Category Archives: Kayaking

And I step into a kayak…

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This is super out of order – it’s part of my series called “cleaning up my drafts folder”

Weekends of…

30-May – 01-Jun

06-Jun-08-Jun

13-Jun-15-Jun

I’ve been kayaking a lot.

I mean… you don’t even understand how much time I’ve spent in a small plastic boat, on the charles river, over the last few weekends.

It’s a bit ridiculous… but also quite enjoyable.  It’s like biking… a bit.  Instead of legs, there’s arms.

Instead of breakneck speed, there’s a slow cruise.  Instead of the breeze of motion, there’s the wind off the water.

And my favorite – Where a cyclist has to keep intense situational awareness going at all times, a kayaker can simply take a break and ignore everything.

The origin of this is that, a month or three ago, I bought myself a membership to the kayak rental group that lives along the charles river – they’ve got a few locations, so I have enough options on where to go paddling that I haven’t really gotten bored yet.  And they have Sea Kayaks too, which definitely make everything a bit easier.  They’re more prone to rocking and tipping, but the rudder is amazing and 100% worth the extra effort to stay afloat.

What more is there to say?

Exploring Fort Stevens and Astoria and Portland… IN OREGON YO! This is my new JAM! – Day 3

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Exploring Fort Stevens and Astoria and Portland… IN OREGON YO!  This is my new JAM!  – Day 3

Friday, 19-June-2015

Today is the day.

I’ve been to Portland before… but Portland in Maine, not in Oregon. I’ve heard stories about Portland, Oregon, though… that it’s a mecca of adventure, that everyone is awesome, and that it’s the city that San Francisco wishes that it could be. That every restaurant is amazing, and that the cyclists are all strong and polite. Basically, that everyone loves Portland.

So… we had breakfast in Astoria instead. Because it was closer. And we were hungry.

We hit a place called Street 14 Cafe, which deserved a shout out due to the freaking amazing breakfast that they put together. Strong coffee, great sandwich, and good everything else. The Barista’s weren’t even snarky or rude, which was kind of confusing to the New Englander in me.

Then we screwed around at a toy shop, because it was there and we’d just watched a woman literally dance down the street and walk into the shop. And not the “do a little side-stop” dance. I mean full music-video, dancing-in-the-rain rocking out. Swinging on street lights. People be crazy happy here, I guess.

Anyways, we explored Astoria a little, then we left and went to Portland. The goal was to Kayak for the lunch-time hours, then head into town and explore a bit there. Then dinner, then drive on to our last night of camping before Hood River.

The Kayaking ended up starting a lot later than planned though, thanks to a rather ridiculous traffic jam that we all found ourselves in, driving into Portland itself. The cars got separated, but thankfully I was able to sneak ahead of the jam and get everything set up at the rental place by the time Mike and Liz pulled into the parking lot.

Instead of rocking the Kayaks, we chose a different tact this time – a single Canoe, so that we could stick a little closer together and still deal with pictures and fun and everything. And fun was had in buckets and bundles – especially when we found out that there was a restaurant right on the water, that catered to boats.

So… we tied up along side the dock, lashed the canoe in, and had burgers and drinks and snacks and…. ohh it was lovely. It was a super sunny day, just hot enough that we were happy to be on the water. And the food was good, and the birds… yeah, I think I saw my first bald eagle while we were paddling downriver.

The one downside was that we were in a canoe. Canoe’s are really hard to steer, compared to a kayak. So we basically zig-zagged our way down the river the whole time… not the worst thing ever, but remember that Mike and I are freaking kings of kayaking. So this silly inefficiency was really annoying to two guys used to chasing down sailboats and yelling pirate phrases at them as they steer away from us.

Meh, anyways. We paddled. We put ashore for a bit, walked around. Did some yoga on a floating log. Looked awesome. Saw bald eagles (again). And just… such a lovely day.

Then: Portland! We headed into a sushi restaurant that dancing-girl (remember her? The one from the toy shop in Astoria?) had recommended. They were popular too – we arrived pretty early, but there was already a solid line to get in. So we put our name in, found a wine bar, and got a flight of wines to try out.

It was a long and kind of strange wait, to be honest… we signed up, then had to come by and check back to see whether we’d been called or not. So kind of stressful, but thankfully the wine bar helped out a lot with that annoyance.

