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.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Osprey Sighting

(At least I'm pretty sure it was an osprey.)

The other day the girls and I saw this bird flying over the lake, and later saw it with a fish in it's talons but didn't get to see it actually get it's fish.

Today I was really lucky and actually got to see it dive down and catch a fish. WAY cool!
(This is not my photo)
After doing a little research I learned that after they catch a fish they adjust it in their claws until it's facing forward.
It was interesting to know that they deliberately turn the fish to face forward, because it looks like the bird is just giving the fish a little tour of the lake from a different advantage. It's kinda cute if you think of it that way and not about what the bird is going to do to the fish after he shows him the sights!

Sunday, June 6, 2010

Discoveries By Novice Paddlers

It's so nice being so close to a lake. For most kayakers our little lake would be boring after one paddle, but not so for me. I love it. We are always finding a new nook or cranny to explore or seeing wildlife of some sort.

Today we saw our little goose friends.

We saw these guys just shortly after they were born when they were all yellow and fuzzy, and now they look like gawky teenagers. There are 12 babies and 3 adult geese. I'm not sure how that all works out, but hey, who am I to judge what goes on in the privacy of their own nests?

We were able to paddle right up to these guys and they didn't get upset. One of the adult geese kept her eye on us, but no one panicked (me included!). (The picture above was taken a few days ago, had I remembered my flippin' camera, I would have gotten a much closer shot of them today.)

We also paddled back into a cove where the fish viewing was really great. Not only did some trout leap out right near the bow, but we could see lots of fish underwater.

We made a neat discovery today, that probably all seasoned boaters already know, and that is if the glare from the sun is making it so that you can't see into the water, you can use the shadow of your paddle to be able to see. It's kind of like a paddle-shaped window into the water. I thought that was just uber-cool, but hey I'm also an uber-dork.

We also discovered that the sight of tree roots and slime covered rocks under water totally creeps Miss Moo out. I have to admit it is a bit unsettling to me as well (not really sure why), but she's really a wimp about it. It's rare that anyone out-wimps me, so I was feeling sort of proud of myself. (Woo, go me!)

Yep, for me, everyday on the lake is a new experience. This whole "being in a boat" thing ain't so bad after all!

Thursday, June 3, 2010

A January Paddling

I wrote this post on my personal blog way back in January, but since it's about ME and Kayaking, I thought I should repost it here.

This week has been filled with gorgeous, if not unseasonable, weather. On Monday I made a plan to kayak today if the weather held (Fridays being the day I'm off work at noon and don't have to show up at the restaurant till 4:30, so I knew I'd have plenty of daylight and time.)

I came racing home, loaded my boat and took it on the short drive to the lake. time. And I didn't feel guilty.

I really wouldn't have guessed I'd get a chance to take my kayak out until spring, certainly January wasn't on my mind at all. I have to confess it was nice to go out just by myself. I love having the girls go with me but there's always someone who's wet, or tired, or doesn't want to go to that end of the lake, etc. It was just too cool to do what I wanted and get it out of my system so that I can really cater to what the kids want to do next time.
Here's my moment of zen...

There were quite a few feathers just floating on the glass-like lake, and they struck me as so beautiful. However, getting next to one and taking a picture was a whole different story. I learned that you just don't go and stop a kayak exactly where you want to, and when you do finally get close the ripples from paddling mess everything up. It was challenging but fun to finally sneak up on this little feather and get it's picture.
This group of ducks was the extent of other paddlers on the lake.
And my secret for not getting wet, especially in the melted snow waters of January, is that I know of a little place to launch where there is a ramp, but I can put the kayak in right next to it and it sits in about 3' of water. I then just step from the ramp into the boat (which only requires me to be immersed in about 2" of water). I wore my waterproof Sorel snow boots, and ta da! Another dry day of paddling!

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Being a Dork Pays Off (Finally!)

