Tuesday, September 30, 2008


So I've had my blog for exactly one week now. This will be the 17th post to it.

I don't know if anyone out there is reading it, but I'm having a lot of fun putting some of my random thoughts down onto the web so that others can read them if they choose to.

I haven't given out the address to many people yet, and I will get it out to my family members shortly. I like posting to the blog MUCH more than to all of the social networking sites like MySpace and FaceBook.

I don't know if I'll be able to keep up the 2+ posts per day for the entire length of the blog, but I would LOVE to be able to post at least once every day, or at the VERY least 3 or 4 times every week.

Walking With Sticks.

I wanted to make one more quick post before I hit the sack tonight.

I've recently decided that I need to start getting more active. I need to try and lose a little bit of the gut I've developed over the last few years. I don't like the idea of dieting, so I'm going to try to get more active. I've topped off at just about 235 pounds over the last several years...I don't get any bigger no matter what I eat. So I figure that my main problem is simply a lack of activity.

The kayak was one of the key elements in this getting more active. However, that's something that can't be done everyday due to the nature of the activity.

I have some boxing equipment set up in the basement, and I enjoy using it, but find that quite often it actually hurts my hands. I hurt one hand pretty good a while back and have backed off of the boxing for the time being. I'll get back into it shortly, however.

But the other thing that I've gotten interested in is an activity called "Nordic Walking," or "Walking with Sticks." Basically, it's a modified set of ski poles that you use to walk with. You hold them in a certain way so that you use them to provide some force when you are walking. When done correctly, it works out more of your body AND eliminates some of the stress caused on your ankles, hips, and knees by just normal walking.

I've tried it out a few times with some cheap poles I got at Meijer and I can say that it definitely feels different than walking. You can really feel your upper body getting more of a workout. The information I've found suggests that walking with sticks works out about 90% of the muscles in your body, and you can burn up to 40% more calories than walking alone.

I've been meaning to try to embed a video in the blog, so I will try to embed a video of me "walking with my sticks" sometime in the near future.

Stearns Cordova...

I would just like to post really quickly that I'm leaning towards a Stearns Cordova for my next boat. I've been doing some research and talking with some other folks that have experience with them and it seems the Cordova will probably fit my needs better than any of the other boats that I'm interested in.

Of course, all of this can change at any given moment with me...so you never know!!!

Sleepy Hollow State Park

Well, I got a few days off of work, and it looks like it's supposed to be pretty decent out on Saturday. Weather.com is calling for 64 degrees and mostly sunny with currently zero percent chance of rain.

I may try and get the TK-1 up to Sleepy Hollow State Park and do a little bit of kayaking out on Lake Ovid.

Here is the description of Lake Ovid according the trip report at Paddling.net:

"Lake Ovid is a 410-acre lake (Lake Lansing is a 450 acre lake for comparison), which was developed from the Little Maple River. Lake Ovid is a no wake lake and may be the best inland lake kayaking destination in the Lansing area. There are two or three islands in the lake, which create some interesting airflow on windy days and add some additional enjoyment to the kayaking experience.

It is not uncommon to share the lake with many fishermen. Since they are normally fishing from a stationary point, however, they are not a problem. And, because it is a no wake lake you won't find anyone going much faster than trolling speed. There are usually a few other canoes and kayaks on the lake, and even a sailboat will stop out now and then. On occasion the parking lot is quite crowded, but the lake is always peaceful. Lake Ovid may not be the best place to practice rolling or wet exits as there is a fair amount of underwater plant life. However, this does not interfere with paddling and if you really want to practice some in the water exercises, you can go to the swimming area for a fairly weed free experience.

Lake Ovid is home to a large population of birds and other wildlife, including Sandhill Cranes, Blue Heron, geese, ducks, muskrats, turtles, and deer. Unlike other lakes where all the wildlife has been run off by powerboats, you can expect to see most of these creatures on every visit to the lake."

It sounds to me like a pretty good destination to get the TK-1 out in an area where I will be able to see something other than houses!!! I'm looking forward to making this quick trip, and then I will probably stop by my parents house to hang out for a little while before returning home.

Monday, September 29, 2008

My TK-1 Review for Paddling.net

Here is the review of my Kwik Tek Airhead TK-1 that I recently submitted to the reviews database on paddling.net.

Well, if you're reading this review then you're interested in a lightweight, easy to use, inexpensive inflatable kayak. How do I know that?? Because that's exactly what I was interested in when I found the Kwik Tek Airhead TK-1 inflatable kayak.

