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Saturday, May 9, 2015

She's Launched!

Yesterday was one of those crystal blue persuasion days and as I came back into the office from the mailbox it struck me - I will be werk werk werkin' so hard this month it might pass me by and I'll never have spent an afternoon outside. With 190 hours of vacation saved up (werk werk werk, that's all I do ) I suddenly decided to Play Hooky. I knew we were covered, btw, and I had nothing pressing on my desk. Instead I took a favorite salad home, (Subway's chopped Mediterranean salad - YUM) and had a picnic out in the yard. ThePrince had just cut the grass a few days ago and in May I actually have grass - or something growing that's green, at least, so I felt very a la magazine.  You know that feeling - the one you get when your house is sparkling clean and you have the nice stuff out and maybe company's coming and you feel proud ... like your house or garden is as good as the ones in the magazines.

I just sat there, looking in every direction, watching the pups gambol about, just allowing my soul to be open. That means eating slowly and trying to taste each bite - which is supposed to keep one from overeating - though it was 2 o'clock and I was really hungry. But there - I digress. The goal of my hooky playing self was to take the kayak out for her first trip of 2016.  This was a birthday present that came to me a few days before Mama died and after that, though I took it out several times, my memory of those days is all black and shrouded and then, you know, winter - and dark - and cold. So yeah.

I am reminded of a cute story about a wonderful woman I know. She met and married her husband shortly before he shipped off to Europe in 1943. He was gone several years and when he came home she greeted him by offering to shake hands. There just hadn't been enough time to cement a relationship.

Well. That is how I've been feeling about my kayak. We met, we fell in love, and then a dark pall fell on our love story followed by the long separation of winter. I was a little hesitant about taking her out again. Not to worry. The moment I slipped into the cockpit I felt like I was back home again and we slid away from the pier as a single unit. I was one with my boat.

Image result for old town loon 111 with paddle strapThePrince had created a simple stowage system at the end of the pier so I can hang the kayak out all summer (and not have to drag it the 400 feet back to the bank). I can even launch it at low tide! The wide open cockpit of an Old Town Loon is easy to get into and I love how it has a little elastic strap to hold the paddle in place while you're coming aboard. I'll be buying some sort of tarp or cover to protect it from UV damage but it'll be okay for a day or two. This tiny craft - not 12 feet long - just feels like it was designed for me ... and believe me ... I have looked at and even paddled a LOT of kayaks. I could have spent more $$ but why? Perfect is perfect.

I was hoping I could take the dogs along with me since I did not want a kayak to see how many miles I could cover in 20 minutes. I wanted something I could use to nose up into little inlets, poke into marshy guts, sit quietly in while I listened to red winged blackbirds sing. I figured I'd be going slow enough that they'd be able to swim along with me.


Those poor things were not just exhausted, but they made a lot of noise swimming so my peaceful trip was accompanied by snuffing and huffing. Also - we've allowed these dogs to tussle so much and so hard that they think it's a good thing to try to duck a sister in the water. Juno is so much bigger than Callie I'm afraid she'll drown her sister. I can take Callie out alone because she's the better swimmer and she's small enough that I can actually put her in the cockpit with me ... something she loves ... but most of the time they'll go in the pen when I go out.

Still and all we made it up Farmer's Hall Creek far enough to see one of Tom Tombe's eagles eyeing us from his guard station. There are 3 active nests within easy walking distance of my house and I am determined to photograph at least one of them. With the new camera. The one I am still learning how to use, but am falling more in love with every day.  I didn't take it out with me yesterday because - well - New Camera - and First Kayak Ride of the season.

Exiting the kayak is the toughest part of the trip. The whole process is a gravity defying adventure, for this boat is narrow and it rocks and I must climb up out of it, depending on the tide, anywhere from a few inches to 2.5 feet. Remember now - a kayak is narrow and tippy. Remember also that I am old and have an injured and weak rotator cuff. Then there is the penalty for any misstep - 4 feet of ooozy black marsh mud. Note Juno's beautiful white fur? Yeah.

Here is a picture of a pro doing it with only maybe 18 inches of rise:
Image result for exiting a kayak onto a pier

I have the thigh strength to do this but alas, I come into my pier on the bad shoulder side.  Fortunately I don't have to use this technique. ThePrince shoved a cedar post into the marsh just far enough from the pier that I can slip the bow between it and the pier, keeping it from rocking. I can tie the stern to the pier with it's mooring line and then all I have to do is center my feet and push up with my legs. Voila! TheQueen is on the pier!

And now it is Saturday and lo. Here comes the sun after a misty start to the day. There will be More Kayaking today.

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