Friday, July 29, 2016

Today’s Ka-Yak Attack

Yeah, I know... It’s a trite and overused for a title, but for me, it’s damned appropriate. I haven’t had my 10-foot, Manatee (L.L. Bean) kayak in the water since ............ (I’m remembering) ......... (Takes me some time, I guess) ...... (I finally had to look it up.).. Jeepers! Ocean Springs, Mississippi (November, 2015), when I paddled around Davis Bayou along the Gulf Islands National Seashore. I saw the dolphin (thought it was a shark) and didn’t see the alligator (good thing I didn't). That’s a story for another time - if I haven’t written it already. Needless to say, after carrying this beautiful boat around on my roof rack all last fall, winter and spring - through Indiana, Kentucky, Tennessee, Alabama, Mississippi, Louisiana, Texas and Arkansas -  it was about time I got it lake wet, not rain wet. I’m stoked. Today’s that day. (July 16, 2016)

The Weather Channel app on my iPhone says it will be a cool-ish 82-84 by late afternoon, but pleasantly in the 70s for air temperatures most of today, skies clear and winds light for smooth paddling. Of course, I’ve failed to mention, thus far, that I’m camped at Hardin Ridge Recreational Area which is part of the Hoosier National Forest and close to the largest inland lake in the entire state of Indiana. The campsite reservation I chose (Bluegill #101) from on the internet (thru reservations.gov) was woefully inaccurate and somewhat misleading. “Tammy”, from the park office, called me one day a week ago and said that the spot I had selected might be uncomfortable for my stay and that I might not be happy there, so we made arrangements to re-assign me a different spot when I got here in order to save me the $10 transfer fee through the website. When I arrived, a simple phone call was made in the office and I’m now in White Oak #145 and I have to say, she was right. Nice spot. Five Star review for customer service, Tammy.

White Oak Site #145. Nice, shady and of good size.
If I were to tell you that Lake Monroe was an inland boater’s paradise, I’d be fairly correct - for Hoosiers, that is. It’s a fantastic weekend getaway for families and their expensive pontoons, ski boats and boats just made to go-fast. Come to think of it, I saw no one skiing. Do they not do that anymore? The sailboats stay in their own section, pretty much. Me? I’ll be hugging the safety of the shoreline. While most boaters get out early, I’m more of a have my coffee and wake-up before I hit the docks kind of guy. Thought I might do something (write this) while I do - edit later. I do get some TV reception here, but Saturday mornings are not the cartoon paradise they used to be when I was a kid or even when my kids were kids.

A nicely created vista along the road toward the beach and boat ramp.
Before I came down here, I began looking at YouTube videos and how these guys make videos while they’re fishing and boating. Who runs the camera? Do they hire a pro, a girlfriend or set-up a tripod in their boat? I found a few solutions - professionally manufactured and some homemade with PVC piping, so between the two methods, I’ll figure something. Of course, I have my iVue sunglasses with the 8-gig digital video camera in the nose bridge that Pam bought for me as a Christmas gift. She is so thoughtful. I also have my HD Drift Ghost video camera that I shot my flight in a 1929 Standard bi-wing airplane when I visited the Old Rhinebeck Aerodrome in New York state. Batteries are charged in both, but I’m still not ready yet. I don’t know if I’ll fire it up this trip. I need more familiarity in my boat before I become the next “Wild Kingdom” video show host.

Some folks down the lane from my camp site just went by towing their pontoon boat. Gonna be a busy day out on the water.

Time-out. Gotta go paddle.

The boat ramp is out this lane, turn right, then down the road, around the bend and down the hill. Don’t blink or you’ll pass the road that leads to the beach. The beach road isn’t marked .. You just kinda have to sense it with “The Force”. Or, you can do like I did ... turn left and ..  “Let’s see where this road goes.... Ah, the beach.” In a little bit, I’ll get to see the beach from the lake side in my little boat.

The wheels were positioned improperly here, but I learned.
I’m glad I bought that set of wheels. Look how far away the boat ramp is... Once I learned how to strap it to the kayak, it was a cinch to pull it down to the water - it was all downhill from here. Actually, I had all kinds of trouble with where I strapped this thing to the kayak. It’s too far toward the rear and kept sliding off. It works much better nearer the center which I later found out. I would have known that ahead of time if I had read the accompanying instruction sheet. Still, coming back up the hill and tired, would be another matter. Push, Jim, push yourself - adapt, improvise, overcome!