I purchased the TK-1 as a first kayak. I had never paddled a kayak at all before. I really wanted something that was going to get me back out onto the water after a few years worth of absence.

I researched quite a bit online and found the TK-1 late one night while searching around some different websites. I was having trouble finding information about it because it was listed as an "Airhead TK-1." It took me a bit of searching to determine that it sometimes was called a "Kwik Tek TK-1." I navigated here to paddling.net and found some favorable reviews and a few favorable posts in the message board and decided to give it a go. I got mine for a GREAT price on clearance at a big box store. Look around and you can find one for well under the MSRP.

I got the boat home and wanted to set it up right away. I took the TK-1 out of the box, unrolled it, and inspected it. Right off the bat I was fairly impressed by the build of the boat. It had really nice fabric covering the tubes that hold the air, and a really heavy duty looking hull. The hull really impressed me. It really looked like it would be able to stand up to quite a beating without any kind of downside. The D-rings seemed well made, all of the seams were sewn together well, the seat seemed really nice. The overall impression I got upon initial inspection was great. The ONLY issue I had was one of the skeg fins on the bottom of the boat was a bit bent. I figured it was like that after being packaged in the box. I later found out that an easy fix for this is to take the boat and leave it out in the sun bottom up for about 15 minutes. I did that and the fin flexed itself back into it's normal position...problem fixed, for free!!!

I grabbed my electric pump and hooked it up to the TK-1. The Boston Valves with the boat seemed to be pretty good quality. They screwed in very tightly and seemed better made than some other Boston Valves I had looked at. I started pumping the boat up. The TK-1 is wanting you to pump it up to 2 PSI. I quickly discovered that my electric pump wasn't up to the task. I couldn't get the boat very firm at all. I resigned myself to just putting it all together to see what it looked like. I hooked the seat up and was really impressed at how nice the boat looked. It looked like something that would really hold up well. I tore the boat down and ordered a bellows foot pump online. Luckily for me the pump came in just a few days so I was ready to get out on the water.

After the pump showed up, I took the boat to a local lake just to make sure that it would work at all. The TK-1 has a posted capacity of 300 lbs. I weigh about 240 or so on a good day, and I was a bit worried that the boat might not hold me. When I got to the lake I got the boat all set up. With the bellows foot pump the boat inflated extremely quickly. I had it all pumped up and ready to go in less than five minutes. I attached the seat and grabbed my paddle.

Now, keep in mind this is my first kayak and my first time IN a kayak. With the boat in the water, as I was standing next to it I felt that it didn't seem very sturdy. It wobbled and rocked as I was walking it out to about knee deep in the water. I really was worried that the boat would flip over when I tried to get into it. My fears of that were soon dismissed, however, because as soon as I sat in the boat it immediately became rock solid. The weight in the boat caused the rocking to stop and the boat floated very well. My 240 pounds didn't even cause a kink in the side tubes, and the boat was floating very well. My initial fears that the boat might not support my weight turned out to be unfounded.

I began to paddle the boat, and it was going where I wanted it to. It was working. That trip was very short. I really just wanted to make sure that the boat would support my weight, so after about 10 minutes I packed it up and came home.

A week later I went for another paddle, this being the first true trip in the boat. I have to say that the boat exceeded my expectations in several ways.

First off, I felt that the boat moved along at a pretty decent speed. I have nothing to compare it to, but I didn't feel like I was going slow. With that said, I didn't feel that I was going "fast" either.

Next, the boat was extremely stable in the water. Even going over waves and wake from boats I never once felt like I was anywhere near tipping. I believe that you would have to try pretty hard to get the TK-1 to tip over with you in it.

Next, the boat tracked well...or didn't...depending on your definition of tracking, which I'm getting a bit confused on myself. The boat went in a straight line pretty well as long as I was paddling it. It kind of slightly zig-zagged across the water as I paddled, but for the most part it went in the direction I wanted it to and got where I meant to go. This could be partly due to my lack of knowledge on paddling, but I believe that the boat went pretty straight. I've watched quite a few videos of inflatable kayaks online, and I felt that mine wasn't wagging back and forth anymore than any of the others that I have watched. Now, where I would say the tracking is bad, however, is that as soon as I stopped paddling the boat quickly wanted to "skid" to the side. It would start turning in circles. The small skeg fins didn't seem to make much of a difference for this, and I felt a bit let down that it did this almost immediately after I stopped paddling. I let a bit of air out of the floor panel at this point, and it seemed to help the issue a bit. On returning to shore I noticed that my floor bladder wasn't centered, and I contributed at least a little of the skidding action to the fact that the bladder wasn't centered. With that said, I believe I am going to add a bigger fin or skeg of some type to try and help it go straighter when I'm not paddling.

