Saturday, December 06, 2008

December evening paddle

There is absolutely no better way to reset the brain and relax than solo kayaking. I did the 7-mile trip to the gulf and back this afternoon and timed it just right. The sun was low in the sky when I started out, and as I got to the gulf at the mouth of the bayou, it was just going down. A guy had come out on the beach on a 4-wheeler and was fishing from the beach. “Is this a good time to fish?” “Sometimes. Just came to watch the sunset.”

The winter birds are out now like they were in my previous post that had so many pictures of them in one day. They have a sense of entitlement in the winter that they don’t have in the summer. They rule, in the winter.

Concentrating on the paddle stroke engages different muscles. It’s like walking. There’s lazy walking, and disciplined, top-form walking. They use different muscles. Paddling in top form uses a larger group of muscles than idle paddling.

Although I feel very secure in the boat, I thought through scenarios of “What if I flipped out of this thing in the middle of the bay?” I can get out of it with no problem, flip the boat back over, get back in it, get the water out, and paddle back. Temperatures in the 60s – uncomfortable, but not dangerous. But then I thought more specifically about getting back in the boat. First of all, I realized I’ve never done it with THIS boat, and the cockpit is definitely smaller than the Millennium. I need to practice with this one in friendly water. I’d really love to learn to roll one. Second, I didn’t take a paddle float and haven’t been carrying one at all lately. When solo and not near any land, I depend on this to get back on and into the boat. Today I brought the bilge pump with me, but not the paddle float. When you go so long not using something, it begins to slip your mind after a while. But I need it. I need to make a basic checklist for both kayak and bike.

I’ve got the Riot Regency seat adjusted much better now but still have not put the thigh braces exactly where I want them. I need to fine-tune the thing for the optimum fit.

Coming back, although I got back before 6pm, it was dark and actually quite a while after sunset. There was no boat traffic. But the sky stays lit up for a long time. When that light started to face, I saw the planet twins Venus and Jupiter, who have been playing together lately, and caught sight of a white light whizzing along beside me off my left paddle, which turned out to be the moon directly overhead. I love how when the light is dim your eyes are wide open. So much of the time we spend squinting, shielding our eyes from too much input. At night there is so much space and so much light, the water reflects the deepening red-blue hues of the sky, and the eyes welcome all of it.

So, I got in some exercise today… but my legs are still fresh and ready for tomorrow’s bike ride.

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Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Pascagoula River and an awesome weekend

OK I'm fiddling with Picasa and trying to post a dozen or so pictures because I can't pick my favorites from this AWESOME trip up the Pascagoula river on Saturday. But my son who is currently addicted to Roblox is pestering me for the computer and trying to be as annoying as possible so as to disrupt my concentration, not to mention the dog begging for a walk. I'm giving it up for now; here's a few pictures... I'll try again to post the other good ones. It was a great trip.

Sunday cycling -- the cycling doesn't seem to jive with photography as well as paddling, but just as fun.
I'd like to sum up my trips and progress lately on the bike. 42 mi, 53 mi, 62 mi, 66 mi, 62 mi, 45 mi, 33 mi. I like the regular GCBC weekend ride.

Yeah, it's gonna take me a little fiddling to update my capabilities to do all I want here on the blog -- upload the pictures, optimize the template, save the darn thing so it's not lost to never never land, and last but not least, get the GPS tracks going again. Google Earth -- a great and wonderful thing, but I need some lessons on how to get the tracks as I had them on Expert GPS.

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Saturday, October 18, 2008

Visiting Kaykers

Family visiting from AZ, NC, and OR went out for some Mississippi Kaying this morning. The day was beautiful! Low tide gave us plenty of mud to look at. Shrimp jumped and fish swirled. The water was clear enough to see crabs meandering around at the water's edge. The two new kayaks did well. It's nice to have a good fleet.

Saw two ibises which was a first for me. Peggy sees them all the time in Florida, but these are the first I've ever noticed here. They look like they could get some critters out of the mud.

The mullet were jumping today... they must have known the Mullet Festival was going on in Gautier! I spent some time there at a booth promoting the Gulf Coast Heritage Trails Partnership. The web site should be up soon: www. They promote hiking, cycling, horseback riding, kayaking, walking, etc. Hope to see more good stuff out of them in the near future.

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Thursday, October 16, 2008


OK I'm a cyclist now.... I did a metric century (62.5 mi) last weekend. Although I've heard you're not a real cyclist until you do a centry (100 mi). I'll get there! This event was great. I could defintely get hooked on doing this type thing.

I'm enjoying the bike a lot, although the only problem is... its so time consuming.

