A Quick Saturday Paddle to Olalla Bay

Once upon a time, the Hubby thought it would be great to get me into kayaking. So we went down to Point Defiance and rented some kayaks at Owen Beach for a leisurely paddle along the shore. We were meandering our way back from the end of the promenade when we heard something that sounded incredibly similar to a whale. Of course, it’s impossible that there are whales in the tiny, mile-and-a-half stretch of water between Point Defiance and Vashon Island, right? I mean, they’re giant creatures that MUST want more room to swim, right…? Right?!?

Uh, no. Because while I was still busy doubting that there might possibly be a whale there, a humpback (!!!) decided to surface again, complete with fluke show. You know, in case anyone might disbelieve that such a thing might happen. Score one for you, Mother Nature.

Fast forward several years and multiple kayaks later, to this Saturday. We’re on Owen Beach, preparing for another Seventy48 training paddle. The tide was higher than we’d experienced before, but we had managed to find a launch point that would allow me to keep my feet dry, and we were just about ready to hop in the boats.

Owen Beach at high tide - ready to launch for our Saturday morning paddle.

Right at that moment, some friendly folks stopped by and said, “I’m not sure how far out you’re heading, but there are some whales just over there,” and pointed to the Vashon ferry terminal. Sure enough, when we looked that direction, the orcas (!!!) decided to show themselves. I may have spent some moments freaking out before gearing myself up to get into a tiny kayak to paddle in the middle of freezing cold water with a pod of GIANT PREDATORS. But then I went for it.

At that point, I didn’t know if these were Residents (who eat salmon) or Transients (who eat marine mammals), so I did tell some harbor seals nearby that my kayak was not a safe place to hang out if they needed refuge. I doubt they spoke English, but they didn’t jump on my kayak, so I consider that a win. Later in the day, I logged onto the Orca Network‘s facebook page, where they were identified as K pod (Residents), and it suddenly made more sense why the seals were just kind of lounging in the water nearby.

I stayed calm enough (temporarily) to snap some grainy cell phone photos of the orcas frolicking near the Vashon shore. These aren’t very high quality, but the black and white smudges near the top of the water are orca whales. The small white smudges in front of the shoreline are whale breath – or you know, spouts, if you want to get technical.

Orca spouting near Vashon IslandOrca spouting near Vashon IslandOrca whale diving near Vashon Island

After these photos, I got even more freaked out. You know, because the whales were EVERYWHERE. They were pretty well spread out between Gig Harbor and the Tahlequah ferry dock. They were minding their own business for a while, but then it was apparently time to head downtown, because one of the whales that had been playing near Gig Harbor started to head RIGHT FOR US. I mean, I’m sure that it wasn’t heading for us, so much as it was heading beyond us. But it was on a beeline path in our direction for a non-zero amount of time. At that point, I said a quick prayer to the orca, “Dear Orca, please notice that we are here and decide that you want nothing to do with us.”

I get that these whales are not interested in eating us. I just also understand that we’re tiny specks on their radar, and I suspect that they might not know their own strength. Also, I don’t really trust that if they startle me, I’ll react calmly enough to stay upright. I’m easily startled, after all.  Luckily, Laura reminded me that I should be doing some zen breathing. And they eventually took off for another area. I definitely had more adrenaline than I need for good kayaking technique, but that’s another story.

Paddling North into Colvos Passage

All’s well that ends well, and all four of us landed safely in Olalla Bay just two hours after first hitting the water. This in spite of spare adrenaline, gazing at orcas, whitecaps, wind, and employing my “very distinctive” panic paddle technique. Once again, we did things that were more difficult than I thought I could handle. And we came out the other side just fine, albeit a little muscle-sore. You do that enough, and you start feeling like a total bad-ass.

Landing in Olalla Bay

Eleven in 2017

Although I read more than eleven books this year, many of them were “oldies but goodies” – where I hung out with book friends I already know, rather than meeting anyone new. I didn’t set a goal for myself in 2017, and I think it shows.

  1. Exit, Pursued by a Bear by E. K. Johnston
  2. What Belongs to You by Garth Greenwell
  3. A Crown of Wishes by Roshani Ghokshi
  4. The Call of Earth by Orson Scott Card
  5. The Memory of Earth by Orson Scott Card
  6. The Ships of Earth by Orson Scott Card
  7. Homecoming: Earth by Orson Scott Card
  8. Fractured by Catherine McKenzie
  9. Insurgent by Veronica Roth
  10. Allegiant by Veronica Roth
  11. Managers As Mentors: Building Partnerships for Learning

I have just one book checked out from the library, none on hold, and a ridiculous 572 that I’ve listed as something I’ll want to read later.  Since I increased my “later” list by a cool 150 titles, but only managed to read eleven new books this year… It must be time to challenge myself to get more reading done in 2018.