Also, the seat was extremely comfortable. I thought it provided excellent back support and felt good on my backside with the inflated seat bottom. The foot brace also was nice, as I found myself using it almost naturally. I think it might be odd to try and paddle without one. The entire boat, actually, was quite comfortable. I felt that I could be out for several hours without any real issues.

Last observation was that it didn't leak in any water. The small amount of water that was in the boat was easily attributed to the paddle splashing some water in. All in all I stayed VERY dry inside the boat, which is nice.

After paddling for probably about 2 kilometers I finally made it back to my starting poing. The boat tears down quickly and easily. In less than 5 minutes I had the boat completely broken down and was throwing it back in my trunk.

When I got it home I set out to get the TK-1 dry. I had read that some kayaks with the bladders inside of the fabric covering can be hard to dry. I had no issues with this, and this is how I did it. I first take the boat out to the back deck and set it on it's bottom, uninflated. Mind you, this is NOT in direct sunlight. I let it sit like that for several hours, then go out and flip it over. I let it sit like that for several hours. After that, I take it into my garage and hang it from the ceiling. I leave it like that overnight. Each time I have used the TK-1 this has been my method of drying, and within 24 hours the boat seems completely dry to me.

All in all, I am EXTREMELY happy with my TK-1. It seems to be a great little boat for the money that I spent on it. I think that for about $20 and some home engineering I can make it track quite a bit better, as well. I have some ideas to fix that, none of which are extremely complicated.

I think it's great to be able to throw the boat in the trunk and go to the lake and be out on the water in 10 minutes or less. It's also nice when I go to store it that I can just toss it in a closet.

The TK-1 has gotten me hooked on kayaks, and convinced me that inflatable will be the way to go for me. I have already begun researching my next inflatable, as I would like something a bit larger to do some camping with. But for now my TK-1 is doing great and giving me lots of fun.

I would highly recommend this kayak to anyone looking for an inexpensive inflatabe that is also pretty well made.

Paddlesheep's Blog.

I just wanted to take a second to point out another blog to anyone that might be reading mine.

Paddlsheep is a guy that I got into contact with over on paddling.net. He had some information about inflatables that helped me out quite a bit in some threads that I had made.

Well, I spent some time looking around on his blog, and for anyone that's interested in some cool pictures or some good kayaking trip logs, I'd suggest checking it out. The guy has a knack for photos, and where he lives there are obviously some BEAUTIFUL lakes and rivers. It almost makes me want to move to Vancouver...

Anyways, surf on over to Paddlesheep's Blog, it's well worth it.

Sunday, September 28, 2008


For some reason, Cathy has seemed to take a pretty keen interest as of late in a scooter. She really likes the Honda Ruckus. She says she likes that it's industrial, and she is industrial. It's cute how she perks up when she talks about it.

I also have been thinking that some scooters might be a good idea for us. We live close enough to town that we could easily use them to get back and forth to the store on our days off and before or after work. Unfortunately, work is just WAY too far away for us to think about using scooters for that. But for around town they would probably be ideal.

I also like the Ruckus, but it seems that they are a bit hard to find. I showed her some Kymco models today, and she liked a couple of those as well. I also really like a couple of the Kymcos...especially their 2-smoke Super 9 model.

This is going to be something that we probably look into a bit more next spring...especially if gas is still up around $4 per gallon.

I'm just excited that she's interested in something motorized that's on two wheels!!!


I know that I literally just bought the first set of kayaks for Cathy and myself, but I have found it to be incredibly interesting researching reviews and information about other kayaks and the sport/hobby in general.

I know I'm jumping the gun quite a bit, but I've already picked out the "next" set of kayaks for us. Well, I've definitely picked out the next one for Cathy, and I've got the next one for myself narrowed down to 3 different models.

For Cathy I will be getting her a Stearns Spree. From the information over on Paddlesheep's blog, it seems like it will be an excellent craft for her. Small and easy to paddle, but good quality and good tracking characteristics.

