Posts tagged ‘kayak’
Summer is sweet.
With their summer research projects wrapping up, the boys briefly returned home for a couple of weeks before heading back to university life. It’s been pleasant days of biking and playing around – morning runs for coffee, paddling on the river, family bike rides, catching up with old friends, dinnertime humor around the table. Summer is sweet.
But eventually, as the sunsets come a little earlier each evening, it begins to feel like time to return to familiar routines. Back to school, back to friends and regular schedules … all as it should be. And as much as I love them and will miss them as they leave, I think we are all ready to turn the next page, to return to the story.
I have enjoyed the break of being away from things – putting down the camera more often, leaving the computer to sleep, and spending more time in one-to-one conversation rather than cyberspeak. I’ve loved the warm, lazy days with my family … and yet as the weather begins to cool, and the books and bags are packed for the semester ahead, I happily anticipate rides yet to come, and the return to routine.
Meanwhile … scenes from summer days.
Yesterday I worked; today I played.
Even though it is the first official day of spring, it felt more like summer. Eighty-plus degrees and sunny. The heat makes me want to ride to the river, and I figured I may as well try to do a little paddling. I have a nice set-up to tow my boat with my Xtracycle, and it’s a happy combination to be able to ride and paddle on a beautiful day.
My put-in is just up the road from our house, about 4 miles. Getting there was a breeze, literally. Gently rolling with an overall downhill grade, and I had a nice tailwind. It was definitely the easy part. Arrived and locked the bike along the guardrail by the bridge, and was reminded again of the mess that has been made of this river by Olin and their mercury dumping – which thankfully will be ending soon, with their commitment to converting the plant to mercury-free processing.
Meanwhile, I still cannot comprehend how people are still willing to fish – and keep their catch – despite the clearly posted warnings of high levels of carcinogens in the fish. Completely baffles me. I’ve discussed it with several fishermen before, but I have learned to just keep my mouth shut. There is no changing their minds; they perceive the risk as negligible. (And I secretly shudder and shake my head).
I paddled away most of the afternoon, exploring and trying to navigate the very shallow water. In places, I was paddling in only inches. The Hiwassee River levels are regulated and controlled by TVA, and at this time of year they don’t typically release water upstream for recreational use in this inlet. Hence, the lake that is filled and sparkling blue in late spring through summer, is filled with stumps and shoals and islands over the winter and into early spring. The locals call this inlet Stump Lake. A fitting name.
Dozens of Great Blue Herons were my company; I love to just sit and watch them fishing in the shallows. Turtles were out sunning on stumps and logs, but would quietly slip into the water as I raised my camera lens. One of the fishermen said he had seen a Bald Eagle near the bridge. Sadly I missed it. It was peaceful, quiet, and a beautiful afternoon to be on the water … and “pedaling” my arms rather than my legs for a change.
Having had enough sun and with fatigue setting in on my shoulders, I headed for home in the late afternoon – this time against a headwind, with a more uphill grade, requiring a bit more muscle to tow the boat. I will confess my wimpy-ness by saying it felt good to get home. Dinner was salad and veggie pizza. Not fish. Definitely not fish.
Solo trip to the river today. Just me, the bike, the boat, the camera … and a few of the things I saw on the water.
For the record, the scupper hole trailer + Xtracycle is the perfect combination for me; infinitely easier than trying to lift a boat onto a roof rack, or into a vehicle. And truthfully, I could never fit the boat into/onto my tiny car anyway … so this is the ultimate freedom. I can head out to the river any time, easy to load, easy to haul, everything fits, I get to ride my bike and paddle. I am a happy camper. (Or paddler, as it were.)
The best recipe for summer weekend adventure-fun? An Xtracycle … and everything and anything your imagination can add.
Saturday (Day 95) was only a brief out and back on our road on the Xtracycle; one of those days filled with kids, watching the Tour, yardwork, and just general around-the-house stuff. In the evening, we decided to head over to the drive-in theater in Etowah. When was the last time you watched a movie at a drive-in? Seems like there are very few around any more, but this place is great – clean, family-friendly, and a bargain (on car-load nights). We did not ride bikes there I am sorry to say; distance, darkness, and our typical giant crew of kids and friends and girlfriends made it a little impossible. So, it was our gang, including a bunch of college-age kids, all watching Toy Story 3 at the drive-in on a summer night — good times! 😉
On Sunday (Day 96) I finally got to give the scupper-hole kayak trailer a trial run on the Xtracycle. Mark had engineered a great little removable hitch-type of contraption that attaches to the back of the Xtracycle frame; the tow-strap hole slips over the “hitch” pin. Loaded up the boat and headed to the river. It worked beautifully!
About a month ago I had tried loading the boat on the Xtracycle’s Wide-Loader – which was ok, but with the shape of this boat’s hull, the pedal clearance was a little marginal. Hauling the boat with this trailer seems a little heavier and slower-going, especially on inclines, but also more stable and pedal-safe over the distance. And very easy for me to load and secure for hauling.
