September 20, 2008

Saturday 2008-09-20 canoe trip

Okay, I've got an ongoing RTM item that reads: "blog about canoe trips". Ideally I'll blog about every trip. But at the very least, I have to put something up about the latest trip, so I don't get farther behind.

Also, I'm going to lie about the date. I'm posting this on Monday, but the "Authored On" date is Saturday, the day we actually canoed. I think that'll make things a bit easier to follow. I'll put the actual date in my signature.

Saturday, we put in at the top of the Dedham Loop (right there in the brick-paved spot off of Great Plain Ave (or whatever it's called on the east side of 128). One thing noteworthy was that we were combining a canoe trip with regular Saturday errands, so the car was full of not just the canoe stuff but 5 5 gallon water bottles we were returning. Car was somewhat cramped.

The put-in is good. Not very busy. There was another car there when we got there but they were gone when we returned. There's a short half-gravel / half slippery mud path down to the water. Got the canoe off and everything out of the car and in the canoe, and carried the canoe down to the water. Remember what I said about slippery mud. Well, a youtube-if-we-had-video-going moment was when I slipped in the mud, landing flat on my keister -- twice. The biggest downside to this put-in is the "beach" itself, which is mostly clay, mud, and murk (yeah, just coined murk; the active ingredient in anything murky, not to be confused with the verb form). What with the mud-wrestling with the canoe and getting my sandles stuck in the mud, I was rather messy when I finally got in the canoe.

We went upstream from there. It's heavily wooded, and the water was high and flowing well (not so well that we couldn't paddle or anything, just enough to ensure a nice time coming back). Before we hit 128 there looked like some better put-ins, that probably bear further investigations. Some guy was fishing there (he didn't catch anything, but I think for some, actually catching fish just interrupts a good day fishing). It was loud going under 128, as expected, and I thought I saw a paved path on the south side between the two bridges, but it was just for drainage. After the two 128 bridges there was a third bridge (off-ramp? not sure), then the river turned sharply to the right, then to the left.

Continuing on, it seemed there might be some picnic spots here and there, until we got into some definite backyard area. Lots of private docks. We ended up tying our stern painter to a branch sticking out of the water and eating lunch in the canoe. I thought Maria wasn't feeling well (she was hardly paddling the whole trip, which isn't like her), so I suggested we go back, but both ladies wanted to continue on, so we did.

After a little while the river turned to the left in a wide open area, and we saw a bridge, and some VERY low fast water. We initially tried to navigate it, but the water was too fast and shallow, so we gave up. On our way back we noticed a picnic table nearby, to make a mental note to stop there next time.

Heading back downstream was nice and uneventful. I managed to keep my feet under me while we got the canoe out of the water and back on the car. But I'm sure I was still a muddy mess to look at at Shaws.

All in all, a good day, and nice paddle in some new territory.

Michael, 9/22/08

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September 07, 2008

Yet another new category post

This time, canoeing.

If you're wondering, I've got a running gag of sorts going on here. That is, the disproportionate number of posts that solely introduce a new category.

When I was a kid, we'd go up to Canada for our vacation every summer. We had a canoe, and I spent a lot of time in it. There's something about getting out in a canoe on a glassy smooth lake early in the morning.

Now fast forward to about a decade ago, my brother invited me out to the Adirondacks to go canoeing. It didn't start well; my first step in the canoe caused it to capsize! But after that, we were more careful (and I was always the first one in the canoe!), and I had a lot of fun canoeing.

Fast forward again to 2-3 years ago; up at St. Xenia Camp, they have canoes there, and when I'm not running the store (at that time, probably doing inventory), I would go canoe a bit.

Back in July my family and I happened to drive by a canoe rental place, and stopped to investigate. It seemed like it would be something nice for us to do as a family. A few days later, we went to Norumbega Park and rented a canoe there. We just went downstream for a ways, ate a picnic lunch, then went back.

