Welcome!

Since I’ve met a lot of people that don’t know where to go if they need information about kayaking, I started my own central hub just for them. A place where everyone can come and read about everything kayaking, canoeing and camping. You can learn how to kayak and what you need, browse my adventures and then print a checklist as to what you’ll need for your trips. This website is a work in progress, however if you need an article sooner or would like to make a suggestion for my blog please feel free to contact me! Thank you!

 

 

 

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Tents, Tarps and Bivies, Oh my!

When it comes time to decide what tent, tarp or bivy you want to sleep in while camping, it’s almost as complicated as picking out a kayak or a sleeping bag. Here’s what you need to keep in mind and why:

  • Your height/size
    • You don’t want to purchase a tent or a bivy that you won’t fit in. I ended up purchasing a two person tent so I could fit in it comfortably with my gear.
  • Solo vs friends
    • Are you going to be camping alone or with your friends? If you’re camping by yourself a smaller tent, tarp or bivy will be fantastic, but if your friends and family are going to be sharing your sleeping area, go with a family size tent.
  • Three season vs 4 season vs 1 season
    • A three season tent is a great tent since it can handle cooler weather and hot weather. Thus it’s a three season tent since it can handle Spring, Summer and Fall (Autumn).
    • A one season tent is typically a summer specific tent that is lightweight, well ventilated and mosquito proof tent. This is great for people that only camp during the summer.
    • Four season tent is a winter capable tent. These tents have more sturdier tent poles and can handle the winter snow and wind.
  • Price
    • You get what you pay for. That’s what I have to say for this. You want a tent that isn’t cheap if you are going to camp often, but for a little backyard fun for the kiddos, a cheap tent would be great.
  • Weight of Tent
    • Does weight matter to you? Are you backpacking or car camping?
    • Ultralight options are great for backpackers
    • Car camping means you don’t need to watch your tent’s weight.
  • Materials used
    • Canvas
  • Non-Freestanding vs Freestanding
    • Non-freestanding tents rely on being pegged down and if you are going to be on rocky terrain, you may want to consider a freestanding tent instead. My tent is a non-freestanding tent since I’m not camping in those situations.
    • Freestanding tents are tents that have a frame that holds the tent up without needing to be pegged down. These tents have a huge advantage over non-freestanding tents however the frame is a bit more weight.
  • Vestibule vs No Vestibule
    • This is up to you if you want one, but it’s something to consider.
  • Footprint
    • I personally like having a footprint to put under my tent since it helps to extend the life of my tent.
  • Guy lines
  • Tents
    • Tents are the iconic symbol of camping, but there are other options you may not know of and you may want to check out while looking for a sleeping option.
  • Tarps
    • Tarps are the ultimate of lightweight camping, but some of them lack the mosquito protection you want at night.
  • Bivies
    • These are great stealthy sleeping options; if you don’t mind the inability to sit up, get dressed and kick around. However I’ve seen a lot of campers that prefer a bivy over a tent.
  • Hammocks
    • I didn’t include hammocks in the title, but they aren’t to be completely nixed out, hammocks are catching up to the times and could potentially replace tents in comfort and affordability. However proceed with caution since you need two large trees to hang your hammock between.

Campsite Etiquette

“On my honor, I will try; to serve God and my country, To help people at all times, And to live by the Girl Scout Law.”

As a Girl Scout I was taught to leave a place I visited in better condition than when I arrived. I use to get annoyed when we formed “cleanup lines” to walk over the campsite to make sure everything was picked up and all trash was removed. How about not dropping trash in the first place, guys? I felt everything was done for the sake of ceremony. It wasn’t until years later that I realized how frustrating it was that other campers weren’t taught these basic rules.

Years later when I took up kayaking and would join different kayaking sojourns, I was introduced to “Leave No Trace”. I asked the river guide, “Didn’t everyone know to leave a place better than what you found it?”. Apparently not.

The idea behind “Leave No Trace” is the same as “Leave a place better than what you found it” however Leave No Trace is more specific, environmental and ethically feasible. There are seven simple rules to abide by in “Leave No Trace”.

1. Plan Ahead and Prepare

Planning your trip in advance is necessary, plan for the terrain, the weather, food consumption, group size and other restrictions such as boundaries, regulations and restrictions. The advantage to planning ahead is that you don’t need to carry as much and so you reduce your weight if you were to overpack.

