Thursday, December 1, 2011

Kayaking: A Little Too Exciting!

The good news is that nobody got hurt, well at least not seriously.

It was a beautiful day for kayaking. We loaded the 4 kayaks onto Craig and Liz’s truck and headed off for Patagonia Lake State Park, about 60 miles southwest of Benson.


We launched the boats using one of the boat ramps and set out on a new adventure.


Don noticed a Blue Heron in the reeds. I got a great picture but the bird let me know his opinion of being photographed by taking off quickly and yelling loudly!


The water was calm and peaceful as we paddled under the pedestrian bridge to the main body of the lake.


Don was enjoying the peace and quiet.



Craig climbed out of his boat to go off in search of a geocache, which he quickly found.


I noticed one of the Coots seemed to be following Don.



As I got closer, the Coot turned around to face me and came close. He seemed to be looking for a handout, so he might have been fed by people and was hoping to get lucky again.



We saw several Cormorants in trees and on the lake.



When Liz floated by, the birds took off. Although our boats are quiet, I’m sure the wildlife is occasionally annoyed by our intrusion in their space.


Craig sure attracted lots of bovine attention!


We enjoyed our picnic lunch near the swimming beach.


After lunch, we decided to explore the west end of the lake, and headed toward the dam. Craig & Liz went off in search of another geocache, while Don and I leisurely paddled toward them and noticed a fellow with a sail on his kayak.


We caught up with Craig & Liz and were discussing their second successful cache find of the day, when Don looked back and saw the kayak/sail capsize when the wind got a little stronger. We all immediately headed toward him to help out.


That’s when things got a little too exciting. I moved alongside Craig to tie a rope to his kayak so he could tow the overturned kayak to land. I leaned over a little too far and was surprised to find myself in the water, too! It happened just that fast – one minute I was tying a perfect square knot, and the next I was totally wet!

I didn’t take any more pictures, and I didn’t even know if the ones I’ve posted would be retrievable from the memory card until later because the camera was totally submerged while still on a leash around my neck. Fortunately, my little Fujifilm waterproof camera really is waterproof! And my life vest did its job of keeping my head above the chilly water.

Don, Craig and Liz all worked to get Mark (the sailor/kayaker) and me to safety, asking a nearby power boat operator to come lend a hand as well. They found a rocky bank where we could climb out and start drying off, and got our boats emptied of water. Then we all paddled our way back to the dock. It was definitely time to call it a day, as the wind was growing stronger and the waves were big enough to cause problems when we had to paddle across the lake. A big wave horizontal to a kayak can easily tip it over.

Cold, still a little wet and shaky but not hypothermic, I was glad for a change of shirt on the lake (thanks, Craig), then my own dry shirt back at the truck, and some dry sandals. I changed in the restroom and was grateful for a blower hand dryer that I could stand next to for drying my quick-dry pants.

When we got home, I took a long hot shower and enjoyed green chile burritos that Liz made for dinner.

We took away some lessons from this experience. Always wear a life jacket when you’re going in a boat, keep the paddle on a leash attached to the boat, tie down or leash other items like cameras, sun block, water bottles and lunch packs, and don’t try to hang onto the boat after it has capsized. Some extra clothing, drinking water, and rope come in handy, too.

Don’s concern on the lake was first for my safety, but also whether this event would ruin kayaking for me. No, I’m looking forward to the next time, but will be wiser about trying to reach too far sideways!

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Thanksgiving and Afterward with Craig & Liz

We’ve been enjoying our time with Don’s son Craig and his wife Liz, who are visiting Benson in their motor home. They arrived a few days ahead of us and spent some time on cleaning up our RV lot as we’d been traveling since April 11. We had hired someone to spray the weeds while we were away, but that just killed them and left dead weeds, so we had some removal to do.

There were a few dead cactus due to the ‘deep freeze’ the area had last February. By the time we arrived, Craig and Liz had taken care of them. We also decided to quit fighting some of the other cactus that kept overtaking the fence and gate, and simply dug them up.


Craig did a lot of the heavy lifting and digging, while Don repositioned pavers and removed big chunks of the plants.


Liz and I did clean-up, and she also helped with loading plants in the back of their truck.


When we finished, there was a big load to dispose of!


After several attempts to find a place to get rid of the debris, we finally discovered that the park has a way of disposing of such things. They brought in the big tractor! Dennis, the park manager, positioned the scoop under the truck’s tailgate, and Craig and Don shoved the cactus in. Our big load didn’t look so big then!


With that job done, Craig and Liz fixed dinner for us at their site in the campground.


And we watched a nice Southwest sunset.


For Thanksgiving, Don smoked a 20 lb. turkey in the Orion charcoal cooker. Here it is, brined, rubbed and stuffed with rosemary and lemons, ready to be cooked.


I was too busy helping prepare side dishes, then eating all the goodies to get pictures of the rest of the dinner. It was a beautiful day and we all had too much to eat, including Shadow, who took a rest on the couch beside Liz.


Another thing on our “To Do” list was to hang Christmas lights. We were so grateful for Craig and Liz’s help, especially for Craig climbing the ladder so Don didn’t have to.


It took a little coaxing, but Shadow is starting to enjoy his own little patch of grass that we bought him in Wyoming.


Later we enjoyed relaxing by the fire in our little chiminea.


It’s starting to look a lot like Christmas!