Sunday, June 26, 2011

Procrastination, tadpoles and tendons

Procrastination. It's the best way to explain my preparations for this upcoming move on the 12 of July. It still doesn't seem real; a feeling me and my wife have been experiencing since we were in Newfoundland buying our new house.

I never got out paddling much this week at all. From deadlines which prevented my dodging the stuff  "I will do later" and two days of intense thunderstorms; I only got on the water once. It was nice to see my Old town kayak finally getting some good use and a good night out showing Jamie around the area.

It's too easy to blow off cleaning up the basement or purging my old clothing prior to this move.

And with a sunset at honestly doesn't leave a whole lot of time to cut the grass either.

Something I have really been putting off is running. I've had every excuse in the book after my injury; and really I am missing tendons which is a good reason to not run. People have been enforcing my lazy thoughts with confirmation of not running being a good idea. I gladly took their advice.

While I put on a few extra pounds I never really noticed until a few days ago I stepped on my scale. It was a real wake up call for me. While weight is nothing but numbers, the effects are very evident in this "beach body" season! While I'm far from vain, something needed to be done. And two nights ago the numbers stairing back at me gave me incentive to get back to a healthy weight.

Walking a km for a cool down after a 30 minute barefoot run; I took in the old growth pine around me. There are many things I will miss in this valley...the forest being one. My hardened feet picked up crushed stone as I stepped over the human made path through this grove. I was inebriated again. The high of a run is something that I crave....I've just been too lazy to put in the work to get there.

Nice and early I returned home to get the basement purged of all our junk.

Arriving home my wife was working her butt off in my absence. She had opened up my sons water table to see tadpoles swimming around! Our back lawn is covered in tiny frogs.

...I think I'll wait to drain that water until the last day possiable.
Sometime procrastination can be good.

Monday, June 20, 2011

Fathers day

Fathers day isn't one we really celebrate. I absolutely hate store bought card's and always have. I remember at a young age reading through another pointless card attached to a gift this letter is telling me it's Christmas/ my birthday etc. I think I got that figured out! I don't send cards to people, and as of late most people have caught on that I won't read em and don't attach them or send em anymore.

Not to mention I value and appreciate my father 24/7. He gave me the best childhood a guy can ask for. I can look back on my childhood with nothing but happiness; and that I have come to find is a lot different than many upbringings. My oldest made me a card and I got the best gift ever of a sunflower he had been growing at school for me. We spent the cool afternoon messing about in the kayak and swimming. What more can a dad ask for?

Close to their bedtime I paddled about the islands listening to boat wakes crashing on the shoreline reminding me of home. Newfoundland has taken over my brain and I am so looking forward to going home.

Calls  about mortgages, and trying to figure out if we have everything done....and a whole bunch of procrastination on things around the house we NEED to get done....maybe tomorrow.

25 sunsets left in the Ottawa valley.

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Kayaking fulminology

Diving out to Blackbay here in Petawawa my eye caught a glimpse of this gravel pit as I twisted and turned over the narrow two lane country roads. The water either effected by silt or some kind of algae was the brightest blue I have seen water here in Ontario. The transition between my car's AC blasting on max and the outside was like being slapped by a large wet hot blanket as I got out to have a look. The appeal to go check this place out must have been high by the locals here at some point. Barbed wire fences and signs denied my freedom. Enclosed from my curiosity.

As I pushed off into blackbay a couple boats were hauling off the water,young guys and gals sunburned lobster red. The smell of booze, hashish and cologne signaled they were well prepped for the nights activities. The thump of far off thunder echoed down the valley like cannon volleys. I was on the front of the storm rolling in and I paddled off into blackbay.

I had only made it a couple km out to the edge of black bay and the Barron river. Lightning began to crackle across the sky as cool air rolled up the river in one solid wall.

Golden eagles took to the updrafts with their young. 8 eagles in all put on a awesome show of agility as they followed the free push from the gathering weather.

I'm not a person who really worries too much about lightning. In reality I just survived a drive along a major highway to get here at 100km/hr...with evolved primates driving a plethora of metal box's at high speeds. Lightning seems less dangerous when you really compare the two! However noticing this wasn't a quick summer storm that was just skirting the valley; I decided to pull pin on my trip to first chute.

I wasn't in a hurry to get back home. I was quite content here in the storm. My kids were in bed and my wife would be enthralled in some dancing and singing show by now I guessed. Television has never really had much appeal to me. I figure I will get into television if I ever get sick or when I'm dying sometime in the future. Until then I'm quite content without it. Out here is the only reality show for me.

Walking around barefoot toughening the shoes I was born with. They've become "nish"
( Newfoundland word for: tender, easily injured ) over the cold months confined to boots. For me being barefoot is just another connection to my surroundings. Another way to augment my experience.

I took my dear sweet time paddling back as the storm fully engulfed my little 5km world. The wind changed direction repeatedly as warm and cool done battle. Cumulonimbus climbed fast overhead.