2. Travel and Camp on Durable Surfaces

This rule is simple, stay on the trails and place your tent only on designated tent areas. Doing so keeps the surrounding environment in tact and kept beautiful for the next visitor.

3. Dispose of Waste Properly

I can’t stress this one enough. Dispose of your bio waste, food scraps, trash and other debris properly so you that you leave your campsite a welcome sight to its next visitors. You don’t want to come to a campsite that has fecal matter, empty snack bags and broken glass. Pack it in and pack it out.

4. Leave What You Find

Take pictures, leave footprints. Do not take plants, rocks or animals with you when you leave. Do not dig tenches, hammer nails into trees, construct tables, chairs, lean-tos,… you get the idea. Do not damage the environment.

5. Minimize Campfire Impacts

As great as campfires are, they are not necessary like they use to be. In days of yore, campfires were necessary for heat and cooking, but in our modern age we have stoves and fuel. Unless it’s necessary or you have a designated campfire ring at your campsite, use a stove instead to preserve the campsite and to reduce the chance of starting a forest fire.

6. Respect Wildlife

When you see wildlife; don’t aggravate it, don’t chase it and don’t try to catch it. Observe, take pictures and enjoy being in their presence since it is a rare occurrence. Keep in mind these are wild animals that have the capability to harm or kill you if they are forced into an unhappy situation. If you see wildlife, simply give them their space and lots of it.

7. Be Considerate of Other Visitors

Being in the outdoors is a great time to relax, unwind and listen to the music of nature. But hearing the latest rap being blared throughout the hiking trail is not cool. Use headphones if you want to listen to music so others don’t have to. Keep your dog on a leash, just because he’s friendly to you, doesn’t mean he’s going to be nice to others. Not everyone shares your love for dogs; so keep your dog under control. It’s important to make a day on the trail, at campsites and on the river enjoyable to everyone, not just yourself.

Citations:

https://lnt.org/learn/7-principles

First Aid Kit Checklist

This is what is in my first aid kit, however I added a few additional items that you may want to include in yours. What do you have in your first aid kit?

Wound Care

  • Adhesive Bandages
    • Mine are waterproof and somewhat small since my intention is for hangnails and cracked skin. I have other components for larger areas.
  • Alcohol (Rubbing Alcohol) or hypocleanse
    • I still have alcohol wipes in my first aid kit, but since rubbing alcohol burns I’m working on trying to find a way to carry hypacleanse instead.
  • Antiseptic Wipe Packets (Alcohol Wipes)
    • A bit of a repeat, but I like both.
  • Neosporin or Bacitracin
    • Protects against infections
  • Gauze Pads (Sterile)
  • Medical Adhesive Tape aka cloth tape
  • Medical Gloves
  • Roller Bandage
  • Paramedic Shears

Sunburn Care

  • Aloe Vera Gel
    • Helps to soothe the pain.
  • Sunscreen
  • Unburn
    • Random product I found at walmart, I love it. Removed the redness quickly. Combine on skin with Neosporin with Pain Reliever to remove the pain.

Symptom Care – upset stomach, colds, etc

  • Antacid Tablets/Gas Reducer Tablets
  • Anti-diarrhea Tablets or Lopermide Tablets
  • Antihistamine
  • Aspirin & Ibuprofen/Other Pain Reliever
  • Cough & Cold Medicine (Throat Lozenges too?)

Miscellaneous

  • Blister treatment
  • Cotton Tipped Swabs (Q-Tips)
  • Elastic bandage (example Ace bandage)
  • Emergency Heat Reflecting Blanket
  • Eye Drops
  • First Aid Instruction Booklet or Card
  • Glucose or other sugar to treat hypoglycemia
  • Hand Sanitizer
  • Headlamp or flashlight
  • Hydrocortisone Ointment
  • Injectable epinephrine to treat allergic reactions (examples EpiPen or TwinJect)
  • Insect Repellant
  • Instant Cold Compress/Instant Hot Compress
  • Knife or Multitool
  • Lip Balm
  • Lotion
  • Nail Clippers/Toenail clippers
  • Personal Medications
  • Thermometer
  • Tweezers or a Tick Key
  • Waterproof Container

References:

  • American Red Cross – The American Red Cross, experts in health care.
  • REI – REI has a great checklist
  • REI – and a great who to choose a first aid kit.
  • CDC – Centers for Disease Control & Prevention has a great guide for tick removal.
  • Mayo Clinic – has a comprehensive first aid guide.
  • Wikipedia – Extended information on first aid kits.
  • WebMD – Great list ideas too.
  • My own experience

What can be done about river pollution?

