Wednesday, May 22, 2013

I can't stand the rain . . .

There are so many ways to bide your time . . . in a kayak.

Paddling in the rain is one of them.

Although, most people stay indoors and moan, "I can't stand the rain", rain can be pretty pleasant in a kayak. Especially if you are dressed for it and the wind is light.

Kayakers have amphibian traits. We live on land and water, and are unable to sever our ties with aquatic habitats. But, we are warm blooded and need gear to survive in some of those habitats.
Paddling in the rain one day, that soulful 70's song by Ann Peebles kept running through my head, "I can't stand the rain, against my window . . . bringing back sweet memories . . .

I must have been feeling what all the people hiding indoors from the rain were thinking, "I can't stand the rain . . . " 

"I can't stand the rain" was written when Ann and her band couldn't get out to a show one night because there was a big thunder storm and it was pouring rain. One of the guys in her band said, "Man! I just can't stand this rain!" And they wrote this soulful song. It was recorded in 1973, and released in 1974.

I can't stand the rain
Against my window
Bringing back sweet memories
Hey window pane
Do you remember
How sweet it used to be
When we were together
Every thing was so grand
Now that we've parted
I just can't stand the rain
Against my window
Bringing back sweet memories
I can't stand the rain
Against my window
Because he's not here with me
Hey window pane
Tell me, do you remember
How sweet it used to be
But like a window, you ain't got nothing to say
Hey rain, get off my window

But let's change some of the words to: "I can't stand the rain . . . bringing back sweet memories . . . of paddling in the rain."

Well hey window pane, let's get out and paddle when it rains!

I like paddling in the rain.

But notice, I did not say kayak camping in the rain, or packing up my gear in the rain! That is true misery and it doesn't bring back any sweet memories.

Rain, rain. Can you stand it?
Enjoy singing in the rain. You'll likely have the water to yourself so you can be off key without worry!
The BaffinPaddler

Sunday, May 19, 2013

Man's best friend . . . the dog or the kayak?

Now there's one heck of a question that I don't have an answer for.

Put the two together, and it's awesome.

They all look good in orange too: Man, dog, kayak.

The water is still very cold in Canada. Dogs get cold quickly on the back of an open kayak or in a canoe after they've jumped, or fallen from the boat into the cold water in spring and get wet. Add a light wind. Even though the day is warm and sunny, and despite a well-fitting life jacket, the dog still gets the shivers within 10-15 minutes sitting or laying on the back deck of a sit-on-top fishing kayak or inside a canoe.

Stay warm and safe, and remember the doggie too. We don't go far or stay long on the water with the dog unless the water is warm and so is the day.

In spring and fall in Canada, the dog is better off running into the water and swimming back and forth along the shore where she can get out, shake off, and run around to warm up.

Happy spring paddles!
The BaffinPaddler

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Yoga with tulips in Canada's National Capital Region

Every year I do a tulip run in May. If you live in the National Capital Region of Canada, you can't miss The Canadian Tulip Festival. It's spectacular! There are beautiful tulip gardens in bloom all over the region on both sides of the Ottawa River.

The Canadian Tulip Festival is held every year in May in Ottawa, Canada. The festival is probably the world's largest tulip festival, with over one million tulips planted throughout the city in impressively large gardens.

But the tulip gardens also extend all over the National Capital Region, from Ottawa, Ontario to Gatineau, Quebec in public and private gardens.
Hundreds of thousands of tourists and locals visit the National Capital Region's tulip gardens each year.

Large displays of tulips are planted throughout the city. The largest tulip gardens are found in Commissioners Park on the shores of Dow's Lake, along the Rideau Canal in Ottawa, and in Jacques Cartier Park next to the Canadian Museum of Civilization in Gatineau, Quebec.

And this is where I got inspired, at Jacques Cartier Park, to climb up on a rock on a hill overlooking a large tulip garden of pink and white and lavender, to strike a yoga tree pose. A pose of peace and harmony, as are tulips a symbol of peace, harmony, and friendship. Although, I visited the tulip gardens on Mother's Day, May 12 this year with a 40 km/hr wind blowing. It was not easy standing on one leg! But a very powerful feeling with a view like this. Whoa!
I hope you can appreciate these images of tulips and Canada's Parliament buildings along the rapids of the Ottawa River.
With all the building scaffoldling and massive building cranes polluting the cityscape, it takes a lot of creative wrangling to shoot these scenes without their annoying interference. I don't use Photoshop.
How did tulips become so popular and such a tradition in Canada's National Capital Region?

In 1945, the Dutch royal family sent 100,000 tulip bulbs to Ottawa to show their gratitude for Canadians having sheltered Princess Juliana and her daughters for three years during the Nazi occupation of the Netherlands, during the Second World War.

In the years that followed this original gift from the Dutch, Ottawa became famous for its tulips and in 1953, the first Canadian Tulip Festival was organized. The tulip festival literally kept growing and growing, with more and more tulips being planted.

The stunning displays of colourful, and massive tulip gardens in the city also inspires residents, who plant their own personal tulip gardens, making the National Capital Region incredibly beautiful in May.

Here's my little tulip garden.
 And let's not forget the region's beautiful Cherry Blossoms.
And other blossoming trees.
Enjoy the best of spring.
The BaffinPaddler

Monday, May 13, 2013

"How do you keep your paddle boots from getting smelly . . . ?"