Paddling near shore movement caught my eye as animals jumped rock to rock along the shoreline. Going in for a closer look I discovered it was at least 100 fishing spiders! I've never seen so many in my life! It seemed every rock had it's own resident spider.

As the storm increased the sun still managed to shine through the haze. I hung around trying to get pictures of the awesome lightning and beautiful sunset, however my point and shoot just doesn't have the proper settings to capture it....time for a DSLR I think.

As the storms intensity increased directly overhead I headed for the take out. As I loaded my kayak onto the roof of my car the world turned white with instant deafing crackle of a close hit! I dropped my avocet into the grass and done a little dance of sorts. I could smell burning but couldn't see where it hit.  I laughed at my reaction....then looked around to make sure no one had seen.

All loaded up (very quickly I may add) I was on my way home. I took my time along the sandy dirt road as this time of year the turtles come out of the marshes and waterways; looking for loose sandy areas with lots of sun to lay their eggs. The shoulder of our roads make for excellent nesting areas. You will see a lot more turtles out and about on our roadways from now until July, so drive safe! And if possible avoid these mom's looking for a place to carry on their species.

The intense storm overhead I turned on my video camera to catch some of the awesome power around me. While the weather had cut my paddle quite short it was a beautiful display of natures beauty.

Life is good.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Testing the waters.

Preview above of a few pages. 20 pages in total.

I'm testing the water with a few different projects right now. One of course being my guide book of the upper Ottawa river. However I am awaiting till I am in Newfoundland to allow the ability to sit down with a cup of tea and type out my memories and align grid data to it. Getting published for a guy like me who writes a blog and a scatter article elsewhere is darn near impossible, so I have been looking at other options. While it's much higher a price than I would like, its what I have to work with.

***Approx 1 throwbag in length***

 I decided to take 20 of my favorite photo's of the Ottawa river from kayak trips only. I published it back in May however I've kept the book of pictures quiet as I wasn't sure what the quality would be. Today I finally got it delivered and surprised my very awe struck wife with it. It was great to get some feedback from something I had kept quiet.....even from her!

I was wondering what to do with the first print since I got it. Should I run a competition? Should I pick a lucky winner from the facebook group? Honestly while I like both those options I have another idea.

People have wrote me both on the site as well as here on the blog about inspirational things. What was inspirational to me were the comments about the joy or relaxation some of my pictures brought people. One person wrote me to thank me for a couple pictures that had helped her through a rough patch in life. How awesome is that! I'm honestly humbled that my kayak and me with a little point and shoot camera could inflict a sense of adventure, a sense of disgust, a sense of love, all by pushing a button on my little lumix waterproof camera.

Not needing thanks other than the thought of helping someone my plan is to drop it in with the local hospitals Emergency room reading material. Hopefully it will give someone some calm they are looking for. Maybe it will put a injured person into a kayak to find the peace I have found out there myself.

*** Grass not included***
Either way here is the link to the book. If you don't have the $ to spend you can free preview it on that site. As well any pictures you want off this site just drop me a line and I'll send em along......maybe that's not the best business model ha ha! None the less I'm sincere!

*** note Canadians..this site still has our dollar quite low. If you select to pay in American you save a buck or two!***

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Rambling saturday

A few claps of thunder and periods of heavy rain seemed like a beckoning call yesterday. The rain would drive the normal powerboats off the river, and the few claps of thunder would send the fishermen home I figured. Off to the launch!

The river was fairly void of anyone. Sunny breaks illuminating through the blanket of spring.

I decided to pull up on a random rocky island to scout around. My minds been elsewhere lately with all this moving stuff; I figured some granite and a macro view of the world might divert my wandering mind back into the moment.

I've been doing far too much forward thinking. Poisoning my moments I'm living now; with conjecture and questions to myself about our new life east. Should I join a kayak club? I've never been much of a "joiner"....if that's even an word. Should I go ahead with Paddle Canada courses although I have some personal reservations against the organisation? Do I really want to ever teach paddling anyway in a formal setting? Should I go become a mason and take the bricklayers course? Would  I enjoy it for a occupation as much as I think I would? Should I start to build the rock house of my dreams when I arrive to Newfoundland? These are just a menial sliver of my rambling mind. Such frivolous bullshit in the grand scheme of life really....and boy have I had to think about some crazy stuff in my short life! All quieted by rain drops on fauna.

Very different looking flowers were scattered on one side of the island. Just looking at each plants location made it seem as if the east wind had pitched them onto the island. Westward knoll's were void of this wonderful plant telling the story of their arrival.
Rumbles in the distance; yet the air and wind remained calm. I sat on the island watching the day drift by.

Returning home through sunny breaks and heavy current I focused my mind on my paddle stroke. Finishing my time alone quieting my mind and re directing my focus.