For myself I've got it narrowed down to the Stearns Spree 2, the Stearns Cordova, or the Advanced Elements Expedition. Right now I'm leaning towards the Spree 2. I've read that it's a good boat for being paddled solo even though it's technically a tandem. It's got good weight capacity and is a good size. The Cordova I worry might not carry the things I would want my next boat to carry. It's capacity is 50lbs lower than the Spree 2. I've also been told that despite it's different type of floor, it still doesn't track all that well. I've also been told it's not exactly the best value for it's cost, although I believe it's cost has come down considerably since some owners purchased it. The AE Expedition looks like a great boat, but it's at the top of the length window that I'm looking at. I've read that with an inflatable it's not generally a good idea to go with anything over 13', and the Expedition is right at that. I also don't like the bungies on it...they seem too far forward. It also lacks the removable spray skirt option that the Spree 2 and the Cordova have, as far as I can tell. So for now the Spree 2 is the one I'll be interested in...that is, unless I win my $2 million in Vegas next month...then I'm going for the Innova Sunny!!!!

The best parts about having the Spree 2 at the top of my list of boats right now are that it's also the least expensive of the lot...by a margin of over $50. Which is a good thing. It's also the same boat as what Cathy will have, albeit the larger one. So we will have matching kayaks in slightly different sizes and maybe different colors.

But this is all getting way too far ahead of myself. I need to learn the basics more and more with my TK-1...and I need to get Cathy out on the water once before she can determine if she is really even interested in this sport.

But it's still fun for me to research...

Saturday, September 27, 2008

To Trade, or Not to Trade...

That is the question.

This past spring I spent a few hundred bucks on a brand new SSR-90R pitbike. I spent some money on some upgrades and turned it into a mini-motard race bike. I had all intentions of taking the bike to a local go-kart track for some racing this summer, but a change in work schedule pretty much defeated that.

So the bike has been listed on Craig's List for over a month now. I've only had one person really interested, and he just keeps kinda jerking me around, so I've taken to basically ignoring him.

However, just yesterday I got an e-mail from a guy offering to trade his 1996 Yamaha Blaster quad straight up for the bike. I've never owned a quad but I've always liked them, so I'm seriously considering it. The guy says it has a few aftermarket parts, and I'm waiting to see what parts he has on it, but right now I'm leaning towards the trade.

The SSR has just been sitting there looking for someone to ride it...I get it out every month or so to ride it around the yard, but that's not what it's for. The quad, on the other hand, could come in pretty handy. Dragging things to the backyard would be easy with it, a snowplow attachment is possible, and the idea of taking it to some trails and stuff just seems pretty enticing.

I'm still on the fence though...man, I wish I was more decisive.

Friday, September 26, 2008

I Always HATE This Time of Year...

As the weather starts to slowly get colder and the days get shorter, I always start reflecting on the past riding season.

I think about all the times that I DIDN'T ride my bike when I could have. I think about all the time I spent working on it. I think about the money I spent on parts, maintenance, and insurance. Basically, I think that sometimes the bike is just something that I don't need around anymore.

I don't ride it nearly as much as I would like to...especially now that work is 45 miles away. Where I work I have to wear a uniform, and utilizing the bike to commute has just been such a hassle that I have just resigned myself to taking the car...that, and car pooling with Cathy simply saves us too much money to have me ride and her drive.

I always think that maybe I should just put it up for sale, and use the money for one of my other hobbies or to pay off some bills...but there's something inside me that just simply won't let me do it.

Maybe it's the idea that next spring I would be ready to go riding...but there would be no bike.

Maybe it's the idea that I've put so much effort into making my bike what it is, that it simply wouldn't be fair for someone else to enjoy it.

Maybe it's the idea that this is just the weather getting me down.

Whatever it is, there's something inside me that simply will not let me put the bike up for sale...

...which I'm grateful for every spring when the days start to get longer, and the weather starts to get warmer...

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Drying Out the Inflatable.

Well, I don't really have an awful lot going on today. I called in sick to work due to a few things...mainly I had a nasty headache and my throat was sore, but I also had a sore back and sore legs due to the kayaking I believe. But man, the headache was bad. It set in last night (Wednesday night) and I didn't get rid of it until late this afternoon (Thursday).

Anyways, I thought I'd take a minute to post about how I've been drying out the TK-1 after I get done with it.

First of all, both times I've used it I basically just rolled it up and threw it in the car and came home. When I got home was when I did my drying. Both times I've done it the same way and each time it's turned out pretty well.

