Wednesday, August 16, 2017

8/12/2017 A Surprisingly Splendid Women Swimmin'

Finally a weekend with a taste of the summer I'd been hoping to have, during my annual trip to Ithaca to help out with the wonderful Women Swimmin' for Hospicare fundraising event. My amazing Antarctic kayak guide friend Louise  first introduced me to this event back in 2013, asking me if I might be interested in coming to help out as part of the Kayak Safety Team, a group of skilled paddlers who line the course and keep an eye on things, helping out with things like matching up swimmers who turn out to swim at a different pace as the rest of their "pod" (small groups of swimmers who set out with a absolute minimum of two escort paddlers, generally more) with a group that they can stay with better, providing a brief respite for a tired swimmer, and the like. I enjoyed it so much the first time that I've made an annual thing out of it, even last year - no, ESPECIALLY last year when I myself was just coming out of being treated (succesfully so far!) for breast cancer.

The best year was probably 2014, when instead of driving back to Brooklyn, I drove to Waterford, dropped off my boat and camping gear on the Erie Canal, ditched my rental car with Enterprise in Albany, took a cab back to my boat and then paddled home to Brooklyn. I don't really do that bucket list thing but a solo trip down the Hudson River Water Trail had been a pipe dream of mine ever since I'd read a book by a professional adventure-travel guy who did a solo paddle the length of the Hudson, but didn't really like either the Hudson or paddling by himself. 2014 the workload, the currents (the Hudson is tidal so that's key), and the date of Women Swimmin' all came together perfectly, and boy was that a wonderful way to get home. Last year was also pretty special, being my own year of surviving cancer.

This year, Louise was out of town the weekend of the swim, but she made arrangements for me to stay at her place, and that worked out fine. I made my plans to take my usual 3-day weekend, and reserved a car, and scrambled to finish the massive licensor forecast that was due on the 15th, and packed my bag, but as I mentioned in my last post, with one thing and another, this summer hasn't been quite the summer I'd hoped for, and in the last few days before the  weekend, it was looking like my much-anticipated Women Swimmin' weekend had a good chance of following that trend.

In addition to paddling for the event, which is a fun, non-competitive 1.2 mile swim across Cayuga Lake, I'd been especially dreaming of swimming myself at this beautiful spot at the north end of Taughannock State Park, where you can swim along a cliff and past a waterfall, and during the late nights at work finishing up the forecast, I kept picturing myself swimming there and that kept me going.

But then I started looking at the forecast, and it was terrible - all rain and thunderstorms all weekend - and then I looked at the Women Swimmin' site one morning and noticed a "Blue-Green Algae Update" button and when I hit that I found out that Cayuga had been having a blue-green algae problem this summer, beaches had been closed, and that the swim would be called off on the morning of the 12th if an early-morning inspection of the course revealed any signs of the stuff.

I wouldn't have thought of backing out at that point, I'd promised I would be there, but I was worried. Trying to make the best of it, I packed up a couple of books and some art supplies; earlier in the spring, a friend at work had given me some watercolor crayons that I haven't had a chance to try out yet and a rainy Saturday afternoon in Ithaca seemed like a perfect chance to try that, and I also figured that if it was still raining on Sunday I would just head home in the morning and have a quiet Sunday evening at home.

So how did it all work out?

Surprisingly well!

The blue-green algae hadn't been seen much in the south end of the lake; some friendly Cornell science folks had been keeping an eye on things for the event, and their morning check revealed fine clear water for the swim, and as a matter of fact the need for that check meant participants got to sleep in a bit (usually we're arriving while it's still dark, but they needed daylight to make sure the course was clear so our time to meet on the water for our pre-swim talk was a relatively civilized 6:30 a.m.), and then the thunderstorms and rain that were predicted went elsewhere. The weather during the swim was just beautiful, and then some clouds moved in towards the end of the post-swim festivities; I'd been thinking of going to do my own swim right after the event, but when the clouds came in I figured this was the leading edge of the bad weather and gave in to a sudden desire to go back to Louise's for a nap, only stopping at the Taughannock Falls Overlook for a few pictures of the falls.

At this point, Sunday morning was looking like it was supposed to be nicer so I figured I would swim then, but then when I woke up it was beautiful again, so I threw on a swimsuit and grabbed my goggles and headed back to the lake, where I ignored the "beach closed for blue-green algae" signs (this beach was not far from the event course so I figured if one was OK the other probably was too, and the water looked fine) and went for the exact swim I'd been daydreaming about all week (even better, in fact, I'd forgotten about the waterfall).

And there was a perfect finish to the day, too, one of the other Kayak Safety Team folks had told me that there was a free concert in the park that night and that he and his wife and some friends of theirs were going and that I was welcome to join them if I wanted to. I'd originally had some vague plans about having dinner at a nice farm-to-table restaurant in Trumansburg that I'd found on the internet, but with the weather having totally relented and an afternoon swim having worked out so nicely, I put that on the back burner for another trip, picked up a chicken spiedie sub ("spiedies" are a regional specialty and I'd never tried them before, quite tasty), and headed back to the park for some good music from The Pelotones.

