kayak

Weekend on the Water

One of my favorite memories as a younger person was when I drove to Montana (from Portland) by myself to hang out with my friend Rachel. She lived near Glacier National Park and it was very cool and empowering to go on a road trip all by myself (I think I was like 23 or so at the time). I drove for hours in my Buick LeSabre (classy) to Spokane, Washington, spent the night in a motel 6-type place and then the next day drove the rest of the way to see Rachel in Montana. It was a GREAT trip with lots of stories (some we will never share with anyone ๐Ÿ˜€ ) and it was just me on the road with good music and my Road Atlas (yes this was before GPS and smartphones).

(The above photo was me in Montana!)

Over the weekend I got to spend some quality time with my bff Rachel! A few months ago we made plans to have a girl’s weekend somewhere half-way in between Portland and Seattle. I’ve been looking forward to this for months! A weekend away to do girl stuff and recharge…sign me up!

We booked a really adorable guest house on AirBnB. Rachel found it and I highly recommend it!ย It was pretty remote–you are about 30 minutes from anything, like if you forget your chocolate (like we did), you to have drive 30 minutes to the nearest store. But despite not being near anything, it was the ideal location. It was right on the water on Harstine Islandย near Shelton, Washington.

You cross over a bridge and then you are on the Island (probably 30 minutes or so from Olympia?) and you are surrounded by trees and the water and quiet waterfront homes. We barely saw anybody out, maybe a few fishermen on the water, that was it.

There was one bedroom and then a loft bedroom.

There was comfy furniture for movie watching.

The bathroom was nice, but slightly weird. ๐Ÿ˜‰

The deck overlooking the trees and water were absolutely amazing! And the house had all these big, beautiful windows overlooking the trees and Sound.

There was a pool that Rachel and I were really excited to use but sadly, it was closed up for the season by the time we got there. Bummer!

Friday afternoon I left Portland and unfortunately I a) didn’t get to say goodbye to Logan because he was still napping when I left and b) hit rush hour Friday traffic trying to get out of Portland so it took longer than expected to arrive, but it was fairly nice and easy drive once I got out of Portland/Vancouver.

Rachel had already checked in and was doing some work remotely and just relaxing. When I arrived we cooked dinner (steaks and baked potatoes and lots of wine) and stayed up way too late gabbing and catching up.

I got the bedroom downstairs and the bed was glorious and so comfy! I might have slept at an angle, taking up the entire bed, because I could. ๐Ÿ˜‰ I slept so good. It was so quiet and peaceful and comfortable.

Saturday I got to sleep in!!!!!!!! Wooooo hooo! I slept in until almost 8am. The bed was so comfy and I didn’t want to get out of bed but Rachel made coffee and I could smell it so…yeah I got up. ๐Ÿ˜€ We had breakfast (eggs, toast, bacon, coffee, juice) and then we went kayaking!

I didn’t take any photos of us kayaking, which I’m bummed about, but I was worried about my phone so it was just better to leave it behind. Rachel went in on a kickstarter years ago with Oru Kayaks, which are kayaks that fold up into something compact and easy to transport. So it was pretty fascinating to watch her put together these kayaks that were essentially folded up into boxes. It’s a pretty ingenious idea!

So it took about 30 minutes to put the kayaks together and then we were in the water. I can see where the process of putting them together could be kind of a pain in the ass…Rachel admitted that it’s her least favorite part of it and has discouraged her from using them more often, but also admitted that when her and her husband used to go all the time, it was a lot quicker to put the kayaks together because they had more practice.

I can see this being a good alternative to people that don’t have an ideal way to transport or store, traditional kayaks.

Anyways, we got in the water right in front of where we were staying. The sky was perfectly blue, the sun was out, the air was cool but not cold. The kayaks worked great and we didn’t sink or tip over (even though they were a little wobbly) and we didn’t get wet at all. We kayaked around for about an hour. It was really fun and kind of the perfect way to spend the sunny morning. We saw some gray clouds off in the distance so we decided to turn around and head back. We literally missed the rain by like maybe 10 minutes!

The beach was rocky and had a little bit of sand. There were tons of oyster shells and barnacles, lots of seaweed.

We had lunch outside on the deck overlooking the water. We made big, crunchy salads. It was delicious. The water was calm and there was a light breeze mixed with some rain sprinkles.

Then we kind of spent the rest of the afternoon lounging on the couch watching chick flicks and watching the alternating sunshine and rainy stormy weather outside the windows. It was really chill and relaxing.

Dinner was baked chicken and baked potatoes. Then more chit chatting and hanging out. ๐Ÿ˜€ It was great!

It was such a good way to spend the weekend. It was definitely chill. I didn’t really work out. The kayaking was fun, and sort of active, but not really a workout. I could have maybe gone for a run, but I didn’t feel like it. It was just nice to relax and honestly do nothing for a change.

Sunday we had a leisurely morning. I made breakfast, we drank a ton of coffee. I walked down to the water because it looked like the tide was out and I wanted to explore a bit. The tide was WAY out! The below pictures was right where we were kayaking the day before!

A lot more seaweed that morning. It was a really quiet morning. The water was like a mirror and there wasn’t anyone else out on the water or beach but me. It was so nice.

I wish we could have spent a little more time relaxing Sunday morning before packing up. It was such a delightful little spot to spend time!

So we packed up and refolded the kayaks and hit the road. We decided to make this weekend an annual thing. We’re going to alternate who picks the spot each year. I have to say, I’m already super excited for next year’s weekend!!!!!

