Thursday, June 29, 2017

Wednesday in Colorado - Big Five-Oh Over the Hill Drive, Hike, Beer, and Cake!

I'm having a really crazy week at work, in fact a crazy month, we have a big in-house move coming up so we went straight from year-end close (Scholastic's fiscal year is tied to the school year, running from June to May) into packing for the move. Perfect time to circle back to my Colorado trip pictures!

Wednesday of the trip was actually the day of my 50th birthday; TQ would've been happy going back for another hike at Chatauqua West, which would've been fun, but when we'd been discussing possible things to do with my cousin and his wife, they described a drive that would take us right up into the Rocky Mountain National Park, with a possible stop for a short hike at Lily Lake, and lunch in Estes Park. That all sounded really great to me, so that's what we ended up doing, and wow, was it gorgeous.

The drive up into the mountains was really interesting, we went from 5,200 feet in Lafayette, where we started, up to just shy of 9,000 feet at Lily Lake, and we could just see the spring rewinding as we went up - aspens that were in full leaf in Lafayette were just in that tender green of early spring up here. We had perfect weather for hiking, in fact it turned out that we really made the right call in heading for the heights, it ended up being downright hot lower down and hiking closer to Boulder might not have been quite as pleasant as it had been on our first hike there.

There was an interesting possibility for the Lily Lake hike in that the area had actually had a big snowstorm the week before we were there, and we were seeing trail reports talking about hip-deep snow. No problem, though, my cousin and his wife are proper Coloradans (she's from there, he's adapted very well) and have all the snow toys, so they loaned us a couple of pairs of snow shoes, just in case. I actually loved the idea of trying something I'd never done before on my 50th birthday, but as it turned out, there had been enough warm weather between the time that the trail reports we'd read were posted and the day we were doing this that most of the snow had melted. Still plenty to add drama to the scenery, but the trail was completely clear.

The Lily Lake trail that we'd picked as sounding the most likely to be accessible had 2 options, you could stay down by the shoreline of the lake, or you could take the Lily Lake Ridge for a slightly longer hike over a ridge that offered an incredible view of the lake and the mountains around it. So I didn't get to try something totally new on my 50th, but as I did mention in my first Colorado post, I did actually get to go over the hill, which I think is supposed to be a bad thing, but with such a beautiful hill to go over, I thought it was great (as you can tell from the grin I have on in the picture TQ took of me).

We stopped at the Estes Park Brewery for lunch after the hike  - good solid pub grub and some very nice beer, I had a Stinger honey wheat and I think TQ had their Renegade IPA and we were both very happy with our choices (in fact my one souvenir of the trip was an EP Brewery baseball cap, they happened to have one in my favorite teal and blue and I couldn't resist it). After lunch, we hit the road back to Lafayette, where we were meeting most of the family for dinner.

On the way back, there was a moment when I thought that the Google navigation seemed to be steering us strangely, and ordinarily I might have said something (Google navigation is pretty good but we've had situations it just wants you to go a way that doesn't make sense), but I'd overheard the tail end of a mysterious phone call of TQ's that morning, something about "Yes, she'll like that", and I thought this might have something to do with that.  That turned out to have been a call to 
the Button Rock Bakery to order a birthday cake for me, and the detour was so that we could pick that up. That was a fun surprise, I suspected TQ had been plotting something nice, but i didn't know what. 

And of course dinner with the family (with beautiful sparkly cake for dessert)  was the perfect end to this perfect day. I couldn't have asked for a better 50th birthday!

More photos from the day - click on the first one for a slideshow view. 

Monday, June 26, 2017

A Great Afternoon at Hoboken Cove

Test spin on a shiny new Epic V5. Whee! Nice boat. Photo by Epic rep Gerald Kastner, thanks Gerry! My photos are down below. Click on any photo for a slideshow view.

It wasn't as easy to get there on a weekend as it would've been on a weekday, but I did make my way to Hoboken yesterday for the first annual Hudson River Cup, put on by Ke Aloha Outrigger and the Hoboken Cove Boathouse. If you happen to be in the Hoboken area, do follow those links for their regular activities, I was there for the festival but they do public paddling programs all summer, and there's a food truck pier a little ways north of there, you could make a very nice waterfront afternoon of it!