#OptOutside: 2017 Edition

Our traditional Black Friday #OptOutside was our first time on the water since hearing about https://www.seventy48.com/… and trying to figure out if we have what it takes to join in that race. Seventy miles in 48 hours or less, including sleeping, eating, and bathroom breaks. This challenge has me looking at charts, trying to figure out which waterfront park restrooms are closest to their kayak launch, and plotting potential picnic and camping spots along the way.

This was also our third Black Friday spent on the water. The first time REI promoted #OptOutside, Little Baby Laura worked there, and got us excited about it. Last year, I think we grumbled around the house for half the day before finally making it out to float the Narrows. This year, I had a goal to map our journey and figure out how quickly we eat up the miles. Well… how quickly we cover the miles at a leisurely pace. I’m not looking to paddle as hard as I can for 48 hours straight, after all.

The verdict? 3.7 nautical/4.25 good, old-fashioned, regular miles in 1 hour & 42 minutes. First, we did 2.1 miles from Owen Beach to Point Ruston in one hour and one minute…
Looking towards the Marina from Owen Beach #OptOutsideLooking towards Vashon Island on the way from Owen Beach #OptOutsideView of the marina towards the end of the Promenade #OptOutsideLooking towards the Point Ruston Ferry as The Hubby kayaks approaches the first walkway #OptOutside
…and then we paddled the 2.1 miles back in just 41 minutes.
Raindrops in the foreground and Baby Laura Kayaking with Vashon Island in the background #OptOutsideView of the Promenade and Owen Beach from the water #OptOutsideAutumn leaves on the hillside above the Owen Beach Promenade as viewed from the water #OptOutsideFinal approach to Owen Beach with a bald eagle flying over Point Defiance #OptOutside

Were we faster on the return trip because we had the wind at our back? Because we were more in sync with the ebb tide? Because it started to rain and we had more motivation to hustle back to shore? Difficult to say. But I am certain that we’ll want to do several more practice runs and examine the weather, wind, and currents along the path as we approach the application deadline. It doesn’t seem impossible, but as I mentioned to my kayaking buddies this morning: I’m not yet #InItToWinIt. I’m more #MaybeInItToPotentiallyFinishIt. More training, more research, and more kayaking to follow.

CSA Share June 20, 2017

It’s CSA time!!!

Our first share from Zestful Gardens for 2017 has:

  • 1/2 pound Peas
  • 1 head Bok Choi
  • 1 head Chinese Cabbage
  • 1 head Endive
  • 1 bunch Chard
  • 1 bunch Garlic Scapes
  • 1 head Lettuce
  • 1 pint Strawberries
  • 1 bunch Basil

Recipes we tried out:

Ross Lake Dam Trail

On our way back from a fun weekend in Mazama, the Hubby and I decided to check out the Ross Lake Dam Trail. I’d heard about it originally in an article from Sunset Magazine, and since we were so close, we decided to add the hike onto our trip home. Given my druthers, I probably would never hike on an 86° day. Especially not an 86° day at the end of a three-day weekend full of rafting and adult beverages. The hike down the hill was pretty nice, but when you have to turn around and do that same mile UPhill… let’s just say that I’m proud that I made it back okay, and I was very grateful when the Hubby dipped my hat in Happy Creek on the way back. That ice-cold water really helped get me through the last little bit!

Pictures from the hike are below – mostly taken on the way down, when I could think about photos. The way back up took most of my brainpower to keep putting one foot in front of the other. Well… maybe not most of my brainpower… but far too much to think about pictures!

 

 

Board Body Workout

Once upon a time, the Hubby and I snowboarded ALL. THE. TIME. As in, we would purchase season passes when they went on sale in the Spring. And we would make sure we got our money’s worth. We would head to the mountains any weekday we had off work and at least one day each weekend. We would snowboard on Christmas Day. One year, when our local mountains were low on the white stuff, we even drove across the state and back for a few hours of snowboarding.

Then our lives changed. We no longer had weekends quite as available for snowboarding. Season passes stopped being the economical choice. Snowboarding became an every-once-in-a-while occurrence, although I think we’ve managed to make it to the slopes at least once each year. But that one time isn’t as fun as it used to be. Instead of experiencing the freedom of flowing down smooth runs, we’re re-learning how to control our boards (and our bodies). It’s a lot of work, and not necessarily very enjoyable. More frustrating, actually. For us and for those that ride with us.

When the Hubby took me on my first snowboarding adventure, he told me that you cannot tell if you like it or not on the first day. Or the second. The third day is when you can tell if you’re having fun or not. He said that this works exceptionally well if you are able to ride three days in a row. I trusted him, and I gave it three good tries, and I was hooked.

But now? Now we don’t often have three tries in a year. Now we have other priorities and other activities that compete for our time and resources. Now, snowboarding feels like work MOST of the time we’re doing it.

But we used to really love it. The Hubby might still really love it, even through all the work and frustration and leg pain. Me? I’m on the fence. But not quite ready to give up on it. So this year, we’re trying something new. We’re trying to get into snowboarding shape first, and then hit the slopes.

