Thursday, May 23, 2013

Our next water adventure on Kauai

Okay, so maybe stand up paddle wasn't my thing right now but I found something that was.  This was our 10th trip to Kauai and every trip prior to that I remember glancing to my right on the way to Hanalei Bay on the north shore wistfully looking at kayakers paddling the river.  It was always my dream to be one of those people and I said the first time I went kayaking, that's where I wanted it to be.

After we came back from stand up paddle, I'd had a surprise up my sleeve for the Mr.  As we were driving back to the surf school to change into our dry clothes, I said "you want to go kayaking?"  He sat there for a second and said "uh...yeah, okay!"  We pulled into the place two doors down, Kayak Kauai.  I told him to go in and ask about weight limits because I'd seen several companies on the island that will not rent to people over like 230-250 lbs...which we weren't.  He checked, they said 300 lbs so we were good to go.  (For reference, even if you're over 300 lbs, you can usually just use a tandem kayak as a single which has a higher weight limit.  They do it all the time)  We reapplied our sunscreen...well, one of us did all over, one did not.  We went inside, signed some piece of paper, grabbed our life vest and paddles, after having done stand up paddle a mere 30 minutes earlier, my thumb was getting a pretty good blister working so they gave me a band aid and we went to the launch dock.  They had 2 sloped ramps going into the water.  The guy gave us a quick lesson which really didn't consist of more than "see the spines on the back of the paddle?  You don't see your own spine, you shouldn't see the paddle's."  I think there were notes about strokes but you don't really need to know much more than that especially since we were going up river toward the wilderness preserve.

I'll be honest, when I got my push into the water, I was surprised I wasn't sinking it.  If you've been overweight your whole life, it will take you quite a long time (if ever) to not have that knee jerk reaction.  I yelled "I'm floating!" back to the Mr.  He couldn't hear me...he was trying to back out of the weeds.  When we got out of the little canal and out into the river, we turned right and before I knew it, I heard *splash!*  The Mr had joined Camp Tippayak.  Man overboard.  I quickly scooped up the camera in it's floaty case, sunscreen and his paddle.  I asked if he was okay and he said yes and was now going to have to hoist himself back into the kayak from a place in the river where you couldn't touch.  Hmm, that sounds familiar.  I'll be honest, I was glad it happened because now he could see what it was like to have to use your upper body weight to get back up on a board/vessel.  He gave me props for having to do that and got situated.

The canal where you paddle out to the river.

We started paddling up river.  I took in the palm trees, towering deep green mountain ranges with low hanging clouds kissing the tops and bright orange African tulip trees with their huge blossoms.

The road to Hanalei runs on the right.  When the grass was shorter I used to longingly look at those kayakers, now I am one.



I could feel all of that upper body strength training paying off.  Since we were going up river, we were also going against the current so it wasn't always a casual cruise on the water.  There were times I had to dig in a little to move the kayak in a current or when the wind would spontaneously kick up (there were no trades that day) and it felt good to feel those muscles working.  Our goal was to get to the Hanalei Bridge and beyond and it felt like it took forever to get there and when we finally saw it, it was like a ray of light.  

The Hanalei Bridge...*angels singing*

This rickety old bridge that they were doing maintenance on that morning, symbolized so many things for me.  I couldn't count how many times we'd driven over it and I'd look down and see kayakers on the river and think "I wish that was me" or "I hope I get to do that someday."  Now here I was, one of those kayakers I'd wished I was so many times being looked at by people waiting to cross the bridge.  Maybe one of them was now thinking the same thing about me.  Maybe one day they'll kayak because they looked down and saw that bigger couple they saw did it, so why shouldn't they?  At least I hope so.  I remember paddling toward it and watching the Mr lay down in his kayak while he paddled under it as the workers pounded the wood slats above him.  I was only a few strokes behind and as I went under it, the pounding of the workers seemed to disappear as I watched the sunlight filter through the wooden boards.

