Kayak Trip Report - 3/12/2010


Posted on : 3/13/2010 12:05:00 PM | By : Dann | In : , , ,

It took less than a week, but the new kayak has been introduced to the water.  You can follow along on our trip using the map below.

View Trip 3-12-2010 in a larger map

This trip included your esteemed interlocutor, my friend Denis, his friend Jeff, and a young friend of his.

We began this trip at the same point where the trip last July ended; at Ella Sharp Park.  Apparently no one took my advice to spruce up the boat ramp as it was in the same condition.

This is "Trip #7" according to the G.R.E.A.T. website. Although we didn't quite make it that far.

Yours truly almost started this expedition smartly be slipping on some stones and falling into the river.  It was a close thing, but after much waving of the arms, I managed to stay dry.  Back on land, we double checked our gear and got into our kayaks.

During the trip last summer, I had used the old "flop technique" to get into the kayak.  You straddle the kayak and "flop" into the seat.  That technique works well in shallow water, but it doesn't do anything for you in terms of getting out later on.

This time, I decided to use the "sit on your paddle" technique.  You can see it being demonstrated if you watch the video that opens at the Quiet World home page.  Essentially, you put one end of your paddle across the back of the kayak and the other end on dry land...or perhaps in shallow water.  You then sit on the paddle just behind the cockpit.  This lets you get your feet into position inside the cockpit.  Then you lift up and slide the rest of your body into position.  You have to be careful to keep your hands on your paddle to maintain that support and stability.  Once your butt is in the seat, retrieve your paddle and get on with the trip.

It worked.  Yay, me!

At this point, the Grand River isn't very deep.  It is quite wide.  And it was running lazily at this point.  The depth gauge downstream had the river at 11'+ deep.  There wasn't much difference at the boat dock from last July, so perhaps that measurement does not mean as much on this part of the river.

Also, the water is cold.  I know...Michigan....early March....who would have thought.  There you are.

We headed off to the north until we found the break where the river runs to the east.  The river picks up a little speed here as the stream bed narrows.

That speed of the water had quite a bit to do with our first yellow marker.  The combination of the river, some low hanging trees, and some trees in the water resulted in one of our party going for a little swim.  It didn't help that his kayak naturally rides pretty low in the water.

Fortunately, the river isn't very deep here.  It was pretty easy to get  him and his kayak out of the water, restored to floating conditions, and moving downstream.  Also, we had some extra clothes along with us.  We made sure that he was as dry as we could get him before continuing on.

My advice, keep some spacing between paddlers until you get to the marshy, straight area that lies ahead.  I don't know that it would have helped in this particular occasion, but it certainly would not have resulted in a following kayak almost running down someone in the water.  Which I almost did in this case.  A little hefty back paddling solved that problem, but it was a close thing.

The obstacles diminished and we were able to paddle along quite nicely.  We got to the blue marker just before Francis Street before we found anything interesting.  There the river naturally splits.  The left split worked well for us.  There is some wood in the water that looks to be the start of a foot bridge.   Be careful later this summer if you take this trip.  The foot bridge may be finished by then.  Shortly thereafter, the river splits again due to a nearby homeowner's decision to create some sort of decorative island in the stream.

Yes, I like Kenny and Dolly.

A quick trip under the Francis Street bridge and we found ourselves back in a mess of fallen and semi-fallen trees.  For the most part there were reasonable ways to get through.  You just have to look for them.  We stayed mostly to the left and got through with few difficulties.

By this time we had learned our lesson.  Now we were hanging onto limbs near the side of the stream so that the person ahead could get through whatever obstacle lay ahead of us.  That easing of pressure seemed to help.

Although I have to confess that I was so busy at this point that I failed to notice where the stream from Sharp Lake joined ours.

In the middle of this mess, the second yellow marker, yours truly got a little wet.  I got a little close to a branch sticking out of the water and took on a gallon or two into the kayak.  My butt was wet, but the rest was still dry.  We paddled on.

At this point there is a long, straight run through the marsh.  I hesitate to use the word "boring" because it wasn't.  "Peaceful" comes to mind.  I bet it is a beautiful place to be in the summer.

We spotted a few homemade hunting stands along the way.  You never would have thought that an old office chair would retain such use perched atop a frame of steel tubing.

Eventually, we shot under Brooklyn Road.  At this point I was a little disoriented.  I had forgotten about Reynolds Brooklyn Road and thought we had passed under US127.  So I thought we were much closer to home that we really were.

