Wednesday, July 20, 2005

Paddling and Swatting, Wet Entries, Impossible Boatdocks

As I wrote last time, for kayaking, a paddle and a fly swatter are necessary in Canada this time of year. The campground we booked in Algonquin sent us a coupon for “OFF”, our suspicions have been confirmed. My student's comment “think this is a hint of things to come mom?” My reply “we’ll be too in to paddling it to notice.”

One thing I have noticed is how interesting people are when they are so into what they do. I know my Guinea Pig is a fascinating creature, she’s very into her plate of lettuce right now. But seriously, yesterday as we got to know our new kayaks on a local lake I noticed how into watersports everyone around me seemed to be. They were interesting to me. There were sailors very intent on catching wind, anglers, well intent on whatever they get intent on, boaters very into speed and dragging people behind their craft, jet skiers, yes I had forgotten about jet skiers, the snowmobilers of the water sports. Even jet skiers are into what they do. My student was so worried that we’d look dumb trying the techniques we were taught in our classes and clinics. I pointed out to him how intent everyone else was around on their floating craft of choice. No one would notice our antics. I suppose it was that thing we all go through as teenagers, not wanting to look dumb in front of anyone. I imagine we were amusing for those into their sunbathing on the beach as we intentionally tossed ourselves from our boats in a variety of amusing ways.

Of all the techniques we have been exposed to, climbing into a kayak from the water (wet entries) and getting out of a kayak at a dock are the two I would consider the “test” for graduation for any new paddler. These are impossible tasks requiring the “doer of the deed” to bend in ways they didn’t even remember that their bodies could. Unless of course one weighs under 100 pounds and don’t care about grace, composure, scrapes and bruises. I am sure the whitewater kayakers have a few moves they’d consider graduation maneuvers, but right now we’re into the touring aspect of this sport, so we’ll save the Snake River for another outing and look forward to our “graduation day”.

Thursday, July 14, 2005

Paddling and Swatting

Well Daphne the Science Guinea Pig is much better thanks to constant “basting” with Betadine. We’ve acquired those new day touring kayaks, Perception Carolina 13.5 and Carolina 14.5 and we chose not to go with Hully Rollers but Yakima Kayak stackers and boat loaders. Our days of renting water craft are over. Had to keep my student away from the trolling motors, we’re going to work on upper body strength and character.

Paddlefest 2005 sealed the deal on the Kayaks. A map of Canada and conversations with other paddlers landed us in Algonquin Provincial Park in Ontario, Canada for our first major adventure. We are currently reading: “A Paddler's Guide to Algonquin Park (Paddler's Guide)” and “Frommer's Algonquin Provincial Park” and awaiting our Algonquin Canoe Routes Map from the “Friends of Algonquin” bookstore. We’ll probably go to some local lakes to practice what we’ve learned in our clinics and classes. From what we understand, a paddle and a fly swatter are necessary in Canada this time of year. Our kayaks are of the “tippy” nature for beginners, so paddling and swatting seem like a skill that needs to be learned and practiced. I suppose we could invest in some Deet.

Now all we have to do is get the rest of the overgrown boxwoods out of the backyard and we are good to go....

Tuesday, July 05, 2005

The Twenty Five Thousand Dollar Pig, Nerd Parties and Crazy Expectations

I am writing this blog just moments after I basted the pig. “Excuse me?”you say. Daphne the Science Guinea Pig had surgery last week. We’re down to only having to baste her once a day. I chose nighttime because it’s quiet and she’s half asleep(I am posting this AM however!). We’ve had to irrigate her 7 incisions three times a day for several days, and got to giggling about it one night calling it basting the pig. The surgery was to remove three large tumors in her chest region. My family usually rolls their eyes when I tell them of our antics with Daphne. But when it’s just you and another who’s 13, you do what your reality dictates! My very busy brother who used to call her “the rat” even phoned to inquire about her well being. Daphne charmed him when he was here for Father’s day. We sometimes “pass the pig”, she’s such a social creature. One person snuggles with her and she charms them with a gurgle or a yawn as they scratch her soft back. She managed to charm my brother with a kiss. I had no idea Guinea Pigs gave kisses, until I met Daphne. Needless to say he phoned about her health this week. She’s no longer “the rat”. It was a huge week for us - me. What we do for our kids.