There was actually a moment on the way there when I nearly threw in the towel and went home - the issue was that the map program Facebook uses said that I could catch a ferry from the WTC, which turns out not to be true on weekends. I
f I'd thought to check that, I could've just gone to the 39th street Waterways terminal in the first place, where they did have a ferry to 14th street in Hoboken 7 days a week, that's how I got home and that worked great, but that mistaken direction sent me through the WTC area, which on a lovely summer day was of course swarming with hucksters shoving pretty souvenir books about the time all those people died under all the tourist noses. I know they're just trying to make a living and all but it feels so disrespectful and I just don't handle it well, having been there myself that day. To get to the ferry terminal, looking forward to a nice boat ride across the river after running that gauntlet, only to be told that that ferry doesn't run on weekends, was deeply disheartening, and I really did think about just heading for home. I think it was around noon or so, though, and the festival was slated to go on until 5, it wasn't like I was going to miss ALL the fun, so I decided to suck it up, take the PATH train, and hoof it the mile to the boathouse . 

And I'm so glad that I did, because I started to unwind just walking along the Hoboken shoreline; this was definitely my first trip to the Hoboken Cove Boathouse, and possibly even my first visit to the Hoboken shoreline, and their riverfront is pretty nice, with lots of parks (including a big run-through fountain that I was tempted to run through myself) but still an active little bit of a working waterfront too. By the time I got to the boathouse I was feeling a good bit less rattled, and there was the wonderful musician Bill Wynne singing songs from Hawai'i, and outrigger sprint racing going on in the cove, and so many old friends from Pier 63 days to say hello to. Ke Aloha is one of the area's newest boating clubs, but came about after some kind of split at the long-established New York Outrigger sent many of the original paddlers from that club looking for a new home. It may be a new club, but there's a ton of experience there, they have got themselves a lovely spot at the Hoboken Cove Boathouse and it's great to see them doing well there. I'm on something of a quest to get back in shape this year and with them not being that hard to get to from where I work, joining them for some practices may be an option worth considering.

I got there just in time for the 2 mile kayak and SUP race. I hadn't planned on racing, but when Jon, who's the one who told me about the day, saw me he asked me if I wanted to, and I figured "Why not?", if I could borrow a boat. One of the volunteers pointed me to a Drifter, which is not the boat I would ordinarily pick for a race, but I was just out for fun and figured I'd give it a shot. This actually worked out well - there was a moment when I noticed there were 2 Epic surfskis on the beach and thought "Oh dear, I'm going to get thoroughly smoked here", but those turned out to be demo boats and the only other kayak racer was one of the Cove's volunteers, who was in a Scupper Pro. With both of us in sitatops, it actually ended up being a pretty good race. He had the lead for the entire southbound leg, where we had the current with us, he'd done a better job at the start than me and although I wasn't too far back, I couldn't gain ground, we were pretty well matched in our sit-atops.

I had one horrifying moment when I rounded the buoy and discovered that I could hardly make any headway against the strong current AT ALL in this short, wide boat, for a second I was having visions of how embarrassing it would be if I couldn't get back under my own steam, but I was able to hold my ground while sidling over to get closer to shore and into the shelter of the piers, where I was able to move along much better. The other guy didn't know that trick, and that let me pull away and come in first by quite a ways. He did figure out what I was doing eventually, so he got something good out of it - you only get to pull that trick on a less experienced paddler once, at least if they are paying attention, which he was! You can really wear yourself paddling against that Hudson current, I remember that well. Actually the hardest part of the race for me was probably the last 50 yards or so, where you had to go out around the last pier and on to the finish marker, for that you did have to be out in the current a bit and man, it was a slog (Gerry the Epic guy actually said he was watching me finish and there was a good moment or three when I literally wasn't moving forward at all, and I believe it). I got there though, by that point I was not about to give up. I do hope next year they have more kayakers, it sounds like they had a good turnout from the outrigger community, I would love to see this grow. Spectacular setting for racing, too, with that cityscape across the river and the folks enjoying the Hoboken waterfront cheering us along.