It was so nice that we started watching Craigslist for canoes. We almost bought a nice one for about $600 until saner minds prevailed, and we got a cheap Gazelle Kennebunker with paddles for $200. The guy who sold it said it was 60 lbs, but frankly if it weighs 60 lbs, then I weigh 180 (trust me, I don't). The canoe is, as we put it, a "starter canoe". We're hoping to get a better (lighter) canoe next year. When we do, my wife wants to use this canoe as a planter.

We had to spend some money outfitting. We got some life jackets (oops, sorry. Gotta learn the new terminology: "PFD"s), some cushions (both PFD cushions and thin seat cushion types), and a dry bag.

We've been canoeing mostly in Norumbega Park and Dedham on the Charles River.

Later (some time in the next couple years :)) I'll post some details of specific trips.


Update: there are some posts back-dated to August so my canoeing posts can be properly date-stamped.

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Thanks, Hanna

Sunday, Sep 7, was a wonderful canoeing day, thanks to Hurricane Hanna. She had dumped lots of water on our area on Saturday, and by the time Sunday came around, all that was left was blue skies, and deep water.

We put in at a new place we found, right across the street from the Dedham Mall and Sears. There's a little dam there controlling a creek, and a parking lot by the building that controls the dam. Just off the parking lot is a short path to a sandy beach and the Charles river.

Put in there, and started upstream. The weather was absolutely perfect. The Charles is rather windy and narrow here, so there's plenty of water, but it can be a bit fast. We managed upstream just fine, though, eventually getting as far as the Dedham Parks and Recreation department. We got out there, had lunch, and had a nice drift back down to the car.

Michael, 9/22/08

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August 30, 2008

Worst Canoeing trip ever (to date)

The worst day we've had canoeing was probably on 8/30. At least I think it was then. Anyway, that's my story and I'm sticking with it for now.

We decided to try Millennium Park itself. We've been to Havey Beach a few times, and investigated Millennium Park (without putting in). But this time we drove the car there to put the canoe in there.

Strike 1: it's a LONG walk from where you're allowed to stop your car to the beach. It's paved, so if we had wheels, it might be easier. But it was quite a chore to get everything from the car to the water.

Strike 2: Dogs. Lots. Of. Dogs. That path is very popular for dog-walkers. And while I don't have anything against dogs personally, Christine is very allergic to them. Shlepping all the stuff back and forth with dogs everywhere you looked didn't do her lungs any favors.

Strike 3: no water. We tried going downstream, mostly because we hadn't been there before. But we ran aground, and I ended up having to get out of the canoe and drag it by the painter to get back to deeper water. So we went upstream. Not much better. Before we could go very far at all, we got word from someone that it was shallow up ahead, so just gave up and went back to the car.

Plus side, we know not to bother with millennium park (at least not for canoeing -- kite flying is a different matter entirely). And on the way back we found another place nearby to put in that looks much nicer. It's right at the bottom of the Long Ditch, so if we ever wanted to do the Dedham Loop proper, we'd know where to start.

Michael 9/22/08

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August 10, 2008

Early canoeing trips

I don't have a lot of details about all our early trips, and some of the dates and/or memories are fuzzy, but I'll write down what I know.

July 12th: Our first canoeing trip. Went to Charles River Canoe and Kayak at Norumbega Park in Newton, and rented a canoe. Went down to a beach past the playground, had lunch, and came back. I was a bit nervous coming back, because I was *TIRED* (and a bit hypo, too) and we had to go upstream and upwind. But made it back okay.

July 18th: bought our canoe, a used Gazelle Kennebunker. Well-used, I might add. The guy said it weighed 60 lbs, and wouldn'tcha know we didn't bring a scale. But we didn't need to. It weighed more. But we were able to put it on the car. The plan for this canoe is it's a starter canoe. We'll use it and enjoy it this year, and if we still like canoeing next year, we'll buy a better canoe and Christine will use this canoe as a planter.

July 19th: the maiden voyage in our new canoe. Back to Norumbega, This time we went to the playground, had lunch and came back.