Mark and I had a beautiful paddle, exploring some side channels that we had never visited before. They seemed to go on endlessly – we never did reach the end. The lush, green tree-cover and shoreline foliage made it feel almost like the Amazon, we joked. Spotted a beautiful Little Green Heron, a couple of Great Blue Herons, a King Fisher and some swallowtail butterflies. Mark said he was waiting for a snake to drop out of one of the overhanging branches (thankfully, we were spared such a treat).
Rode home in the early evening. End of a wonderful summer weekend; loving all of the “living outside”. (And as my friend Darryl says, “loving the bike”!)
Sometimes, my posting is like way I ride hills … lagging behind.
Yesterday I began the day with an early morning swim with Dillon. Came home to pick up the rest of the crew, and the boys and I headed to Chattanooga. Mason and the Governor’s School group were coming into the city on a trip to visit the UTC SimCenter (because that’s their idea of good times and excitement, lol) – and we decided to meet him for lunch and a quick visit. It was brief, but I think he was happy to see all of us … and likewise.
Enjoyed some good conversation about the Tour de Suisse, some geeky physics jokes (which were basically over my head), and a review of this years’ crop of Governor’s School kids – impressive as always. And when I mentioned to Mason that I missed riding with him, he responded in his typical manner, “Yeah, I miss riding with someone who’s a lot slower than me …” I, of course, hit him for that one.
Came home and got out for a ride … into town for a haircut. That was the extent of it. 😛 No camera, no pictures; just taking care of business. By bike.
Today it rained for a while, but fortunately the weather cooled off a bit. When it started to clear in late afternoon, Mark and I decided to head to the river for a paddle. I wanted to ride, so Mark hauled the boats and let me go by bicycle.
Spent a couple hours out on the water, exploring a few new stretches of shoreline. Rumbles of thunder in the distance, but beautiful skies and very comfortable temperatures. Fish were jumping everywhere, herons overhead. Spotted a beautiful Kingfisher, but couldn’t catch him by camera. Paddled back to the landing in the golden twilight. Rode home as the sky was turning pink. Perfect.
The ride came at the end … again. Another solo road ride, post-late-afternoon-thunderstorms. The roads were damp, steam rising from the heated pavement. Fields are lush and green. The air was just starting to cool, no winds. Lovely.
Spent the day on the river with the boys and friends, paddling the upper Hiwassee. It was the perfect hot day to spend on the cool river – the water is amazingly chill, coming down from the mountains. It was great to be on the river on a Monday; we had it basically to ourselves, very few others out on the water. A few fly fishermen, one or two other paddlers, our group. Nice.
Plenty of silliness … getting stuck on rocks, navigating the rapids backwards more than once, paddle-splash wars, sailor hats, the landing at “goose-poop island”. LOL. Plenty of sun till the very end, when the late-afternoon storms started to pop up. Mexican food for dinner, and then some music by the boys. Good times.
A few pictures from the day … ahh, summer.
Summer days. Sometimes they are so fun-filled and action-packed it feels like we are moving 90-mph in our 35-mph lives … And so I missed posting yesterday, and will have to make this post a double-feature. LOL.
Had a great ride with Dillon on Saturday. It was hot; mid-90’s, very humid. I took it easy out there, drinking plenty, taking my sweet time – as always. At this point, all of the boys can really out-ride/out-pace/out-climb me … but they are still nice enough to ride with me, waiting for me to slog my way up the hills. We always have fun – they never fail to make me laugh over something. The day’s fun was getting squirted with his water bottle while I was trying to get a photo … which just happened to feel quite wonderful in the heat.
Today, Mark and I started the day with a quick trip to the river. Finally had the new boat out for a paddle – and it was fantastic! I think this is going to be the perfect boat for me; stable, light, and great deck/storage for easy access to everything from my water bottle to my camera. I think I am also going to be able to haul it easily by bike very soon – getting a small scupper-hole cart/set of wheels, and plan to tow behind the Xtracycle.
Came home, and Mark headed off to the airport for another week of out-of-town business. After dinner, I headed out for a solo evening ride. It was a peaceful and beautiful ending to a weekend of small adventures, fun.
When I thought about what I wanted to write tonight as I was riding, it kind of occurred to me – what do all of these things mean? The pedaling, the paddling, the pictures … very likely, a whole lot of nothing to anyone else – but so much to me.
I had a conversation with a friend recently – talking about how “to live”. About all of the time we spend maintaining our lives (jobs, school, family, home, daily “stuff”), versus how much time we are actually living … Is there really a difference, or is it just the same thing? I’m not entirely sure, and even though there cannot really be one without the other, I believe there is a difference. I like to think that my boys, my family, won’t look back and remember how many times I washed their dirty socks, or how well I dressed or mowed the lawn … but that they will remember the times we rode together, or skied together, or paddled together, or laughed together, or had our goofy adventures together. To me, these are the times we are living; aware of each other, enjoying each other, being with each other.
It is a good thing – to live. It is even better to be living.
So pedal (or paddle) on……….
Once again, the best opportunity to ride was in the evening. The sun was setting over my next door neighbor’s hilly field, and I just ” saw” my bike on the crest.
