Saturday, August 28, 2010

Late Morning Paddle at Beaver Dam Lake

8/28/2010 - Beaver Dam Lake, Wake Forest, NC

It had been a stressful week for me... moving our oldest son John to UNC Charlotte... adjusting to one less son at home... and some work-related "challenges"... I was ready for some paddling come this weekend! And what better place... then Beaver Dam Lake... one of my favorite yaking "haunts!" ;-) I was set for an early morning paddle, but Rachel first wanted to go to the Durham Farmers Market since she had a hankering for fresh produce. We finished that chore around mid-morning... and since I had loaded our kayak the night before in my truck... we were able to get back on the road toward Beaver Dam Lake with a minimum of delay. We arrived at the park entrance around 10:45AM... paid the customary $6.00 (too high IMHO)... and drove down toward the two boat ramps. Saturday late morning had some beautiful weather with temperatures in the high 70's, partly cloudy, low humidity, and dead calm - no breeze at all.

A father and son were preparing their small sailboats near the boat ramps while a third fellow was getting ready to put in his kayak. Both sailboats were also pedal-powered... which was fortunate since there was no breeze at all!

Spotted this guy in a scull boat. Rachel chatted with him briefly before we put in and asked him how he knew (or could see) where he was going... since he sat "backwards" as he "sculled along." He replied that he wears a mirror apparatus that attaches to his cap... similar to the ones worn by cyclists... so he can keep an "eye" on his route! Now we know!

Me preparing to put in at one of the boat ramps.

Passed this happy yaker on our outward leg. Note how calm and still was the water surface - like glass!

The dead calm conditions made for ideal paddling!

Rachel, in her customary front seat, took these two wonderful photos of an Anhinga. It is also known as the "Snakebird," and often swims with its body submerged and only its head and long slender neck visible above the water.

We stopped paddling as we approached the Anhinga... and just drifted... getting to within 15-20 feet of it before the bird took to flight. Rachel had her finger on the camera shutter button as we approached... and took this "neat" shot as the bird leaped off its tree stump perch and into the air. It is these kinds of "close encounters" while paddling that are so memorable and special.

Beaver Dam Lake has many bird shelters scattered along the shoreline.

Spotted two turtles sunning themselves on a dead tree branch in a quiet cove.

Beautiful Beaver Dam Lake on a late August morning!

Friday, August 20, 2010

A Different Kind of Adventure

Our family embarks on a different adventure this weekend... and it has nothing to do with paddling. We are sending our oldest son John off to college! Our son is an incoming freshman at UNC Charlotte! So... it's pack up two vehicles with all the essentials... and convoy to the big city of Charlotte. There will be a lot of sweat... some smiles... and some tears shed this weekend. Our home will be a little "more" empty when we return on Sunday. But we are excited for John... as he embarks on his college adventure! Remember, to always take life one stroke at a time! We are trying to do just that! :-)

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Paddling on Lake Holt

8/14/2010 - Lake Holt, Butner, NC

I was fully recovered from my flu bout this weekend... so Rachel and I decided to get in a short paddle Saturday morning. Saturday morning was overcast, 85 degrees, moderate humidity, and a slight breeze. Nice paddling conditions... especially with the cloud cover that kept us from roasting in the sun! :-) We drove 20 minutes east to the town of Butner to put in at Lake Holt.

Put in at Lake Holt. Overcast and there was a slight breeze out of the SE.

Lots of fishing boat traffic on the lake. When I signed in at the concession / tackle building and paid my very reasonable $3.00 put in fee, I noted that many fishermen had arrived as early as 6:00AM. We got there at a more reasonable 9:00AM.

Spotted this blue heron perched on a dead tree limb. I got a few shots of the bird before it flew off down the shoreline.

Overcast and dark for our entire paddle...

... with a few glimpses of sunlight behind the low lying clouds.

Approaching a bridge near the Butner military reservation.

There were plenty of these "colorful" orange signs warning folks to stay in their boats and not to wander off into the military reservation forest that bordered Lake Holt. Rachel and I stayed in our kayak too! ;-)

Here was a road that "emptied" into the lake waters, obviously for the launching of watercraft.