So I did some googling and found this snowboarding workout. And we gave it a shot for the first time last night. We cannot manage it. Literally – we can’t do all of the exercises in the set. If you’re interested, you can read through my bullets on what I did & didn’t do – I won’t be offended if you skip those, though.

Hubby and I committed to spend up to 15 minutes a day for the next seven days, attempting these exercises and to re-evaluate at that point. I’m curious to see how much we’ll improve and how sore we’ll be at the end. I don’t really think that doing some exercises in our living room will completely make up for being able to hit the slopes every weekend. But I do think that anything that makes us move more and work our muscles is probably pushing us in the right direction.

Read on if you’re interested to see where we started. Or check back in next week for an update!

  • Pulse Squats are okay. My quads are burning by the end, but 30 seconds doesn’t seem like the end of the world.
  • Mountain Climbers feel like I should be able to do a lot more of them, a lot more easily… but they’re also okay.
  • We skipped the Step Ups because I don’t think we have anything in our house that we could actually step onto for these. If it weren’t storming out, I would have braved the front porch steps. But it wasn’t worth it. So we nixed them.
  • Russian Twists were literally the only thing I felt like I could do well, for the full time. I think I owe that to Liz’s 6:30 a.m. Abs Class at the Downtown YMCA – my abs may be hidden, but they’re still pretty strong, and my obliques can probably withstand a lot more punishment than this workout can dish out.
  • Single Leg Stand Up… I managed two on each side. We completely abandoned the concept of 30 seconds per leg and focused on attempting to complete the exercise. At all.
  • Back Extensions were okay for me, also. This is an exercise I did for physical therapy following my car accident a little over a year ago, so it’s not completely foreign to me. One of the exercises where I didn’t feel like I was about to die while trying it.
  • Elevated Stationary Single Lunge was difficult, and I don’t think my form was great… but I got through it.
  • Quick Get Up – from the description the Hubby read, I thought you weren’t supposed to use your hands to stand up. That proved impossible. I was able to manage this one a few times on each side, but had to push off with my hand. Seems like that’s cool, from the photos. So I did it. But it was pretty difficult.

We did NOT repeat the exercises a second time. We made our way through the list (except the Step Ups) once and called it good for a start. And I was immediately sore and felt like it was a chore to sit down. That feeling hasn’t changed in the last 24 hours.

We completely neglected to do any stretches, but judging by how tight my legs feel today, that will be an important component to bring into our lives.

More Reading 2016

With 2017 breathing down my neck, I don’t think I’ll finish any other new books in 2016.  You’ll notice that I read a lot fewer per month over the last few months than I did in the first few months.  I did keep up with my reading, but I had some of those tough times where you just want to hang out with the book friends you already know.  Y’all have times like that, right?  It’s not just me?

ANYWAY… Here’s what I read recently:

  1. The Haters by Jesse Andrews – I was entertained by this book, and even more entertained by imagining my friend, Chris Blount, working as hard as these characters to actively hate all around them.
  2. The Glorious Heresies by Lisa McInerney – entwined stories bring characters together in a web of unpleasantness.  There wasn’t anyone in this book that’s likely to become a friend, but it was fascinating peering into their lives.
  3. At Hawthorne Time by Melissa Harrison – I felt wistfully that most of these characters were within reach of a better life, but that none of them seemed to have the gumption to change it.  Some of the description and imagery was really nice – worth the read, but you might feel frustrated at the choices the characters are making.
  1. The Magicians by Lev Grossman – I loved the beginning of this book.  If the kids had stayed in school forever, I think I would have been extremely happy.  I basically felt dissociated from them once they were out in the world… and made their way to other worlds.  I see that you can watch the Syfy show on Netflix… we’ll see if that idea catches hold for me or not.
  2. The Dive from Clausen’s Pier by Ann Packer – I loved this book.  A section of the novel involves the main character frequenting my favorite haunts in Manhattan.  I was transported back to my time there and I luxuriated in those scenes.  I didn’t love the end… but I guess the author gets to make her own choices for her characters, right?
  3. The Fault in Our Stars by John Green – I haven’t seen the movie, but I did know (just from being alive in 2016 with an internet connection) that it involves a love story between teenage cancer patients.  So I was expecting some tears.  I wasn’t expecting how the numerous losses of 2016 would pour out of my eyes in huge, racking sobs.  But I probably should have known that would happen.  I liked this book, and have passed it to another reader, so she can cry big, heavy tears of her own.

And an update on my reading list?

Of course, since you asked… I have just 4 books checked out from the library, 29 on hold, and a ridiculous 422 that I’ve listed as something I’ll want to read later.  Seems like I should be able to at least manage to read 23 new-to-me books in 2017, right?

I’m very glad that I challenged myself to get more NEW reading accomplished this year.  I look forward to meeting new book friends and travelling different places in 2017!