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!

Monday, August 2, 2010

In Which I Got Paid To Kayak

I've been doing an in-home program with one of the autistic kids I work with during the school year. This particular child is 4 and has a difficult time with bathing, so I suggested some water play for some of our time together.

Of course the first thing that comes to mind for me when someone says "water" is kayaking, so that's what I suggested (along with wading in the lake).

Special needs kids often "stim" (self-stimulate). Some do hand movements, others twitch or pick at something or sift sand/dirt/rocks, this child vocalizes, but as soon as we were in the boat she relaxed, quieted down and was calm.

I paddled my little friend all over the lake, looking at the ducks and geese, going through the tullies, checking out trees and fish, and stopping to put our hands in the water or sprinkle water onto her feet for an hour and a half. An HOUR and a HALF! I thought she might last 15-20 minutes, but she was so content we just kept on going. It was awesome.

The getting paid was second to having a successful and fun outing with this little one.

Monday, July 26, 2010

Full Moon Kayaking and Boat Christening

All summer the girls and I have been talking about kayaking when the moon is full and also naming and having a boat Christening for the kayaks. We decided the time was right to combine the two goals.
I wanted the boats to have palindromic names since "kayak" is a palindrome, so the girls decided on Hannah and Anna as the boat names. We ended up bringing Aunt Jan's yellow kayak with us, so we ended up Christening it "Banana". Not a palindrome, but the girls liked that it rhymed, and I thought it an appropriate moniker.

We set out at sunset to our little local lake and barbequed some hamburgers. For a special celebratory dessert I made lemon bars. I told the girls that it was an old sailing tradition to eat something lemony at a boat Christening to ward off scurvy.
I topped the lemon bars with fierce looking pirates, who were to fend off any bad sailing ju-ju.

I made up a new verse to the What Do You Do With A Drunken Sailor song: "put him in a lemon bar till he's sober, put him in a lemon bar till he's sober, put him in a lemon bar till he's sober, Ear-lie in the morning!"

I think this sailor has learned a lesson!

After researching the internet, I found out that one should lay a branch of green leaves on the bow of the boat to ensure safe returns, so I had the girls gather branches for each boat. I then read the Christening Ceremony that I found on the internet.
At one point it reads, "The moods of the sea are many, from tranquil to violent." And just as I said that we heard a branch snap in the woods behind us, so I added, "and so are the bears." Whatever creature made the noise didn't bother us, so I continued.
We toasted with sparkling cider and dribbled a little cider on each boats bow "to appease King Neptune".

Then we set off on our full moon kayaking tour. The moon was just coming over the trees, and it was so gorgeous. Then it began illuminating the lake more and more. I wish I had a camera that could have taken good pictures of it all. It really was incredible.
The water was so still, and the surroundings so beautiful, I could've stayed out all night. I'm so glad we made the effort to do our full moon kayaking.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Venturing Out

Well, we finally got off our little neighborhood lake and ventured out to the high country. We camped for three days at beautiful Lake Alpine.

Paddling was a bit different. There was actual wind and waves to contend with. Quite a bit more challenging than what we were used to, but very fun.

Miss Moo and I had to paddle the boats across the lake to where everyone was picnicking and I was quite proud of her. When we got out into the open lake it was some serious paddling, and she did great. (Here she is below, before we got into the choppy water).

The dog was happy as long as she was in the boat with me:

We beached the kayaks on the granite islands in the middle of the lake and explored.
Saw some beautiful wildflowers...
And also saw my friend from work who kayaks with his cat. Yes, his CAT.

Can't wait to go on more adventures and explore more lakes!

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Morning Kayak

The girls and I have gone out twice now on morning kayaking excursions. We love the evenings, but we discovered mornings are pretty cool too. We love sleeping in though, so we have to put in a little extra effort to get out in the morning.

We discovered that seeing into the water to find fish is exceptionally good in the morning. We were able to spy some really huge trout, and that was a treat! We didn't bring fishing poles, but the girls seem to be ok with just seeing them (and naming them of course).

We made our rounds of treasure hunting and came back with more fishing tackle and this time a fly (finally something I'm familiar with!).

Here the girls are extricating a hook and line tangled on this limb.

We saw our "goosey friends". The family of 3 adults and 12 babies we've watched grow since spring. It's nice to see all 15 of them are still healthy and happy!
and we discovered this beautiful feather floating on the lake. It's reflection kind of gave it the illusion of looking like a butterfly.
It's interesting the vibe of morning vs evening. In the morning you really get the feeling of the energy building: the sun climbing higher, more people arriving, the wind picking up, and in the evening it's all winding down. Both are beautiful times of the day to be on the water!

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

I'm Kinda Macho When It Comes To Loading My Boat

I feel so blessed to live so close to a lake. Today Miss Moo and I had an hour to kill and we just loaded the boat and went. That's just too cool, in my opinion!

