Oh dear. I think I may have a new hobby. This is both good news and bad news. The good news is that it turns out I really enjoy kayaking while surrounded by otters. I’m going to repeat that: Surrounded. By otters. I know. Who knew?! Actually, I guess a lot of people knew that if you go boating on the Elkhorn Slough, south of Santa Cruz, you are almost guaranteed to see sea otters. I just discovered this and now I need a kayak.
The bad news is that, though the camping spending freeze is very close to being no longer in effect, we will still need to be mindful about expenses. What I’m thinking that means though is that I will meditate a lot, listen to my breathing, and allow my thoughts to peacefully pass through me, all while mindfully purchasing a kayak. I’m pretty sure that’s how that works.
We heard about this place from our Altoiste friend, Lissa, of window number etching fame. She is pretty well informed on the kayak front and recommended we rent from a place called Kayak Connection, in Moss Landing. For our first outing, we decided to go together. I don’t know much about kayaks, but I’ve already heard the joke multiple times that you can get them in two styles: the single, and the divorce. The only advice given to us there was that it would be fine as long as we were good at communicating with each other. D’oh! We did it anyway.
We got a “sit on top” version, a) because they are supposed to be more stable, and b) because they are supposed to be more like inflatables, which is something we’re interested in. Richard is not a water person. Let’s just get that out of the way up front. And the sit on top kind is not extremely responsive to paddle-based steering requests. So the first maybe thirty minutes he was pretty panicked we would make the one extremely wrong turn possible and end up in the ocean. During that time period, I was also freaking out because we were paddling right past a huge gathering of otters. We were trying our inexperienced best to keep a minimum of 100′ away, as we had been instructed, but were also not really getting the whole steering part. Luckily, there was only one stray otter who got really close, and that wasn’t entirely our fault. But I did think we were going to run him right over. I tried really hard to psychically make him understand that saving his little life was going to be up to him. Meanwhile, I just kept calmly repeating, “Right paddle. Right paddle. Right paddle.” to keep Richard on track.
Once we got onto the calmer part of the water, we sort of got the hang of it. The wildlife out there is just crazy. Yes, there are otters everywhere. There are also Pelicans, sea lions, herons, and countless birds whose species I do not know. We learned fast that the way you get really wet in a kayak is not so much from waves splashing up at you, but from your own paddle dripping and splashing you every single stroke. By the end of our outing, Richard’s shorts were soaked. The rain pants I used from the rental place had kept my pants merely damp. Both of us were invigorated by the experience, but I was the one who wanted to go back out.
The next day, Richard opted for land based entertainment and went on a long bike ride. I went back to the rental place and got a single “sit inside” kind. Wow. I really like that. It helped that the water was calmer and there was no wind, but I for sure felt more in control of the boat. I’d intended to go out just for an hour or two to get the feel for it, and didn’t think to bring a lunch. After maybe four hours, I was forced to come back in because of hunger. You can bet that I’ll be doing some serious research on this for a while though. For example, I’ve already learned that it would cost about $985 to put a roof rack, rails, and a kayak holder on Bruce. I’ve also been reminded that we have a lot of junk in our garage and would need to clear out a space somewhere if I wanted to store a hard sided boat in there. In the meantime, I will look for more rental opportunities. So much fun!
And here are some shots from Richard’s ride.
Another thing to report on from the weekend was that our new toaster is officially a great success! It toasts 2 slices of english muffin in 4 minutes, 30 seconds. 4 slices in 6 minutes. I experimented with making an Egg McMuffin and the toast part went great. The egg part not so much. I used three eggs and several different pans in a systematic process whereby I was able to identify each and every defect and limitation in egg frying capabilities. Result: we have ordered a non-stick egg specific frying pan. It’s blue.
As usual, we were reluctant to pack up Dory and leave. I will note that we were glad to have had the BAL Leveler with us for this trip. This site was weird in that it had a shared parking area, so we used the Caravan Mover to spin Dory to her side in order to create some privacy. We had to raise one side a lot though and I don’t think the Anderson would have done it. Our route home included a drive along Elkhorn Road, which was part of Richard’s big ride the previous day.
A weekend of lifetime highlights and a whole new world to explore! Thanks Dory!!
Total miles: 94.5, 2 hours 33 min, 18.0 mpg. Sites that would be single and not shared: 5 (uneven), 10 (uneven), 14, 16, 17, 18, 19, 20, 21, 22, 25 (nice), 26 (nice), 27, 28, 31.