July 26th: I'm guessing... our first trip in Dedham. Havey Beach (across VFW Pkwy from the VA hospital). Havey Beach is a nice little put-in. Not well-traveled, with a medium length path to the water. We put in there and paddled to the end of the Long Ditch (to satisfy my curiosity), then to Millenium Park where we had lunch, On the way back we went past the beach and crossed under Spring or Bridge St (again, to satisfy my curiosity) before going back to Havey beach and getting out.

Here the trips and dates get a bit blurry. I took August 4th through 8th off from work, and we did some canoeing that week, but not as much as we'd planned. For the most part, I don't know which dates we went where. So I'll just sort by location, except where known.

Dedham: went back to Havey beach, and went farther up the river, past probably the cheapest riverside property in Boston -- a trailer park. River wasn't very interesting, so after a little while we went back, crossed the Bridge St. bridge (could be the Spring St. bridge, but Bridge St. bridge sounds better), and had lunch at the park there before going back to the car.

Later in Dedham (either Sunday, 8/10 or 8/24), we put in at the Dedham Parks and Recreation Office (in back of the building is a large field and at the end is a rocky area where you can put in). We put in there, and went upstream, making as far as Great Plain Ave. We got a glimpse of the head of the Long Ditch before zooming back. The water was fast and hard to paddle but we managed okay. I'm teaching Christine a new stroke, the bow rudder.

Norumbega: couple trips: went back to the playground we went to before, and continued on downstream to the next bridge. And the other trip, we went upstream, under 8 bridges, up to the golf course, before turning back and finding a delightful meadow where we had lunch.

And the Concord River one is worthy of it's own post (besides, I know the date).

Michael, 9/22/08

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August 06, 2008

Condord? river trip

August 6th. I know that date well. How well? Well... I know it was the week of August 4-8, and it was a fasting day, and we stopped by the office on the next day. So it must have been August 6th.

We decided to try canoeing the Concord river. Someone at work had mentioned a canoe rental place in Concord, so we went there (our experiences with Charles River Canoe & Kayak being a positive one, we assumed it would be fine here). Turns out the rental place in Concord is a closed dock, so we couldn't put in there. But they gave us directions to the Lowell St. put-in, and we went there.

The put-in was good, Drive down a rutty road and there's a nice sandy beach. Plenty of parking back up on the street. We put in, and went upstream. Turning left we ended up on the Sudbury River (how was I to know? There weren't any signs...). It was a lovely paddle, all things considered. A rather long paddle, I might add, but lovely all the same. After a while we started getting hungry, and looking for a place to get out and eat our lunch.


We eventually made it back to the canoe rental place. They said there was a nice place to get out "a couple bridges upstream". As they were right by a bridge, it wasn't clear whether they meant two MORE bridges or if they were counting this one. But we continued upstream.

Next bridge. Still no place to take out. A kayaker told us it was past the next bridge (so they weren't counting the bridge they were at, apparently). We were getting tired, but continued on. Finally, we got to the next bridge.

There didn't seem to be many places to take out here, but there was a little muddy strip right by the bridge where someone had left a rowboat to rot. We decided that either (a) must be it, or (b) wasn't it, but we didn't care. And we got out anyway.

Christine had made what she thought were hummus sandwiches. I took a bite. It tasted salty. Really salty. "Umm... Christine, are you sure this is hummus?" Turns out it was miso paste. Delicious in soups. Not so good in sandwiches.

Lack of any kind of real meal, coupled with the mosquitoes, meant we didn't stay long. Soon we were going back downstream. That was the best part of the trip, by far.

At one point, Christine pulled out a sketch pad, and I did just enough paddling to keep the boat heading in the right direction, and she sketched in a particularly nice section of the river. Being in no hurry to get back, we almost-drifted lazily back to the car.

Next time we go there, we're going to go downstream first. If we had done that, we would have quickly reached Minuteman Park, which would have been a very nice destination, to be sure.

Michael, 9/22/08

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