I'm also feeling pretty proud that I can load and unload my 60 pound Kona completely on my own. 60 pounds doesn't sound like much, but when you spread it out over 11 feet it really feels like more. (Seriously, it's not just me being a wimp, I've had manly men grab one end of the kayak to help me carry it and they can't believe it's only 60lbs.)

And how cute are these designs that I found at Cafe Press:

I think I need some stickers.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Hunting and Fishing on the Lake

The girls are becoming expert tackle and Power Bait hunters. I think they like hunting for stray fish tackle better than the actual fishing. Well, in fact I know they like it better, because when they catch a fish they get so scared they almost pee their pants!

Nat tried out her new birthday fishing pole the other night. She had me put on some crazy looking pink rubbery thing on the end of her hook. I was raised as a fly-fisher so all these rubbery lures are very foreign to me.

I meant to bend the barb on the hook down, but forgot pliers, and figuring it was unlikely for her to catch anything with a bright pink thing anyway, I wasn't worried about it. Of course 2 minutes after tossing her line overboard she had a fish on!

I immediately had the pole thrust into my hands as the girls commenced to screaming and saying, "Ewww!". I tried to de-hook (?) the fish (who by this time was named Bob), but to no avail (without seriously hurting him). So we towed Bob over to the nearest bank so that Miss Moo could run and get Mike to come help poor Bob return to his family.

Unfortunately with all the drama, I didn't get a picture of Nat's beautiful crappie, Bob, but he was safely unhooked and released back into the lake. (I've always been a catch-and-release kind of girl, and as fast as my girls name fish and become attached to them, I think they will be too.)

At any rate, after that we went hunting again and Nat found these two bobbers that she was extremely proud of.

We found them in this nice little cove almost completely surrounded by cattails.

Such beautiful hunting grounds!

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

The Paddle Window and How a Tandem Seats Three

Here's a photo of how the "paddle window" works that I mentioned in my previous post. I think it shows pretty well how the shadow of the paddle makes it so you can see underwater when there's too much glare.
Here's our Hobie Kona, with 3 seats strapped into it, and 3 happy paddlers.

Early Dinner, Late Paddle (and a Fish Story)

That's what we've been doing the last couple nights.

What a gorgeous time for a paddle. We watch the sun fade, and the lake turn to glass. The fish start jumping and the geese and ducks gather for the evening.

At one point last night, I paddled to the middle of the lake and just sat in the boat. Fish were jumping all around me, I could hear water going over the spillway, I could see the girls and the dog playing on the beach and it felt like the lake was absorbing all my tension and replacing it with just pure peace. What a wonderful feeling.

Of course, with kids, nothing stays peaceful for too long, but it was nice while it lasted, which brings me to our fish story:

The girls found a bobber with a little bit of line and about a quarter inch piece of petrified worm on it. They were bound and determined to catch a fish with it. They got out and waded along the beach with their make-shift fishing set up and were surprised to see that the little blue gills were coming up to check it all out.

Here they are "fishing"

Well, sure enough one fish (probably dared into doing it by his buddies), finally takes the hook. The girls with basically zero fishing experience between them proceed to FREAK OUT. They are seriously scared and absolutely have no idea what to do.

The only one nearby is big sister who comes to their aid (and to laugh at their hysterics). She thought she had unhooked the fish, but it was still on the line, which led to more screaming. I finally arrive and with the help of Mike's multi-tool we free the little guy, and set him back on his way.

The stuff of nightmares---for the girls anyway...

The girls kept saying how SCARY it all was, but the next night we're out there again, but with actual fishing poles and everything this time. Mike gives them some slices of bread in a baggie with the instructions to wad it up and put in on their hooks as bait. Well, he apparently doesn't remember the duck-feeding incident where they ate all the stale bread that was meant for the ducks, and when it comes time to bait hooks, they have consumed the bread and are hard pressed for something to put on the end of the line.

The girls and I are in the Kona together and we scout along the banks for errant Power Bait. This in itself turns into a fun little game that keeps us entertained for most of the evening. We spot a floating, colorful blob then I try to get the boat as close as possible while the girls snatch the slimy prize from the water. The Kona came with a little drop in tackle box that fits right in the hatches, so Miss Moo organizes their "catches" in the box.

Finally they get around to baiting hooks. Miss Moo soon puts her pole away and wants to go back in because she's afraid that one of them might actually catch a fish. "They're slimy! Ewwww!" (Not that she's ever touched a fish, and this is the girl who's organizing nasty, second-hand Power Bait, so go figure.)

Well, we end up not having any bites that evening, but I'm sure before the summer is gone, we'll have lots of fish stories to tell. Evening paddles are definitely going to be a priority.