Really couldn't have asked for a much nicer day. BTW, I'm kind of the worst fundraiser in the world, I mostly donate my skills for this event, but every boater in the event does get a donor page, and if you were inclined to donate a little something to this good cause, here's mine, late donations are accepted!

Here are some pictures from the swim, which at last report (via email, the website hasn't quite caught up yet) has raised $408K for Hospicare of Tompkins County. As usual, click on any photo for a slideshow view. I don't have any mobile devices and I go mostly incommunicado when I travel, so I didn't hear about the terrible things that happened on the same day until I got home on Sunday, but I'm glad to have been part of something so solidly good that day.  

Wednesday, August 09, 2017

Georgetown Loop Railroad, Colorado, May 26

Oh, I have not been having the summer I'd hoped to. This was supposed to be the summer where I got out on the water lots and lots - just hasn't worked out that way. There have been some good weekends but stuff just keeps going on at work and then I got a cold that lasted a full week and a half, bleah...well, all work and no play makes Bonnie a boring blogger. How about some pretty pictures from a lovely choo choo train ride  in Colorado back in May?

TQ and I said goodbye to my aunt and my cousins on the Friday before Memorial Day weekend and headed southwest, heading for the town of Buena Vista. We'd decided to make a two-day drive of it, allowing time for some sightseeing en route. Now, earlier in the week, looking for something to do on Thursday, I'd been looking in some magazines with things to do in the vicinity of Denver with the idea of taking Aunt Pat out to do something fun; my eye had been caught by the Georgetown Loop Railroad, a tourist attraction offering rides that lasted a couple of hours, traveling through gorgeous scenery, on antique narrow-gauge trains pulled by antique steam locomotives. I'd written that off after seeing that it was a pretty good drive from where my cousin and his wife live, and we ended up just going for a walk along Boulder Creek, which was lovely.

However, on Friday, as we were driving towards Buena Vista, I saw a billboard for that selfsame railroad, and it turned out that our route was taking right past Georgetown! TQ was not terribly enthusiastic when I suggested a train ride, he's got less tolerance for flat-out goofy tourist stuff than I do, but I really wanted to and I happened to be the one driving at the time (ha ha!) so we ended up going. We got there just in time for the 1:00 departure, and it was great! Here are some pix - if you ever find yourself in the Georgetown, Colorado area, I would definitely recommend this. Click on any photo for a slideshow view, as usual. 

Sunday, July 30, 2017

7/16/2017 July Sailing Committee Cruise

I loved this shot! It was taken by Jim L., sailing committee co-chair, from the new club chase boat Canarsian, during the July 16th sailing cruise. I came THAT close to not going, I'd worked pretty hard during City of Water Day on the 15th, and the forecasts I'd seen for Sunday didn't feature much wind, but sailing co-chair Holly did a little arm-twisting on me (and she and Jim were able to pick me up, having a ride makes a difference) and I'm so glad she did - it ended up being perfect conditions for the first sail of the season, nice light winds early on during the re-combobulation period, picking up to just enough more for a great run home after our lunch break on Ruffle Bar. More pix on Flickr, click here to view. 

Sunday, July 23, 2017

City of Water Day - a few more pix, and a great album (with stats) from a friend!

Wow, don't know what happened to last week, I'd meant to put these up much sooner. I didn't end up taking that many pictures during City of Water Day because after a slightly slow start, things picked up and I was helping out all day, either on the water or getting people onto and off of the water. However, here were a few pictures I did take - and then clubmate Chris B. was on land all day and he got a ton of great photos, which he shared in a Google album which he prefaced with the thank-you email sent out by Barbara T., who was our amazing organizer for the day. That email included the final statistics for the day, which were pretty impressive! Click here to view.  

Sunday, July 16, 2017

City of Water Day - A Photographic Progression

When we're throwing a shindig at Sebago Canoe Club, there's always that early-on "what if we have this party and nobody comes?" moment. Especially when the day starts out kind of gray and drippy.

Once again, folks showed up! Ended up being a really good day.  

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(frogma kayak smiley, patent pending)

Saturday, July 15, 2017

Morning at Sebago

Quiet Paerdegat, a little before 8 am

click for detail.

Thursday, July 13, 2017

7/9/2017, Family Day at Sebago - plus, here comes City of Water Day

Sunday was Family Day at Sebago! Children of all ages were welcome; smaller kids and their parents went in the restored war canoe, with smaller canoes and kayaks for older kids and their folks. We did a short paddle, just out into the bay, with a stop on the beach just outside the basin for running around on the beach, water gun fights (note for next year: MORE WATER GUNS) and a couple of sweeps with the seine net to see what's living in the bay. Mostly little fish this time; we checked them out then let them go. 

After that, we headed back to the club for a barbecue/potluck lunch. 

 There was also a double-hander workshop going on for the dinghy sailors, and there was a longer member paddle in the morning, and one of the sailors tried a rowing shell of the non-entry-level variety, so there was swimming, too! :D Something for everyone! 

 I hadn't planned on this but came to help out with the war canoe, thinking a little practice immediately after Saturday's lesson would be good. I ended up helping out with the kayakers instead, but I was still glad I went, it was lots of fun. That was part 3 of my Sebago trifecta weekend, and I really had a good time.

More pictures on Flickr.

Hey NYC-area folks - don't forget City of Water Day, this Saturday, July 15th!