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.