Category Archives: adventure

Preparing

A GPS, a 2 Way Radio, a Map, a Bandana, and a Knife

A thing that we do as humans is think about the future. Sometimes, it’s a simple as a daydream about a hike or a trip to the lake to fish. We do have a tendency to go long and think about where we’d like to be in 5 years. In The After Times, it’s hard to see 2 or 3 weeks ahead, forget about 6 months.

But planning and dreaming are important. So I assemble bits and pieces for trips to the parks. I put together lists of things that we should carry with us to be prepared for our little adventures. We’re not usually out very long with having a puppy at home and two kids that run themselves out after a few hours, so this isn’t like an expedition to Antarctica, but it’s something to consider for any trip out. Scouts are prepared, right?

Yet in my mind, these are grand adventures. I think about taking my radio out to an island on the reservoir and making contacts. I imagine catching large fish early in the morning and snapping a few pictures. I drift to lunching on the shore before paddling back for the day. Again, quiet time on the water.

Is that what we’re all doing right now? Baking bread and adopting puppies so that we can give ourselves a future? Having things around that provide us with a sense that we will have something to do that is different or important tomorrow seems to be a zeitgeist of a sort.

We all need a long game. So we’re making them ourselves.

Quiet Water

The view over the bow of a kayak.

It is very difficult to think negative or hopeless thoughts while paddling on a body of water on a calm, sunny day. Perhaps, that body of water is nothing more than a reservoir frequented by anglers and paddlers. It’s usually quiet. There are birds here and there. Hopefully, there are fish that pop up once in a while. Maybe the boat drifts over some thick vegetation or catches on an unseen piece of wood. They sky can be blue or grey. It hardly matters on green water.

Listening to the sound of the paddle passing through the water is beautiful and serene. It allows for deep breaths and for the mind to drift from thought to thought like the clouds overhead. It forces a sense of the moment. After all, what is more important in that moment than maintaining balance and motion? Very little. Strange that all it takes is the thought of falling into perfectly safe fresh water to clear the mind of all else.

I know that not everyone is finding these things, but I do see so many more people at the parks than I have in years past. More on bicycles. Renting canoes. Hiking on trails. Moving through all of that green and blue simply to have some fresh air in the lungs and the relief of not seeing the same walls day after day. Perhaps we can keep that as a part of The New Normal.

Water

We’re awash in dogs right now as we adapt to the new puppy and have taken on dog-sitting for my brother for a week. It’s a crazy time, so Nacho – aka MY dog – and I are holed up in the office for the day. It’s what we do every day, but it feels more like hiding now.

This weekend, we went to a reservoir and put in some boats. A double kayak for the ladies of the family, an inflatable for the boy, and my new fishing kayak for me. I can’t say enough good things about my new boat. It was stable, agile, fast, and fun. Is there another adjective I would add? Not today.

We paddled around as the rather impolite motorcraft buzzed the no wake zone and the jetski crowd terrorized other kayakers. We won’t be returning there anytime soon but will instead head off to the body of water nearby that doesn’t allow motors. We can paddle and fish in relative peace there.

Paddling felt good. Being out in the sun felt good. It was restorative to all of us. It was a reminder that there was still something outside of our home compound for us to do. We will do more of it because we can.

Like plastic exposed to the UV of the sun for far too long, people are starting to crack. The stress and strain of trying to get through the day and navigate the world on its new terms is showing across the board. Those who would put their heads in the sand and scream about going back to the way things were are not making the process move any faster. In fact, as is their general wont, they are impeding progress to a solution.

Summer is past its halfway point. It will be autumn before we know it and those of us who signed up for it will be trying our best to get our children educated over the computer. Real people will be forced to make difficult decisions based on very little access to data and in the middle of a field of fear generated for profit and power. The consequences are so very real.

What does one do?

If one has the privilege, one goes to the park and fishes. Or sits outside with a book and tries to forget for a bit.

Everyone’s to do list should include unplugging. The internet isn’t helping.

Fishing

A Fly Fishing Reel

When the economy is tanking or the world is ending, what business booms? Bait and tackle shops. Why? Because one of the things we do as people in this country is fish. Even those of us who weren’t raised fishing or who aren’t good at it at all. There is something very therapeutic about pointing a stick at the water and waiting in silence.

My daughter loves fishing. She enjoys it mostly, I think, because she caught a fish her first time out and the fishing bug sunk itself deep into her. She can cast and wait and catch nothing for hours on end. I think it’s the same thing that gets gamblers: that next win is just one more try away.

For my part, I’ve caught plenty of fish. I’m a poor fisherman by any standard, but I enjoy it. The point is to be outside, near some water, and very quiet. Doesn’t hurt that fishing gear is fairly inexpensive (I’m no BASS MASTER!) and a license is cheap. But it can get expensive if you want by simply adding watercraft to the equation.

My family loves going out in boats. We like rowboats, canoes, and kayaks. We got inflatable kayaks for the kids, a paddle-board for my wife, and a fishing kayak for me. Why do I get the fancy boat? Because I’m what my friend kindly calls a “Country Gentleman” and need more buoyancy, thanks for asking.

I doubt that we’ll catch any more fish as we paddle around the lake than we did from the shore, but it frees us up to have different kinds of fun if some of us are more serious about contemplating the shadows under the water than others.

What is all of this, really? A way to get out of the house/compound as the summer drags on into autumn and the current situation stretches into a horizon we can’t see or navigate. It’s a challenge. Being out in a boat alone and having to make your own choices. Is it some kind of subconscious grasping at control? Or is it a palliative? A way to forget the world because all there is in front of you is the bow, the water, and the next stroke of the paddle. Resisting the urge to make this too Hemingway-esque, but there is truth to what we do in the outdoors. Whether it’s hiking, fishing, boating, or camping. There is an element of testing and control.

I’ll dip my paddle in the water this weekend. Push off and see how it goes. No expectations aside from a little quiet.

Adventure

A Spread from CQ Magazine

Last night, I was sitting in my Jeep waiting for my son to finish something and I pulled out my CQ Magazine. There was a really great spread on a team that ran a DX expedition to the British Virgin Islands. They were chasing the ghost of an Englishman who fixed up a sailboat and headed out to see the world on his own. He made a lot of contacts as he rounded the islands and was on the air for quite a while.

I’m a sucker for tales of Englishmen who head out into the world to chase something like that. It’s back to being a conquistador of the useless (a reference for those into the climbing scene of which I am decidedly only a spectator). There is no good reason for going out to sea like that. Even less to poke around with a radio. And less still to go to an island with the express purpose of being someone for people who are in their homes to call. But being useful isn’t much of an end, is it? Not most of the time, I don’t think.

I watch these folks go out and try to ship themselves and their gear to all parts of the world to sit on a lonely island in potentially harsh conditions simply to say “I’m here! Can you hear me? I can hear you!”

Living now, in the After (and there are so many things that have ended in the past few years that this is most assuredly an After Time), it’s easy to see why someone would want to drop it all and wander off. There is very little to be seen or gained from the vantage point of a computer screen.

Fishing. Geocaching. Camping. Overlanding. SOTA. POTA. Any kind of field radio, really. All excuses to get outside and check a box on a list you made yourself that is accountable to no one else. And that serves no greater purpose than to be logged in your own, personal journal.

No, I don’t have any maps open on my desk. Why do you ask?