Thursday, January 28, 2010
Given the hard state of the water in local lakes, I've had to pass the torch over to the few still remaining on the water - what little there is. These ducks, mostly mallards from what I can see, are clustering close to the lake's outlet where a small patch of open water still exists.
Meanwhile a few kilometers downstream, I'm busy 'geocaching'. At this point, I'm following the river along an old rail bed that's been converted to a walking/skiing trail. A series of geocaches have been hidden along the trail every 500 meters or so. I walk along - the skiing being temporarily ruined by some rain - following my GPS from cache to cache. Six of them found today, which equals about three kilometers each way. If it's not one thing - kayaking - then it's another - geocaching!
The geocache in the photo above was hidden right at the river's edge. Perhaps I ought to look into getting a river kayak and take advantage of the running water. I have very little experience in fast water however and wonder if winter is the time to learn... Perhaps not.
Thursday, January 21, 2010
Living where I do in a northern clime, there are basically two seasons for the paddler. When the water comes in liquid form, there's 'arm-paddling' which for me means kayaking. The other season occurs when water freezes into snow and ice. That's when 'leg-paddling' begins.
So with most of the water around now frozen, I'm back to leg-paddling. Some people erroneously think of it as skiing and/or snowshoeing, but we all have our issues, don't we?
Monday, January 18, 2010
Several years ago I started a second 'C' blog apart from 'C'kayaker, which I called 'Ctories' my contraction for 'Canadian Stories'. The first piece I began writing was called Ilatsiak, after a mysterious shaman encountered by the Canadian Arctic Expedition in 1914. Diamond Jenness, an ethnologist on the expedition, wrote about meeting this man and some of his comments about him prompted me to forge the link between Ilatsiak and the ill-fated Franklin voyage which was lost about 60 years prior.
My attempt to write the story began well, but over the past couple of years it faltered and then stopped entirely. I have begun 2010 with a new determination to see Ilatsiak's story through to completion. If you're at all interested, click over to my Ctories blog and pick up the story. It's now at episode 73...
Saturday, January 16, 2010
My brother has an 10 year old European car which came with an interesting computer which enables him to monitor various aspects of his driving style. In particular, it provides him feedback about his mileage. Armed with this information he can adjust his driving style to save gas on a trip. Naturally I lusted after one of these devices, but none of the cars I've ever owned has such a computer.
That has now changed. I discovered a company called 'Scan-Gauge' which makes exactly the computer I've always wanted. It provides all the info of my brother's car and more, 14 different variables in all! I recently purchased one of their gauges and am beginning to learn from it. Plugging it into the OBDII outlet under the dash took about a minute or less, so even I could handle the hi-tech part of installing the Scan-Gauge.
To begin with, as the gauge provides data in real-time, I can now track my fuel consumption more closely and adjust accordingly as I drive. It can tell me whether keeping the roof-rack on the car is costing me money. I now know how much it's costing me to transport my kayak on the rack. I can tell what pulling my tiny trailer costs. In short, this little gauge is providing me with lots of information which, if I pay attention, will allow me to continue to travel to distant kayak venues and still keep my carbon footprint low enough to live with.
Friday, January 15, 2010
I was thinking of going for a paddle this morning, but things got in the way. Bird things! These wild turkeys have been coming around the house for the past few days driving our dogs nuts. I don't mind feeding the birds, but these seems to much. Besides, how can I leave nutty dogs to go paddling? What would I come home to at day's end?
I wonder if these birds are any good to eat? I am feeding them after all, maybe they could return the favour...
Wednesday, January 13, 2010
Canada's flag, as you probably know, isn't normally blue, but today it ought to be. Why? We're surrounded on three sides by the oceans. Sadly, the Atlantic is no longer the place it once was having been so depleted of fish stock. The Pacific is suffering a similar fate, not to mention there's a growing swirl of garbage in its midst. The Arctic sea ice is getting thinner each year and hints that unstoppable changes are upon us.
It's a day to feel blue. It's a day to think about the oceans and what we are doing to change them into places which may harm us all. Think. Then do something about it!
Saturday, January 9, 2010
Friday, January 8, 2010
While the local lake has yet to freeze over completely, the fact that there so much beautiful snow lying about totally un-used has me off the water, perhaps for the winter. The photo above gives an idea of what I'm writing about. There is so much snow, cross-country skiing has been set aside for the moment and snow-shoeing has taken over. My tracks lead up the hill above the barn and the horses. I'm heading for the hills...
Wednesday, January 6, 2010
One of my vivid memories from the Delmarva Paddlers Retreat is the early morning yoga sessions offered by a number of people who attended the event. My memories are not of being at those classes, but of being warmly snuggled down in my sleeping bag knowing I was getting a few minutes of extra rest while those poor suckers took orders on how to perform various muscle-tearing contortions while half asleep. Such bliss...
Well, I've grown up, a bit. I bought a 'Yoga For Paddlers' DVD and stored it on the bookshelf for a while, waiting, I suppose, for both of us to age sufficiently. Last week it all came together. I put the DVD in the player, sat on my new mat and did my best to follow the instructions for Session I. I wish I'd got up at Delmarva. I already feel better. I'm a bit fresher, a bit livelier, sprier, and that's after just a week!
Will I paddle better? Of course I will. And even if I don't, I'll be thinking I do and that's the joy of it, isn't it?
Tuesday, January 5, 2010
January in my neck of the woods always presents new challenges to the kayaker. In the photo above, the slowly growing ice means getting out beyond it to the more or less open water will be frought with problems. The ice near the shore is composed of small pieces of ice about the size of pies. They impede the progress of your boat, yet are not large enough to support your weight. Getting through them is nearly impossible.
Worse yet, returning to shore through the 'pies' is even worse, especially in the case in the picture. At the time it was taken, the wind was blowing the ice from left to right forcing one to chose an entry point upwind. If you were lucky, you'd manage to reach the shore near your car as you swept by, but more commonly, you sat there in your kayak, struggling as the landing beach slowly disappeared around the corner.
Far, far better, not to launch in this spot! Find a beach where there is no ice shelf to cross. Safer, easier and your chances of being home for dinner increases dramatically!