A lot! It’s not just volunteering and charity fundraising that will help improve the river, but also being involved in politics, recycling at home and being more mindful of the chemicals you use daily. Not everyone has the ability or wants to volunteer and not everyone has to in order to being the process of cleaning up the river, since there are many more options than just volunteering.

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Volunteering is a great hands on experience in helping to clean up the river.

Volunteering

Volunteering is the first and foremost way of helping the river and your community. Many organizations need volunteers that are willing to put forth an effort at helping to clean up the environment. Volunteer activities could range from picking up trash along the river, pulling invasive weeds and helping beautify a local park. The nice thing about volunteering is while you get to help the environment, make new friends and get outside to enjoy fresh air; you usually get a free t-shirt and sometimes even pizza.

Organizations such as Susquehanna River Cleanup Project and Susquehanna Greenway are always looking for volunteers and extra hands. Susquehanna River Cleanup Project holds an annual cleanup in the spring, which the group splits up into a river crew and a land crew. The groups then split into smaller groups to cover a larger area of land. Susquehanna Greenway has different events throughout the year and different roles need to be filled. This organization actually has a page dedicated to volunteer opportunities such as photographers, event ambassadors and administrative volunteers. They also need volunteers for the different events they host such as Wildwood Volunteer Workday.

Charity fundraising

Yea I know, I hate being asked to donate money to charities, but this is still an option and it’s a necessary one too. Organizations that help the local communities by cleaning up the river directly impact not only that area of the river, but the rest of the river downstream. As you’ve read in my volunteering blog, there’s a lot of debris in the river and on the river banks. This debris is mostly from careless people, but it also can be from flooding, storms and accidents. But charities need money to fund their project and to gain publicity to recruit more volunteers. The more volunteers they have the faster their projects can be completed. Even with 100 volunteers, the Susquehanna River Cleanup Project could have easily taken 1000 more. There was so much more to do, but we can only work with the amount of time and money they have. The charities use the money donated to place an article in newspapers, order shirts for the events, provide supplies and feed their volunteers.

Recycling

Even the simple act of properly recycling and throwing away your trash will help the river. If you are out on the river, visiting the parks or wherever, just the simple act of properly disposing your trash in a trash receptacle prevents your trash from floating down the river. Trash on the river harms the ecological life when animals eat it, get caught in it or poisoned by it.

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This is the main picture for the “Salt on the Earth” article from Penn State News. It shows Distinguished Professor of Biology Pamela Silver taking salinity readings at the Behrend campus. Her research on these readings concludes that road salt is behind the increased sanity of the streams.

Chemical Use

Chemicals used on your lawn, on the roads, in your garden, on your house or used when washing your car often ends up polluting the river through run off. It’s best to wash your car at a car washing lot where the chemically treated water has less of a chance of being drained into the river by accident. Chemicals used on your lawn will runoff your lawn and eventually end up in the river where it causes cancer for fish. Safer alternatives should be used instead. Penn State News posted “Salt on the Earth” which is about how the salt from the roads are ending up in the streams even months after the snow storms are over. The higher salinity of the streams are affecting the delicate ecosystem by killing off parts of the food web.

Politics

If you want to get directly involved with how your community handles pollution it’s best to show up to town, residential and other political meetings so you can learn about what they are doing and voice your opinion. It’s beneficial for you to get to know the workings behind your local laws and regulations.

Conclusion

Looking back to the beginning of my river sojourns to how crystal clear the water was, how pure and clean it was, I can only wonder what the river would look like if it wasn’t polluted with chemicals, debris, road salt and more. Comparing that pristine or near pristine water to the water we end our sojourns at is a complete 180° difference. Usually when leaving the river usually about fifty to a hundred miles difference, the river water becomes saturated with an awful smell, is hard to see through and usually has trash casually floating on the surface. This imagery is a sharp contrast to the river I met at the beginning of my sojourn and I know this is not how the river should remain.