And the food helped too, once we were seated and served… holy crap, those rolls! They were actually honestly just too big, for the most part. They were delicious, but nearly too big to fit as a single bite. And no one wants to take sushi in multiple bites… it just stinks. No fun. So it was a challenge… but an acceptable one, since they were so tasty.

And then we paid. And then we drove some more.

And then we were in camp!

First, a quick note about the scenery down the Columbia Gorge. I’ve traveled a lot. By the time I drove out of Portland and into the Gorge, I’d been around the world. New Zealand, Zion, Joshua Tree, France, England and South America. I’ve seen sights and climbed places and explored. The views in the Colombia River Gorge make the list. They’re amazing – the water, the sun, the cliffs… it’s stellar.

Anyways, we made camp at Wyeth Campground, a place that was made by conscientious objectors to WWII. It was a bit rough due to there being no potable water, thanks to a bacteria bloom in the area. Thankfully, we had planned ahead and had an idea how to deal with that… we just drank beer instead!

So we set up camp, made a fire, and relaxed the way that one should relax when camping. Mike played guitar, Liz and I sang / played bongos, and just sat back and enjoyed the night. I’d gotten a real good fire going, since we didn’t need to conserve wood, so we kept it up late into the night, enjoying the scene and the woods.

That night was really the only night that was identical to the camping trips that Mike and I would take back in Mass. Liz did crash early in the evening, but the two of us stayed out and kept talking and blathering and complaining about the world, and talking excitedly about everything we were going to do in the near future.

It’s amazing to sync so well with someone, even after so long without seeing them. So we enjoyed the night, and didn’t worry about the time. I think it was something like 2 or 3 in the morning when we did finally crash… but since the next day was the final day of my trip, it didn’t really matter all that much, did it?

One last Charles River kayaking adventure

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Kayaking the Charles, one last time

Saturday, 16-May-2015

 

 

In 2014, I spent a ton of time on the water.

In the early part of the year I bought myself a yearly membership to the Charles River Canoe and Kayak group – basically giving me unlimited kayak rentals for the whole summer.

Normally, I don’t usually do memberships like this, but in this case it was too good to pass up – $120 for a year, vs. $18 an hour. And since I’m me, I intended on getting every cent of my moneys worth.

So I kayaked after work.

I took dates on double-kayaking trips, and sometimes even rented two kayaks (I could get a second one for free as well) if I didn’t think we needed to be in super close proximity to each other for the date.

I intended to get a membership for 2015, but then I got laid off. So I held off. And held off some more.

I didn’t go Kayaking at all, until I found myself packing up and getting ready to move. Then I realized that this would be my last chance to paddle down the esplanade.

(Ed Note: Does this read like an ad for the rental company to anyone else? Just me? Ok, good. Please continue)

 

So Chirag and I met up for breakfast. Because that is how all adventures should start – with a healthy and filling breakfast. In this specific instance, an Indian buffet that we stopped into in Davis Square.

The creepy thing was that the entire restaurant was empty when we arrived. It was just a buffet, three broken TVs (Yep, they were all showing the “if you want to watch a program, then connect this TV to a cable system” prompt), and too many wait staff for a current clientele of zero.

But don’t forget; Chirag and I are trend setters. Not 10min after we sat down and got some deliciously spicy treats, the place was nearly full, with tons of families and random Somerville hipster groups.

So we ate. Then we took the T. Then we got in a Kayak. Two Kayaks, to be precise.

Then we explored.

 

<Ed Note, again: Please excuse the lack of pictures yet again. Ben still doesn’t have access to his desktop where they’re all stored)

 

We went up into the esplanade, checked out the sailing club, and generally made nuisances of ourselves to the geese patrolling the area. It was perfect – the flowers were in bloom, and the water was still semi-clean, since the geese had only just recently arrived from the South.

Johnny called us about 45min in, to let us know that he would be putting into the water soon. So we took the chance to paddle back, link up with him, and then go through the esplanade from the other direction.

Our first run had been going west-bound; starting at the sailing club and moving West. The second run started near the Mass Ave bridge, and moved East toward the Longfellow bridge.

It’s technically the same stuff either way, but taking it from both directions gives different views – different shorelines, and different sides to the bridges. We also got a chance to stop off on one of the docks, which is always a nice little bonus.

An excellent day on the water, by any measure.