Sunday, June 28, 2009

Summer storms

The summer storms around here can get pretty violent. We were pretty surprised this Saturday by a hail storm. It went from sunny to clouded in about a half hour. Then with no warning it started to hail. It kept hailing until it looked like it snowed. there was enough hail on the ground that a few kids in the neighborhood were building snowmen after the storm had passed.
Another storm that hit us was when we were headed to Jones beach. It was a warm day and I had the top down on the Miata as we were driving. It remained sunny but large drops of water were coming from somewhere and there was enough to hit my face and splash sunscreen into my eyes that I had already put on for the beach. An annoyance of having a few drops while the top was down turned dangerous when my eyes swelled up because of the sunscreen. I pulled over at the next exit but there was no emergency lane since all the roads around here were an after-though. For about the last 1/8 mile I was pretty much driving blind with stinging eyes with L. Steering. I don’t think I will be using that sunscreen again.
We did make it to the beach and were enjoying the sun when I could see way off in the distance what looked like rain clouds. I could see the life guards watching it closely as soon they were calling everyone out of the ocean. Within 15 minutes the clouds were over us and there was a huge lightning storm. We didn’t feel like waiting it out so we headed home. We ended up spending more time driving to and from the beach then actual time there.

Monday, June 22, 2009

Anniversary

We needed to escape. We had ideas to go to a couple of different places but there was a storm coming in and everything was looking like it was going to get soaked. So the night before we looked up the weather and the one dry place looked to be Montreal, Canada. We woke up the next morning and left at 5am, getting to the border at noon. There was a visitor’s info shack at the border that allowed us to make a reservation for a hotel for the night which allowed us to feel spontaneous and planned at the same time.
The city is clean and orderly like other Canadian cities I’ve been to. While we were there was some sort of fashion week going on. There was defiantly a french influence not just in the clothes being presented for the show but also just how all the locals were dressed. It was weird getting around, I’m not exactly sure how to explain it. Everyone you talked to knew English, and all the signs were in French and English but the names of all the stuff were playing off of french names so we wouldn’t know what stores sold for example. I can see how it is hard to make two languages equal and how one always looses out no matter how hard they work at it. I’m glad that I was able to experience it where English is an official but non-dominant language for an area (as opposed to just having English signs for tourists).
The places we did go were all happy to see tourists, especially from the U.S. So it looks like the bad economy really has slowed tourism. It was nice and sunny to walk along the waterfront and see all the old buildings. We went to museum that covered Montreal's past and how it was built up over time. We walked along a portion of the underground tunnel. It was summer so they were not needed to stay out of the snow and cold so pretty much only tourists were walking through them. I also couldn’t resist driving over to Habitat 57. It is a famous architectural building that looks like a bunch of blocks stacked on each other to create the apartments.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Selling the kayaks

I had had agreed with a co-worker to sell kayaks to him but we had never discussed a date as to when that would happen. I still had plans to try and paddle around Manhattan when I realized that with the change of plans with L. staying with her family for a while that we wouldn't have her car after we moved our stuff into storage across the country. So all kayak plans were off I needed to move the kayaks that weekend since he was going on vacation and would be back until we had already left. I tied them onto car one last time and drove them over to his house, but I had this terrible feeling building inside me. I didn't want my last trip to be to the ship graveyard for so many reasons. But mainly because so many things went wrong.
So when I arrived at his house I said I started with that I wanted to clean them off before I gave them to him but then admitted I wanted to go on one last trip. While I was there I showed him how to put them on the car and strap them down then drove home with them still on. This is really the first time in my life I can think of where I did something irrational because of my emotions.
They sat on car until the weekend. It just so happened that it was our anniversary so we thought we would go down to the beach in New Jersey and paddle them around that area. We really enjoyed the beach but after enjoying playing in the waves we were to tired to go kayaking so they sat on our car yet another night.
On Sunday we found a new place near our house that was just a nice place to put into the Hudson. We had a nice easy care free paddle bird watching swans and even a bald eagle. It was the perfect easy trip that was perfect for a last trip. I used a towel to wipe down the kayaks to keep the other part of the bargain and we put the kayaks beside his house since he was gone on vacation.
Driving home we realized that owning the kayaks for the last 10 years had defined a lot of our lives. It dictated the cars that we choose to buy since they had to be able to carry them. It limited the apartments we could live in since we had to put them somewhere. In reality because of these reasons and the fact that I knew we didn't use them enough to justify the extra expense of the larger cars and apartment as opposed to just renting kayaks I knew that we probably wouldn't buy kayaks again so it made it all the more important that the last trip was relaxing.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Fathers visit