Well, this certainly is not a sexy, or alluring kayaking topic. I won't make you look at too many pictures of ugly paddle boots on this blog. Beautiful pictures of spring tulips and Ottawa's Parliament buildings will follow soon enough, I promise.

But, some people ask me, "How do you keep your paddle boots from getting all smelly?"

I find this a funny question. How would anyone know that my paddle boots and booties aren't all smelly?

I've never had the courage to stick my nose in any of them. But for this post, I finally did. And I tested the worst offenders and collectors of damp, dank odours: My knee-high paddle boots. The hardest boots to vent, air, and dry.
Usually, in the summer, we just park our paddle booties and boots outside in the hot sun to bake and dry after a good paddle. And it usually works to dry them quickly and helps keep them odour free.

When rain, fog, or cold spring or fall weather hits, we don't have the hot sun to dry our boots. After a paddle, wet paddle boots and booties can stay wet for days. Leaving them closed up in a gear bag is a real mistake. This is usually what makes them smelly, or worse, mouldy.

Also, what seeps into your boots and booties from swampy, silty, or muddy shorelines doesn't help.

It's important that the soles of the knee-high boots don't leak like a sieve when you step into the water. If they do, like mine did when I first bought them, they'll pick up, and retain more odours that have nothing to do with your feet!

It's easy to rinse out and wash short ankle paddle booties, or to evacuate water from them while paddling in the summer. It's a lot more work and a bigger challenge when your paddle boots are knee-high! We wear knee-high boots for protection, dry feet, and warmth in colder temps.

In another post, I'll call out the popular paddle boot and bootie maker who manufactured my knee-high paddle boots. Brand new, they leaked like crazy at the soles in a few inches of water. It was miserable. The boots were useless. But, I'll tell you what I had to do to fix them. It was miserable too. And you can avoid buying them. They weren't defective. Just poorly made. A paddle friend with another boot brand said, "My boots don't leak."

July 4th update: Here's the link to the post about the response from the leaky paddle boot maker

Leaky Gul knee high paddle boots

If you've got a house with forced-air and floor vents, it's easy to prop paddle booties and boots throughout the house over the floor vents up-side-down to dry them out. This works great. They dry quickly. It doesn't look very pretty when friends come over for dinner. If they're paddlers, they won't even notice or care.

But, in a house with electric wall heaters, drying out knee-high paddle boots is a challenge.

It's so great to slip your bare feet into dry paddle boots every time you paddle, especially in spring while stepping out into cold water, launching from shorelines with silty lake or river bottoms, walking along muddy or wild shorelines with prickly plants that can irritate and bite.

Knee-high paddle boots are awesome . . . when they're dry inside each time you put them on, it's joy! 

Neo paddle boots gather a bit of moisture from your feet and leg as you paddle. Here's how I dry out and air my knee-high paddle boots from foot to calf after day paddles or after a multi-day trip.

It's simple, inexpensive, and it works well for me!
Roll up two clean dry wash cloths and stuff one down into each foot - toe to heel. I use dark brown wash cloths in the foot so that I don't discolour a good wash cloth.

Roll up two small clean towels, hand towels, or clean pillowcases and stuff one into each boot from the ankle to the calf so that the boot stands up by itself and doesn't fold over. This helps it air out and absorbs moisture from inside.

That's it. Overnight, the cloths absorb moisture from inside the boots and helps them air.

The next day, remove the damp cloths, scatter them somewhere to dry while you stick your feet into dry or barely damp boots and enjoy a good paddle.

To freshen the insides of your boots, you can sprinkle a foot powder into the cloths before stuffing them down into your paddle boots.

You don't want to sprinkle foot powder directly into your paddle boots - you'll have nothing but thick, wet paste in there.

I keep reusing the cloths for my knee-high paddle boots until my nose tells me it's time to throw them into the wash.

You can even put the cloths into the dryer before you stuff them into your paddle boots to help dry out your boots - but then, you'd be accused of being a real "Paddle Princess or Prince." I haven't tried that yet, but it's very tempting . . .
Happy paddles. My nose and feet tell me it's all good!
The BaffinPaddler

Sunday, May 5, 2013

First spring paddle with the Boreal Baffin 2013

It doesn't really matter where you go with your boat for that first spring paddle after a long, cold winter in Canada.

It matters how you feel.

It sure feels good to me.

I think winter makes me appreciate my kayaks more. I have more than one kayak, and I'd like a bigger fleet. There are so many kayaks to love. It's a kayaker's disease.

I always wonder why my first spring paddle is always with the Boreal Baffin. The original Baffin. The one I bought the first year it came out a few years back. The yellow demo boat that the Boreal guys, then a Quebec company, when awesome kayaks were still made in Canada, not just designed, took out and seal launched my boat off ice flows in the awesome and magical Saguenay River in Quebec to test it, and play with it.

It's still my boat. It has more experience and wisdom than me. I can feel it. I like it. It may always be my first spring paddle mate. It's part of history now. It was not made in China.

I'll cherish this relic for a long, long time!

When you're in a kayak you love, you're headed in the right direction. I hope!
Happy spring paddles.
The BaffinPaddler