Sunday, May 20, 2007

How Can You Tell It's a Long Weekend?? Because It's Raining!!

It's raining. Might as well as go for a paddle!

We put in on The Gorge, with a plan to go into Portage Inlet and then into Colquitz Creek. We're going to see how far up the creek we can go. It's Louise, Paula, Alison and myself today. Bernie begged off -- something about the reaping. It's raining lightly, but doesn't let up.
Off we go under the Craigflower Bridge.

The birds were out. Herons...


...and ducks, but I didn't get a good picture of any.
Into Colquitz Creek we go.

It quickly narrows down.

Soon we hardly had a place to turn around. We ended up getting up behind Tillicum Mall, but could get no farther. Stephanie has said that she has gone farther, but she was armed with a macheté.
Colquitz Creek

We did our bit to help keep Colquitz Creek clean.

We continued on...
Colquitz Creek
Colquitz Creek

...but finally, it got too difficult to move on. Louise got caught in the brambles. Alison and Paula with their slightly smaller boats were able to go on a little further, but we'd reached the end of the road and it was time to turn back.
Up the Creek

So we went back down the Creek and back into Portage Inlet...
Colquitz Creek into Portage Inlet

...where this fellow was waiting for us.
Swan, Ahoy!

And finally this heron bid us adieu as we approached shore.

"Okay, John, you just keep taking pictures of birds if you want...."

"...but the rain is getting harder. We're outta here!"

My pictures are here.

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

The Long Recovery Week 25

A couple of weeks ago, my physio-therapist washed his hands of me and my course of prescribed therapy ended. This doesn't mean I'm done - I'll be stretching and working shoulder for the rest of my life.
But I'm glad to see my therapy end. As much help and encouragement that Jim was, I'm glad that I don't have to see him anymore. I'm sure he understands. :)
Today was another giant step in my recovery -- I rode to work for the first time since the accident. I didn't push it. I stayed in the middle gears and had a nice slow ride.
It went great. My arm and shoulder survived and were fine. No pain, no soreness.
I can't explain how wonderful it felt to be on my wheels again.
The only disappointment was during my ride home. All day long I thought about what I would do when I encountered the small piece of trail between Burnside Road and Tillicum Road where I came off all those weeks ago. Would I ride it? Or would I just avoid it and alter my route?
I didn't decide until I was riding home. I decided that I was feeling okay and I would ride that bit of trail. I would go slow, I might even stop for a moment of contemplation. I would ride that trail.
But as I approached, the trail was roped off. The municipality was in the middle of beautifying the area, and the trail was closed for the duration of the work. As I got closer, I realized that they had changed the path completely. The little trail that I fell on isn't even there anymore.

The piece of ground where I left my mark is gone now, but the marks it left on me will stay with me. The scar on my shoulder and the metal in my arm will be a constant reminder to me of how close I came.
And how lucky I am.

Sunday, May 13, 2007

Vancouver Island Paddlefest 2007

It's May, it's a Saturday, so it must be time for Paddlefest!
Off we go to Ladysmith: Alison, Paula, Bernie, Louise and myself. A day of kayak demos, courses and exhibits awaited.

Kayaks as far as the eye can see....

Bernie got distracted not by a kayak, but by a small tent that attaches to a roof rack. That looks pretty cool! Mind you, it cost about two grand, but it still looks cool!

Since Louise and I both own Delta kayaks, we started there. Behold a deluge of Deltas, including the brand-new tandem in white at the back.

Here's me in a Delta 18 Expedition. This was the best boat I tried all day.

What can I say? I just love these Deltas! They're a thermoformed plastic kayak and they are fun, and stable.

This model is 18'8" long. It's freakin' huge! It goes like stink and super straight. Louise tried it and thought it was just too big for her.

Here's the front end -- that's a lot of boat.

Here's what the beach looked like from the water.

Bernie tried out this Current Design boat...

...while I joined him in a Current Design Solstice Titan LV.

This is a fiberglass boat, and I found it a bit tippy. Mind you, I've tried Alison's Current Design and found it a bit tippy at first, too, before I got used to it. This kayak had a HUGE cockpit. Even I felt small in there! And this is the low-volume version!

Louise joined us on the water in an Eliza.

Eliza is marketed as a "woman's kayak." Louise just loved it! She's trying a rotomolded plastic version, but they also had a fiberglass version to try, too.