On the far side of Brooklyn Road is a railroad bridge that was built in 1918.  It is in pretty poor repair.

On the far side of that bridge there is a farm with fencing that extends into the river way.  The fence may have been placed at a time when the river ran lower.  Stay away from the right side of the river in any case to avoid the fence and some brush.

The river went back to twisting this way and that.  We passed a dock and half of a what I assume was a raft.  At least, a wood deck supported by empty barrels is pretty much my definition of a raft.

The sky was starting to get pretty grey as we passed under South Meridian.  Denis later offered that we probably should have stopped there.  In retrospect, he was right, but we hadn't figured that out quite yet.

And so we went under US127 as well.  The river really started to twist back and forth here.  At one point, Denis thought he could cut across a marshy area instead of taking the wider loop of the stream.  I have to admit that it looked like there was more water than marsh in that area.  Still, if I had gotten stuck the way Denis was on the way into that mess, I think I would have backed out of it and gone the long way around.

He was smiling after he made it back to paddleable water, so it must not have been too bad.

The sun went down by the time we got to the South Street bridge.  Denis had thought to bring his flashlight.  I have one in my fishing tackle that I should have brought.  If it were not for Denis, we would have been completely screwed as the trees closed in north of South Street.

Now you may be wondering why there is a yellow marker down stream from the red marker where our trip concluded.  That yellow marker is where one of our little party took a dip in the river.  What little light that we might have imagined remaining was thoroughly gone by the time he was back in a dry boat and ready to paddle.

So we turned around and made for the nearest street light.  As it worked out, we came up behind the church located on the bend on Flansburgh Road.  It used to be a bait shop a few years back.

There is a little pond with a foot bridge back there.  That posed a little bit of a trick when it came to getting all of our kayaks over to an area where we could stage them for pick up. 

Unlike last summer, I was able to extricate myself from my kayak by simply reversing the steps I had taken to get into it in the first place.  Use the paddle as a bridge.  Push my butt out of the kayak and onto the paddle.  Swing the legs into the river.  And then stand up.

It was that last part that got pretty tricky.  After 3+ hours of sitting and paddling, my legs forgot why they were there.  Either that or the land was rolling up and down faster than they could compensate. 

In any case, we got everyone out of the river and all the boats on dry land. We then had the minor task of walking about 1.5 to 2 miles to our destination vehicle.  In the dark.

We missed a passing police car by about 15 seconds.  We saw him, but couldn't get his attention as he drove away.

We were about a few hundred yards into our trek when Denis reminded me about my dry box.  Where his keys were.  Where MY keys were.  Which I had left in my kayak.

So he jogged back to get the box, and then jogged to catch up with us.  I kept trying to flag down a car to pick him up so that he would not have to run so far.  I finally managed to get him a ride at the intersection of South Street and South Meridian.  A couple minutes after that car pulled away, Denis came walking up from the direction of our destination.

He had jogged along fast enough, and cut enough corners that he was ahead of us.  Thanks to the young ladies that were willing to give a stranger a ride.  Pity that they were the only ones willing to do so.

A couple comments on equipment.  First shoes.

I had worn a pair of rubberized shoes.  They are designed to get wet, and I didn't see any way not to get my feet wet on this trip.  But they were not designed for walking.  I now have a couple of nice sized blisters along each instep.  I'm sure they will heal, but for the moment, they are a pain.

Second, clothes.  Note to self, bring spares especially when it is cold.

Third, kayak.  My kayak is a Future Beach Trophy 126DX.  The folks at Future Beach tout their dihedral hull design as being superior for stability and tracking.  You can see a sectional view here.  Download a current kayak PDF catalog for a better view and more of what they say about their boats.

The bottom line is that they are right.  The 126DX was very stable.  Even the one time when water got in the kayak, I was able to get my weight back to being centered rather than going for an impromptu swim.  And it tracks like a dream.  The biggest problem I had was getting my hands in the right spot on the paddle so that both the right and the left stroke were even.  As long as my hands were close to being in the right spot on the paddle, the kayak ran straight and true.

If every Future Beach kayak is like this one, then I have no problem recommended recommending them.  I did a lot of reading before I bought my kayak.  I did a lot of searching as well.  The 126DX was everything that I had come to hope it would be.  And I'm looking forward to my next kayaking excursion.