There are a lot of ways to help clean up the river and to get involved with encouraging people to reap the benefits of being a town next to the river. This is only a brief overview of what all you can do and there is a lot more out there to be done. The next step is yours to take, whether you chose to volunteer, donate money, get involved with local politics or a combination, any and all help will benefit the river, the environment, your community and you.

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Picture of a thriving river town and people using it’s walking paths. Photo by Susquehanna Greenway.

River Towns and the Effects of a Healthy River Environment

One of the sojourns I attended themed their sojourn around river towns and rightfully so. The river affects the towns as much as the towns affect the river. If towns along the river ignore the Susquehanna river and/or allow pollution, they are polluting the environment and missing out on all the benefits the river gives towns. Benefits such as entertainment from boating and fishing, supporting a healthy environment for animals and people and bringing in revenue for the town through tourism are to name a few.

One of the most interesting histories to review about rivers was about the hills alongside of the Susquehanna River and how during the industrial age lumberjacks lumbered all of the forests off and it caused landslides on the hills and flooding in towns that were along the river. The reason we see less flooding than we use to is because we left the forests regrow and the river banks grow vegetation to hold the structure of the banks. With the forests back, instead of flash flooding occurring the trees take in the rainwater and help disperse it evenly over the forest ground. The forests also prevent landslides from occurring at higher frequency while the grasses and shrubs along the river bank prevent most bank erosion.

Back in the day, river towns flourished because of the business the river and its canals brought them. Fishermen would bring in their catches, the canal boat captains would bring in the trades they carried and both would buy supplies from the towns for their journey. However the boats and river canals were replaced with trains and railroads and eventually with trucks and and roads. People began to forget about the Susquehanna river, but would swiftly remember the river when it flooded their towns. Then the river became seen as a nuisance and property devaluer.

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Presenter during the Susquehanna Sojourn 2014 is explaining their plans on improving the river launch and accessibility. Photo by Susquehanna Greenway and Chuck Haupt.

However, people’s views are slowly changing as they realize the value of the river and the good it could bring to their towns once more. Revenue from tourism, health benefits from walkways and increased property value are to name a few benefits from the river.

Currently, river towns benefit from the revenue tourism brings when boaters and fisherman visit for the seasons. The fishermen and boaters stop by local restaurants for a meal and purchase fuel for their boats and trucks from the local gas station. Tourists come to visit during community events centered around the river such as Sunbury’s Riverfest, a festival based on the Susquehanna River and it’s history.

Citizens benefit from walkways and parks set up next to the river since these both encourage people to experience the outdoors and to get some exercise. By having trails, benches and community activities near the river people are encouraged to get outdoors and get exercise through walking, running and even leisurely strolling.

The benefits of the river outweigh the detriments and when people cease polluting the river, they can enjoy it to the fullest. Who would want to boat down a stinky polluted river with trash floating by? No one! That’s why as a whole we should collectively improve the future of the Susquehanna River.

Volunteering

I don’t even remember how I found out about the  Susquehanna River Cleanup, but it turned out to be something I didn’t expect. I was thinking I was just going to walk around the Shikellamy Marina and pick up trash that jerks left behind. Maybe even walk around the walkways and pick up trash there. When I saw that I could sign up to clean up on the river instead of walking I chose that. Another day kayaking is another day well spent having fun.

As usual I over prepared for the trip and arrived an hour early. That’s a good thing actually, since that gives me time in case anything goes wrong while traveling with my kayak. And I always bring my first aid kit with me while kayaking especially after all the injuries I acquired during sojourning. I never know what could go wrong or if anyone else needs it so it’s packed and ready at all times.

I gazed over the river, it was foggy with the fog settling over the river like a silk blanket while sun slowly rises. The air was cool and crisp, it was refreshing to breath in. I listened to the birds starting to wake up and random insects making their sounds and the river continued its current. Sometimes a fisherman would come down to the platform and unload his boat and then park his truck, but overall it was peaceful.

