Comments on life, the universe and everything from an aging Sixties survivor.

Location: Massachusetts, United States

Ummm, isn't "about me" part of the point of the blog?

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Peep show weekend

In a time when revisionism rules, we might as well screw it and recognise this weekend as the peak time thanne longen folk to goon on pilgrimages... the holy blissful leefes for to peepe.

Not I. Yesterday was Concord River, part deux, in which we reached the North Bridge, and in which we discovered that it was in truth possible to go upwind both ways.

Oh sure. We knew it would be lively, with winds forecast at 17-20 mph, but it was forecast to be WNW to NW. Since the Concord River runs north-south in its most open parts, we said, "how bad could it be?"

Well, it wasn't bad, but it was interesting. I found out today that the open water just upstream of Route 225 has a local reputation for contrary winds. The northwest winds were from the north, providing a lively ride for the first part of the trip.

Soon, though, the river bends to the west, and the forecast was fully justified. The fact that the river was more narrow didn't influence the wind in the slightest. Things did get to be a bit of a slog then, leaving one to artfully dodge from one piece of lee water to the next. There wasn't much colour along the banks, but there were many leaves ready to fall, which came spinning down to light on the water and spin slowly in the river's very modest current.

Our launching place lacked, amongst other things, a necessary, My spouse had a map of the Great Meadows Wildlife Refuge that showed facilities, involving a good hike. I pointed out that Minuteman NHP had restrooms, and we might try our luck there.

I had one reservation about this. We were fairly fresh from Yosemite, where human elimination is somewhat low on the scale of environmental priorities. Would the rangers be OK with a kayak landing?

They would: this isn't a West Coast national park, which expects you to do nothing more than object strenuously to a bear attack. This is an eastern park and somewhat friendly to kayakers and canoeists...those who could figure out where to land, anyway. It is, all the same, something of a do-it-yourself venture and I did have a funny feeling about that. Another term that has been cheapened in recent years, besides "hero," is "hallowed ground." However, this place has a pretty good lock on the expression: no matter which side of the bridge one's ancestors were on.

The downstream trip began splendidly, between what was now a tailwind and the fact that the river had developed a current, which is to say it was just noticeable. We enjoyed this state of affairs amid lengthening autumn shadows, assuring ourselves that the north wind downriver would surely have moderated.

The wind hadn't moderated at all. Between the greater expanse of open water, and a wind coming pretty much straight up the river, there was nothing much for it but to grind out the final half of the trip. This was made a bit easier for me by the last round of modifications I'd made to the cockpit of my stubbornly uncomfortable 15-year-old kayak. A final layer of seat foam had made a medieval seat into something that was, if not comfortable, not a distraction. That makes a big difference in how much leverage one can apply in a headwind. I've also spent this summer's kayaking breaking the habit of using the rudder too much. I made the upwind trip without using it at all: yea me.

Question of the day. Does anyone else get the same childish amusement I do from football players' names? These come in two classes. There are the wonderfully apposite ones, especially for linemen, which suggest that the owner dresses in skins off the field and wrestles giant cave bears for amusement. Then there are the names which would cause any male a difficult childhood, such as the Kansas City Chiefs' Ryan Succop and the Buffalo Bills' Drayton Florence. In neither case does the NFL practice of stenciling last names across the back of the jersey help matters. I recommend this diversion, and with it creating scenarios in which the player's name played a role in making his career.

I might have something tomorrow. However, it's just a normal day off for me at the moment, not a holiday, so don't expect anything extraordinary.


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