Life and A Half Assed Product Review-  Challenger K1 Inflatable Kayak by Intex

It has been a busy summer. It’s now looking to be a busy autumn season also.  I’m happy to report that. My absence from my blogging projects were due to being too darn busy and not having the time to dedicate to sitting down and typing out thoughtful or even informative blog posts. I’d offer an apology but I can’t be sorry because things were pretty good.

I confess that I am superstitious in a way that I hate talking about things going well or even being happy for fear that I might somehow jinx myself and have the opposite happen. This might sound silly but others may understand completely. Talking about the weather seems to change the weather.

In the Spring, I wrote about how I was going to start shopping for a new kayak.  I am still shopping for a new kayak. Unfortunately, I didn’t have the time to dedicate to research and thenpurchase exactly what I wanted. I decided that since I didn’t have the time to go on multiple paddle trips, that I might as well not even buy one.  So I didn’t.

This summer went by really fast! Before I knew it Dom was back to school!

Up until recently, I hadn’t been on a paddle trip since Memorial Day Weekend when I went camping and did a run on the Pigeon River. One time all summer. Not exactly great. With that said, I did hike and camp a lot.

I still dream of owning my own kayak.

As fate would have it, I came across a posting to a yard sale page I follow on Facebook,  where a local gentleman was selling an inflatable kayak at a reasonable price. I went ahead and bought it. I’ve been able to take it out twice in the week that I’ve owned it and I wish I was out in it right now.

This proved my theory that I would go more often if I owned my own kayak.  It also proved to me that it wasn’t a passing obsession and I’ve wanted to get my own since last year. At least I know I really want one. With that said, I am going to wait until spring to make that purchase. Maybe. It may still come sooner.

What did I get?

I got the Challenger K1 by Intex.

This is a basic inflatable kayak that should only be used on calm lakes ( no Lake Michigan for me ) rivers and channels. It came with an inflatable seat,inflatable foot brace, oar, bow/stern lines, skeg (fin) and a foot pump. It has two Boston valves and it  is easy to inflate and deflate. Once I figured out what I was doing the whole thing took me about ten minutes to get together from box to water.

The seat can be buckled in and is also held in place by plastic buckles on both sides of the interior. I don’t know how I feel about the seat. You can take it or leave it. I sort of felt awkward with it and I felt sort of up high versus with the kayak. I suppose that’s a matter of personal preference.

The skeg slides on to the hull of the kayak. I tried taking it out with and without the skeg. I would recommend using the skeg as it seems to really improve tracking and steering. It is really easy to attach and unattach the skeg. It slides on and locks into place.

It weighs approximately 20 pounds. The oar snaps together.  I want to remind everyone also that this is not a high dollar outfit. The oar is basic and cheaply made. With that said, I have been using them just fine. You can’t strong arm them or you may break them.  Also, the oar coul stand to be approximately 4 inches longer. However, with that said, the oar was usable and I got along just fine.

Since I have no interested in white water rafting or actually going out onto Lake Michgan, this is the perfect product for me. I mostly enjoy floating and paddling around at a leisurely pace and on my own time. There is nothing in a hurry about me when I am out on the water.

The Challenger K1 retails from $70-$100 online. It’s a good starter for someone who is looking for something affordable that doesn’t have real high expectations. I think it’s also good for someone who isn’t sure if they are going to continue with their interest in kayaking. Or hey, if you’re like me and just want something to tide you over until you get exactly what you want, it’s perfect.

This kayak has decent reviews. I want to add to that. The only thing I don’t like about it has nothing to do with the kayak itself and everything to do with the storage bag it came with. Shoddy. I am currently only using the bag to store the oar, seat, foot brace and the pump. When the kayak actually comes out of the back of my car,  I am going to place it in a plastic storage tub with a lid to store it.

I also want to point out that Intex is known for its pools, spas, inflatable mattresses and even other sporting goods. I have owned two versions of the Intex Easy Set pool and was very happy with them.  I also own Intex brand mattresses for camping and am pleased with them also.

