume, and conversation is peppered with "HUH?" and "WHAT?" and then given up on all together.

When I bought the fairing, I asked how hard it might be to install. The friendly clerk assured me that unlike the roof rack, this would be simple and involved a couple clips.

Why, oh why, do I trust these guys?

I am the queen of clean swear words, but was astonished to find that I had blasted through my vast repertoire on step 1 in the directions! I find there is something therapeutic in cursing while working on a difficult task, but my clean ones just weren't cutting the mustard for me. I was using one of my favorites, a line from the movie Elf, "SON OF A NUTCRACKER!" but was finding it lacking. Not wanting to go hard core, I changed it up just a little and came up with "SON OF A BUTT NUGGET!". It was just dirty enough to be satisfying, yet still clean enough for my kids ears (in fact they found it quite hilarious and entertaining).

Many swear words later, said fairing was installed and I happily drove to work today without the whistling and gusting I had become accustomed to. Heck, I could even hear the radio.

All this made me think that maybe we should start a rating system labeling items as to their difficulty in assembly by how many swear words you will have to use in the process.

Level 1: Use of 3-4 common swear words required

Level 2: Use of approximately 7 swear words including some hard-core ones

Level 3: Use of all known swear words including those often referred to by just a letter

Level 4: Use of all hard-core swear words in any and all combinations, including the use of an entire sentences so filthy they would make a rapper/truck driver/sailor cringe.

Level 5 will be a special designation given just to imports from Sweden. Level 5 will encompass all other levels plus the capacity to invent new and even more heinous swear words. You may need a degree in cursing just to purchase a level 5 item.

I hate the Swedes.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

VERY Unlikely to be Kayaking

Even for an unlikely kayaker like me!
A lot of winters we kind of get a false spring, so kayaking in January is NOT that far-fetched. In fact I did it last January. This winter has been particulary cold and snowy though. So kayaking is not even a remote possibility, but the sledding is great:

(My little Shel-belle is in the middle of this train somewhere with a friend and a group of sledders we met.)

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Mama Don't Allow No Kayak Paddlin' 'Round Here

This is why:

Yep, that's our favorite little lake where just a few weeks ago we were plucking cattails and enjoying the fall weather. Brrrrrrr.

Can't wait for the spring thaw!

Last Paddling Outing of 2010

The second week of November was the last of the good weather we had this fall, and I'm glad I took advantage of it and took the girls out for what would be this year's last kayaking.
I love the sight of feathers and leaves floating on the water, however I always forget how difficult it is to make a dead stop next to one to take it's picture.
Miss Moo in front of the cottonwoods.
More leaves. These were easier to photograph because they were more of a "captive audience".
The girls had a great time picking bouquets of "nature's corndogs".
And then they had a great time tearing them apart and "spreading the love" of the cattails.
What a gorgeous day, and a fantastic end to our kayaking season.

Friday, August 27, 2010

Solo Kayak Unloading aka Risky Business (but No Tom Cruise in His Tighty Whities, Darn It!)

I was feeling pretty ambitious today and decided to unload the kayaks on my own rather than wait until my hubby came home. After all, that's why we bought the darned Malone Lift Assist dealies in the first place, so I could be all independent and stuff.

(I still think my car looks a little cartoony with the boats on top)
I've loaded the kayaks with the Lift Assists (heretofore know as LA's) before when I first got them. I did it just so I knew I could. I did find it really difficult to load the Kona without help though. First, it's just hard to get it into the cradles on my own, and secondly it was near impossible to get it to slide in when it reached the top. The Kona is just a little too flat and wide to easily cooperate.
Anyway, on to the unloading. I have to confess that I did have an assistant after all:

Actually he was more of a supervisor.

I attempted the Maui first. The trickiest part is when you have the straps undone and need to install the LA's.
This step is known as, "Please, oh please, don't fall on my head!"
I decided at this point that I should go get a step-stool, turned my back and sure enough, there was a gust of wind and a THUNK!
No harm done though.

I got it properly placed in the cradles and began lowering it with the handy-dandy ratchet system. (I just pull out on the little rings and lower each side a little at a time).

