Tuesday, May 30: Outdoor Recreation for Seniors launched about 10 kayaks and one paddleboard (which went to his dock and traded the paddleboard for a sailboat) on a beautiful sunny day with very light winds. This is a big lake, and when the wind kicks up it can be an adventure out there!
With so little wind, it was an ideal day to go out around the lighthouse closest to the harbor:
This is a huge lake, and I’ve never seen a beaver lodge anywhere I’ve paddled – but this is clearly a chewed-by-beaver downed tree.
The maker of the boat below is East Coast Flightcraft – so are those speakers, or jet engines, or something else???
I liked how the roof of this house penetrates the chimney!
One of the things I so enjoy about kayaking is that the pace allows for looking closely, and noticing the interesting and the odd.
Tuesday, May 23: Outdoor Recreation for Seniors had their first official kayaking of the season, at Kezar Lake in North Sutton. We went (mostly) around the perimeter of the lake, went up the inlet as far as the beaver dam, stopping at Wadleigh State Park for lunch. Some people walked around, as well; not everyone kayaks! It was a beautiful day, perfect except for the ticks, black flies and mosquitoes!! I generally consider kayaking to be a tick safe activity, but there was one crawling on the edge of my kayak when I launched to return after lunch. Sigh. Well, I guess I don’t really care if it wants to chew on the plastic of the kayak…
April 11 – 14: Hungry Mother State Park, in western Virginia, has three camping areas, plus cabins and yurts, a beach and boat launch and many hiking trails and nature trails. I was joining a friend with her teardrop camper there for a few days of rest and relaxation – and knitting and sewing and kayaking.
That first full day we worked on sewing and knitting and enjoying the beautiful weather – until the controlled burn we’d not been warned about started affecting our ability to breathe! We needed to officially sign in anyway, so hopped in the camper and drove down to the main office to pick up our paperwork and vehicle tags, and enjoy a much less smoky area. All of the smoke was being funneled up the valley where the creek that is along our camping area exits; it was much less smoky further upwind. So we walked around some, and admired the redbud and cherry trees:
The smoke had started to abate when we returned to the campground, and as evening fell conditions improved. The teardrop camper, with air conditioning, was able to filter the air; I found that as long as the upwind windows in the Roadtrek were closed, the air stayed relatively clean. It was a warm day, and no one felt inclined to do much cooking; supper was cold shrimp, cheese and bread, brie and apples.
The next day was another sewing day; I did do some knitting. Genne slept, having had a rough night the night before; she had eaten a large piece of plastic and maybe had found some raw potatoes, and spent the night bloated and vomiting. Sigh.
I took the kayak out later in the afternoon. They had done another burn; this time the wind didn’t bring the smoke into the campground, but cut off half the lake!
And that’s where I turned around; I stayed at the less smoky end, looking at the old seedpods and new buds on the rhododendrons, and white flowering trees:
And returned to the mouth of the creek where I’d launched.
That evening, at about dusk, the mallards wandered through our campsite. Genne HATES ducks – I was standing firmly on her long leash when she realized they were there and tried to go after them! They strolled out of range.
The next morning, April 14th, I left before everyone else was up and headed north through West Virginia to Ohio, for lunch with a friend in Marietta. She will be much easier to visit when she moves to New Hampshire in six months or so! I offered to transport anything she wanted to send, so I now have some bonsai stands in the camper. She’s an avid gardener; I should have gotten photos of the gardens but was too busy listening to her tell about the plant choices. Also an artist, she refinished and stenciled the concrete floor of the front porch.
Then on the road and north another couple of hours, to visit another knitting friend and her husband – and very handsome golden retriever; you will meet him next post!
Monday, April 10: There are a couple of places to launch boats in this area; I chose the one in the campground where I stayed, and paddled around the edge of the campground. Wildlife here is shy; there were lots of turtles, but as soon as I came in sight, there would be a splash as they departed their logs. The egret also flew if I came within photo distance; the only picture I got of it was from soooo far away!
After a fairly vigorous 90 minutes on the water, I returned to the campground to change and use the restroom – this sign was one of my favorites!
Having spent so much time having fun, I was later than I would have liked getting on the road – but it was worth it. It did mean that I was at Lost Creek Campground, a Forest Service primitive campground in Tennessee in the Cherokee National Forest, well after dark. It is relatively remote, about 7 miles in on a winding, twisty paved road – and then another 6.5 on a winding, twisting dirt road! As it was getting dark when I got close, and signage and my directions were not lining up; I ended up using the GPS directions from my phone, and let it talk me in. It worked. And I took the first level looking site, and pulled into it. And did nothing more than pull out the kayak before falling into bed. It was dark. I could see a campfire across the campground, but there were only the two of us there. It was level. And it was quiet – I heard a plane or two fly over, but other then that there was no human noise. Owls? Yes. A coyote or wolf? Maybe.
Tuesday, April 11: With daylight, I thought I’d document what I’d driven in on the night before! I’m very glad I’ve got the miles under the wheels of this camper so I was not deterred by the hairpin turns, the mud, the potholes, and the rocks sticking up like a backbone in some places – it was a much smoother drive down in the daylight, when I could see the hazards!
There were a couple of bridges over the creek:
And this was the longest and straightest stretch the entire 6.5 miles of dirt! But I was the only vehicle on the road, so it wasn’t an issue.
I was headed to Hungry Mother State Park, in western Virginia, where I was meeting up with a friend in her teardrop camper; this time I was in well before dark!
Finally! Out on the water for the first time since last fall, on a perfect day in South Carolina, I launched from the Billy Witherspoon Landing; it’s only about 10 minutes from the cousins’ house on the Waccamaw River. I went upwind until a smaller branch went off into the swamp.