My father and his wife had been living in Kentucky and were moving back to California. They decided to visit all their kids on the drive back and while visiting us wanted to visit New York City. He had never been to the city so the first thing I had to do was to make sure to quell any worries they had.
Out of all the people that have come to visit I would have to say that my dad did the best job of staying up out of all the the people that have come to visit. Since L. wasn’t feeling to well I showed them around with “the generic tour” but they were in awe the whole time. It was really funny watching my dad act like a little kid as he saw everything. Starting at Grand Central Station, then take the subway to Brooklyn bridge, city hall, and south street seaport. Walk over to wall street then down broadway past the bull to the ferry station. Take the ferry to Stanton Island and back to see the Statue of Liberty for free then hop on a subway to the world Trade tower. Take the subway up more to the Empire State building and Macy’s then up some more to Time Square. Usually people drop off somewhere in there but they were ready the next day to see St. Johns Cathedral, and Central Park the next day, then have dinner at the Carnegie Deli.
The first time my dad rode on the subway he seemed a little antsy about standing on a moving train, but every time after that he took right to it and would talk to anyone that sitting near him. It was funny to watch the wall fall down that people have in New York City have around themselves since there was someone talking to them.
Since they were staying for the weekend they wanted to visit my niece that was in the city for a summer internship. The only time she had to visit was right after church. So while They all went to church L. and I walked over to central park and rented a boat for an hour ($12 + $20 deposit.) It was just enough time to make it once around the central lake. The place was crawling with turtles and felt every bit like we had gone back to the 1800’s and I was wooing a woman as I paddled my wife around the lake.

Sunday, June 07, 2009

Kayaking

I was determined to use my kayak as much as possible so that they did not go to waste (as opposed to previous years). Since L. was not up to it and my friend D. could never seem to go I invited one of my co-workers. He had been canoeing before and was interested in testing the difference between that and kayaking. Kayaking on the hudson didn’t seem like a good idea since neither of us could find a reliable tide charts and we were not sure just how far the tides went up. Not to mention the fact that I didn’t think it was a good idea to take someone for their first kayaking trip into a major shipping lane.
Instead he had a small river that was by his house that we could paddle up. We looked at the satellite photos on the internet and we could tell we would not be able to make it to the dam but it looked smooth for a good portion. Being in New York both sides of the river had houses on them so we enjoyed commenting on the architecture. After around an hour of lazily paddling upstream we reached rocks and rapids that there was no way we were getting past. Just messing around we tried to see how far we could paddle up it. We made it a few feet when J. exclaimed his paddle broke. I beached my kayak and waded into the river picked up the pieces of the paddle and helped him beach his kayak. He wasn’t sure how the paddle broke and I can only guess the plastic scoop got brittle over the years. It was at this point that I was glad I always kept a spare paddle in each kayak, otherwise the saying “up a creek without a paddle” would have been to .real for the liking We ate lunch and explored the island. J. pointed out what poison ivy looked like since I was only familiar with poison oak.
It only took a half hour to paddle down stream and neither of us wanted to stop so we decided to explore the little protected harbor that this river created as it joined the hudson. We ended up padding until 3 by the time the kayaks were back on my car. I had been very careful to put sunscreen on my neck, face, and arms but had forgot about my legs. Since my kayak was a sit on top I had a nice sunburn with a thick white stripe where the thigh straps cut across my legs.
J. insisted on paying for the paddle. No matter how many times I tried explaining the most likely cause he would not hear any other option. I ended up getting a wood paddle so that it would have more flex next time.