I could not get the smile off of my face and the Mr even commented to that effect and how he loved seeing me like that.  My hands were wet and it was taking its toll on my hands.  There was no way to dry them and the paddle and not start drifting so I had to keep with it.  This ripped up about 8 points on my hands and gave me a hellacious blister on one finger that felt like it needed its own zip code.  I didn't care.  I loved kayaking, at least on that little Scrambler XT I was on and we made our way back to the second half of the journey and the terrain changed a bit.  There wasn't much current and the air turned stagnant and a little stinky.  We paddled a little further and decided there wasn't much to see and the Mr reminded me that as far out as we paddle, we have to paddle it back.  We decided to turn around and head back.  We had the small current on our side this time and the sun took a break behind some clouds for us.

Paddling back under the cloud canopy.


Sadly that didn't help the Mr's legs, which he forgot to reapply his sunscreen to before we started.  Three weeks later and he's still pink.  It hurt to look at.  I guess since I got a bad one last year on the back of my neck in Nakalele on Maui, it was his turn.  Sigh.

We enjoyed the paddle back and went to Chicken in a Barrel for lunch after I burned 3270 calories that morning alone between stand up paddle and kayaking.  I think we basically slammed our faces in the meat sampler and screamed "protein!"

I surprised him again the last day we were there.  We usually shop a little or watch the day suck away from the lanai of our condo on the last day but I wasn't sending this trip off that way.  After a big breakfast, I asked what he wanted to do and he said we could walk on the beach.  I said "we could do that or we could go kayaking in Hanalei."  He jumped up and we got our stuff together (including the paddling gloves we bought at a surf shop in Poipu) and off we went.

This time was a little different.  They gave us a different kayak that felt much less stable the second I got pushed off into the water.  It felt much more "tippy" to me and didn't want to track straight.  Of course this day, we had 20 mph tradewinds working against us along with the current heading out to the bay.  We were going to attempt to paddle the bay.  I think in my head that sounded much more romantic a notion than the reality.  I knew it was a shorter paddle out but once you hit a certain point in the river, the ocean's current takes over and sucks you out.  I almost drown in a set in California as a teenager and that panic set in when I felt the choppy waves kicking in and the force of the current turning me.

Getting sucked out to sea while the Mr was snapping a pic.  If I'd had the more stable kayak like last time I might've ventured out but not in that thing!

I told the Mr to go on out to the bay because I know he wanted to.  He asked if I was sure and I said "see ya!" and started paddlin' my ass back to a less choppy part of the river.  I didn't have that fresh upper body strength I had on day 2 the first time I did it but I had to dig in and get turned around and paddled backwards so I could stay in place.  The Mr rode a few waves into the bay and then had to dig in hard to get back into the river.  As we started heading back, a kayak group that were all bumping into each other in tandems were set to get in our way.  We were trying to take pics and this one couple maybe in their late 50's, early 60's purposely got in the picture.  The Mr was not pleased.  I saw them but I was more ticked at how unwieldy this particular kayak was.  It wasn't tracking straight no matter what I did, so I'd have to stroke like 8 hard, deep times on the right side then like twice on the left before the winds and current would try to turn me.  It was like poking my inner sleeping bear because I got pissed off and just dug in with everything in me and blew past those photo bombers.  The Mr was like "aww man!" because he knew he'd have to dig in too and both of our hands were hurting.  He noticed the tandem couple was trying to speed up like "we're not going to have these fat people blow past us!"  (Trust me, they were giving us stink eye, you people with weight issues KNOW the look of judgment vs. your own head)

Arrow depicts how far ahead the tandem couple was when I decided to dig in and rocket past them.  Note the current going against us.

Even when we took a wrong turn, I quickly came out of the canal and ahead of them as they were trying to catch up and blow past us.  Sorry jerks...suck my water!  When I came into the ramp, the dock guy was giving instruction to a couple renting from them.  He directed me to the far ramp and told me to angle on in.  If you miss the turn, you'll crash right into a tree, so you have incentive to get it right.  I came in fast, dragged the paddle in the water, did a hard turn and banked in.  He said "woah!  You've obviously done this a time or two!  You're a pro!  I haven't seen many people come in that well!"  Why thank you!  I thought I might be more sore since we hadn't maintained our 6 days a week routine with exercise but I was glad I wasn't.  A little tightness in the shoulder blades and the hips but nothing bad.