There was an eagle soaring, with ospreys shrieking at it; there was an egret, although it was very shy and I mostly saw it flitting among the trees; there were lots of turtles, some more shy than others.
There was one cypress tree – still living! – with a very hollow trunk; there were cypress knees inside it.
There was a miniature garden in the end of a rotten log.
Most of my paddle was through the swamp, with no houses in sight, but to get there (and back) I was passing houses on one side of the river. This one covered a couple of surfaces on their dock house with signs; I especially liked the juxtaposition of the two on the left:
After a couple of hours on the water, my body had had enough for the first time out this year. On my return, this iridescent spider was on my headlight – it was only about 3/4 of an inch long.
I traveled, although not as much as previous years – no trip to Florida, New Mexico, Texas, Canada – but much through New England (the above photo Portland, Maine), and down the eastern seaboard to Maryland, Virginia, South Carolina. I usually travel with at least one kayak; I paddled in Maine, New Hampshire, Vermont (of course; I live here!), Connecticut, New York State, Maryland, and South Carolina, usually twice a week or so through the season. The most open water was on a bay on the coast of Maine; most of the rest was rivers and lakes and ponds, and the northern reaches of the Chesapeake Bay. There were a few outings to pull invasive water chestnut in New Hampshire and Connecticut, and I helped out with the Great Northern Canoe Trail Peddle/Paddle event on the Missisquoi River.
And of course, there is knitting, always – scarf and shawl:
Sweaters for cousins, and one dog:
Fingerless mitts and mittens:
Hats – one for me, the rest gifts or donations; three adult, two for children:
A couple of pairs of socks, these for me:
Two sets of Christmas stockings:
And a couple of toys:
I have requests to start off my knitting for this new year – there are a couple of outstanding Christmas gifts to granddaughters (a pair of socks, and a large bee to go with the little one), another monster for an infant to be born in March (and baby booties and socks, but they are so small they hardly count!), another cousin sweater – and then maybe I’ll get to one of the three sweaters for me for which I have yarn set aside.
It’s less than an hour until the new year turns over here. Wishing you all safe, healthy, rewarding and productive lives in 2023!
Saturday, October 29, Elk Neck State Park: The day was gloriously sunny, and the above red tree glowed over our campsite. The first event was a program on bats at the nature center of the park.
Most of those present were a flock of Cub Scouts, with their adults; they had coloring pages and bats to cut out, and sat mesmerized as the ranger read a charming book to them about a bat raised by birds (eating caterpillars!! Yuck!!) and then reunited with Momma bat.
Then I had to take advantage of the best weather, and take the kayak down to the boat launch that’s part of the state park. As I was ready to load the kayak, I could see clear racoon prints:
The approach to the boat ramps and sand launch,
As I started out on the water, the waves weren’t bad, unless a power boat had been by – even on the other side of this very wide river, where the main channel is, they sent large swells across.
I paddled into this cove, where it was more protected – this was definitely a day to not be further from shore than I was willing to swim!
Then out to the point, where white caps were starting to pick up; combined with wakes from distant powercraft, it made for a good workout! But this is not the boat for that.
Above, looking back at the cove. Then I paddled back to and past the launch, thinking I’d head down toward the lighthouse, but the wind and waves were picking up and I decided discretion was called for, and went back to haul out. On going to load the kayak in the camper, I decided I didn’t need to invite this hitchhiker –
Thursday, October 20: I drove the few miles into downtown Conway, South Carolina, and launched from town, heading up river against the tidal current. It was a perfect day – sunny, not too warm or cool, and on a weekday the water wasn’t crowded. I saw only two small fishing boats in the time I was out.
I paddled up to where a canal goes straight, and the river turns right; first photo is the canal (which next time I will follow; it has another launch somewhere on it), second is the railroad swing bridge shortly after making the turn.
This is a low land of cypress and pines, with some oaks scattered through. I do like cypress knees!
There were lots of turtles – but the only one willing to pose was the one by the city waterfront; the rest I mostly saw as they splashed into the water!
The city of Conway wants boaters to know they are welcome – there are also signs asking that you not anchor for more than 72 hours!
This is where I turned around, about two miles from the launch.
As I returned, I saw that the city has decorated one of its gazebos for Halloween, with a very thin person fishing:
Because there was signage for the Waccamaw River Blue Trail, I looked it up when I returned to the house, and was able to download a map of its many miles – I now have places to explore for several more trips!
Thursday, October 6: I’d been looking forward to this day during a week of mostly chilly weather and clouds. The forecast was for sun, and temperatures in the low 70s (21 – 22 C) and it actually was accurate! I was comfortable kayaking in short sleeves, and the water was warm enough to wade in comfort, as well. I was glad I was using the cooler inflatable life vest, and not the thick foam one! I didn’t get there until early afternoon, and was off the water by 4:00 as I wanted to go to knit group – but I had time to go around all of the islands, and meander to look at foliage and turtles and pitcher plants. It was crowded for this time of year; I think every retiree within range was there, boating, hiking, picnicking, soaking up the sun. But the lake is large enough to absorb a lot of activity; only the launch was crowded.
I think every camera on the lake went over to get photos of this tree, and its reflection. Photography doesn’t do justice to the range of color in this one tree!
It felt so good to be out, and my body was happy to get the exercise!
Friday, September 16: A friend and I went out for a brief paddle on the Connecticut River, leaving from Hoyt’s Landing, Springfield, Vermont. It was a beautiful day – perfect temperature, sunny, and calm.
Then it was back to the landing so my friend could get to work.