Tag Archives: Kayaking

A spring adventure – The Lake


Spring Break, 2021

I don’t recall having a real Spring Break trip last year… If I’m remembering correctly, I did a short Spring Break trip down to Joshua Tree back in 2019, but 2020 didn’t quite lend itself to much traveling…

With that in mind, and looking at how much vacation time I’d accumulated over the last year or so, I realized that I really did need to take some time off to escape from work, from Wilsonville, and from getting stuck in my own head. Thankfully, most travel restrictions on the West Coast have been lifted, and my back’s been feeling a lot better… and I was able to finally make the long trek down to Sacramento to visit my friend Mike and finally meet his girlfriend Michelle!

It was a long drive, and a full week of stepping out of my usual little patch of world. I didn’t really go into it expecting anything specific, but I came out having even more appreciation for my friends, and feeling gloriously rested and recharged. I’m not quite back to my old self yet… but this trip was an amazing change to stretch back into myself, and just… explore.

Tuesday and Wednesday, 04 & 05-May-2021

A big part of our plans for the week was going out to Lake Tahoe – a gorgeous outdoors mecca, that I’d visited previously to rather spectacular disaster when I broke my leg. Interestingly, Michelle’d also broken her knee there too… though she’s jumped back into skiing far more adroitly than I did… you know, since I haven’t skied again since that accident.

This was a chance for me to revisit Tahoe itself, and hopefully make a few new memories of the area. Positive ones, full of happiness and adventure!

(Ed Note: There are a few other adventures that Ben went on in Tahoe that aren’t covered in this post – specifically some hikes and cycling trips. Please see, “A spring adventure – The Rides” and “A spring adventure – The Hikes” for those photo galleries)

Tuesday, 04-May

Tuesday morning saw us get onto the road fairly quickly – Not rushed, of course, but… we were moving at a pretty reasonable time. Soon enough the morning saw us breakfasted, our cars gassed up, and the top down on the Mustang as we cruised down the highway toward the mountains.

The drive was gorgeous – instead of taking the main highway toward Squaw Valley, like Mike and I had done the last time I’d visited, we took a Southern route toward the far South end of Lake Tahoe, where Michelle’s family has a vacation house. This road was gorgeous, and absolutely perfect to drive with the top down and some good music playing… sweeping curves, tall mountains, and just enough sun to make me thankful for the sunscreen that I’d applied before we left Sacramento.

Once we arrived, we lazily got ourselves energized and started ambling around town. Lunch, then a bike ride (Ed Note: See the post titled “The Rides” for more info there) saw us back in action and feeling great. With Michelle having to step inside for a meeting, Mike and I took the chance to launch some kayaks and do a bit of river exploration.

It’s been ages since I’ve been in a rigid kayak.

I… may have forgotten just how nice it is, compared to my little inflatable dinghy. A kayak that doesn’t try to spin like a drunken top every time I paddle? A kayak with a rudder, letting me make fine course adjustments?

Yeah… I enjoyed the heck out of this trip around the lake.

After we finished out our waterborn adventures and beached the Kayaks, we spent a bit of time relaxing around the house before starting out for a bit of sightseeing. There’s a neat little bay near where we were called Emerald Bay that I’d been really excited to see – a painting of it was hanging in the livingroom back in Sacramento, so I was really excited to see the inspiration for the view.

Let me tell you – while the painting was absolutely excellent, it wasn’t quite as sweeping as the real thing.

Lake Tahoe really is beautiful… I’d only ever seen it with its winter coat on, but Mike had been telling me about how amazing it is for years. Finally being able to come back and see what he meant in person was absolutely excellent.

The rest of the evening was relaxation. We picked up a pizza, hung out at the house, did a bit of a whiskey tasting, and finally got the downtime to just be. To sit and talk, catch up, and appreciate the fact that we didn’t have anywhere to go.

Wednesday, 05-May

Wednesday dawned beautifully bright; my room was looking out over the lake, and I definitely spent a bit of time just appreciating the sun sparking off the water after I woke up (and after I put in my contacts, of course). Tahoe really is pretty, and this was yet another excellent morning on a beautifully relaxed vacation.