Back to paddling, soon. Fall is the perfect season.

Maybe if I just quit work, I'll have more time for the fun stuff. The next elected U.S. President will take care of me. (ha!)
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Sunday, September 14, 2008

Fay, Gustav, and Ike

Hurricane season so far has brought us small adventures, but happily no large adventures. Tropical Storm Fay blew winds from the west and pushed water out of the back bay, showing us the lowest water line that I've ever seen on Front Beach. In this picture you can see the brown part of the beach, which is always covered by water, and above it the lighter color sand which is normally the only beach. Fay brought gusty winds but no rain or bad weather.

The sunset picture was taken right around that time (8/20/08). It was a blah sunset, and then for 5 minutes everything lit up from below. Like I said, you just never know...

anyway, Mom and I went out (here's me in the new kayak) that weekend and had some wind to contend with but overall, nice conditions.

Gustav brought a surge, tropical storm weather, and a big tide line to clean up. It also tore up the dock. Could have been worse...

Ike brought a surge and wind, even here. I can only imagine what it was like in Louisiana and Texas.

Overall, I'm feeling lucky.........! But it's not over yet for the year.

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Thursday, August 07, 2008

New kayaks

Bought a pair of new kayaks last weekend! They are one year old, actually, found on Craig's List and being sold by a nice young couple in Pensacola who has a baby on the way, which as I remember tends to to perclude other pursuits. They are both Riot - one is a Riot Regency and the other Enduro. They are a very pretty blue and white. The Regency has the features I wanted compared to my Old Town Millenium - smaller cockpit, sleeker design, and thigh braces - and a few nice features I hadn't even thought about - paddle rest, cargo net inside over your feet, good storage and handle design, nice look. The Enduro is good for kids, beginners, and anyone who wants to go for a liesurely stroll around the bayous. The Regency will be good for distance runs and I can't wait to take it out for one. I've been in it twice for quick paddles and so far I love it.

Monday, July 07, 2008

Stunt Kite

Here's me out on Ocean Springs Front Beach flying one of our newest stunt kites, the HQ Symphony 2.7. Barely a breeze and still that thing has a pretty good pull. I love the parafoil kites because there's nothing to break and they fold up to a flexible pack. They catch the breeze really well, too. Anyone who wants to learn to fly a stunt kite (hold a string in each hand and steer it around) should definitely start with a parafoil. They're very forgiving. It's a lot of fun. There are SO MANY things I love about living near the water!

This past weekend wasn't a big paddle weekend, but I did get in a couple of quick paddles, plus a nice 5 mile run, 22 mile bike ride, a few other various workouts, some tennis one day last week and today at lunchtime. Tomorrow I do a spin class at lunchtime and play racquetball after work. Variety is a wonderful thing when it comes to exercise. I've spent plenty of years being a couch potato so I'm just really enjoying being relatively fit where I can DO all this stuff. Speaking of tennis - how about that Wimbledon! Awesome. Both Women's and Men's finals were spectacular and inspiring to watch.
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Friday, June 27, 2008

Continuous Canvas

YOU JUST NEVER KNOW when the sky will come up with some new painting. It's random (Tyler's favorite word) and spontaneous, and when you least expect it, the most interesting lights and clouds appear. This morning there was an incredible rainbow as I crossed the Biloxi-OS bridge. This last few few weeks have been scattered and isolated thunderstorms. The best part of that is there is plenty of room between them to be able to see the tops from near and far away.

Still can't believe that awesome bay, always there to glide around in, sometimes just inviting you to bump around crossing from shore to shore like a ball on a pool table. That was about the size of this evening's paddle.
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Thursday, June 26, 2008

Early Morning Storm

I saw this storm building Wednesday morning before 6:00am. Called Mom to see if she could see it from the bay. She saw the storm building and a little later saw this waterspout in the gulf in the picture below.

There are a lot of thunderstorms these days. Last night I paddled the 8 miles to the gulf from Graveline Bay. There were storms in the area but none too close. Just enough to keep most boaters home; only one boat passed me the whole time. It was quiet and calm... the usual jumping mullet in the water... birds fished the shoreline... rumbling thunder in the distance... air temperature was perfect and the water was nice. Most amazing --- absolutely NO BUGS! Not one single mosquito or gnat. What in the world were those bugs thinking, missing a night like that?

