Monday, March 26, 2012

Learning Experience

Saturday was my day to volunteer at the Nature House in Elk/Beaver Lake Park. The Nature House is down at the Beaver Lake end of the big, figure-eight-shaped lake that was the drinking resevoir for Victoria about a hundred years ago.
Like most days when I'm the volunteer naturalist, I took an inflatable kayak along for the day. Usually I get to the park in the morning, set up my kayak, and get an hour or two on the water before opening the nature centre to visitors. This time was a little different.
The difference came when I lowered my Expedition, folded up in its bag and bungee-ed to a luggage roller, out of the bus. (Yup, I can take a kayak on a bus. Don't boggle. If you've been reading Kayak Yak for a while, you've seen photos of me trundling a kayak along as what looks like a big suitcase.) As I lowered it to the ground... well, maybe it fell a bit... that big puppy weighs 42 pounds, and with paddle/PFD/pump & the luggage roller it must have been over 45 oounds (call it 20+ kilos for those who think metric) and it's hard to hold it up from above. Next time I'm getting off the bus FIRST and then lowering the kayak & roller.
To get back to the point, a wheel broke off the luggage roller.
This was not a honking big problem. Of all the places I've taken a kayak on a roller, this was not a horrible place for the roller to break. I was able to get the kayak to the Nature House, and even take it home later in the day. And even as I did so, I was acutely aware that if the break had happened in some of the other places this kayak has been, I would have been up the proverbial creek without a proverbial paddle.
Not to gloss over the process of what it's like being up a moderately proverbial creek, I dragged my dear kayak on one wheel and a corner of the frame for the better part of a kilometre. (Note to self: the kayak that is too heavy for me to carry for more than a few steps is very nearly too heavy to drag unless it's rolling properly on two wheels.) The walk from the bus stop to the Nature House, which usually takes about eight minutes with the kayak&roller, took closer to forty minutes. I passed the time, plodding or resting, with mental additions to my List Of Rules For Kayak Carpools.
The new rules include:
-When carpooling in someone else's vehicle:
-never stink more than your driver, even after a hard day paddling
-never smoke anything that your driver didn't pass to you, lit
-always offer snacks to your driver
-always have a couple of loonies and quarters ready for parking meters, and put the coins in the change holder on the dashboard as you say, "Good! These were rattling around in my pocket."

I'm still re-phrasing what I'd like to say about the three drivers with vans and the two with pick-up trucks who passed me on that narrow lane to the parking lot by the Nature House. The drivers of tiny sedans I forgave. They all looked old and doddering, which is about what I must have looked like cresting the rise in the lane. I guess the drivers of one van and one pick-up truck will get a pass from me, because they had Handicapped symbols hanging from the rear-view mirrors and their vehicles were full.

At any rate, by the time I got to the Nature House, I had had my upper-body workout for the day, particularly because I was trying unsuccessfully to tip the frame a bit to take most of the weight on the lone wheel. This day has to be classified as my least successful commando kayaking expedition so far.

I could have been extremely grumpy, but for a spot of good luck. The lake was full of model sailboats having a tournament. Ya know, it's really really hard to be grumpy when you're looking at dozens of three-foot-high sails, particularly when they're on brightly-painted tiny yachts. I'm just sayin'.

And the last potential grumpiness evaporated when I got a phone call on my cell from Marlene, who cheerfully agreed to come meet me at the lake when my volunteer time was up. She brought her Smart Car. We have now conclusively proved that a fourtwo Smart Car can carry two adults, two small backpacks, and my Expedition kayak in its bag without crowding the driver or passenger and with PLENTY of room left over.

We plan to put TWO kayaks and gear into her Smart Car and go to SaltSpring for one day this summer.


  1. I would have loved a photo of the Smartcar with all the gear and the two of you in it. Could you look out the back window? Was there just your gear in the car? Our problem is, we have our gear and we did take Marlene upisland with your kayak. Poor Marlene was squished.

  2. hey, that's a great idea. Next time Marlene brings the Smart Car over, I'll put my gear and two kayaks in it and take photos for the blog. The hard part is the paddles.
    We could look out the back window with the Expedition in the back of the Smart Car.

    Yeah, I remember that the Expedition takes up a big part of the back seat of your vehicle. It might fit better in the back with your gear on top, but then you couldn't look out the back window. That would not be good.