Friday, October 23, 2009

One Last Kayak Trip

With temperatures expected to reach into the low 70s yesterday, I knew it could be one of my final chances to take Little Minnow out for a fall foliage cruise. So I set out yesterday and put in on Lake Lillinoah at one of my hometown's boat launches.

I've learned from experience that one can look mighty foolish getting into a kayak in shallow water, only to find yourself unable to move because the hull of the kayak is wedged on the water's bottom. Unless you have a boating companion who can push you out, you really need to wade into deeper water so the kayak is truly floating before you get in. So, because I knew I would get wet, I wore a pair of sweatpants with those elasticized cuffs on the bottoms. I scrunched them up to my knees before wading in. I was expecting freezing cold water, but in truth, the air temperature was so warm it didn't bother me.

Once on the channel that feeds out to the lake, I can only say the view was exquisite. It reminded me of a John Denver song.

Like a night in the forest
Like the mountains in springtime
Like a walk in the rain
Like a storm in the desert
Like a sleepy blue ocean
You fill up my senses

The lake really did fill up my senses. A warm breeze riffled through low hanging tree branches and sent cascades of leaves floating down to the water's surface. That's what I heard, too...the wind in the trees and acorns raining down, some of them plunking into the water. Even the air seemed incredibly fresh and clean.

Once through the channel and on the lake, I decided to head south toward the Stevenson Dam, hugging the shoreline. The rhythmic sound of my paddles dipping into the water put me in a meditative state as I gazed upon the birch, beech, hemlocks, maples and mountain laurel with their impressionist-like palette of rust, gold, rose, red and amber foliage.

One or two motor boats made a few passes down the middle of the lake, creating broad swells that smacked against the banks of the lake. I thought it ironic that these same boaters, who evidently enjoy being on the water as much as I do, could be so disrespectful of the environment. There was quite a bit of floating debris, all of it plastic. I fished out about a dozen objects ranging from a motor oil bottle to bait containers, along with the usual food and beverage containers.

Once down near the dam, I turned round and headed back from whence I came. I considered crossing over to the other side of the lake, but in truth I was afraid of getting mowed down by one of the motor boats patrolling up and down. Kayaks are low-lying boats and I doubt you'd even catch my profile in the bright sun, doing about 30 mph, until you were practically on top of me.

So I contented myself with the same view, only in reverse. It was a picture-perfect day, so no regrets.

The cost of a kayak, roof rack, life vest, paddle, anchor, and assorted pulleys and ties about 5 years ago? About $1,500. Two-and-a-half hours out on the water in late October? Priceless.

Saturday, October 3, 2009

Caught in the Act!

I noticed a cow in a cornfield on a morning walk.

As I drew closer, I realized there were actually three bovines contentedly munching in the farmer's cornfield. The farmer shooed them out of there a short time later. There was plenty of sweet corn still on the stalks. Must've been like Cow Nirvana.

The photo reminds me of one of those children's puzzles, How many animals can you find in this picture?

I also passed this picturesque barn along my route. It's a beauty, isn't it?