In counterpoint to the lazy wake-up, we actually got ourselves mobile fairly quick once we were awake – Cleaning up and closing out the house, we got ourselves moving toward Squaw in fairly short order. Unrushed, to an extent, since we did take a quick break to drive out and pick up some breakfast before we finished out the last of the chores.

Once clean and closed, we make our way North, toward Squaw valley itself…

(Ed note: From here, the adventures can be found in two places: The posts titled “The rides” and “The hikes” each have one adventure from Squaw Valley)

Going home early to read in a kayak


Monday, 18-January-2021

Some days, I’m just not productive. My brain isn’t working, I’m distracted, or things just… somehow don’t ever work out right. Monday was one of those days.

But you know what? That’s the whole advantage of being a salaried employee with flex-time – if I can’t seem to get anything done one day… I can always just stay late on a day that I can get things done. And on the day that I can’t get things done, I can go home a bit early.

Today, I chose that option.

Granted, it was only an hour early. But when the sun sets right when I normally leave work, that hour makes all the difference. I escaped, drove home, and immediately tossed my little inflatable dinghy into my pack before stepping out the door.

It was glorious.

Beautiful views, excellent river-sounds, and basically nobody around since it was barely above freezing. I stayed close to the shore, because of the mentioned temperatures, but ended up tying up to a nearby dock and just… floating.

The river rushed by, swollen by the recent rain, and I just stared at the sky, caught up on messages from friends, and read my book until I couldn’t quite feel my hands.

A Thanksgiving adventure – Kayaking the Willamette River


A Thanksgiving adventure – Kayaking the Willamette River

Thanksgiving is going to be different this year. This is my first year being single in half a decade, and thanks to the COVID Pandemic it’s also the first year that I can’t travel, and don’t have any friends still in town. I’m flying solo, have a ton of vacation to burn, and am feeling energetic...

Friday, 27-Nov-2020

Many years back, my friend Mike bought an inflatable Kayak.

A few weekends afterward, we christened it The Bogmaster 3000, after we spent a day on the Androscoggin river, up in Maine, paddling around an exploring the various estuaries and (unsurprisingly) bogs all along the shoreline. Since then, Mike and I took it out more places than I can count… and he took it out on his own for enough adventures that I still have a sense of lingering jealousy.

So I bought my own.

I mean, I hadn’t really planned on it, in my defense. But this summer I finally got to go backpacking regularly again, and saw so many beautiful alpine lakes… the thought of just floating around in the middle of them was too much to bear. Since then, I’ve kept an eye out for a small, lightweight, packable kayak that I could bring with me on backpacking trips.

Well, I finally found one.

The Klymit lifewater dinghy.

Doesn’t… doesn’t sound that badass, does it? Yeah. Not the coolest name out there, I’ll freely admit.

But you know what? It weighs in at 3 lbs. 4lbs, with the paddle. It packs down to the size of two nalgene bottles. It’s easy to inflate, and the paddle collapses down nice and small.

What more is there to want?

I posit: Nothing.

I actually got it in the mail a week or two back, but I simply hadn’t had the time, energy, or interest in taking it out onto the river yet. Thanksgiving, though, instilled in me a beautiful sense of serenity and relaxation – exactly the mindset that called for floating around on a crisp sunny day.

I could see my breath in the air, and the folks hanging out on the boat launch definitely gave me a few side-eyed looks as I inflated it, and cast off into the light mist. I had a tee-shirt on, but everything I was wearing was warm and synthetic – easily enough to keep me warm if my maiden voyage went the way of the Titanic, and something went wrong.

Nothing went wrong, thankfully – though it was cold, there were no icebergs to be seen, nor any sharp or pokey objects that could puncture my noticably unarmored hull. One downside to a lightweight inflatable Kayak / raft is that the skin has to be super-thin in order to save weight… which meant I was definitely a little bit paranoid about my first jaunt into the water.

It went pretty well, I’d say 🙂