Thanks again to Denis, Jeff, and Jeff's young friend for a great trip down the Grand.

Dungeon & Dragons Or Fantasy Football


Posted on : 3/13/2010 09:41:00 AM | By : Dann | In : , ,

Do you know the difference? None that really matter.

Just In Case Someone Forgets...


Posted on : 3/12/2010 07:33:00 AM | By : Dann | In : ,

War is an ugly thing, but not the ugliest of things. The decayed and degraded state of moral and patriotic feeling which thinks that nothing is worth war is much worse. The person who has nothing for which he is willing to fight, nothing which is more important than his own personal safety, is a miserable creature and has no chance of being free unless made and kept so by the exertions of better men than himself.
John Stuart Mill English economist & philosopher (1806 - 1873)

It is not the critic who counts, not the man who points out how the strong man stumbled, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself on a worthy cause; who at the best in the end knows the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who know neither victory nor defeat.

You Time Is Sucked.


Posted on : 3/12/2010 07:29:00 AM | By : Dann | In : ,

You are welcome.

Is It A Little Warm In Here


Posted on : 3/11/2010 07:57:00 AM | By : Dann | In : , ,

What is one way to have four independent temperature data sets support the same conclusion regarding anthropogenic global warming?  To have three of the four data sets not be independent.

If the underlying data is questionable....and I believe that it is.....then the conclusions based on the data are equally questionable.

She Is Kidding....Right?


Posted on : 3/10/2010 08:40:00 PM | By : Dann | In : ,

According to a story in the New York Post, Lindsay Lohan is suing E-Trade for their recent television commercial.

You know the ads.  They have this baby on screen.  They use some software to make his mouth move as if he could speak like a grown up.  And they have someone do the voice over. 

In one ad, an older guy is in the locker room of a golf clubhouse.  The kid alleges to have issued the old guy a beat down and calls him "shankapotomis".  The ads are usually good and sometimes brilliant.

In the case of Ms. Lohan's complaint, the ad involves the young lad talking on his telephone to his girlfriend.  The girlfriend asks if "that milk-a-holic Lindsay" has been over.  The young miss who pops up to say "milk-a-what?" is worth a giggle or two.

So is the idea that E-Trade purposefully created the commercial to make fun of Ms. Lohan.

Video of the commercial in question is at the link.  Ms. Lohan's common sense and dignity are no where in sight.

I Am Just Plain Wrong


Posted on : 3/10/2010 08:27:00 PM | By : Dann | In : , ,

This item out of Kentucky gave me the giggles.  It seems that this young lady had a bit too much of a good time and was escorted to the county pokey to dry out.  There she was asked to change into jail clothing.

Rather than complying, the young lady peels off her shirt and bra and promptly accosts an officer....by hitting her with a stream of breast milk.  Apparently she was only good for one squirt as a second attempt came up dry.

The officer in question...well.....

As for Brown, a jail press release noted that the officer was successfully able to "clean the bio-hazard off her."
Bio-hazard.....the mind reels.

Of course, such idiocy need not occur far from home.

Showers of Gold....


Posted on : 3/10/2010 08:11:00 PM | By : Dann | In : , ,

....or the story of a nation that pees together and wins gold medals together.  Too good not to share.

Do Not Want


Posted on : 3/10/2010 06:28:00 PM | By : Dann | In : , ,

The most important amendment Republicans must propose for Obama’s Medi-Grab bill is a very easy one:

Resolved: that all federal and state employees must enroll in ObamaCare, without exception.

Any violation of this amendment will be punishable by a fine, imprisonment, and/or loss of federal or state employment. Enforcement of this provision will be overseen by a popularly elected commission, whose proceedings will be open to the public via the worldwide web.
 The problem is not that the proposed "reforms" will turn our country into some oppressive socialist state.  The problem is that they will be just another step down the road towards the day when government ceases to be the servant and instead is the master.

In retrospect, it seems obvious that reform proponents could have obtained far greater public support if their reforms had included provisions for private individuals and companies to be able to buy into the same health care "pool" as our elected officials rather than creating a "public option" that would inevitably be far less coverage than our public servants have come to expect.

Read the whole essay.  It is worth your time.

It Does Not Matter What You Were...


Posted on : 3/10/2010 06:04:00 PM | By : Dann | In : , , ,

...or where you are from.  What matters is what you are.