Marked as "rapids" on maps these little things are not really what I would consider anything to even record.  Which is a great way of comparing my VERY minor questions I have in life. While my questions may appear on my map of life, most are not worth thinking about. When I arrive at them along I'm certain they will be so minor...I may paddle over them without even noticing.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Avian abode:Redux

As I finally get around to writing today the air is cool. The storms have passed by and the tornado's and lighting storms seem to have "cleared" the air. Getting out over the past few days was rough. The water temp is still fairly cold requiring a dry suit; however temperatures soared to low 40's. A short paddle was in order however after supper. Water packed I headed out for a short trip along my section of the Ottawa.

The crossing while only 3 km's from my launch was a painful one. Dipping my ball cap into the cool waters to cool my head which quickly dried. I decided to go check out how the new young family of geese were making out. They were nowhere to be found around the island. The time since their young's birth would still have the chicks unable to fly. I assume the parents must have moved on after their young were killed off. All that remains of the nest and them is fertilizer for the new spring plants. Soon their story will be covered and forgotten. Their young eaten is far from sad; as I'm certain it provided an excellent start to to another species. Life is cruel but beautiful.

One sign of death observed could not replace the hundreds of signs of life. Growing from the nests fertilisers and feces of this now destroyed family of birds.

As I paddled on I was treated to the beautiful sound of a seagull nesting area. For many here on the mainland seagulls remind them of KFC and garbage dumps. For me it reminds me of cool morning fog as I paddle along on the North Atlantic alone. It reminds me of cleaning fish with my father and uncle. Perception is a wonderful thing.
Good memories were quickly moot as the colony took flight and displayed their amazing ability to defecate while flying.

The nesting island also had a few cormorants present as well. Young gulls screaming the same as their parents tumbled over rocks trying to get to their nests. The smell was really a bit much for me, the water held the smell as well. Already having decorated my boat in some white on red abstract painting I paddled off to let the colony of very group orientated birds get back to some semblance of order. And do some rolls to clean off my boat.

The sun now setting I paddled past a few more rocks which have become inhabitant by smaller colonies. They all took flight as I approached leaving the young to fend for themselves alone on the rocks.

Finding a nice rocky outcrop a couple islands down; free from screaming gulls and inches of white shit I pulled in to enjoy the sunset. The black flies and mosquito's had abated quite a bit since my last time out. I was able to breath through my nose instead of through gripped teeth to filter flies from my oxygen.

While I am very happy drinking water as a only source of hydration there is something about carbonated drinks I just crave. I usually opt for calorie free drinks and usually have Perrier on hand. A habit I picked up believe it or not in Afghanistan. The bubbles cut the dust out of my throat and was a little simple gift in life that was otherwise austere. A friend had given me a couple pomegranate drink that he just didn't like. I love em!

Popping the cap a childhood habit of looking for my prize payed off. A quick jump to my right......

The bottle cap was correct.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

New Kayaking kit

I am obsessed with green energy. Now some may picture me home sewing burlap sacks into shaws for summer clothing....I'm not quite that far.....yet. I wouldn't call myself a environmentalist as that's a label...and I'm not too big on having one. However the ability to power a VHF radio, notebook,charge all my batteries, and pretty well anything else for free I personally think is pretty cool.
Powerfilm R-14 mounted on the Avocet

Looking around the market I honestly was lost in what I needed. I didn't have a clue where to start. I got in contact with a Canadian company Modern outpost through a friend Joe O'Blenis. I got in contact with Mr Graham Morfitt Owner of the company who basically put together this collection of toys with nothing more than a list of what i needed to run and for how long daily. Today has been the first chance I had to take it out and try it albeit only in my's slightly shaggy so I think that counts as a field test.

Not having a voltmeter I decided I would test the solar panel by touching the wire to my tongue. It hurt and burned a little. GTG!!!

Burton Sustain Battery.

This battery pack will keep my energy stored for when I need it. Simply plug it into the solar panel to charge. Has a USB port and many attachments to connect things like notebooks, phones, VHF's etc.

Vario battery charger
Universal battery charger for all those funky batteries such as camera batteries.

AA/ AAA charger

Rolled up for storage next to my tripod (toe for reference)

Burton 's sustain battery can also be charged right from the wall prior to trips or even charge it up on the way to the put in VIA the cigarette lighter (err 12 volt auxiliary port I guess they call it now?).  Lego is a great way to pass the time while you wait for it to charge.

I havent made up my mind about mounting the solar panel on the deck....I hate having stuff up there honestly. Not to mention having only 4 tie downs I see it disappearing in a good bit of weather.  I forsee me taking a rest day on occasion or a weather day to charge up my gear.

How do I foresee myself using this kit?

I see the Burton coming along on 2-5 day trips just to allow me to not conserve my cameras battery and be the shutterbug I've become! Charge up phone etc on occasion if I bring one. AA/AAA battery chargers of course for the GPS, headlamps,SPOT etc.

And the big one...

Now Prior to my daily trips I can charge all my stuff off the grid! Not costing me a cent and making my trips just a little greener.

Very happy with the gear...Will post more once I trial it out in the real world.