Saturday, August 09, 2014

Winkie Convention Report... Kayaking...

Hubby-Eric and I got up Friday morning about our usual time then wandered down to get breakfast at one of the restaurants. The very helpful server managed to get us a decent deal that satisfied us both. Yay!

At 7:30 a.m. we were at the pool waiting for other folks to go to La Jolla beach for a kayak tour. Eventually we got all sorted out and found the vehicle we were going in, then got to our destination in time to be outfitted with lifejackets and helmets. We were forbidden to bring our own non-waterproof cameras, which turned out to be a good thing. We could have rented a waterproof camera, but that wasn't an option for us due to a funding shortage.

The tour guides also recommended getting a lanyard to secure glasses to your face. Another Oz fan kindly bought me one. Thank goodness.

I was wearing a swimsuit with a t-shirt over it and sweats. We walked to the beach, about four blocks total. I was wearing birkenstocks. I really wish I had good beach/pool shoes for it, but we were able to leave our birks on the beach. I eventually also took off the sweats because I knew they would get wet no matter how good I was in the kayak once I saw how deep people had to wade to push off across the incoming tide.

Eric and I decided to share a kayak with Eric in the back and me in the front. Once into the surf, the tide was difficult but not horrid. The water temperature was bearable, not really cold though not warm. Eric got in and I tried to get in, but *splash* into the surf I went. I had to reset my glasses on my face. Thank you, Gina, for the lanyard! We tried again and stalled on the beach. Our third try again resulted in me taking a dive into the water.

By this time most of the others were launched, so the guides decided to help us. We got out a bit deeper this time before turning too far into the waves and becoming swamped. So, the guide tried again and, again, we got fairly far out before getting a solid dunking. Four freakin' times. Twice I went entirely under water. I am a decent swimmer and unafraid of getting wet, but at the start of a tour that seems a bit excessive.

The guide recognized that something wasn't working between Eric and I on the kayak, which he had earlier jokingly called a divorce boat. So he put us each in our own kayaks. This time the launch(es) went perfectly. Clearly, hubby-Eric and I are not kayak-compatible.

Sadly, once in a single kayak, I had to paddle with some energy to keep up with the main group. Sadly, this was not easy. I am far more out-of-shape than I realized. In addition, my wet hands did not handle the paddle as well as possible, leading in short order to painful blisters.

Eric and I got to the main group where it clustered outside the surf line. Then the entire group headed toward the caves that had inspired L. Frank Baum in some of his Oz and non-Oz writings. We clustered again nearer the caves while another group entered, listening to the guides tell bad jokes and sometimes interesting factoids.

Eventually we entered the caves, two kayaks at a time. Two of the three guides entered the water to swim and lead the boats into the cave. They couldn't lead us through the cave entirely due to the pounding surf on the other side. It was already dangerous enough in the cave, although magical in many ways. Eric and I entered the cave together, each on our own kayak. There were baby sea lions playing within arm's reach, and when the tide swelled the kayaks rose and nearly hit the roof of the cave.

It was dim in the cave, and there were still drops of water on my glasses obscuring some of my sight, but overall it was a neat experience, though it lasted such a short time.

Next came more paddling. Lots more paddling. A couple more clusters and we headed back to shore. They sent us in one at a time. I was not the first in, but instead watched a couple boats go in before me. The trick with an open ocean kayak is that you basically surf it back into the beach. Yeah, you are sitting, but it's very much a ride once the waves catch you.

Well, in front of me I watched as a couple of kayaks skewed as they got into the waves and swamped. I'm not sure what order we went in, but there were maybe four or five before me. As I came in I was utterly unafraid. In fact, the only thing I wanted was to get off that kayak as my rear was in pain and I was exhausted from the paddling. I figured another dunk would be an improvement on my situation.

So I went in as straight as I could manage, but like the others my boat started to skew as I got closer to shore and the waves started to break over it. Now, let me flash back a bit to when I was younger and healthier. One summer at camp we set out into an artificial lake that was less than three feet deep in two-person canoes. The goal of the game we played was to ram, bump or whatever in order to flip your opponent's canoe without your own boat flipping. I spent a lot of time in the water that summer, but I also learned ways to stop a boat from going over. Enough dunkings and you start to get the hang of balancing a boat, which I think was the point of the games (along with teaching us to not fear going under).

Anyway, back to Friday morning... I am surfing into the beach and my boat is starting to skew, which I've witnessed several other boats ahead do just before they dumped their passengers into the water. I can feel the movement and I just... adjusted... I leaned back and to the side, popped the oar to the correct side purely by instinct and slid smoothly and upright onto the sand. Then I jumped out of the kayak with the paddle in my hand and pumped it into the air repeatedly from the sheer joy. Apparently, based on this experience, I might actually enjoy surfing to some degree.

As other boats were coming in, I pulled my kayak up a bit and then trudged up to return my paddle. After the burst of joy from the lovely landing, I again felt my exhaustion, the blisters on my hands and the pain in my rear padding from sitting on the hard boat. I did not watch the other kayaks come in, though in retrospect I probably would have enjoyed the sight of others getting dumped. One who did not have as pleasant a return to the beach as me was, in fact, Eric.

Anyway, after the group was all on the beach again, we retrieved our shoes and tromped to the public showers to wash off our feet. Then the walk back to the shop. I had enough sand and wet enough feet that I developed blisters in two spots on my feet and spent the rest of the day limping around the con, not my favorite problem. Fortunately, most of the hurt healed overnight. Sadly, not all. As I write this, my right foot continues to throb a bit thanks to a blister on top.

We somehow managed to get back to the hotel. The walk back to the room was too long... such walks always are if you have blisters on your feet. We got back to our room and showered the salt and sand off before starting the very busy first day of the convention. be continued...


Carolyn said...

The canoe games you did when you were young sound like a good idea. I didn't enjoy tipping over in the canoes in the canoe course, lake too cold!

I am glad despite the leader of our trip being nervous about the canoe trip, that it all went well. I made sure to not make the canoe tipsy as best I could. (me and my friend Nancy nearly tipped our canoe during the course while switching positions)

Paddling is hard work though. I found it to be, even though I am in good shape, I still was exhausted from 2 hours of paddling. So you are not alone..