Kayaking the Willamette River

I can cross off one more goal on myย Summer Bucket List! Over the weekend my cousin Anna and I did a kayaking tour with Alder Creek. It was only $39 each so that wasn’t a bad price for a three hour tour. We chose the Ross Island Tour:

“Go paddling in your backyard! You can even ride your bike to our new location to make it a no driving recreational day! We will leave from the Boat House dock along the Eastside Esplanade near SE Water and Clay and explore the backwaters of the Willamette River between Ross Island and Oaks Bottom Wildlife Refuge.

Outline:ย  Ross Island Tour

Journey the 3 nautical miles around Ross Island…if conditions permit

Introduction to basic equipment

Launching and landing from a dock

Maneuvering the boat

Scenic views of the city to start

Enjoy the quiet backwater wake free Holgate Channel

Enjoy a little help from the current on the way back.”

Sounded good to me! I definitely wanted a beginner tour since I’ve only done this once before. That first time was kind of impromptu and I wasn’t very prepared for it. This time I was more prepared. I remembered being uncomfortable in what I was wearing (everything got wet). So this time I wore a swimsuit underneath shorts and a wicking sports t-shirt. I brought a hat, sunscreen, chapstick with sunscreen and aqua sox. Remember those things? LOL! I didn’t know they still existed but I found some on amazon and got them for the honeymoon. I figured this was the perfect time to test them out. IMG_4370

I also brought a change of clothes and a towel for after the tour. I brought a bottle of water and some snacks (a banana and a protein bar). I also bought a waterproof iPhone case so I could take some pictures on the trip. The guide instructed us how to get into the kayak from the dock. It’s a LOT harder than you think it would be. I definitely struggled with this part.

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We all got into the kayaks and then kind of floated on the current and waves while he talked a little bit about our route. I’ve always wanted to try a sprint tri and swimming would be my strongest part of the race–but open water swimming is what has kept me from ever trying it. I know, I know, open water swimming really isn’t that scary and I used to do it as a kid all the time. When did fear start keeping us from doing stuff??? So yeah, getting in the kayak and feeling it wobble around with the waves and feel uncertain and unbalanced was a little scary.

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I did not feel confident in the kayak and the river suddenly felt very big. We were out on the water by 10:30 and there weren’t a ton of boats out there yet, just a few. But whenever they went by I felt very vulnerable because they were much bigger and caused big waves. When the waves came I just stopped paddling and let it take me wherever for a moment, then start paddling again.

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We paddled over to the submarine by OMSI and then went underneath all the bridges towards Ross Island. I’ve never been to Ross Island and was excited about seeing it. I had hoped that we would go onto the island and check it out but alas, we just paddled past it. Part of it is a bird sanctuary. We actually got to see some giant herons AND a few bald eagles! That was kind of crazy.

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This part of the trip was my favorite part. The waters were very calm, the river narrowed as it went around the island, and there weren’t as many boats. We saw a bunch of other kayakers, some dragon boat teams practicing, and also a BUNCH of SUP people! That looked like so much fun. It also looked like a lot of work and like it requires something I don’t really possess–balance.

I put on a lot of sunscreen before we got on the water and I reapplied a little bit around this time because I was starting to feel my face burning a bit. It was hard–my hands were slimy and that made the paddle harder to use (note to self: bring the spray-on sunscreen next time). Even though I put on a lot of sunscreen, I still got a little burned on my shoulders AND afterward I found a spot I missed: the top of my hands. Doh!

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We kayaked around Ross Island and turned around to head back. This part of the river had a ton of boats–mostly sailboats AND a pirate ship!! That was way cool and I wanted to get a closer look but this was as close as we got. Here is Anna paddling in front of me:
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By this time I was feel more confident in the kayak and being out on the water wasn’t making me as nervous as it did at the start. We went by the new-ish OHSU high-rises and fancy condos on the waterfront and went underneath the new pedestrian/bike bridge they are building (which looked kind of ugly at first but now it looks like it’s going to be pretty).

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At this point we’d been kayaking for about 90 minutes. I was definitely feeling fatigued around this time. Mostly in my forearms and hands (I was gripping the paddle too tightly) and also in my low back. I tried to adjust how I was sitting a few times but that made the boat very wobbly so I tried not to do that very often. This is another reason I think stopping on Ross Island would have been a good thing–getting out to stretch for a few minutes and not sit in the same position for hours.

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The sun was out, people were partying on boats, the Portland Spirit Cruise boats were going by and there were the jet-boats too. It felt like rush-hour traffic out there! The wake was huge at this point and paddling got more difficult. I was pretty happy to see the dock off in the distance! IMG_4450

As we were approaching the dock I saw the pirate ship! It had it’s sails up! It looked so cool and kind of reminded me of the boat in the Goonies. ๐Ÿ˜‰ We got back to the dock and everyone helped each other to get out. The trick was having people hold onto the ends of the kayak, put your hands on the deck and kind of thrust yourself out–kind of like a beached whale. It was such a strange sensation getting out of the kayak onto the dock. Anna said the same thing, both of us had jello legs. That was so weird! How about these calories:

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I ate my banana and we helped take some of the kayaks back up to the parking lot (there was another tour after us). The shaky legs finally went away (maybe 5 minutes later). Anna and I went into the bathrooms to change out of the damp clothes and then we got lunch! I was famished!

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We went over to the Green Dragon. It’s a place I’ve wanted to try for awhile and I’m glad I finally did. They had a humongous outdoor, partially covered area. ย I ordered the Boneyard Diablo Roja beer and Anna got some kind of ginger beer. Anna got the mushroom burger and I ordered the pulled pork sliders.

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The food could not come fast enough!! So freakin’ starving. The sliders were fantastic. Loved the flavor of the pulled pork. I had a side salad with it instead of fries. I tried their IPA vinaigrette dressing because it sounded really fascinating but I didn’t like it. It didn’t really taste like much; so I got some Ranch dressing instead. Lunch was great and after I felt like I could totally take a nap! It was a fantastic day!!