Back at the boathouse, Aloha Hula NYC was performing, cornhole games were going on, and I tried out the Epic V5, which is a totally sweet little entry-level surfski. Someday I'm going to be in the market for a replacement for my Kayak Centre surfski, which I have literally repaired with duct tape and wire, and which I expect to just sink out from under me someday, hopefully not too far from the dock in the Paerdegat. V5 is definitely going to be in the running, I don't use my surfski for racing, more for summer workout paddles, the V5 is much more stable but still moves nicely, and is not horribly expensive. This is a totally unsolicited plug, I just really liked that boat, would be a lovely summer paddling craft. I should've tried the V8 that the Epic rep had there too, but the awards were starting up so I had to go get my coconut trophy! Finished off the day helping bring the OC-6's up from the beach; Aloha Hula NYC was dancing again, and it truly felt like a little taste of Hawai'i right there on the Hudson River shore.

Came home with my coconut and a plumeria lei that's still smelling lovely tonight. So glad I stuck out the bumpy start to the day, it was well worth the trip. Such a nice day!


Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Upcoming Events - This Saturday in Hoboken, and July 15 all over the "6th Borough"

Just the quickest of posts tonight to share a couple of upcoming events that are sure to be great fun - both are free, family friendly, and you don't need to know the pointy end from the square end (or in the case of a kayak, the pointy end from, uh, the other pointy end) to have a great time!

This coming Saturday, June 24th, join Ke Aloha Outrigger and the Hoboken Cove Boathouse for a day of good fun, good food, friendly competition, and a big dose of Aloha spirit. All are welcome at the 1st Annual Hudson River Cup Race and Family Festival. I'm hoping they have a great turnout!

And then on July 15th, it's time once again for the Waterfront Alliance's annual City of Water Day. It started on Governor's Island, but now there are events all over the NYC waterfront, and some in NJ too! You can join us at the Sebago Canoe Club in Canarsie, you can head for the main festival on Governor's Island, or you can check out the main City of Water Day page for locations all around the waterfront of our amazing "6th Borough" (the perfect name for our local waterways, dreamed up by great local boatblogger Tugster Will). Again, all are welcome! 

Saturday, June 17, 2017

More on that Flag Day paddle to the dance.

More photos on Flickr. Click here for the photo trip report!

I don't remember exactly when the idea for this trip first came up. I've been taking Monday night dance classes from Megan Downes, who used to be one of my dance teachers at the Irish Arts Center back when I was doing more set dancing, ever since that fun day last year when I went to the club to go for a stamina-check paddle (I was trying to build back up after reconstruction surgery) and found a hoedown going on out back at the club. I think we may have been talking about that one day after one of the Theater 80 classes (details here, beginners and all ages welcome), and then Megan was recollecting a time when there was an Irish music festival at Pier 63 in Chelsea, where I used to keep my boats; I'd gotten far enough out of the scene that I didn't know it was happening, and I'd gone out for a long paddle and come back to find all my friends from my Irish dance days dancing there, so I jumped out of my boat and into a set, still wearing my wetsuit. Most entertaining! That may have been what reminded Megan that the City Stompers summer schedule of dances in various parks in NYC was shaping up and that one of their locations was going to be at a park near the water in Broad Channel, which is in Jamaica Bay. "Wouldn't it be fun if...", she said.

I'm not sure she seriously thought that a Sebago contingent was going to come paddling up and leap out of our boats and into the dance - but Broad Channel is a quite reasonable 6 miles from Sebago if the most direct route is taken, and I thought that sounded like a lot of fun, and Lori, my Sebago clubmate who takes clogging lessons from Megan and was the one who brought the City Stompers to Sebago last year, thought it sounded like fun too; my only hesitation was that the event was on a work day, but hey, what's the use of summer if you can't take an afternoon to play hooky and go for a really great paddle, right?

OK, technically I took half a vacation day, but somehow it feels like more fun if I say I played hooky. Right?

Anyways, it was a gorgeous day, just about perfect for both paddling and dancing (which was extra nice since we'd had a few days in the 90's leading up to the 14th, the mini early heat wave broke just in time with a cold front coming through on Tuesday night) Lori and I were joined by two other friends, and it was a truly splendid afternoon and evening. The paddle over went almost exactly as I'd planned, except for the part where I second-guessed myself and decided to cut to the left of Ruffle Bar, taking a more direct route to Broad Channel, instead of to the right, following the boat channel -- I had looked at the chart and the tide tables for the day, I knew there was likely to be very little water in the Big Egg and Little Egg Marsh area, and yet somehow I convinced myself that I could see a clear channel between the two marshes that would let us go more directly...