First, when I get home I take the boat out onto my back deck. The back deck faces east, so it's shaded by the time I get home. I lay the boat out, top side up, on the deck. I leave it like that for a few hours then go flip it so it's bottom side up. I leave it like that for a few hours. This gets it pretty well dried out, but to make absolutely sure, I take it into my garage and hang it from a hook on the ceiling. I leave it hanging like that for a few days just to make sure it's completely dry.

I believe hanging it works well because the garage isn't really insulated so it gets pretty warm in there. It also faces west, so the sun heats it up even more...however, the boat is out of direct sunlight so there's no issues with that. That, and the hanging aspect allows any leftover water to work it's way down out of the part that is hanging down, which is the front of the boat.

Both times after only 24 hours the boat has seemed as dry as when it was new. This method wouldn't work very well if the boat were any longer, because as it is the tip of the front is touching the ground just barely. But it works, so I'll keep doing it!!!

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

First Real Kayak Paddle!!!!

Alright!!! The weather today in Michigan was absolutely stunning...82 degrees, calm winds, clear skies. Basically, it was a perfect day to head to the lake to get my first real test of the TK-1 out of the way.

I had planned on getting up at 10:00 AM, but that plan fell through and instead I was up at 11:00 AM. I hit the shower and started gathering all of my stuff up. I got everything around and loaded in the car and headed out probably around 11:40 or so.

I got my new Storus dry bag all packed up because I really wanted to try it out. The Storus bag held everything perfectly. It's a great size for what I need it for. It held my Palm Centro smartphone, my car keys, my wallet, some spare batteries, and my digital camera. My digital camera is a Samsung model CH3AP-A55, and as such it's relatively small. It's not in the bag in this photo, because this photo is taken with the camera!!!

After a quick stop at the gas station for some Gatorades, I was at the lake at about 12:10. I found a place to park and got the boat out to get it ready to go. I got the boat and all the equpiment out and dragged it to the spot that I would be launching from. I laid the boat out and unrolled it to get it ready for inflation.

I grabbed my Sevylor bellows foot pump and got to work. About 5 minutes later I had the boat all pumped up and ready to go...

...or so I thought. After I got the boat pumped up, I realized something horrible...I had left the seat at the house!!!! I debated going back to get it, but reluctantly decided just to try to go without it. I have a cheap orange PFD and I threw that in there to try and utilize it as a seat...it worked okay, until the end of the trip...but more on that later!!

So anyways, I got the boat all loaded up with the things I needed and got it into the water. The put in at the park I had found was pretty nice. It was nice soft grass all the way up to the water line, but at the water line there was a nice soft sand bottom. Perfect for putting the kayak in!!

I got the boat in the water and took special care to avoid the giant weeds and lily pad field that was just to the right of where I was putting in. I don't like seaweeds. I want to avoid them at all costs. You can see them to an extent in the picture above. They were insane. All over that area.

Once underway I immediately noticed that the water was quite a bit calmer than it had been last week. There was less wind and as such the water was quite a bit less choppy. It was actually really smooth. I set my sights on what appeared to be a rather large sailboat on the opposite side of the lake and figured that would be a good spot for me to attempt to get to for my first paddle.

I set off and noticed that the boat didn't seem to be tracking quite as well as I had remembered it. It was traveling alright in a straight line, but as soon as I stopped paddling it would want to "skid" out. I attribute this to a few things. First, I don't know what I'm doing. That's probably the most important aspect of all of this. Second, I didn't feel quite as comfortable sitting on the live vest as I did on the nice seat that comes with the TK-1. I think that contributed to the boat not being balanced very well. Lastly, I hadn't noticed it when I was first starting to inflate, but the floor bladder was a bit off center. I'm sure that having the floor off center in this boat can cause some odd tracking issues. I believe that these things will be able to be corrected in future paddles...mainly by me gaining experience and making sure I'm all set for my trip.

Tracking issues or not, I was still moving along at a relatively good clip. The inflatable tends to zig-zag across the water to an extent, but nothing that's annoying. It just doesn't go exactly straight, which is to be expected from such a short boat that basically sits on TOP of the water instead of in the water.

I got about half way to where I was determined to go, and stopped for a quick sip of Gatorade. While I was floating I decided to grab the camera and get a shot or two. Clark Lake isn't really a good lake for scenery. It's basically surrounded by summer homes, cottages, and regular homes. Some of them are gorgeous, however, so if you are into that type of thing there are definitely sights to be had. If you're into nature and natural beauty, this isn't really the place for you.