Finally a volunteer arrived and I checked in and unpacked my kayak. She was very impressed by the size of my kayak since it’s extremely long at 16 feet, normally kayaks are about 8 to 12 feet. I explained it was because I weighed a lot more originally and my kayak could hold up to 375 pounds. I chose this kayak because of my weight and my concern for stability. Since my kayak had room to spare it was designated as the supplies kayak for my group. I carried extra gloves, extra bags, snacks, water bottles and my first aid kit. I was happy to be reunited with two of my formed classmates (Nicole and Al) and we caught up on each other during the trip.

We received a final briefing on instructions for our journey, put in our kayaks and set out for our destination along the river. Pfft, this should be easy. I never see trash on our river, so there probably isn’t much right? We’ll be done by 10 and be the first ones back.

As our boats landed at our site and we walked up the bank I realized how wrong I was. I was shocked by how much trash accumulates on the river banks. Out of site, out of mind. I wished I had a camera to take pictures of all the tarps, bottles, cans, tires, coolers, rotten docks, random metal barrels and more. There was more trash than we could ever gather. We gathered piles of bags close to the shore so it was visible for the motorized boat to pick up. Some of the trash included chairs and random objects they couldn’t get to.

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I’m doing great! My shoes are stuck in this mud, I’m slowly sinking and I fell. I’m still doing great because I’m outside and I’m helping to clean up the environment. Picture taken by Nicole Albright.

Since my kayak was huge, we loaded chairs and random things on my kayak for me to kayak out to their boat. I even had the luxury of find a pile of human excrement and toilet paper down by the river shore. Obviously the inconsiderate jerk had no interest in the well being of others since their leftovers would contaminate the river even more than it was.

We paddled down the river and repeated the process again and again. Time flied by and we realized it was time for us to leave to have pizza with everyone else. I honestly don’t think any of us wanted to. We barely put a dent in the trash and we barely did much of an area on the river bank.

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Just to think, this is not all the garbage and junk we collected and there is more out there. Photo is from Susquehanna Cleanup Project.

 

I didn’t realize the mountains of trash I would be finding and this trip was an eye opener for me. Even though they ran a newspaper article to report how much they recycled, all I could think of was all the trash we didn’t get to because we ran out of time or couldn’t get up the river banks to.

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The water group wasn’t as large as the land crew, but it was a great experience and I highly recommend it. I’m the seventh person from the left. Photo is from Susquehanna Cleanup Project.

Learning the basics

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Typical newbie me, it looks like I’m holding my paddle upside down. Although, it’s a great picture of me and my kayak. Picture by Canoe Susquehanna.

When I began kayaking I didn’t know much, I was the classic newbie with starry eyes as I watched everyone pull in to park with their vehicles. I admired all of their kayaks and canoes and wondered if their choice of style and color reflected their personality. The other kayakers unloaded their kayaks with ease and often by themselves, while I ran around to get help to unload mine. I admired everyone’s strength; it was something I haven’t built up yet. I looked over at what I learned is called “tent city”, just a few minutes ago it was an empty field and now there’s a sea of tents. As I put up my tent near my mother’s car since it was something familiar I realized it’s always daunting when you’re alone and you don’t know anyone at all. I unrolled my brand new tent, it’s factory scent still invades my nose even though I already aired it out. I learned my lesson from my previous tent which was too big and heavy, but now I wonder if my tent is too small and unsure it’s hold up in the rain during the trip.

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Tent city during the Susquehanna Sojourn in 2014. My old tent is the tan one in the middle. Photo is my own.

During the sojourn I met a lot of new people and I recognized some old faces from other sojourns and the river guides I’ve known from previous trips with other sojourns. The river guides were Allen, Betsy and Jeremy Quant from Canoe Susquehanna and they were very friendly and helpful at teaching newbies like me how to paddle and steer our kayaks.

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This presenter spoke about the birds around the river and how they affect the environment and how the river affects them. Photo is taken during the 2015 Susquehanna Sojourn. Photo is my own.