Paula loved the Eliza, too! Alison tried it and didn't like it as much, but she thought it wasn't too bad.

Alison tried this Current Design boat which looks like a longer version of her own boat.

We also tried a number of Lightspeed kayaks. Here Louise tries a Photon.

Paula is paddling an Intrigue, a strange but fun little kayak.

Louise is going out in a Phoenix, which is a longer version of the Photon. I tried it too, and liked it, but not as much as the Delta. It has some sort of fancy state of the art rudder/skeg combo but neither Louise or I could get it deployed. It's not a bad boat and has some interesting features.

Here's Bernie trying a sit-on-top. That's something I wanted to try but didn't get around to.

And here's Bernie (in a rotomolded Necky) in his rolling class.
He got the rolling upside down part very well. The rolling up part still needs work.

Paula took the same course (also in a rotomolded Necky).
She didn't manage a roll, either.

Then there was this guy, named Dubside. He put on quite a show. Using his Greenland paddle, he demonstrated various rolling techniques.
He just sat in the water and rolled. And rolled. And rolled and rolled and rolled. Then he rolled some more. And some more. Then he threw away his paddle and rolled again. And again. And again and again and again. Then, you'll never guess what he did. That's right! He rolled some more!
Wow, he was amazing.

Louise ended the day by winning a door prize. No, it wasn't a door, it was a pretty nifty dry bag, worth about $70 from MEC.

We had fun fun fun in the sun sun sun!

My pictures are here.

Friday, May 11, 2007

No paddling here no more

A while back, Karl and Stephanie blogged about their adventures kayaking on
flooded Panama flats. Well, the waters have receded, the blackberry bushes
are gradually returning to their usual thicketness after the punishing
winter they've had, and two green tractors were out planting this evening.
That was a reassuring sight, since a for-sale sign went up on the land over
the winter and with the development-madness on the island I figured that
was it for another clear-space. So I took a couple of photographs, and now
I'm about to test technology and see if, given a wireless connection, I can
send these directly out into "the cloud".

Monday, May 07, 2007

Getting artistic

Shot from yesterday, with Photoshop filters applied ...

A different sort of Monday ...

I could get to like Mondays, if more were like this ... After yesterday's paddle I said to Paula, 'so when will we do this again', and she said 'tomorrow', leaving me feeling a little as though I'd had my bluff called. Nonetheless, 0830 found me loading up the car with blue sky and puffy clouds overhead, and driving eastward to Cadboro Bay, watching a sudden immense billow of grey and white rearing up ahead of me. Something wicked definitely looked to be this way coming. We had a leisurely cup to tea, a leisurely offloading, a leisurely launch, by which time the wickedness was looking repentant: overcast, yes, but the blurring of distance had not translated into wind and squall. It was a leisurely paddle, up the north side of the bay, past Flower Island, along towards Telegraph cove. We paused to play in the current spinning through rocks, and turned back. I continued to try and master the art of taking photographs with my new waterproof camera sans viewfinder: 1. Paula saying 'no, not me, the bird!' 2. said bird ignoring me to concentrate on the fish that, a moment after this photograph was taken, it snapped up and swallowed, 3. the bay with the sun coming out. My hands look this evening as though they've been dipped in dilute red ink, and I have a Pickwickian rubor to my nose.

Sunday, May 06, 2007

A Current Affair

It was cloudy, it was misty, it was drizzling. But this sort of weather would never stop a group of expert, hardened kayakers.
Unfortunately, there was only us around.

We headed out into Cadboro Bay: Alison, Louise, Paula, Bernie and me.

It was a busy day on the water. There was a sailing regatta...

...and big sailboats.

We decided to try to venture over to the Chain Islands. The weather wasn't great, but it wasn't getting any worse.

So we headed out. What we didn't count on was the current.

As we neared a small islet in front of the Chain Islands, we all had the same startling revelation -- Hey, the islet is moving! Only it wasn't the Islet, it was us!

We got caught in a strong outflow current. Hitting the Chain Islands was no longer important -- we were more worried about hitting Japan! Okay, so it wasn't that bad, but some of us did feel like our comfort level was being pushed.

We took shelter in the lee of another island while we plotted out next move.

The way back didn't look too bad. There was a bit of current off the island, but once past that, it looked quite doable. But we weren't in hurry to leave because a) Alison had snacks....

...and b) an eagle was giving us a bit of a show.

Finally we ventured across the channel and to home.
Onward, ho!

My pictures are here.