I grabbed a shot just to illustrate how MANY homes are around this lake. You can see the front of my nice looking boat in this photo!!

I turned the boat back around and fixed on my sailboat again. At this point in time I was joined by the first other craft I'd seen on the lake at all. An older gentleman, probably about 65 at least, went flying by on a jet ski. He was probably going about 50 MPH. It was pretty amusing to me to see this old guy going so fast on the thing. I tried to grab the camera but by the time I had got it he was long gone. Anyways, back to paddling.

I started going again and was trying some different types of movements with my paddle, trying to determine the one that helped me track the best and also maintain a good speed. I found a couple that worked, but I think they would be better if I had the actual seat in the boat. The actual seat sits a bit higher than I was sitting, and I determined that sitting lower probably wasn't helping me come up with an effective stroke. I was still moving along pretty well, and was getting closer to my initial target.

After about 30 minutes of paddling I arrived at the sailboat that I had initially set my sights on. It was a nice boat, about 25 feet in length. I didn't take a picture because it had quite a bit of covering on it. It appeared that it was relatively ready to go into dry dock for the winter. Why these people that own these homes on the water weren't out on the water on a day like today is beyond me!!!

As I got to that side of the lake, I realized that the cottages on this side were quite a bit nicer than the other side of the lake. I took a couple shots of the ones that I liked the best.

The brown one in the center of this photo is my favorite on the lake. The picture just doesn't do it justice.

This one was a pretty close runner up, and it was actually just a few houses down from the one above.

After hanging out over on that side of the lake for about 15 minutes, I decided it was probably time to start heading back. Remember, this is my first real trip that lasted more than just a few minutes. The sun was hot and I was getting a bit sun burned. After the little time in the sun I felt like I had been spending most of my time in a cave lately...granted, I don't go outside a ton but being out in the sun for a long time for a change was pretty nice. It felt great to be back out on the water again. It's been a long time since my father sold his boat and I haven't really been on the water since then.

On my way back to the put in, I found another home on the water that I really liked. This one was a bit more "classically styled" than the others. Either way, it appealed to me quite a bit.

On the way back I came across another person on the water. It was a guy in a speed boat who looked like he was getting it ready to be taken out of the water for the winter. As he finally sped off from his boat dock, he created quite the wake and I got to try the TK-1 out in some relatively large waves. The boat handled them with ease and was steady as could be. I didn't really know how to paddle through them, so I ended up just kind of riding them out. When he passed by a bit later I did a better job of paddling in them, and that made me happy.

I noticed now that the boat seemed to be tracking a bit better. I'm assuming that I had subconsciously gotten better at paddling in just this short time and was doing a better job. Wouldn't you know it as soon as I started thinking about it my tracking went to hell again. I stopped worrying and just paddled. As I look back when I'm not thinking about it, I paddle quite a bit more smoothly.

I was getting closer to the put in and I thought of something. That lily pad field that I had avoided on the way out, I was going to go through it on the way back. I was hoping to find some kind of wildlife or something in it. Besides, it was the straightest route to the put in from where I currently was and I was starting to get tired...so yah, maybe my laziness overcame my fear of the weeds.

Anyways, I got into the lily pads and immediately noticed something. It was the largest fresh water turtle I had ever seen. It's shell had to be about 10 inches long. He looked like a small pizza floating there in the water!! As the kayak approached, he quickly ducked under a lily pad. But I just floated there and he soon surfaced again. I sat there looking at him for a minute. I decided to try and get a picture. Of course, as soon as I grabbed the camera he took off. I guess I scared him. I waited a few minutes and noticed several other turtles under the boat, but none of them nearly as large as the one I had initially noticed. As I was watching the turtles I also noticed a GIANT fish of some kind. He was easily 16-18 inches long. I turned the boat a bit and he took off like a flash. The lily pad field was actually really cool. Lots of small fish, the giant fish, lots of turles, and the giant turtle. It was really nice even though it was a very small part of the lake. Unfortunately, as I looked at the field I noticed that it was littered with garbage. This small part of the lake was like a net for trash. It made me feel pretty bad, and the icing on the cake was a car tire that was sitting on the very edge of the water. Fortunately, as I got near the tire I noticed it seemed to be a haven for a pod of small fish...so at least it was being used by the natural inhabitants of this beautiful place.

After traversing the lily pad field, I was back at the put in. I got the boat as close to shore as it would go and when it wouldn't go any further decided to get out and pull the boat in on shore. Remember earlier when I said that my life vest worked great as a seat until the very end?? Well, here we go.