At each of the meals, a presenter would give a presentation about the river, its history, conservation or the river towns. I typically zoned out during these speeches and tried to recover from overeating the meals. While I was zoning out, I would listen to their presentation about how the river wasn’t always polluted and people would fish out of it. In our time, the fish are dying from various cancers from all the contaminates dumped into the river. Those are big businesses that do that right? Nope, it’s runoff from farmers and their pesticides, towns and people dumping oil down drains, roads and their salt and deicers and even the manicured lawn has chemical runoff. I didn’t know that. I didn’t realize how everyday these river contaminates were. I always thought of river pollution as big businesses and factories.

Remembering Summerfest 2014 – First Time I Kayaked

It’s almost a year later and I still remember the first kayak I paddled. Yes, almost a year. So much I learned, so much I experienced and so much I’ve grown in not even a year. But I’ll always be grateful for that very first experience.

 

Lost hope or mislead goals?

In my exertion to push myself to lose weight and to try to run I injured my foot with plantar fasciitis and no longer could walk any distance without feeling pain. Its not just pain physically, I’m in pain emotionally. My golden ticket to lose weight and improve my appearance to impress my coworkers; gone. My only hope for happiness and it’s gone! I sat around moping around with my foot up when my mother insisted I come to the R.B. Winter Summeriest with her. It’ll be fun she said. It’ll be easy to walk she said. It’ll be getting outside she said. Blah! Like fun it will be, I growled inside. “Sure, Mom.”

 

R.B. Winter State Park

After the hour and a half of her driving we arrived at our destination. I’m hopped up on Aleve so the sunlight is blinding, but I take in my surroundings none the less. The scent of trees, the sounds of kids having fun, the splashing of people playing in the lake and the reels of the fishmen somewhere. Yup, we’re here. I wince as I climb out of the car. Forty pounds down from walking, a million pounds to go and I no longer can walk. I grumble as we walk toward the “beach” they have on the near side of the lake. I don’t know if it counts as a beach since it’s mountain spring fed and the water is never warm even in 100 degree weather. But it’s a beach regardless. There were some volunteers on the beach helping people into life jackets, then into kayaks and pushing them out onto the lake. I was amused while watching them, then winced from my foot as we continued to walk towards the main building.

I hobbled inside my foot throbbing and my mother breaks for the bathroom. My dog and I wait outside the bathroom patiently and watch the people going about their ways. Once my mother is back we decide the first place to check out is the room that I can’t take Dillon since no dogs are allowed in there. She returns and tells me about how it’s items for sale, but I pass on checking it out. I’m not into shopping. So we walk around the covered patio that the rangers and volunteers had set up displays under. It was crowded so I kept Dillon back and away, but I poked my head in to look around. Trail maps, bird watching books, kids activities, leaf identification and more. I must admit the activity using the sun to create leaf silouhettes intrigued me and I regret not making one. However there were more activities to explore and less crowded terrain elsewhere.

Autumn Olive Jelly

My mother and I walked up the hill towards another series of stations. One of which was hiking, another biking and another eating. Heck yea! I’ll sample wild edibles! So my mother and I sat down and rested at this station. The park ranger was very knowledgeable and very interesting. I gave him my email for the recipes that he had. I loved Autumn Olive Jelly! Mint tea I already enjoyed so that was a familiar sight, but I’m always looking for something new. We thanked him and parted ways.

 

Downhill walk

But after that last station it was time to head home. The three of us hobbled down the hill passed other stations. We passed our first station that we were at originally and continued our way back to our car. My mother, my dog and my gimp foot. It turned out to be a rather pleasant experience and a nice day.

 

It beckons me again

We continued our walk back to the car. I watched as people were loaded into the kayaks and sent out onto the water. Go try it. But I’m too fat right? I’d sink the poor boat. You’ll never know until you try. I turned my back and kept walking towards the car. Looking back over my shoulder, I watched someone much heavier than myself getting into a kayak. He’ll get stuck won’t he? He’ll sink won’t he? My eyes widened as he was pushed out…

He floated.

He was kayaking.

 

“Hey, mom.”

“Huh?”

“I’m going to try kayaking, can you wait for me?”

“Sure. We’ll be on that bench over there.”

With that I walked over to the volunteers. I timidly asked if they had a life jacket big enough for me. I was fitted and ready. I asked for advice and was told once on the water to sway my hips a little like a hula dancer. Balance was from the hips. I was loaded into the kayak. This was adrenaline. I could feel it coursing through my veins as they pushed me out. Once I was out on the water, the world disappeared. I saw nothing around me, I heard all sounds fade away. All I heard was the water slapping my kayak. I swayed my hips to test the waters so to speak, but not too much.

