Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Our Paddle In Pictures

Hello. I am a blogging slacker. The real world has taken over a bit. Bill's home from school for the summer (except for the fact that he leaves for Napa bright and early on Thursday morning and I get to stay home) and, oddly, I'd rather hang out with him outside than sit in front of a computer inside. Blog neglect, alas.

Last week we found ourselves with an empty weekend. I told Bill to fill it. On Tuesday, between staff meetings, meetings, more meeting and also meetings, I got a text from Bill. "How about a paddle trip through the Delaware Water Gap?" "Ok," I shot back, too preoccupied with all the junk going on around me to give informed consent.

The next thing I knew we were booked for an overnight 28-mile paddle trip along the Delaware River.

I hate to paddle. It's my least favorite part of adventure racing. I always feel like we are going nowhere, fast. Plus my arms are as strong as wet pieces of stale Ramen, second in weakness only to my core strength. Give me an 8-hour trek up a mountain or a hike-a-bike over a paddle any day.

Too late, though. Bill paid for the trip and I found myself obsessing over the crazy thunderstorms that were supposed to pound the area all weekend and over whittling our gear down only to what we absolutely needed to stay safe and moderately dry.

After a night in a rather bizarre motel we stuffed our junk into a few billion dry bags and headed to a parking lot. I did a little "I am so excited about spending 28 miles in a kayak" dance.

I got this move from Dancing With the Stars. See?

We waited alongside the river for the people with the kayaks to come get us, give us boats and shuttle us to the put-in. They were only 10 minutes late coming to get us, hooray!

I'd been worried about fitting our minimal amount of junk into the kayaks but we ended up having plenty of room. Plus we brought our own PFDs, avoiding the smelly rental ones, so that was nice. We were, however, basically the only people we saw with life jackets the entire weekend. Apparently people like to risk drowning. We are dorks so we wore ours.

Packing took about 8 seconds and we were on our way by 10:30.

A small armada of canoes was about to launch so we hustled along, hoping to avoid the traffic jam. Our hustle worked and we had most of the river to ourselves for the first hour or two. The people we did see were generally just floating along, a few dozen beers in their hands. I like to drink. I like to drink beer. So does Bill. As a reminder though, we are dorks and didn't bring any beer with us (we did, however, have a flask of whisky to amuse us once we set up camp).

Also if you look closely in the last picture above you can see people in diving gear. Two dudes decided that the mud and congestion of the Delaware would make a good place to dive. To each their own.  But also WTF?

We paddled along and along. I was having fun despite my attempts not to.

I had fun, that is, until Bill mocked and mocked me for having hand sanitizer in my life jacket pocket. Hey, you never know when the urge for clean hands is going to hit. We stopped at a park, took our time and enjoyed the day.

We got about 17 miles of the 28 in before deciding to pull off the river at about 2:30 and set up camp. Four seconds after we pitched our tent the sky unloaded. Our tent is approximately the size of a sperm. It was 3 p.m. There was no way in hell I was going to spend the next 18 hours in our tent.

"Hey! I packed a tarp at the last minute because your friend had it on her list she emailed to us. I'll hang it up and we'll have a place to stay dry outside the tent!," Bill exclaimed.

I was excited! A tarp city!

And then he busted out the tarp. It was the size of a Monopoly board. With holes in it. But it was all we had. We bungeed it to a tree and staked it into the ground and hung out under it for a few hours. Whiskey became my new best friend. It was raining too hard to take pictures but here's a re-enactment the next morning just to give you an idea of the copious amount of dry space the glorious tarp provided to us.

It began raining even harder. Despite rain pants and jackets we were getting soaked. By 5:30 we were in the tent for the night. Bill, amazingly, fell asleep in about two seconds. I, amazingly, didn't. I had a good book, a headlamp and the rest of the whiskey so I was able to entertain myself for a bit. By 8, however, I was wide awake and bored out of my mind. I woke up Bill.

"Get up! I am bored!"

We played cards. Then we played "How Many Things Can You Impersonate With a Buff?"

"Bank Robber" and "Pig On a Spit" were two of our biggest hits. We got giddy, sequestered into our new little home.

Bill eventually fell asleep and I stayed up, listening to the rain pound the tent -- it was the first time we used it in shitty weather and I was convinced it would give out, leaving us to sleep in puddles. It totally rocked the rain, though, and aside for a few drops of condensation we stayed totally dry. Happy! Hooray for our tent!

At some point I must have drifted off. I woke up to no rain! I was so excited! I did my second dance of the weekend, the "I Am So Excited I Get to Paddle 11 Miles Not In the Rain" dance. You know you sweat my moves.

We sat around for a bit, sipping on canned coffee, enjoying the view and the lack of people. Humanity, sometimes I love to be away from you!

Thanks to the rain the river was significantly higher than the day before. At the last minute we pulled our boats a few feet higher onto shore. A damn good thing -- you can see in the middle picture above that our sweet rides ended up only a few inches from the river.

Eventually we were on our way, propelled by a faster current and my desire to get home and take a tubby.

The forecast had called for rain but it ended up being a nice, partly sunny, not-too-hot day. Then Bill decided to spoil the mood by playing Lawrence of Arabia. On a river with sunglasses.

We soon found ourselves under a giant highway bridge -- the takeout was just around the bend. Despite my initial fears of hating the trip and being washed away in the river I ended up having a great time and Bill seeemed to be in heaven the entire time (14 hours stuck in a tent with me will do that to a person). He's now trying to talk me into buying touring kayaks but I am not convinced at all ... yet. 

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