As I was getting out of the boat to pull it up on shore I quickly realized that I couldn't feel my legs. Apparently the shape of the life vest under my butt and legs had caused my legs to go to sleep. I stepped out of the boat and immediately crumpled into the water, soaking myself and nearly flipping the boat all at the same time. I laughed to myself, then noticed a few people on the shore laughing at me as well. I tried to pull myself up again and still couldn't support myself and fell again, this time face first. At this time the people on shore laughing at me came to see if I was okay. I can only imagine what it looked like from shore. They probably thought I was having a serious health issue. I explained to them that my legs had gone to sleep and that I was okay. I laughed with them at myself and sat in the water for a few minutes. I got the feeling back in my legs and finally got the boat out of the water.

With the boat out of the water I quickly ran and changed my shorts. I pulled the car around and then got the boat packed up and ready to go. Deflating and getting everything back to the car took about 5 minutes. That's one of the things I REALLY like about the inflatable is the ease of setup and tear down, and the ease of transportation. I feel that even if I get a higher quality kayak anytime soon I will still go with the inflatable...it's just so convenient for me.

The boat performed admirably. There was a little water in the bottom of it, but all of that I can attribute to paddle splash, and me flipping the boat. I don't think that there was enough in there to say that anything was leaking. As noted the tracking was kind of spotty. It seems to track pretty well when I'm not thinking about it, but as soon as I say "Hey, I'm going straight!!" all the sudden I start zig-zagging like crazy. Like I mentioned before, I can attribute it mostly to the fact that I don't know what I'm doing. With that said, I may try to rig up some kind of skeg to help with tracking until I get better...but I don't know if that's a good idea because it seems like a cheap fix and I might never learn to correct on my own.

All in all, the boat is great and it gets me out on the water, which is the most important thing. I'm looking forward to getting out there again. Hopefully once or twice more this fall before it's too cold to get out there.

In other news, Cathy's skeg for her Bali showed up today, so she can go with me the next time I go. That'll be cool to get us both out there.

Also, I've narrowed my upgrade options down to basically two. It's down to a Stearns Cordova or an Advanced Elements Expedition. Both are pretty similar, but the AE is longer and has a much higher weight capacity. I don't know if I want a 13 foot long inflatable, which the AE is, but the weight capacity would be nice!!

But in the meantime, I'm super happy with this purchase of the TK-1. It's a great little boat!!!

Detroit Lions...

Have fired Matt Millen!!!! This is the greatest tidbit of news for this franchise in YEARS.

Good riddance!!!

Viva, Las Vegas...

Before I forget to mention it, I'm getting married on Halloween of this year. My parents (the best) have gotten Cathy and I a gift for after the wedding. They're sending us on a trip to Las Vegas.

We'll be flying on Spirit Airlines out of Detroit on Saturday, November 1st. We should be in Vegas by about 2:30 PM and have pretty much the whole day to spend there that day. We'll stay Saturday, Sunday, Monday, and Tuesday night...with a return flight leaving around 3:00 PM or so on Wednesday. Four nights and four days basically.

My mom is pretty good at shopping for travel deals, and she ended up getting us a good deal on a hot tub suite in the Luxor Hotel and Casino. I've stayed in the Luxor the one other time that I went to Vegas and loved it. The hot tub room looks pretty awesome, too.

This is the Luxor right here:

I'm really looking forward to the trip. Other than the few days off for Costa Rica this past January, I really haven't taken any kind of actual vacation in a LONG time.

Weather's Looking Good...

Tomorrow it's supposed to be sunny with a high around 81 here in Michigan. Great weather, considering it's nearing the end of September. I guess I shouldn't be so surprised...it was just two years ago or so that I went to a Michigan State Spartans football game near the end of September and got really sunburned...it was like 92 that day or something crazy.

Anyways, with the weather setting up like it is, I'm going to try to get up a tad bit early this morning (Wednesday) and take the TK-1 out for it's first official paddle. I won't just be testing it's capacity and flotation this time, I'll actually be trying to paddle it around a little bit.

I will be trying to be at Clark Lake by noon at the latest. I'm TRYING to get up around 10:00 or so so that I can leave here by about 10:30...which would put me in the water at about 11:15.

I'll be going by myself...Cathy has some things to do so she won't be coming along. Besides, the skeg for her boat hasn't arrived yet so I don't really want her trying to paddle it too much without it.