It's a long way from the parking lot to the boat ramp.
Down the hill and to the left from the parking area is the boat ramp. I could just off-load my kayak down there, but guys with pontoon boats, high-powered ski boats and fishing boats seem to have the right of way and no mercy for the novice paddler struggling with his new gear. I found out still more while out of the water. I’ve seen it many times in life. A guy and his wife work their asses off to provide a nice, comfortable lifestyle and they want to enjoy themselves with their family. Trick is, they only have late Friday, all day Saturday and half-day Sunday to pack in a whole week’s worth of recreation, before back to work. So, they load out and run their boats at top speed down the lake toward nowhere in particular, like their hair was on fire - just riding around, no place to go. It’s a lake.

Just after taking out at the boat ramp. It was a nice run, today.
I had not thought about it, but I have seen waterproof cell phone cases with special rigging for earbuds so that listening to your favorite music from your cell phone memory would be possible out on the water. I almost bought one, but I couldn’t get it delivered for this trip. Instead, something interesting happened. I dropped my car keys into the same waterproof envelop I had my cell phone in and slipped it under my life vest. Within a few seconds, some music began to play. Touch screen. I tried to figure out how to shut-off the music without taking the phone back out of the case. Then I asked myself, “Why?” So, I let it play. As I was getting video from the iVue Sunglasses camera, I figured I’d have background music along the way. Why add another audio channel to the video in post-production? I’m usually not one to talk to myself as I paddle, so this seemed the right thing to do. It worked.

As I paddled around, staying close to the shore, I paddled over to the beach area. Not very busy yet, but prime rays were a few hours off. I did see some guys in a $20,000 boat over there, fishing 10 feet from the bank. Go figure. So, I changed direction and paddled around into another semi-quiet inlet, when I saw the cutest thing. I caught it on video, but not clearly and seemingly from a distance since the camera has a wide-angle lens. A young mother was helping her very young baby daughter “hang it over the side” of the ski deck to pee when a big wave rolled in and slapped her right on the butt. Perfect timing. Whoa! What a rush!

Video to follow. (Insert video here)

Paddler’s End: I’m tired and I need a shower -- no kidding. I’m staying down-wind of everybody for a while. I wonder if it’s true what they say that you can smell yourself one or two days before anyone else can. I’m not buying that and I’m not taking that chance.

A Shower, a shower, ... I need a shower.
Thank goodness I got this shot before the flies started buzzing around. I didn’t fall-in, I just perspired a lot under my PFD (life vest) and to top it off, I was in such a hurry, I didn’t remember my Arrid-XX Dry this morning. Hence, a new priority .. Shower up.--

Can you tell that the sunglasses I’m wearing have a little camera with 8-gigs of memory in the nose bridge? I shot almost two hours of POV video. It should take me four hours to edit it .. IF, I can stay awake after I get back to camp, get a nice warm shower and relax a bit. What? A question? Why, yes! That IS a genuine Tilly hat. Love it.

Supposed to be another perfect day tomorrow. I wonder if I can paddle in some area where the water waves are a bit quieter. I’ll ask around. Ask any other boater if it’s worth all the hassle to take their boat out and the answer will always be, “yes”.

Over the course of my 14-day stay, the weather cooperated a few more times which allowed two more trips into the lake with my little boat. Note to self: Go in the morning on a day NOT filled with lots of other boaters. The lake is more calm without wakes and cross-wakes from powerboats. It's a lot easier to paddle and enjoy the quiet calm and the scenery.

Of course, I took video each time I went out. I have over six-hours worth, but I still can't bring myself to edit it down to a few short moments for online sharing. Instead, I'll splice the smaller pieces together and add a mellow soundtrack and create an "I can't get to sleep" video. Surely, for the restless mind it adds some focus, but for the agile mind, it adds nothing and will soon be turned-off.

I don't take photos and videos for other people any more. I take them for me and to document a life lived as I want it to be. I'm retired and that's my plan.

-30-

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