Have Kayak, Will Travel

I was talking to my friend who lives in Houston about our upcoming trip when she said, “We’re thinking of going kayaking on Sunday night, but we’d have to rent some kayaks.” She went on to tell me the cost and ask if we’d be OK with that.

“No problem,” I said. “We’ve just bought a kayak and we’re bringing it with us.”

She was understandably surprised. “On the plane?”

I wish I’d thought to say, “Of course. It’s a carry-on.” Instead I just told her the truth. “It’s inflatable.”

Our fourteen-foot long kayak folds up into a bundle that will fit in a large duffle bag. It weighs about 45 pounds packed, so we were able to get it on the plane. But along with our camping gear, which we needed for our planned three-day trip down the Neches river in Big Thicket, we had a lot more luggage than usual.

Kurt and all our luggage. The kayak is in the gray bag on the bottom.

Our maiden voyage on Sunday night was at Bay Area Park.  Getting the kayak ready to go only takes a few minutes and some leg muscles. We have a foot pump for inflating it, and it works great. Fortunately, it’s easy to operate. While it came with directions, they are translated (badly) from Italian. A typical example: To inflate the tubulars, start inflating with the inserted cap, by exploiting completely the capacity.

Kurt pumps up the kayak

Once we got out on the water, things went smoothly, although I was anxious most of the time. I have almost no paddling experience and felt really out of control. The fact that there were things that we needed not to hit — other boats, the shore, alligators — added to my stress. I couldn’t seem to remember the things I’d read about kayaking before we left on our trip. It helped that Kurt was in the boat with me and did most of the steering. I’m sure my high stress levels worried him because we had a long trip planned. But mostly I was suffering from beginner’s jitters, compounded by the fact that I was afraid of doing something stupid in front of my friends.

Kit, Kurt, and the Kayak (Photo by Michael Casey)

We did have some close encounters with wildlife. We saw herons and alligators. We heard barred owls in the woods on shore. We saw fish (we think they were mullet) leaping frantically out of the water to evade some unseen predator. In fact, one of the fish jumped right into our kayak, smacking Kurt in the stomach. I was glad it hit Kurt and not me. I might have jumped out of the boat.

We had hoped to christen the boat that night, and write the name on the bow with a marker. We hadn’t been able to settle on a name, however, despite hours of entertaining discussion and a whole range of ideas, and nothing new came to us that night. We decided to wait for the Neches trip and see if the kayak might name itself.

Pictures of the rest of our boating party can be found on my Facebook page.

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Kit Dunsmore

Kit Dunsmore has believed in the magic underlying the muggle world since she was a child searching for the Shetland pony pooka she was sure was hiding in her back yard. She learned early on that books were magic doors into other worlds, and that she could revisit a beloved character or place by opening the right book. As she grew, she decided she wanted to make magic with words, too. Today Kit writes about things she loves: poodles and dragons, witches and artists, quirky underdogs and loyal friends. Whether her setting is 6th-century England, the imaginary Twelve Kingdoms, or an art-obsessed version of modern America, magic always finds its way into her story. She enjoys turning fairy tales inside out and watching characters sacrifice everything to reach their goal, but she also believes in happy endings. When she isn't writing, Kit experiences magic by making things with her hands. Over the years, she's made quilts, fabric sculptures, collages, sweaters, and blank books. Her newest interest is learning how to spin her own yarn, a skill guaranteed to strengthen one of her many delusions: that she is a self-sufficient pioneer woman. She also thinks she is a hobbit, a witch, an artist, and a good cook. Living in the foothills of Colorado, Kit enjoys the giant skies and prairie landscapes which suit her need for wide open spaces. In addition to hiking through glorious scenery with her husband or imagining herself living in the Middle Ages, Kit works as a pillow for her miniature poodle and polishes the next small piece of her handmade life.

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