Back in August when I started my job at the school district, I received my first paycheck and immediately knew they had made an error and paid me WAY too much for just a few days work. So I called the office and told them that they made a big "whoopsie" on my paycheck, but they shouldn't feel bad, because nobody's perfect. The kind office lady told me no, it wasn't a mistake, that they spread my pay out over 11 months and that my check reflected that. Alrighty then!

Well, a couple weeks ago, someone from the office called to talk to me to let me know that when they upped my hours in November that that wasn't included in my regular pay, and I should've been sending in time sheets each month. By the way, she wasn't near so kind and understanding and I got the distinct impression that she couldn't believe someone who worked at a school could be so dumb. (In my defense, I work at the preschool level, so we don't do the higher math!)

Ya see, after the first paycheck incident, I figured the district office knew what they were doing, and so I never worried about my extra hours, because the nice office lady was going to make it all work out, being that she's so smart and all.

Well...luckily I log in every day in the class room, so I had a record of all my hours and I proceeded to fill out time sheets for the last 6 months and turn them in.

Anyhoo...this all coincided with spring weather, and my own case of kayak fever, and a pretty new tandem kayak that I'd been looking at, but couldn't figure out where the money to buy it was going to come from...and that's how being a dork paid off for me! The girls and I brought our new kayak home yesterday thanks to my inadvertent "kayak savings plan".

All Memorial Day weekend the weather had been spectacular (and I of course had been working double shifts at the restaurant so I couldn't enjoy it), but Monday (heretofore known as "Kayak Day, Woo!"), was cloudy. It was still warm though, so I had no worries that when we got back from our kayak retrieving errand we could still go out for a paddle.

Just about the time we pull up to the house with our pretty new kayak strapped to the top of my car, it's starts to rain. Sigh. I was surprised though, that Miss Moo and Nat still wanted to go out. We put the seats, life jackets and a towel in a plastic bag to keep them dry, put the kayak on it's little cart and took off for the lake (about 2 blocks away).

We only got a couple weird looks for taking our kayak for a walk through the neighborhood. You can tell that Miss Moo is so thrilled to be helping me.

Here is my hearty "crew". As "captain" I sit in the stern of the boat (looking stern, of course) and the crew has to launch us, so I never get wet (hee, hee!). Also of note: this boat has a center seat area in case one wishes to paddle it solo, but I found out that if I strap the seat from my other kayak there, all three of us can fit. It was really a treat to all be in the same boat (cuts down immensely on the whine factor!)

You can see the rain on the lake. It never really amounted to much, or got us very wet, and we had so much fun!

Now don't you wish you were a dork like me?

(Side note: Sis, who was home on her lunch hour from work, had to help me unload the kayak from the top of my car because the little girls wouldn't be able to, and that's why we ended up walking through the neighborhood with the kayak, rather than driving it down to the lake, which made us look like DORKS, but since being dorky is working for me now, I didn't care!)

In The Beginning...

My kids were using a borrowed kayak and I was enjoying the heck out of watching them from the dry safety of the shore. Somehow they convinced me to try it out and lo and behold, it was fun! And I didn't feel unsafe (like I might fall in and get WET), and I was getting a bit of a work out from paddling (bonus points), so then I decided that we might need one of these cute little boats.

This is the one that started it all. It's like crack, just don't even try it, or you'll be hooked.

Just so happens that a guy I work with kayaks (with his cat, but that's a whole 'nother story) and he had a friend that was selling hers. It was a screaming deal for an almost new Hobie Maui, so before I knew it, I had me a boat!

Here I am under the assumption that I was actually going to get to paddle this boat once in a while. This lasted all of 10 minutes.

Well, we were still in possession of the borrowed kayak, and after trying out my new Hobie, I realized that the other one was comparable to trying to paddle a bathtub. Unfortunately my kids figured this out pretty quickly too and then there was nothing but fighting and whining about paddling the Hobie (and no matter how much whining I did, the kids still wouldn't give me a turn!)

So, now we're the proud owner's of two Hobie's. The single seater Maui and a tandem Kona. Let the whining cease, and the paddling begin!