We spotted these interesting rock formations on our return leg.

Rachel and I had a nice, 2 hour paddle at Lake Holt. It was fun to get out on the water together again... and much of our paddle was chatting with each other... and digging hard to get in a good workout. A tandem kayak can really "move" when both paddlers work together... and with current and wind also helping out! We are thankful to have so many wonderful paddling areas within a one hour drive of our home!

Monday, August 9, 2010

Not Sea Sick - Just Sick!

I had every intention of paddling this past weekend... but unfortunately, my body did not cooperate with me! :-( Friday morning I awoke with dull throbbing pains in my joints and lower back. Initially, I dismissed these as just "aches and pains" of being 50... but after mowing my front yard later that morning... I also had a full blown fever too! My symptoms got worst as the day got long... but you'll thank me if I spare you all the gory details? So, I became an involuntary "couch potato" that weekend... drinking lots of fluids... popping a bunch of aspirin... snoozing a lot... and watching many reels of John Wayne movies. Thankfully... by Sunday afternoon, the worst was past me... and I recovered enough to be able to return to work today! Oh boy! ;-) I'm looking forward to THIS weekend... when again I make some more paddling plans! Stay tuned. More to come.

Sunday, August 1, 2010

Paddling on the Pamunkey River

7/30/2010 - Pamunkey River, Mechanicsville, VA

Hi everyone! My family visited some close friends in Mechanicsville, VA who also live within a few hundred yards of the Pamunkey River. So, with paddling always top of mind... Rachel and I "squeezed" in a paddling adventure early Friday morning! Friday saw temperatures in the mid-to-upper 80's, a light breeze and moderate humidity... nice paddling conditions.

Put in area was a neighbor's backyard that backed up to a small creek that emptied into the Pamunkey River. This family had a flotilla of kayaks to choose from! :-)
Our friends had a pair of these small Otter kayak models that were just under 10 feet in length. Rachel and I decided to paddle the Otters... mainly because of their large, roomy cockpits... and our long feet!

Beautiful view from the creek bank. The neighbors had a floating dock that was "most welcome" since it made getting in and exiting our kayaks much easier!

Large lily plant with some leaves over a foot in diameter.

We encountered several duck blinds on the Pamunkey River. Some; as in this photo, were elaborate enclosed structures equipped with built-in benches and small docks.

Another neighbor's dock with two boats moored nearby.

Rachel taking the lead as we paddle N on the Pamunkey River. The Pamunkey is a nice, wide river, with little pollution... and on this morning... we had most of it to ourselves!

I handed the camera to Rach... and she took a few photos of me as we paddled in formation.

Nice "close up" photo of yours truly! Determined look on my face!

We did encounter these two guys who were fishing... but other then that... we saw nobody else as we "rolled down" the river. It was a "work day" for most folks.

Spotted this inviting hammock on another boat dock.

This boat house had a wench assembly strong enough to suspend this large pontoon boat out of the water.

Near another dock, I spotted at least 8 tree trunks with new growth sprouting from their tops. If you look closely (Click on the photo to enlarge) you will also see a solar powered light mounted in the tree trunk framed in the middle of this photo. The light is to illuminate these boat hazards in either dim light conditions or at night.

Beautiful Pamunkey River!

A large fern bush growing by the river's edge.

Here is the most elaborate dock "compound" we encountered on the river. It came complete with two boat houses, a gazebo, and concrete steps cut into the hill, that descended to a 30 foot plus dock area. The house on the hill top is known as the "white mansion" by local residents.

A "beauty" shot! Enjoy!

The remains of a duck blind.

Rachel leading us down a small inlet off the main river channel.

Gorgeous cloud formations!

Another dock on the river. Note the corn field that grows within a few hundred feet of the water's edge.

We had a nice 3 hour paddle on a beautiful summer morning! This is what paddling is all about... slowing down... enjoying ourselves... and getting up close and personal with nature. Remember to always take life one stroke at a time! Rachel and I certainly did this weekend on the Pamunkey River! ;-)