Friday, May 16, 2008

Rocks & Kayaks

Well, I wanted to learn to rock climb over the winter, but my winter schedule filled up fast. I was able to sign up for an April class with my friend, Pam, though. We actually got done with the class a couple of weeks ago, but lemme tell ya! It was SO much fun! We drove to Madison 2 times each week (Tuesday nights and Sunday afternoons) to learn the "ropes." (Is that where that saying comes from???) Anyway... we learned the figure-8 knot, the fisherman's knot, how to use the gri-gri (auto-belayer thingies), and the ATC and locking carabiners so we could belay on our own. During the 2nd to last class, Pam and I both passed our belay tests, so now we can confidently claim that we know what we're doin'! :)

I'm looking forward to getting outside and trying it out, but first we gotta find someone with the gear and the knowledge to top-rope... cuz we don't know how to do that just yet! I also need to get a pair of rock climbing shoes... a harness... an ATC and locking carabiner... there's lots to do! Slow but sure I'll get there. I really enjoyed bouldering, too. A lot. I'm hoping to find a couple of bouldering spots whenever I get camping this summer. And Pam and I are still trying to figure out a way we can cruise over to Madison once a week or so to keep up the skills we learned! I'm kind of craving the wall, now. It's crazy how addicting it gets. There's still specific routes at Boulder's that I want to conquer!

Adam and I said last year around our Anniversary (June 9), that it would be fun for each of us to get kayaks so we could take them out together in the summer when the weather's nice. Well, we sort of made that a goal for this year, and we did it! We just came home with 2 boats on Monday evening. But that's a story all in itself. It was a hassle, and I just really, really hope we get them out soon! We thought it would be easy to just go out, buy the boats and haul 'em home...

The story:
Checked out the boats at Rutabaga's, fixed on a couple, but had to come back to test paddle when their lagoon was open. Also had to find out how to haul them. We have a 2004 Saturn Vue, and apparently Thule and Yakima don't make racks for our car. Soooo... we had to bring our car to Saturn to have the factory rack installed. Went to do that and found out our lateral runners on top of our car were cracked and needed to be replaced before the rack was installed (two cross-bars that run along the width of the car). So, a painful amount of $$ over our budget later, we had the rack on our car. There was still one big problem with that, even. Our weight limit on our roof is about 100 pounds, or so we're told. With 2 boats, we'll be pushing that limit -- we'll be over it a bit. We found that Saturn Vues are just simply not made to haul... it's a good thing to know if you're planning on buying and need to carry anything. And there's more to that story coming up!

We go back to Rutabaga's on a Saturday, but it's too windy to paddle in the lagoon. We were impatient, and really wanted to go home with a new boat on top of our pretty lil' roof rack that we just had installed, so we bought Adam's boat. The Native Marvel 12. Bought the Thule Hullaport to screw onto the pretty roof rack we just bought, and guess what!? The 3 different size bolts the Thule rack comes with aren't long enough to fit on the TOO-THICK roof rack bars that Saturn designed... I don't understand the engineering on that project, but whatever... that's the other part to the Saturn-rack story... anyway... Rutabaga's was kind enough to temporarily rig us up with foam blocks and ropes -- and we had Adam's boat tied on our car, ready to go. We made it home, safe and sound.

The next weekend, we tie up Adam's boat and take it to a bay off of Lake Winnebago to test it out. Again, it was a windy day, but we didn't care... we wanted to try it out. Adam gets in and the wind takes him into the bay quicker than I think he'd wanted... he looked back, saw me standing on shore, and in what looked like a panic to me, started to frantically back-paddle, and one slight movement to the right, and the boat tipped. Okay, it's early May, and it was COLD! He swam it in and that was that. How frustrating. So about 2 minutes in the boat and our day was done. We decided to bring it back and see if there might be a more stable boat to use.

So I take a Monday afternoon off of work because it's a nice day (finally) and we head to Rutabaga's so we can test paddle some boats. Besides getting there 2 hours before they close and feeling like we were really putting a damper on a sales person's evening by working them right up to close, it actually went quite well. I do feel bad that we couldn't get there earlier than that... we just really needed a nice day so we could test the boats. Oh well, anyway... we test paddled with this awesome sales guy (I feel terrible that I don't remember his name -- I wish I did!). He got both Adam and I in boats that we just loved. Adam in the Native Ultimate 14.5 and me in the Current Designs Kestrel. Neither of us tipped over, and overall it was a fun experience.

Next challenge was to rig the boats up on top of our car. We weren't even sure that they would both fit. Adam's went on first, upside down, then mine went onto the Thule Hullaport rack on its side. They fit. Whew. Paid for everything and left. Our only worry is that we are probably pushing 130 pounds on that rack, so we need to be careful that the screws don't come loose or something crazy like that. We were told by the guys at Saturn that we'd probably be okay up to 200 lbs. So we're really hoping he's right!

Yes. We now have kayaks in our garage. We just got our paddling life jackets in, we've got paddles, water squirty thingies to empty the water out, and paddle clips so we don't loose our paddles if we tip over. There's one more thing I need to get -- a cup holder for my, erm, drink. :)

We're still waiting to get them out and paddle them around. Hopefully this weekend or next, cuz the last weekend in May is a 2-day canoe trip that we're taking them on with a bunch of friends and family, and we hope to be ready for that!

What a crazy journey! But we have the kayaks, finally! Next, I'm sure you'll hear about either our garage sale we're putting together for Memorial Day weekend, unless that's really boring and I skip it... but for sure, you'll hear all about how that canoe trip goes! It's always crazy fun! :)

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