The best part of my three day weekend, was that it was a three day weekend. One day I did chores, one day I did shopping, and one day I did recreation. Guess which was the fun day!!?!!
That was today!!
I took a nice bike ride this morning, without Gracie, confident and comfortable that she was OK being without me. I rode South on the sidewalk for a few miles, and then thought that the wind was at my back, and I didn' t want to get so far south that the return trip into the wind would be exhausting. I turned around, and at one point chose to cross the boulevard to the beach.
Oh My God, I said. Today is a beautiful beach day! The gulf laid down like a pool. The sun was warm, the water clear. I should take my kayak out!
I peddled back home and locked up the bike and unlocked the kayak. I pumped up the tires on the 2-wheel carrier, rinsed off the racoon paw prints from the kayak, put the seat in, the paddle, and the plug. I grabbed my waterproof bag and dropped in a cellphone, camera, I.D., towel and thermos of ice water.
I put on my swimsuit, donned the life vest and my water shoes, put Gracie in "Gracie's bed" and headed toward the beach. It's been a while since I kayaked, and oh boy did it feel good! Even the strain on the muscles in my hands and arms to pull the kayak to the beach and through the sand felt good.
I launched effortlessly. It was good to be back on the water. When I put in, I take into consideration the tides and the wind. However, being a 7-mile barrier island, often times a decision has to be made whether to go north or south considering the traffic as well as the tides.
It was about 2:00 in the afternoon, and the tide was coming in. The wind was out of the east, which kept the gulf calm. However, to go north would take me past the DiamondHead Resort, the Lani Kai and the Pier. All high traffic, very busy areas. I'd be dodging parasailers and weekend warriors. I chose south.
I paddled along perpindicular to the shore, although the incoming tides tended to knock me sideways. I noticed that my kayak speed was about the same as the two people walking along the shore. It's been awhile since I'd been out, so either I was out of shape or the kayak was taking on water. So paranoia began setting in. I decided to come to shore and check the hull to see if there was water. The tide managed to scoot me to shore needing only to use the paddle as a rudder. Some kids on the beach were waving at me - well! That adorable young lady in the red swim suit was my daughter, Sarah!
Sarah was at the beach with her roommate, Kelly, and Kelly's friend Brendon and Lola, Kelly's chocolate lab pup. Brendon was immediately interested in my kayak, so I offered him to take it out which he quickly accepted. It's a tandem, so he and Kelly hopped in, and Lola wasn't going to be left behind! They paddled around while Sarah and I caught up on what's new.
It was approaching 4:00 and the tide was coming in stronger. The wind changed, and the gulf chopped up. Paddling back into the wind and against the tide was going to be brutal. "It'll only get worse as the evening comes." Sarah correctly stated. The air was cooling, as well. I noticed Sarah's bicycle, and had an idea: "Sare, would you ride your bike up to the Chapel Street beach access, and pick up my wheels (that are padlocked to the trash can)?" My plan was to cart the kayak over Estero Boulevard and paddle home in the back bay (sure to be calmer than the gulf).
I walked up to Connecticut Street, and down to the Mound House on the bay. I launched at the kayak landing, bungee-ing the wheels to the bow and headed home. Coming around Matanzas Pass Wilderness Preserve, the bay opened up and the wind was strong, giving me a run for my money. I kicked into high gear, leaning forward, and paddling in strong even strokes. I was "in the zone."
It was exhausting, yet refreshing. Every muscle in my body had gotten its workout. I put my toys away, played with my dog, enjoyed a hot shower and a light dinner of bow tie pasta with spinach and cheese. I climbed into my bed, pleased with my day, and ready to enjoy sweet dreams.