Getting it from the cradles to the rack I store it on was a bit tricky, but I managed with only a few curse words uttered.
"I must say, job well done."

On to the Behemoth. (Honestly, can anyone verify that a Kona is only 60 pounds!? This sucker is HEAVY!)

I was a little worried about the time between no staps and LA's installed, but the Kona stayed put. (I figured a concussion was in store if it fell on me.) At this point I thought it might be easiest to just flop it over and lower it that way.
Well, it wasn't. Apparently there's a reason they tell ya to unload with the bottom against the car.

Here you see the LA's jammed against the cockpit, and no further progress being made.

My only option was to climb on top of my car and get the kayak in a better position.

This is not it.

Ahh, there we go.

From here on out it was pretty easy and I had better success transferring it from the car to the rack. (No cussing! Woo!)


Friday, August 20, 2010

Camping and Kayaking and Racing, Oh, My!

We recently spent a blissful 4 days camping at one of our local lakes. I love the way kids are so eager to pitch in with the chores of unloading, setting up tents and gathering wood when they are camping. What is it about the great outdoors that brings about such a spirit of cooperation and enthusiasm? Wish I could bottle it and sell it!

The best thing about our campsite was the view of the lake. Couple that with the view of the kayaks sitting on the beach all ready to go, and that was my idea of paradise!

Really, does it get any better than this?

My niece brought her family up and she and I took time to escape for a kayak together. I think my famous last words to her as she got into the Maui were, "This is a really stable boat. You'd have a hard time tipping it over." I then began paddling away when I heard a scream and a splash behind me, not 10 feet from shore.

Sure enough there's my niece, soaking wet and the Maui turtled. Luckily my niece is a good sport and wasn't phased in the least. She said, she was paddling and then turned around to say something to her mom on the beach. That was enough to upset the balance and over she went!

Needless to say, I'm being much more careful about paddling the Maui because I'm NOT a good sport and I WOULD be phased very much!

On our last day, Mike and I took the girls out to explore the lake and it's many islands.

Mike towed Nat in "Banana" because we knew she would get pooped out quickly. I shared Hannah with Miss Moo and the dog.

At one point Mike was towing all of us. Shhhhh...he'll never know!

On the way back to the campsite we had a race. Miss Moo and I are a precision paddling team, not unlike the teams of Olympic Scullers one might see on TV. (OK, not really THAT good, but we can kick it into gear and move it!) We would let Mike and Nat catch up and then we'd pour it on and show them our mighty wake.

Well about the third time of this, little Nat picked up her paddle and pitched in and I tell ya, the race was really on! It was a paddle to the finish, and me and Miss Moo were really digging in! They surprised us, and it was an all out tie coming onto the beach! That's what we get for being so cocky I guess!

All in all, this trip was a great end to our summer vacation. We all have wonderful memories of our time on and around the lake.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Bottom Line: I Am Just A Cheap Date

For my birthday my husband suggested visiting a museum, doing some shopping and having a nice dinner out. I told him what I really wanted was to have a picnic and go kayaking. Of course I got my way. Why would any man argue with a woman who's happy with a turkey sandwich and a paddle on the lake? Talk about getting off easy!

I wanted to explore two little lakes I had read about in a book called Up The Lake With A Paddle. There are different editions of the book dealing with specific areas, and the one I bought tells me all the details I need to know about the lakes in my area. Way too cool.

Both the lakes we visited were high country/alpine lakes. Both were very small. I loved paddling through the lily pads. We had both lakes entirely to ourselves. What a treat. We did have to put the boats on the cart to get them into the lakes, but it wasn't too far.

I didn't realize how fake lily pad flowers look. So plasticky and so odd looking. LOVED them!

The dog is only happy if she's in the boat with me, and usually the girls are the same way. Who knew you could fit 4 in a tandem? And comfortably I might add. Have I mentioned how much I love my Kona? Best. Boat. Ever.

The girls do love to paddle the Maui, aka "Anna" on their own too and are both becoming fine little kayakers.

I tell you, I was pretty pooped by the end of the day what with loading and unloading the boats several times, carting them through the forest, and paddling around, let alone all the sunshine and turkey sandwich eating -- that's a lot for a now 46 year old! Hee! Hee!