I did it! We did it! We did the thing!
Saturday was sunny and pleasant and after taking a nice long morning walk to a new local coffee shop to tire out the dog and energize ourselves, and then working on a few things around the house, I stepped outside to discover that it had become a very pleasant afternoon. It was warm, but not hot, and there was a gentle breeze, but it wasn’t windy. The sun was out and was making friends with a few fluffy clouds. I asked Kalen if the timing might be right to take our paddle boards out on their maiden voyage, and he agreed with the enthusiasm of a naÏve redshirt volunteering for an away mission on the USS Enterprise.
There was no way the water level had receded enough to make the rivers and lakes suitable for two such n00bs as ourselves, so we headed to a small lake in the next town that I will call Cereal Lake. That is obviously not its real name, but if I ever get an audience wider than a handful of people who know me in real life, I don’t want strangers to be able to pinpoint exactly where I live. So it’s Cereal Lake, okay?
As it was Memorial Day weekend, there were more people than normal at Cereal Lake, but it’s never too terribly busy so even this wasn’t bad. “Lake” is really a generous term for this body of water, which is in that in-between space where it’s a little too big to qualify as a pond, but you can definitely see all the way from shore to shore from any given point. It seemed like a good controlled environment for our first paddle boarding adventure.
After selecting a portion of shore where the water was pretty accessible but that was also not in the way of any of the handful of people fishing, we unloaded our boards and set to work inflating them. Last time I wrote about this, our household was only in possession of a single paddle board. At the time, the plan was to purchase one, try it out, and if we both liked it, purchase a second so that we could paddle board together. We began planning a weekend getaway for our anniversary in a couple of weeks, though, and booked a lakeside cabin with the thought that it might be a nice place to paddle board, and as Kalen had surprised me with an early anniversary gift of a new electric weed eater, I responded in kind with an early anniversary gift of his very own paddle board. We’re romantic like that.
So we now have two matching paddle boards which we set to work inflating on the shores of Cereal Lake. The boards each came with a pump, which was convenient. They’re bicycle style, by which I mean “like an air pump you use on bicycle tires” that you pump a vertical handle up and down like a cartoon TNT detonator. It’s not a fancy new style of pump that involves sitting on a small seat and pedaling. That would be interesting to see, though. Someone make that, I want to try it. But until something like that comes on the market, I think we are going to look into an electric pump for the paddle boards. The ones we have worked fine, and certainly acted as a physical warmup for the exercise of paddle boarding, but once we were on the water, I think we both would have benefitted from getting our boards a little closer to the recommended inflation (we had stopped a little early because we were fat and tired, not to be confused with fat tired, another bicycling thing. I promise this really doesn’t have a lot to do with bicycling).
Kalen helped document our adventure by filming, and below is actual footage of my very first attempt. He and I both know that it’s really better to film in landscape mode, but Kalen put his phone into a waterproof case with a lanyard to wear on his neck and this really was the only option at this point. Also, once I’m out on the water, you can’t really hear what I’m saying, but it’s nothing important, so don’t worry about that.
I’m pleased to report that I was in fact able to stand on my paddle board, but I felt very much like a newborn baby giraffe for the first few minutes, which is really something, as I have been short all my life and never before felt like such a vertically gifted creature. I still didn’t feel tall (I didn’t expect to), but I was wobbly. It definitely took some concentration and muscle work, and I was suddenly glad that I purchased an Indo Board many years ago and finally appreciated the balancing motion and constant surfing comparisons in its accompanying instructional video. I haven’t used the Indo Board in several years, but the motion came back (like that dang bicycle again!) in no time and helped a ton. It ended up being windier on the water than it had been at our house, and when the wind blew, standing was more difficult. Or rather, paddling and making progress while standing was harder, as I am not exactly what you could call “low profile.” For our entire time on the water of a little over an hour, I was able to stand up and paddle for about a third of the time. The rest was spent sitting or kneeling.
Kalen also was able to stand up and paddle around, and similarly shifted positions depending on wind conditions and paddling intensity, although at one point he did fall in rather unceremoniously. When questioned later he said he wasn’t sure what happened. One second he was standing, and the next he was in the water. He swears his only injury was a minor scrape on his toes, but that sure sounds like something someone with a head injury would say. He was filming at the time, though, and even with the camera pointed toward his life jacket when he fell, we did get footage of it.
It was a lovely way to pass the afternoon and we very much enjoyed paddling around Cereal Lake looking at turtles and ducks and getting the feel for maneuvering our boards. We didn’t even get sunburned thanks to copious amounts of sunscreen and a nice UPF shirt that my mom got me. In the time we were there, a handful of other people paddled around the lake in kayaks as well, but I must admit that I felt pretty cool on my paddle board. My confidence in my ability was nicely boosted also. I had feared that I would not be able to stand and paddle at all, but if I was able to do as much as this on my first try, I imagine I can only do better with practice.
I’m looking forward to spending a lot more time exploring shore lines this summer, and I’ll probably end up finding more material for your entertainment in the process. Happy Summering!