Tuesday, July 04, 2006

Happy Fourth!

I hope all of my fellow Americans had a wonderful Independence Day holiday. And for everyone else... I hope you had a pleasant fourth of July, too.

We had a nice picnic at my parents' cottage with my parents, and my brother Dave and his family.

Don had discovered canoing in Fifth Grade camp. Now, he has discovered kayaking. So has Paul (who is eight).

Someone had brought two kayaks to the men's retreat last week end. Dave asked him if he could leave them there for a couple weeks, and he generously agreed. He left a relatively long yellow lake canoe (with a keel), and a shorter blue slalom canoe.

Mary managed to get into the slalom canoe and was happily wandering about the lake. She says that it has a mind of its own as soon as you stop paddling. It doesn't coast straight at all.

So, she came back to shore. That thing wasn't under control much at all -- though she did actually manage to hit the broad side of the lake.

I helped her get it to the dock, then got her to the wider area (it's a floating dock), so that she could get out without the our combined weights sinking the dock (it doesn't take much more than my weight alone in the narrower section.

That little kayak is tight. It has a couple bumps to hold your legs down near the front of the hole that you're supposed to squeeze into.

So, I tried to hold her and the canoe steady so that she could push herself up with her hands. You can't bend your knees, so that is essentially the only way of going about it.

She managed to get one leg out, and was maneuvering to get the rest of the way out when she took an unscheduled swim. We had an audience, of course.

So, it was my turn.

The first thing I did was to go up to the van and change into my swimming suit. Mary went up there to get dry clothes and her swimsuit (to put on under the dry clothes). I gave her one of the extra pair of shorts that I brought, and also the shirt off my back.

Everyone suggested that I try the longer and more stable kayak. I informed them all that I have been wanting to try a slalom kayak for years, and I was going to go for it, doggone it!

So, I went back down and positioned the little blue slalom kayak partially on shore for stability.

There was no way I was going to fit into that thing.

[grumble, grumble]

So, I got into the longer one. I fit OK, but I couldn't bend my knees enough and it was uncomfortable. By the time I was done, my legs were going to sleep.

But it was a nice ride.

I found that when I stop paddling, it wants to continue to veer. I tried a little body English, but it didn't seem to work.

It didn't take long to get the hang of it. There are some black stripes on the paddle that help me keep it properly centered. That gives even power and makes it easier to paddle straight. Just paddling on one side will send you slowly in the opposite direction. Giving it an extra long stroke, so that you are actually paddling sideways at the end of the stroke, will turn you rather quickly. I suspect that it would make you go in circles in the slalom kayak, but I didn't get a chance to find out [grumble].

I also found that I could get the thing up to hull speed (the maximum speed before a boat will either plane or drag itself under the water) without too much trouble. Putting the paddles straight down next to the kayak at each stroke allows you to give it lots of power without causing it to wobble with each stroke.

So, I really like kayaks. I just need to find one that has enough room for me to cross my legs.

Meanwhile, Don and Paul had a blast with both of them. Paul was off shore a bit going around in circles on purpose. Then, he would paddle around a bit and come back.

Paul and Gabe (age 5) also did a lot of swimming. They wore themselves out, so we had no trouble sending them to bed.

In the middle of all of this, Dave and I gave Dad a little help with the construction of his new home. It's their vacation home now, but Dad and Mom will be moving up here when they retire. Theoretically, that should be this coming November, but Dad plans on staying on for a couple extra years. I guess he loves the place or something. We'll see what happens next summer when he comes up here on the weekends, knowing that he can spend all of his time up here if he wants.


Blogger Chickpea said...

My parents bought a holiday home in Ireland a few years back. When mum got ill they spent a lot of time there, and after she died dad moved out there permanently. It means we see a lot less of him, but I'm really glad he's somewhere he loves. It's a nice gift you're giving your parents, helping them work on their new home.

4:32 PM  

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