Monday, November 14, 2011

Commando Kayaking in Winter

I got out to Thetis Lake last weekend, to meet John and Louise and Alison. It was an expedition with multiple transportation choices, as John has already observed on his own post. Scroll down to look at it, and his excellent photographs -- always glad to see 'em.

John and Louise took their car with their Delta sea kayaks on top. Alison rode in her own car that's currently being driven by her parents, with her Wilderness Systems Kestrel rec kayak on top. (Shorter than the Deltas, it's a good fit on her smaller sedan. Here's a photo that John took last year at Gyro Park, showing the Kestrel on the sedan.) The Sinclairs waved at their madcap daughter and headed back home to hot tea and scones, I'm guessing, since they had no interest in hanging around the chill beach. I hopped on the bus a block from the Beach House, transferred downtown, and hopped off the jitney (or le car in French) at Six Mile House.

Yeah, yeah, so who uses "jitney" for the bus linking a satellite community to an urban core? Or "le car" for that matter? Someone who just read an article about Alzheimer's disease, that's who. Apparently people suffering from Alzheimer's who are bilingual can have up to twice as much brain damage as people who show a similar amount of visible signs and symptoms but are not bilingual. In the interest of making my nearly-bilingual brain more resilient in case I'm ever faced with Alzheimer's disease, I'm incorporating vocabulary from French and from other dialects of English into my daily discourse, eh? D'accord?

Bilingual observations aside, commando kayaking in winter is less fun than in summer. While it didn't rain during my commute, there were other issues. I arrived at the bus stop ten minutes early for the first run of that Sunday morning, but the bus arrived ten minutes late. So I got downtown too late for the #50 bus and had to wait. Once I finally got to Six Mile House, it's a fair walk over two little hills to the lake. Luckily, a passer-by alerted me when the ball of yarn from my knitting fell out of my pocket. It was unrolling along behind me on the sidewalk, but my knitting hadn't yet begun to unravel -- whew!

Meanwhile, John, Louise, and Alison had already arrived at Thetis Lake. They paddled from our usual launch spot at the second beach, around a point and up to the first beach as we arranged. I was not yet there. If you check out John's post, you can see his drawing of the route he took that morning. It shows that he and Louise and Alison went around in circles for a while, back to a nearby island and back to the beach when they saw me crest the hill and plod down to the beach.

We still had fun. We noodled all over the lake. And it didn't matter a bit whether the wind came up or there were a few raindrops, or more chill than we prefer. The lake is sheltered. That's part of why we paddle lakes in the winter -- so we don't have the disappointment of going all the way to an ocean bay that surprises us by being full of rough waves and wind from an unexpected direction.
After paddling, we stuffed my Expedition into the back seat of Louise & John's car and me into the back seat of Alison's sedan (with her parents staring admiringly as the hardshell kayaks were loaded onto the roof racks of both vehicles). Then we retraced my portage from the bus stop to Six Mile House.

Alas, the pub restaurant serves only buffet luncheon until 2pm on Sundays. A fine buffet, but one for people with grand appetites, not those who just wanted soup and tea. So we went our separate ways. I bid goodbye to the rest there, thanking them for saving me the portage, and hot-footed it a long block to the bus stop, where the driver waited for me to trot the last fifty yards to le car with my kayak. Yay! Merci! Much nicer than waiting 45 minutes for the next scheduled bus to arrive.

The ride and the transfer gave me a chance to knit another few rounds on the latest pair of fingerless mitts for a colleague of Louise's at UVic. Some of us have always felt it's better to wrap the humans up in warm clothes than to turn up the thermostat in winter. These mitts may look like frivolous decorations compared with neoprene kayaking gloves, but I gotta say, if those people in Records and Admissions want to keep warm, I will keep knitting for them!

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