Saturday, July 26, 2008

Inflatable Serenity

I've been out to Sulphur Creek to kayak a few times this summer, though probably not as often as I should, and as I set out across the water this morning I was thinking maybe it's time to sell the Dragonfly and put the money away for a solid-hull kayak sometime in the future, after I move. Because I'm sure there'll be water nearby. That's a priority for me, and it seems that every place has some sort of recreation-friendly body of water nearby; even Ogallala has their fake lake. And I was thinking that even though the Dragonfly is much easier to store and transport than a full-sized solid kayak, it can be a pain to set up and tear down on days when I'm pressed for time.

But after a few minutes on the water, I started to think that really, the Dragonfly has been a wonderful thing. It veers ever so slightly to each side as I paddle, but I've learned to offset that by taking short, shallow strokes instead of lingering long in the water. Better cardio workout anyway, and still plenty of resistance to make that thing book. It's very plush, being basically a balloon and all, sort of like paddling a recliner around, or that inflatable clear plastic couch Larry kept in her dorm room in Pomona. Set up actually only takes about five minutes, getting it situated and inflating it with the hardy little foot pump, strapping the paddle on and the seat in, tossing my phone, camera, and keys in the silver dry bag. And it looks awesome, aggressive and sporty with the red, yellow, and black color scheme and the handles and zippers on mesh pouches and the compass (which doesn't work all that well). Kids waiting on the dock for Daddy to launch the speedboat watch me blow it up and drop it in the water while his truck flounders on the ramp, and they tug on Mom's sleeve, "Look, isn't that so cool?"

I'm not quite ready to see it go. It's become an old friend, sharing fine mornings like today's with me, been reliable and sturdy. It was already 80 degrees by the time I got in the water at 10:09, but as the paddle see-saws from one side to the other, rolling against the smooth, hard spots in the crooks of my thumbs where so many blisters have bloomed and peeled, the water runs from each blade down the shaft and sprinkles my legs, shoulders, and face with cool droplets.

The reservoir smells like algae and cows and the evergreen breath of the Uintas to the south, and even when the water is choppy I feel safe in the Dragonfly; it's much harder to capsize than a regular kayak because it sits lower in the water and has all that air on the sides to keep it upright, like the inner tubes we used to float in on Bear Lake. Readying it for storage after use is the hardest part because it has to be completely dry before you fold it into its handy bag (which also holds the folding seat, the large foot pump, the paddle, my life vest, two beach towels, and a bottle of Gatorade), and there are a lot of nooks and crannies for water to hide in. Plus it has an inner inflatable structure and an outer shell, so you have to take it apart and wipe everything down, then leave it in the sun so the fabric top of the shell can dry, then reassemble and fold tightly to fit it in the bag.

But still, it fits in Puck's hatch like it was made to go there, and it tucks in behind my rowing machine in the living room when not in use or transport, and that's sure something to recommend a personal watercraft. Plus, I can check it as baggage if I ever fly to Venice; you can't rent a kayak in Venice. Try it. And I do still hope someday to kayak along the coast of Croatia (around Dubrovnik, say) or from Piran to Trieste on Slovenia's little slice of the Adriatic. We still have family in Škofja Loka.

But mostly I just want more of days like today: peaceful, easy times on familiar waters just a few minutes away, good exercise and fresh air in a bright red package. So the Dragonfly stays, and floats on.


Blogger René Seindal said...

Its true that you can't rent a kayak in Venice, but you can get a guided tour to almost anywhere in the city of Venice or in the lagoon.

Have a look at Venice Kayak.

You don't need to fight with extra luggage in the plain and you have the added security of having a guide who knows the area and the language.


July 27, 2008 at 1:32 PM  

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