Every now and then I think about a new boat. I want to get an optimum glide through the water... to be ONE with the boat. Smaller cockpit, good thigh braces, long and sleek design for fast and smooth travel. Something with good gas mileage : -). I've been happy with mine, but you know, life is short! I've had it for 3 years now. Might be time to try something new.
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Sunday, June 22, 2008

Summer Thunderstorms

It's raining intermittently again today and I've filled up the day with other things, so unfortunately another weekend goes by without paddling. But, no worries, I will go a day or two after work this week, if the weather cooperates. Today we had the proud parent moment of dropping the kid off at camp! I sure hope he has a good time. I know we will. Anyway, for lack of a paddling trip from this weekend, I've uploaded some pictures from an evening paddle a few days ago. Never assume it's too late in the day, just because the sun is on its way down. There is still time! Especially on the bay where there is no boat traffic after dark.

I went out by myself this particular evening and the water was perfect, the sky was beautiful, and the frogs were loud.

Another evening I went out with Mom, and we watched the sky turn all its different shades of orange after the sun went down. We wondered, "Where's the moon?", knowing it was due to rise as a full moon. We were headed west back to the dock and I looked back at the most amazing sight -- a RED full moon rising over the water. It slowly changed from red to deep orange to orange to yellow, and finally white as it got a little higher in the sky. I've never seen such a thing. It was awesome. Didn't have the camera with us though.

I love these shades of blue and pink on the water when it looks like polished metal.

I thought as I always do how much BETTER it is to be 1) outside and 2) mildly exercising, than sitting at home on the computer (like I am now) or watching TV. The body craves that, the mind craves it, it's what we are supposed to do. Unnatural things happen when we don't live the life we are biologically meant to live - a life filled with frequent activity, fresh air, rhymic movement, physical labor, exposure to the elements, natural light, and sounds of nature. Then we spend our time addressing the problems that come from the symptoms of this unnatural state we tend to create for ourselves. I think that regular doses of the things that made up the life of our ancestors for thousands and thousands of years would do us all a lot of good. And speaking of that, what makes people these days think that we have the right to drill up, and USE UP, all of the oil in this earth? What's so special about US, NOW, that makes it all ours to use? That's about as close to political as I'll get here, and generally I don't even take it into politics -- I just see it from a historical perspective and marvel at how narrow of a view some people have of our dependence on oil and lack of any inclination to reduce it. I'm not radical, but I a willing to suffer a little pain at the gas pump to get me thinking about how to use up less gas, and I'm glad to see everyone else thinking about it.

Since I'm on the subject, let me add one more FASCINATING thing I saw in the newspaper. When thinking about a fuel-efficient vehicle, don't just look at MPG. It's more important to think about gallons per mile. For example, 2 families driving 10,000 miles per year go out a buy a more fuel efficient vehicle. Family A goes from 25 mpg to 50 mpg (Prius, or whatever). Family B goes from 10 mpg (Excursion?) to 15 mpg. Who saves more -- Family A by increasing mpg by 25? Or Family B by increasing mpg by 5? You sure would think it's A, but no....

10,000 miles/25 mpg = 400 gallons
10,000 miles/50 mpg = 200 gallons; Family A saves 200 gallons per year.

10,000 miles/10 mpg = 1,000 gallons
10,000 miles/15 mpg = 666 gallons; Family B saves 333 gallons per year.

That sure makes you think.

Happy paddling...
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Wednesday, May 21, 2008


Why do some things in life just draw you in? My left brain tries to make an equation out of it; you are drawn to something, you add up the benefits (fitness, relaxation, learning about your environment, gaining experience), subtract the costs (minimally or nothing in money, costs to relationships, work, etc.), decide if it's worthwhile in terms of what you gain. My left brain is in overdrive right now; a sign of over-efficient mode induced by continuous drive and too many hours at work. Even in this mode, the time on the water brings me relief and happiness. It's really neat how those right things in life just fit in, no matter what your mood or mode, and bring you positives. So kayaking is a no-brainer and definitely deemed worthwhile no matter what the equation. I like the "Life is good" motto on all the T-shirts and stuff:



Finding that balance is key. It's very difficult in mid-life when so many things are competing for your attention. What do you do? Cover the basics, let time work in your favor, build your foundations, keep the essential elements strong... and give yourself time for what you enjoy. I guess that's my self-help book.

So, kayaking trips... When you set out without a plan, it gives your mind a chance to make decisions along the way based on many input factors, but mostly just what you feel like doing. That's a nice exercise in itself.

But anyway, besides all the philosophy, I had a nice kayak trip Sunday evening that ended with the sun going down and the moon coming up. I love it when that happens! I have had a few other good trips lately. One was at high tide, going through the marsh trails to Old Shell Landing. Another few trips with the dog on the Hobie. Several times I've been out with wind and waves that were sort of fun.