d'oh...(click for entertaining detail)

Fortunately, between the little skim of water that was still there and all the slippery sea lettuce, we were able to slide the heavier boats across the area, while Luis just shouldered his carbon fiber Zegul and carried it, so it wasn't too bad, just kind of embarassing! This was actually a good reminder to replace my NY Harbor and Approaches waterproof chart, which I'd mislaid - mostly I know Jamaica Bay well enough by now that I can mostly paddle just about anywhere without having to look, but it would've come in handy. I went to West Marine after work today and now I'm set again. I also got a new set of Skyblazer flares to replace the expired ones, a 2017 Eldridge, and a float for my camera - now that's my kind of shopping trip!

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Other than that, it was just such a great afternoon and evening on the water, the music and dancing was great, and the sunset that was so breathtaking, it made me feel like the most fortunate person, to be able to do this and be out there on the water in the middle of the work week, surrounded by the sunset colors, with the sky reflected on the water, the way we were, right here in NYC.

There was one other thing that made me very happy about this day. I am pretty sure that at thirteen miles and change, this is the longest paddle that I've done since finishing up with breast cancer last year; I was pretty wiped out when I got back to the dock, did one of those utterly graceless rolls out of my boat and onto the dock, and on Thursday I was SO stiff - but I kept up with my friends, I was even out in front some, I wasn't winded, and my strokes felt like they were getting back to fluid and efficient. I felt good out there in a way that I just hadn't felt much since last year. I talked in the Hawai'i picnic post about being more patient with myself now than I was as a kid, and that's true, but after a certain point earlier this year, I was finding it very frustrating that I still felt so far from the paddler that I'd been before the medical stuff went down. This year's goal is to get more of that lost ground back; work's been crazy and I haven't been able to get out on the water as much as I was hoping to, but evidently I'm getting out enough for improvement to happen. Here's to keeping that going.

Thursday, June 15, 2017

Flag Day Paddle

Four of us paddled from Canarsie to the Flag Day festivities in Broad Channel, did some square dancing with the City Stompers, and then paddled back to Canarsie. It was a great day, I didn't get any pictures of the dancing because I danced the whole time, but there will be more paddling pix of course, this is just a teaser. :) 

Monday, June 12, 2017

Annual Hawai'i Picnic, Governor's Island, NYC

Taking a break from my Colorado blogging today to share some photos from wonderful picnic for people who are from or interested in Hawai'i that Halawai, the local organization dedicated to sharing Hawaiian culture here in the "Apala Nui" (OK, I just made that up, nobody really calls the Big Apple the "Apala Nui", but if they did want to say it in Hawaiian, that's what it would be, I think), puts on every June. I've known about this potluck for years but didn't always attend, with this time of year generally being great for boating, I frequently got myself committed to something on the water before I remembered the picnic. However, after having had such a generally amazing time being part of the welcome committee for Hokule'a on the NYC stop of the Malama Honua voyage, and making so many friends among the local Hawaiian community, the picnic is now on my can't-miss list.

It was a horribly hot day on Sunday but the location on Governor's Island was cooled by the breezes off of the still-chilly water of New York Harbor, and the music, the dancing, and the fellowship of da 'aina was beautiful, the plumerias were fragrant, and the food? Onolicious, beyond compare!

My contribution to the table: butter mochi from Hawaiian Electric's Electric Kitchen. So easy, so yummy, was gone in an hour! 

And that's it for the writeup - here are the rest of the pictures from the day, click for a slideshow view. I forgot to take pictures of the food (d'oh!) but here are: a couple of hula halau (I'm bad, I should have gotten the names); the lei-making tent; a couple more halau; adorable little girls who asked to dance Lovely Hula Hands (keiki hula is the cutest!); the lei that I made (smells like home!); graduates of the latest Hawaiian language class through Halau ╩╗┼îlelo; and then all the hula halau joining together in one big wonderful dance. Made me wish I could take hula again and join in - I did dance when I was a kid but I don't remember anything beyond a couple of first lines; I also wasn't very good and I also wasn't very patient with myself as a kid, I'm not sure I would be good now but 50 year old me is somewhat more understanding of the time it takes to do something than 15 year old me ever was. Just not sure where I would find the time, that's all!

Anyways, was good fun, enough wala'au, here's the pix!