Today was a very fine day … not so much the biking (although it was lovely), but being embraced by some like-minded friends. Inspiring exchanges with some great people in the cycling community – people who have such a great positive outlook on the cycling lifestyle, sharing the joy, advocating through enthusiasm … all of the stuff I love and admire and strive to be a part of in my own small way.
My friend Darryl at LovingtheBike invited me to be a part of the conversation – with a gracious mention in his June Look Who’s Loving the Bike page today, in the company of some other amazing cyclists and bloggers, including Ryan Van Duzer and his cross-country journey on a 3-speed (this is a must-watch video). 😀
I am especially enthusiastic about what Darryl is doing at LovingtheBike – there is something for everybody, and the content is always delivered in a positive, fun (and sometimes funny) way. One of my favorite posts is The Cyclist’s Wife … it is perfect! Mostly, his site captures his attitude and excitement about cycling, his love of life and his family – and is such a great platform for spreading The Love. I’m a fan – I hope you are too. (And thanks again, Darryl, for letting me join in the fun!)
The other bike-y stuff of my day …. did some initial experimenting with the new boat and the Xtracycle. Have to confess, this is looking a little sketchy. The depth/shape of the hull on the new boat is fairly different from our old beater boat, and although I managed to get it loaded and pedal a short distance, I’m not convinced I have the pedal- and front tire clearance I need to safely take her out on the road. The X can haul virtually anything … and I’m not ready to give it up, but some additional adjustments may be called for.
Oh well. Tomorrow is almost here. Still loving the bike … with or without the kayak on board.
Today’s big accomplishments:
- got out and back before the rains came
- saved another turtle from certain road peril (or at least I convinced myself that I did)
- got a new kayak(!) 😀
Mark and I got out this morning for a ride – before the rains came. Passed a box turtle sitting in the road, not moving. Why do they do this? The warmth? Just taking their time? Deciding direction? I do not know – but of course I was compelled to deliver him out of harm’s way, and hopefully a little closer to wherever he was headed.
A slight sprinkle on the last mile before home, but nothing like the deluge than came later. I think I start making Mark crazy with all of my stopping Move a turtle, a picture here, a picture there. More flowers. (What can I say? They are eye-catching, they’re everywhere … and yes, they appeal to my girlie side.)
Headed to Chattanooga in the afternoon, looking for a new kayak for the river this summer. Managed to find a nice little boat, nothing fancy – a sit-upon model designed for fishing, which I think will really suit me well for managing camera gear, etc. Looking forward to peaceful evening paddles, wildlife watching … and hopefully no banjo music. 😉
A couple of miles up the road from our house we have a nice put-in to one of the Hiwassee River’s inlets. Although there is water year-round, it’s most conducive for paddling/boating in the summers when TVA is releasing water to the Hiwassee. In winter, water levels can get pretty low.
Despite the doubters in the house, I managed to get our old beater kayak loaded onto the Xtracycle and went for a paddle today. OK, I’ll admit, when I first felt the (off-)balance of the load I wasn’t sure it was going to work. But surprisingly, upon taking a test ride, I discovered that it was totally do-able – at least for the few miles I had to go. You kind of naturally make a center-of-gravity shift, but nothing that changes your cycling position dramatically. There was occasionally a funny little shimmy-shake in the front, especially when on a downhill coast, but pedaling seemed to eliminate it. Optimum no-shimmy speed seemed to be about 13mph. Not sure of the physics behind what was going on, but I’d be curious if someone could explain…
The great thing about this little inlet are all of the little islands and shallow channels – perfect quiet water for meandering about and bird-watching without a beastly motor. I had barely paddled off when I spotted a Little Green Heron perched overhead (picture of him on the Pix page). Also saw several Great Blue Herons, and another black and white water bird I have not yet identified.
Strangest event of the trip was spotting a very large creature swimming across one of the channels. It was huge – bigger than a muskrat or anything I might have expected to see. As I sat watching, I discovered it was a deer! She was swimming across the water, only her head sticking out – and had two lovely little fawns trailing behind her! I had never seen a deer swim before, so this was something pretty amazing for me.
Of course I didn’t have the telephoto lens on the camera, so I did the best I could. You can just make her out in the distance, doe on either side of her.
Had a great day exploring, bird-watching … and deer-watching. When I got back to the put-in, I was greeted by a rather mystified fisherman – a very nice older gentleman who introduced himself as Bill. Think he was pretty baffled with my boat-on-bike set-up, but offered some help while I was strapping things up, and I enjoyed chatting with him.
We had a brief discussion over the safety of fish consumption from this part of the river. Thanks to the wonderful folks at Olin Chemical, high levels of mercury in the river sediment and in fish have made it unsafe to consume the catch. Tennessee Fish & Game and the EPA have posted warning signs, but it doesn’t stop people from fishing. I was happy to hear that Bill knew about the situation and was strictly a catch-and-release fisherman. Still, it makes me very sad – especially watching the herons and the other fish-feeding birds and thinking about how it may be harming them and the rest of the ecosystem.
Great day, great ride, great paddle, great sights. Can’t wait to do it again.