Also biked a few nice trips, including the wonderful new Ocean Springs-Biloxi bridge with its pedestrian and bike path. That's about the best thing to happen around here in a long time!

Sunday, March 30, 2008

Spring Green

It's 76 degrees and beautiful! I aimed to to spend the whole day outside today, and came pretty close to it. My to-do list didn't get any shorter, but it will have to wait... Spring doesn't last long.

Rode the bike around OS and over to the kayak. Kayaked to the gulf, a trip I haven't done in a while. I was going against both the wind and the tide going out, so going back was easy. As you can see the azaleas are in bloom. The trees have the young green leaves out and there are new shades of green everywhere.

Sunday, March 16, 2008

5 miles or so

A strange hazy-humid and very warm day yesterday invited me out to stretch my paddling muscles (in need of more exercise) and visit the bayou as it goes into springtime. The water is still cool, but the birds are making a lot more noise, and the air feels great.
The tide was high and I was able to explore a new place in the bayou, in past what I call redfish cove, branching out from the fishing hole, which is a big open spot in the bayou as it goes out to the gulf where you often see several boats. It's amazing how many new places there are to find! I came back after sunset, not even noticing the partial moon straight above my head. I thought it was the glow in the western sky that provided the small bit of light that I needed.
Once again I noticed how un-scary the water is, in daylight and in dark. But I need to remind myself to be prepared for any circumstance, such as always having all supplies (paddle float, pump, flashlight, small spare paddle, etc.) with me. It is definitely nice to have full storage facilities back where the kayak lives. I should keep a set of shorts/t-shirt available so EVERYTHING is there to go by on a whim and paddle at any time... after work, morning, evening... the days are much longer now and there is more time available. Yesterday was a gloriously long day! I feel like today is a bonus day for the weekend.

Saturday, February 16, 2008


I went out today in trusty blue
On a quest for creatures (that remain nameless)
Like the water sparkles that adorn the shorline
They linger and lie, sunning and swimming
Steadfastly sticking with their choice of location
Never thinking of buying up to a better neighborhood
They quietly enjoy their place on earth.

Sometimes social, sometimes solitary
The old and the young
The wise and the foolhardy
They often have friends that accompany them
And occasionally, a serious challenge to take on
Chipping at their armor and implicit integrity
But they stand fast, still, against all invaders.
They know they are well protected.

When partaken, they offer variety and intrigue
A pleasant and mild salty tenderness
And endless ways to be enjoyed.

Pause to appreicate that they did their job so well.
They had purpose. They had pride.
They did not write this last chapter of life.
But in the end, we realize, at that end
We all will serve some final purpose,
Just likely not one of our own choosing.
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Saturday, February 09, 2008

Rather be Kayaking

I'm blogging these pictures and outing from last weekend because I have to work this weekend and this is what I'd RATHER be doing. I wonder where I can get an "I'd rather be kayaking" bumper sticker for my car. Or my forehead. I did receive a great pair of kayak earrings for Christmas that look very nice and seem fitting. I've also been taken with Jake, the "Life is Good" character, and his representations on T-shirts and other attire. Yes, life is good. Campfire, kayak, dog... what more do you need?

The oysters practically begged us to take them back and eat them on this Saturday outing. MMM...

I want to get back to a kayak routine, and challenge myself to some distance runs. Seems there's never enough time...

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Sunday, January 27, 2008

Smooth & Sparkly Water

I haven't figured out this Picasa posting yet, but here goes another try. Looks like you can upload the pictures like before on Blogger, or you can initiate the process from Picasa by clicking on a folder and "Blog this". Then it brings in your pictures automatically and opens up a blog edit window. Oops, I just lost a picture.... got it back by re-uploading it.

Nice break in January. After a rainy, lousy Saturday, the sun came out for Sunday and it was mild and pleasant. We went for a short trip around the bay and bayou.

Look how much the birds enjoy the dead trees by the water. So many vantage points. Impressive, impassive red-tailed hawk. There was also a group of pelicans catching a ride on a thermal; it reminded me of a group of vultures circling above a roadkill.

We took the shortcut through the marsh back to the bay. That shortcut is shallow at high tide, and just mud at low tide. Thought the tide was high enough, but we just barely made it; you can see the mud piles where we pushed and scooted through by pushing with the paddles in the mud...

One of my favorite things about being around the water is how the sun sparkles on it. Who needs diamonds and such? An endless, priceless supply of jewels is always there for everyone on a sunny day by the water. Water covers 2/3 of the earth and the sun lights up half of it all the time... I think that's enough to go around.
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