I am an American.  There is no need for a hyphen.  Anything that the government might slap ahead of that label is meaningless next to who I am now; an American.

Americans come in both genders....and a few that are in between.  Americans can be found in skin tones light and dark and everything in between.  What binds us more tightly than looks or blood or skin or accent is our burning desire to be free.

Free from meddlesome neighbors.  Free from intrusive governments.  Free from tyrannies of the majority, the minority, or even of the one.  Free from people that would run our lives for us because they know "better".

We love our freedom.  Regardless of how bad some other group may want that freedom, they cannot have it.  We know that there is no price that they can offer that is worth the ability of the individual to decide how they want to live their life.

Not safety....not security....and most certainly not worthless lucre.  You cannot take it with you and they will not let you keep it anyway.

So when your U.S. Census form arrives, please make it clear that you are an American; race and heritage.  Whenever it offers you a choice, use the "other" box and fill in "American".

You will be in good company.

Bad Timing


Posted on : 3/10/2010 07:10:00 AM | By : Dann | In : , , , ,

Only a few days after buying my kayak, there is this bit of news:

Led by NOAA's Jane Lubchenco, the task force has shown no overt dislike of recreational angling, but its indifference to the economic, social and biological value of the sport has been deafening.

Additionally, Lubchenco and others in the administration have close ties to environmental groups who would like nothing better than to ban recreational angling. And evidence suggests that these organizations have been the engine behind the task force since before Obama issued a memo creating it last June.

As ESPN previously reported, WWF, Greenpeace, Defenders of Wildlife, Pew Environment Group and others produced a document entitled "Transition Green" shortly after Obama was elected in 2008. What has happened since suggests that the task force has been in lockstep with that position paper.
 Emphasis added.

They can have my fishing rod, after they pry it from my cold dead hands.

Bipartisan Lawyering


Posted on : 3/09/2010 08:08:00 AM | By : Dann | In : ,

Big in the news recently were reports of Republicans....including Ken Starr....lining up to defend administration lawyers who had formerly worked as legal counsel on behalf of accused Al Qaida and other terrorist suspects.  It seems that more than a few other Republicans have forgotten President John Adams and his defense of the British soldiers accused of committing the Boston Massacre.

A group that includes leading conservative lawyers and policy experts, former Independent Counsel Kenneth Starr and several senior officials of the last Bush administration is denouncing as “shameful” Republican attacks on lawyers who came to the Obama Justice Department after representing suspected terrorists.


“We consider these attacks both unjust to the individuals in question and destructive of any attempt to build lasting mechanisms for counterterrorism adjudications,” wrote the 19 lawyers whose names were attached to the statement as of early Monday.
Those signing the statement were:

Benjamin Wittes, Robert Chesney,Matthew Waxman, David Rivkin, Lee Casey, Philip Bobbitt, Peter Keisler, Bradford Berenson, Kenneth Anderson, John Bellinger III, Philip Zelikow,Kenneth W. Starr, Larry Thompson, Charles "Cully" D. Stimso, Chuck Rosenberg, Harvey Rishikoff, Orin Kerr, Daniel Dell’Orto

My Inner Geek


Posted on : 3/09/2010 07:57:00 AM | By : Dann | In : ,

This place hit every Dungeons and Dragons gene I possess right out of the ballpark.  I believe the phrase "slack jawed" was invented for moments such as this.

Rivers And Lakes Beware - - I Am Equipped!


Posted on : 3/07/2010 05:34:00 PM | By : Dann | In :

We went out to Quiet World Sports today to pick up a slightly used kayak, pictured below.  This is a Future Beach Trophy 126 DLX kayak designed for the usual kayaking as well as for fishing.  It has two big storage areas and several places to hold fishing poles.  The cargo straps are also big enough to hold a pretty decent sized tackle box.

The folks out a Quiet World Sports run a kayak school located close to Jackson, MI.  They are supposed to be one of the larger schools in the Midwest.  They buy kayaks, use them for a year in their school, and then sell them.

In reality, my kayak looks like it never made it into the water.  Ever.  If you are reasonably close to Jackson, and are in need of a kayak, then please check out their list of slightly used boats.  They also sell top shelf paddles for a lot less than you will pay for new paddles. 

My kayak has a list price of $540.  I got the kayak and a nice graphite paddle for $360.

The ice will be gone soon.  Those fish are in trouble and they don't even know it!