I've got batteries for my camera and my new dry bag to test out. I've also got a load of new carabiners to keep things hooked inside the boat.

Hopefully I'll be able to get a few good pictures from this trip. I'll update again tomorrow night with the results of the paddle.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

My First Kayak Paddle...

Alright, so the lady gave me permission to get us a couple of kayaks a few weeks ago. I figured it was a good time of year because everything seemed to be on sale. After looking around a bit I decided the best route for me to take was to get us some inflatable boats, due to storage convenience and ease of travel. We both own small cars with no roof racks, so hard shells would've been a bit more difficult for us.

After countless days and nights spent on the web researching...reading reviews...looking at different models...being appalled by prices...I settled on getting myself a Kwik Tek Airhead TK-1. I liked it because it looked a bit more sturdy than some of the other boats in it's price range and it seemed like it would support my weight pretty well (I weigh 240 or so). I found the reviews on paddling.net and most of them seemed pretty favorable, so I decided to give it a go. As I was looking to make the purchase, I found it on clearance at Walmart.com for only $140 or so. I pulled the trigger figuring that at worst, since it's from a big box store, I could return it to the store no questions asked.

This is the Kwik Tek Airhead TK-1 as taken from the Airhead website:

Well, Wednesday the 17th of September here in Michigan it was BEAUTIFUL. About 74 degrees and not a cloud in the sky. I talked the lady into going with me to the closest lake just so I could try the boat out. I wanted to try it out as soon as I could because if it didn't support me or leaked or whatever I wanted to get it back to the store right away so I could make another purchase.

But anyways, I got it to the boat launch at Clark Lake and started to set it up. Pumping it up with a Sevylor bellows foot pump literally took about 5 minutes. I got it about as firm as I thought it should be. I hooked the seat in place and carried the boat to the water. I got my paddle put together and then walked into the water up to about mid shin. The boat seemed pretty tippy at this point and I was a bit worried I would flip it getting into it. However, as soon as I was seated the sensation of tippiness went away completely.

I paddled it out into the lake a couple of hundred yards. It was REALLY windy out there and there were a few power boats so waves were actually pretty large...well, larger than I had expected. To my surprise the boat handled the waves like they were non-existent. Even when they were coming directly at the port or starboard side of the boat she barely even moved when they hit.

The boat moved along at a fairly decent speed...this is my first kayak, and I'm sure it's actually slow, but to me it was pretty quickly moving along, even going into what I would estimate was about a 15 MPH wind. The boat also seemed to go where I wanted it to for the most part. When I would stop paddling it would tend to turn a little bit. I'm not sure how much of that was due to tracking issues of the boat itself and how much of it was the wind. I'm sure a bit of both, but it felt mainly like the wind.

I paddled around for a little while going here and there. The lady got some good pictures of me out on it. I definitely need to get the hang of paddling a bit better, as I feel that I wasn't very efficient. However, being my first time actually paddling a kayak (I've sat in one before but never actually paddled one) I felt that I did alright. I started getting more of the hang of it as I was winding down my test run.

After a short time (remember I just really wanted to make sure the boat floated with my weight in it) I returned to shore. I got out and we carried the boat back up into the grass. Deflating it took no time at all, and we were back on our way home.

All in all, I'd say the boat did pretty well. It didn't leak any water in. What water was in there I'm sure came from my paddles. It went pretty straight and reasonably quickly. Setup and teardown time were virtually nonexistent. Overall I'm extremely pleased with the product.

As far as kayaking in general, I can't wait to get back out there again. I know it's starting to get to the time of year when I won't have much of a chance, and the few times I do have chances in the next 8 weeks or so will be taken up by wedding things (getting married end of October), but I will be looking forward to many trips out on different lakes and rivers this coming spring.

First Post to the Blog...

So I had a blog once before over on IGN, but I stopped using it when I stopped submitting user reviews of games on IGN.

I figured it'd be a good time to get a new one started. I doubt that anyone will ever really even read it, but you never know.

I'll be using it to share some thoughts and such that I have...but also to post some pictures and such that I'd like to share with people all over the country.

I've recently taken up kayaking as well, and I'll be using the blog to post reports from my excursions with my new kayak.

That's about all for this first post. I'll try and get some pictures and such added to this thing to spruce it up a little bit very shortly.

Oh yes, feel free to drop me a line if you'd like. My e-mail is Gimpdiggity@gmail.com

I check it every day, several times, usually only to be disappointed!!!