Jennie Takes A Vacation!

I was able to take a real live vacation this year. I haven’t been able to venture too far from home since July of 2014. After the consolidation of agencies in 2015, we all lost our vacation time for the year but gained it back this year along with our seniority.

I made my way to Virginia and stayed in the area of Front Royal, which is not far from the north entrance to Shenandoah National Park.  I rented a tiny cottage on Carson Mountain appropriately called “The Carson Mountain Cottage” for an entire week.

I stayed near the north district of the park but ended up making the drive every day to the central district. It was around 40 miles one way to the trail heads that I chose. It was a long drive at 35mph, but the Sky Line Drive and my numerous black bear sightings helped to make up for it.

I had a great trip. I feel a lot better mentally, than I have in a really long time.

I am going to write more as  I am getting back into the blogging groove.  I attached a gallery of photographs from the trip to Shenandoah National Park.

I’m Ready For Summer- Kayak Shopping

Little Pigeon River in August 2015

Little Pigeon River in August 2015

 

Last summer I decided to try kayaking again after many years. I wouldn’t even really say that I had ever kayaked before because it was on a very small pond at a local campground. I was maybe ten years old and I didn’t try it for very long.

I am however, pretty handy with a row boat.

It all started after a friendly conversation with someone on a local mountain biking page on FaceBook and the topic turned to a kayaking trip they had taken at a place in Mongo, Indiana. The business is called the “Mongo River Run”.  They were able to rent kayaks (or canoes) and had the option of choosing their trip based on miles, time and difficulty. They offer up to 26 miles!

As fate would have it, my friend Dion and his fiancé went to the exact same place that weekend and posted a ton of pictures on Facebook. I didn’t waste any time calling to make a reservation. They are so popular that you actually have to call ahead.

We went mid morning on a Thursday, so there wasn’t a lot of people.  The trip we picked was about 6 miles in length. The water on the Little Pigeon River is really calm. You basically could just float and steer now and then. It was perfect for two beginners.

We had a blast!  There were parts of the trip that made me forget that we were in Indiana. The pine trees reminded me a lot of the western United States. It was very relaxing and I was sad when we were done and it was time to go home.

We were ready to schedule another trip!

That lit  fire in me. I didn’t waste a lot of time researching the local state and county parks that are close to my house. I drove down to Potato Creek State Park to get additional information that I couldn’t find on their website. Unfortunately, they only had four kayaks left and they started the summer with eight. People apparently were abusing them.

I returned later in the week and ended up being able to rent a kayak fairly quickly since the novelty wore off for the kid who had just taken it out approximately twenty minutes prior. I was able to shove off with my bag of goodies and water for a nearly seven hour kayaking adventure. I saw parts of the lake I didn’t even know where there and things you just can’t see from the road.

After I conquered Potato Creek, I decided that I wanted to go on the St. Joseph River via the kayak rentals from Saint Patrick’s County Park. They also offered a shuttle service to their canoe launch. I decided to do the extended trip to the Niles (Michigan) dam from the launch in South Bend, Indiana.

I really enjoyed that trip. It was about four hours total and passed through northern Indiana into Michigan.  What I really enjoyed the most was discovering things I didn’t know were there. I had no idea that there was a small island on the river next to my neighborhood. Now it’s obvious to me when I drive past. I also enjoyed all of the wildlife including the turtles I saw. I’m not even exaggerating when I tell you that I probably saw three hundred turtles along the way.

The St Joseph River is a lot wider than the Little Pigeon River and there was more involved with steering and keeping myself going. I didn’t mind, it was awesome. At one point I was fighting the little rip tide that made my kayak want to spin. It was fun.

The St Joseph River-

The St Joseph River-

So.. I love to kayak and now I want to buy one. I went to Dick’s Sporting Goods to look at the ones that they had in stock. I have some other places hat I want to check out. Obviously I want to buy something locally rather than online to have it shipped. I’m not even sure how that works. I can’t even imagine what the shipping cost on some thing like that would be.

I would love to come home to find  kayak on my porch!

I looked at the various ones they offered for sale. I couldn’t decide. I know that I probably don’t want to get one that I could use on Lake Michigan. I’m nowhere near experienced enough to go out on that lake. I would prefer to just have one to putz around on in the river and the lakes that don’t allow motorboats.

While I could probably get by with the cheaper models, I also think that you get what you pay for. It would make sense to at least get  midrange kayak that will suit my immediate needs for what I want to do.  I’m going to spend the next month or so making a decision on that.

I’m pretty excited.

Anyone who has knowledge about kayaks and kayaking, I am open to suggestions and advice!  You can contact me directly at jennielives@gmail.com 

Have you ever tried anything just once and become totally hooked?