While we were at the veterinarians office for the third time we ran into a friend with whom we’ve discussed the possibility of our owning alpacas and boarding them near her. As we joked about how much it would cost to buy and care for an Alpaca, we guessed $25,000 just to buy a healthy Alpaca, it occurred to me that with all the procedures I have had to have done with Daphne, she may as well be an Alpaca. We have a lady in our homeschool group who actually raises Alpacas for sale and for the wool. She teaches knitting classes at The Farm at Brushy Fork in Owensville, Ohio where you can also meet her Alpacas. I am still considering Alpacas as a hobby. Seems like a mellow way to go as I get further over the hill. Perhaps I’ll travel to Peru before I commit to these more expensive animals.

I love the journey to Owensville to see my friend and the Alpaca lady, though I’ve never taken a knitting class I have considered starting a “Stitch 'n Bitch” in our neighborhood just to get to know my new neighbors better. Stitch-n-Bitch is a new phenomenon in the under 30s age group, (I think the over 40s enjoy it as well) where a group of women meet, learn how to knit and well, bitch. Politics, Religion, men. Nothing is sacred. What better way to get to know my neighbors? Though, I may reconsider this deal because of a flyer that was in our mailbox yesterday. The flyer read:

“Nerd Party - join your neighbors as they celebrate the halfway point of their med school careers. Beer music and entertainment provided. No need to RSVP, but if you choose not to come and feel our shenanigans have become too rowdy, please contact us rather than the local constabulary.”

Seems like these boys have some high expectations and that the Historic District will be rocking Saturday night. Maybe I’ll send them a pizza.

Speaking of crazy expectations, I recently met a person in the cyber-neighborhood who is planning an intimate around the world trip with a complete stranger. They are apparently going to pay all expenses, but it seems those who line up to go must also pay an admission price to get invited to the ball. In order to be included on the dance ticket they have to send a biography and a video of themself so they can be considered. Being the kind of person I am, I asked this person in so many kind words, if they were insane. They replied that they appreciated my honesty and that they were not crazy. We’ve kept in loose contact ever since as this quest has mushroomed. I love to follow the adventures of other travelin’ fools. I hang at TravelBlog some days. The writers there are doing what I did in my youth and what I hope my student will do one day. But back to my cyber-acquaintance, imagine the process one might go through to choose a stranger to travel extensively with. What can one really learn from a crafted biography and a video? When I travel intimately, meaning that the other person has at least seen my toothbrush before, I know going into the deal that we’re at least going to get along and be able to cope cohesively if adverse conditions arise in our journey. What’s so interesting to me about this is the idea of going with a complete stranger with the crazy expectation that the companionship will make the travel more fulfilling. I don’t understand how that might work out. Seems like an incredible personal gamble. I used to travel to some pretty intense places with some pretty intense strangers for business and in those circumstances I found that I was more of an accidental tourist and not the traveler I am. I think that when you want to travel with a companion, it’s to explore another dimension of the person you already know, in another setting away from your “ordinary”, otherwise, I afraid you end up being more of an accidental tourist. I wonder if this is what my cyber-acquaintance’s experience will be like. On the upside, imagine getting to witness the world through the eyes of complete strange who hasn’t seen the stops along the way. It’s a fascinating opportunity to study human nature and human qualities. I can’t wait to see how my cyber-acquaintance’s adventure turns out.

People find adventure in all sorts of ways and travel doesn’t necessarily need to involve geography and it sometimes doesn't turn out the way you thought it would. But that's what makes it an adventure. A lesson I continue to share with my student, especially as we head into yet another week of great adventures.

Saturday, July 02, 2005

Journeys in My Own Backyard: The Maiden Voyage Was Flawless....

I had always hoped I would write that about a great sailboat that I had comsissioned. Haven’t gotten that far in the master plan yet. Have one going to college in a few years, so that plan is in a holding pattern for now. No this maiden voyage was of the antique tub I restored. I refinished it, I hooked up the plumbing, I hung the shower curtain surround. All the maiden voyage needed was a screwdriver. It seemed I neglected to screw down the faucet handles as the hot was running more than cold.