We were very close to almost buying some when we got home but for many reasons it's not a good time.  We've decided we'll rent a few times this summer and see if it's something worth investing in when tax return time comes around.  Trust me, the investment is BIG when you're buying for two people...like just over $2000 for sit on tops along with the hybrid board the Mr wants.  Given we live in an area where there's not sunshine all year round, we need to way investment cost on rate of return on that one for sure.  But it's funny that the Mr loves stand up paddle so much while I feel the same about kayaking.  It's much like our winter preferences of snow shoeing for me and cross country skiing for him.  But just because we don't like the same things doesn't mean we can't be out there enjoying the same terrain by different modes of transportation!

Have you ever been kayaking?  Where's your favorite place to go?

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32 comments:

  1. I find it hilarious that I was able to paddle around on the stand up paddleboard and juggle filming your SUP lesson that whole time without falling at all, and then I get in a kayak and spill out into the river almost immediately. It definitely let me know what you faced in getting onto your board in deep water and because of you I was able to put my doubts aside and just hop back in! By the time we did our second kayak adventure I feel like I got a better hang of things and riding the waves was an awesome feeling that I am definitely looking forward to again.

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    1. Hee hee, that was kind of ironic but I'm glad seeing me do it could at least let you know you could do it too. You were so cute and uncoordinated! ;) You did great the 2nd time on the more unwieldy one. Go figure. I couldn't pay much attention to you given I felt I had to paddle for my life that day. Lesson learned, the winds seriously determine how your day on the water is going to go.

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  2. There are so many things I want to do when we go back to Hawaii and you guys are inspiring me to think that maybe I can do them. I have always wanted to try SUP and kayaking, I want to try ziplining and all kinds of other things. I want to have a much more active vacation next time instead of just laying around and eating the equivalent of my body weight in various things covered in coconut syrup!

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    1. You can absolutely do them! I just heard before we left that Eco Adventures (a company I've been wanting to zipline with on Maui) is setting up shop in Poipu. I am SOOO doing that the next time we're on Kauai. Their weight limit is 260 on their courses. I think I found a zipline company on Kauai that does zipline up to 270 lbs. We were JUST shy of that one. Sigh. Oh man, we are SOOOO breaking into the pineapple coconut syrup that just arrived yesterday. I'm making egg white french toast Saturday morning with a bit of aloha...well at least 2 tbsp worth. ;)

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  3. THIS: "I couldn't count how many times we'd driven over it and I'd look down and see kayakers on the river and think "I wish that was me" or "I hope I get to do that someday." Now here I was, one of those kayakers I'd wished I was so many times... Maybe one day they'll kayak because they looked down and saw that bigger couple they saw did it, so why shouldn't they?"

    And THIS: "Sorry jerks...suck my water!"

    This was such an inspiring/fun post to read... I love your writing!

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    1. Aww, thanks! I appreciate it!

      I worried about the length of it but it's almost Friday...people are daydreaming about the weekend, I figure give them something to read. :)

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  4. I've never been kayaking and I'm not sure I want to. I've seen too many people doing it on fast moving rivers and frankly that looks really scary. Maybe in slower moving water it would be fun.

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    1. Girl, you'll never catch me on a fast moving river! The Hanalei is one of the laziest rivers out there. The only part that isn't is the mouth when you're going into the bay but you never have to go near it if you don't want to. You'll also never catch me in one of those sit in kayaks. I have to have full usage of my legs and a vessel that doesn't sink if it takes on water.

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  5. Thats so much fun!! I am glad u did it and enjoyed it...so u found a new sport/hobby u like? wink wink...good going Anele proud of u woman!! woohoo!!! Groupon has a lot f kayaking deals if u have a river nearby..so u cud definitely do it when ur not in Hawaii too..yay!!

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    1. Definitely hoping that things get to a point where we could get our own and go out whenever we want. We've got lots of rivers, lakes, big puddles I could take that baby out in. Will have to settle for renting for now.

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    2. yeah renting is def a good start..i wud do that too..no point in investing in a kayak as of now..once u get a better hang of it...BTW they have these different classes u cud take if interested at different levels...I did the level 2 (totally not planned...) it was tiring but fun...now have to teach DH to swim coz the different levels have some "saving" techniques when ur in a closed kayak (where u seal off ur sitting hole)and he gets scared as he cant breathe underwater..