“You’re doing great! Now use your paddle to go forward and turn. Have fun!” the volunteer called from shore. The world came back to me in a blink. This was bliss. It’s far better than a first kiss. This was my heaven. My calling.

My paddle dips into the cool water and my kayak lunges forward without a second thought. However the realization that I can no longer see the bottom just comes to mind. it’s deep here. I am not normally the talkative type however being on the water for the first time is intimidating. A tandem kayak with an older lady and her niece/granddaughter (I don’t know what relation they were) flies by. I can tell her knows her stuff so I mimic her and ask her how long she was paddling. She invites me to follow them since it’s my first time kayaking. So I try to keep up, but she’s very fast. We go into shallower water where we can see the grass down below. She explains that kayaks vs canoes & boats can go into shallower water since we have a lower center of gravity.

After a good while of talking to her I feel adventurous and paddle around on my own. This includes staying back and watching people get stuck on underwater branches. My kayaking also consisted of almost running into two boys racing each other and trying to turn my kayak around which took a decade to do. After a few circles and paddling over to my mother and Dillon I headed back to shore so someone else can experience this.

After they pulled me from my cozy cocoon, I thanked them and returned their life vest. I hobbled over to my mother and dog and knew we were going home. But I looked back over my shoulder. I wanted to kayak more.

First day of kayaking this year!

It feels great! The warm breeze through my hair! The gentle kisses from the water against my kayak! My cat yelling at me for not taking him with me! I sighed then I turned around and bumped the shoreline so he could board. My feline master was content. I shifted my weight around balancing out as he walked up the side of my sit-on-top kayak; he may only weight about 7 lbs but for some reason that really messes up my balance while on water. His bright orange fur contrasts against my deep blue kayak; he nuzzes and purrs happily to be by my side.

Gojyo on Kayak

Staring into the water after getting a drink.

As I paddle through the water it feels great to be back on my kayak. I listen to the water splash against the bow and my paddle dipping and swishing through the murky pond. I rest my paddle on my lap and my new kitty coach meows me to further paddle. I obey my feline master’s wish and begin turning around the pond to speed back to my launch site. Maybe he wants off our little pond cruise since his meows sound annoyed at times. I turned my beast of a kayak around using my rudder, a slight lean and a few paddle strokes (actually many since I’m out of shape and trying to not fall in the pond.) I finally sped back to the launch and gently bumped the bank to signal we had landed. Gojyo, my cat, gracefully walks on the edge of my kayak while I balance it out. Then onto the storage hatch and lays down to sun himself. Nope. He doesn’t want off. He stretches out across the surface and gazes into the water. Maybe there’s fish in there. He doesn’t notice his hind feet and lithe tail getting closer and closer to the water’s surface. His foot taps the surface and then he draws them up and away from the water. I push the kayak away from shore with my paddle since I was quite lodged there and continue to take laps around my pond.

This continues quite a while with my coaching cat sitting behind me scolding me while I rest from paddling. After several laps I’m finally tired from not having any exercise all winter so I turned one last time to where I launched from. My paddling partner is also tired from coaching me, so I launched my kayak onto my grassy shore and hope I can pull myself up out of the kayak. After observing how easy it was for Gojyo to walk off onto the grass and I rolled my eyes knowing it’s not going to be that easy for me. This is my first time peeling myself out of my seat this season and trying to balance myself as my feet sink into the thick mud and swampy grass. It was surprisingly easier to get into the seat, than to get back out. Tomorrow I’ll bring a rope to help pull myself out of my seat, but for now I need a hot shower.

Do you want to proof my pages?

Hello! Since I’ve started this blog/website thing, I’d like to know how it’s looking so far. I have big plans for it, but I’m concerned about my grammar and punctuation. If you would like to go ham on correcting my blog, please let me know and I’ll add you to my “proofing people” list. If you would like me to post a certain topic for my menu, let me know too. Currently I do not have my own photos or videos posted since I simply don’t have anything of quality. These are simply place holders until summer rolls around and I can run around and take all the pictures I want.

Feel free to drop me a line!