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  6. I'm so glad you did this! How better to take away the less than perfect taste of SUP? I LOVE kayaking! I was lucky that my grandparents Florida home was on one of those manufactured lakes and they had a canoe and kayak, so I have less fear of it than I probably should. Once hubby and I get past our current home improvement project we hope to fit some hiking and kayaking in this summer.

    The little Miami has a spot where you can launch, paddle downriver a couple miles, then they collect you and drive you back to the starting point. It's not intimidating at all. There are some fast spots but very few that are deep enough that I can't touch bottom and I'm not tall. And the trees lining the river minimize sun exposure.

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    1. Sounds like you had a fun time at the grandparents! That would be awesome!

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  7. I cannot tell you how Proud I am of you for conquering stand up paddle!
    I have always wanted to go Kayaking I am hoping next summer (pregnant this summer) we will finally get out and go!! You know...Michigan has some pretty awesome Kayaking places too! You can always make a trip up to your favorite High Five state again for some Kayaking!! :) SO glad you guys had an awesome time.

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    1. Thanks girl! I bet they do! I'll have to research it a bit. I have to imagine the times of year we like to travel (spring or fall) might be a little chilly for kayaking but maybe those wetsuits keep you warmer? (Ugh, that was not a pretty thought! Does anyone with more than 8% body fat look good in those?)

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  8. Oh hey - that's something I've always wanted to do (as I mentioned yesterday LOL)

    Sounds like you had a wonderful and active time - AWESOME!

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    1. Do it! You'd love it! I do on the calm stuff but yeah I don't see myself doing ocean anytime...well...ever. HA!

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  9. "Sorry jerks...suck my water!" Bwahahahaha!!!!

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  10. I love reading adventures that you and the Mr. take together! My other half recently told me that he wants to run a 5k together this year. It's the first time we have actually planned on doing an activity together, and I am excited. I hope that it leads to even more fun and I can blog about doing stuff together like the two of you! :-) And way to go for showing those paddle pushers what was up!

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    1. Thanks! I think you guys will love it. If there is one thing we've learned through this it's that supporting each other in health related goals only makes you closer!

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  11. I love living vicariously through you guys, I am so not brave enough to do all of these things. I need to muster up the courage. Such an inspiration!

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    1. Be brave young lassie! :) Trust me, I don't do or have a desire to do anything extreme like skydiving. I consider these kind of safer adventures. When I look back at my life, I want to make it worth looking at even if I tried some things that didn't agree with me at first.

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  12. I'm so glad you enjoyed kayaking!! The pics were fantastic! I have never done it but my hubs does. We bought him one two years ago (a sit-in kind) and he goes down the river several times a season. Last year he could only go once because the rivers were so low, but this year they are in good shape. I'm actually surprising him for father's day (our kids have paws)by buying him thigh pads that are fitted for the Perception Kayaks. He has a blast and flies past the canoes and blow up boats. I said I'd try it once I felt more comfortable (and had more stamina). Doing the river thing is huge around here and it's packed every weekend. I'm hoping he'll do his first journey this weekend with it being a holiday weekend.

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    1. Thanks! No way for me on the sit in kind. I know they're cheaper but I want something I can escape from if I capsize, not something that'll sink! LOL You should rent a sit on top and go with him!

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  13. OMG, I recently tried kayaking, and I loved it. It was something I never would have tried, but since I was at a Health and Wellness Spa I figured they should have some that I could fit in. It was a lot easier than I thought it would be. I would definitely go again. My massage therapist said my husband and I should buy some because there is a great area nearby where we could go.
    I am glad that you had a great time. I was away for a few weeks so I fell off from reading your blog. I have been trying to catch up little by little. It's harder because I have been putting in more effort with my health journey. I know it's a good thing.

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    1. It's so fun, right!? I really want to invest in some when we're able to plunk down that kind of change. Hope you're doing well!

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  14. I'm loving the highlights of your trip, thanks for posting!

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  15. I've always wanted to go kayaking too, but considering the fact that I can't swim (ha ha), it seemed like maybe not the best idea. Perhaps a big ol' non-tipping canoe would be better for me. ;) The scenery is so beautiful--definitely a great way to workout!

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  16. I'm so glad you enjoyed yourself! I have always wanted to go kayaking! Last year my hubs and I went canoeing, and that was really fun. We did an evening paddle with a group, and we hope to go back sometime soon (but we never have a babysitter).

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