You can check out their website and products on their website by clicking HERE

It is what it is. I think that as long as I take care of it, it will last while.  Since I enjoy paddling around on Worster Lake, which is a man made lake, I have to really watch out for branches under the water from where the area was flooded to create the lake. The material that the kayak is made from is durable however, I am sure that if a branch, rock or even a fishing hook could cause a tear.
My plan is still to get my “real” kayak and keep this one as a spare in the event that someone wants to come with me.  So far so good with it. It’s currently folded up in the back of my SUV.  I see no point in taking it in and storing it until I am done with it for the season. If I don’t get my other kayak before the end of fall, I probably won’t bother putting it away until it starts getting cold.

I hope everyone is having a good season!! I will write again when I have more time!

The box the kayak came in.

Everything always fits perfectly in the bag before you take it out.

The contents will never go back in this way. Ha!

The kayak has two Boston valves.

The state of Indiana requires you to have a watercraft permit. The permit was $5.00 and is good for one calendar year.

Maiden voyage of the SS Inflatable on Worster Lake, Potato Creek State Park Indiana

Decorate Your Own Soul-Living Your Life

Lake Michigan J.Koczan photo 2016

Lake Michigan
J.Koczan photo 2016


I’ve been somewhat selfishly enjoying life a bit lately. It’s interesting how I can consider doing things for myself to be selfish, but I can be my own monster. I feel guilty for it sometimes.   The truth is, I’m at that point where I need to take care of myself or I can’t effectively take care of anyone else.

I realized that I’ve spent too much time waiting for other people and that came to a stop. Seriously, if I waited for someone else to go out and do things, I would never leave the house.  What a boring life that is. I’ve sat on the sidelines of life long enough.

Is it strange for a woman to go off on her own? It shouldn’t be. I’ve gotten some strange feedback from people who seem amazed that a woman can wander off and go camping, hiking, kayaking or just travel all on her own.

Since the beginning of May, I’ve gone hiking so many times I can’t even remember. I’ve gone on actual camping trips twice. I kayaked, camped and hiked on Memorial Day Weekend. I drove far enough away from home that I wouldn’t run into anyone who knew me.

I posted numerous photographs from the places I’ve been on my Facebook.  I even created separate album for the various parks and nature preserves I visited.  I wanted to give organized  examples of these places to my friends so that they can get an idea of what it is like in order to plan their own trips. I consider myself a test subject in a lot of ways.

The question that I keep hearing over and over is “You went by yourself?”

Yes.  The reaction I usually  get are disbelief and amazement. Almost like I did a really cool magic trick and they can’t believe it. I honestly don’t know if I should be insulted or not. I’m not exactly a wilting flower.  Or dainty.

When I disappeared over Memorial Day Weekend, I even left my dogs at home. I didn’t want to take care of them with the heat that was expected or while I was out on the river. I hiked and kayaked and didn’t worry about anyone but myself.  It was amazing.

I obtained my own firewood. I can build a fire like nobody’s business. I can also set up my own tent and make my own meals. I know how to read a map. I can pump my own gas and pay for it.  I’m so damned capable of these things.  I don’t need anyone else’s help for the things that I want to go and do.

I was shuttled to the spot on the river where I wanted to start  my trip. I set off on my own and even rescued a drunk who rolled their kayak. You shouldn’t fear drowning in two feet of water. Stand up. I glided along and enjoyed the fresh air and the sunshine. For a moment, I forgot all about the problems that waited for me at home.

One of the greatest lessons that I’ve learned in life over the past few years is that you need to get out and do things even if it means that you travel alone. Otherwise, you will miss out on a lot of life.  Don’t wait for anyone or anything. Just go.

“Don’t wait for someone to bring you flowers. Plant your own garden and decorate your own soul.”   There’s much debate on who actually made that statement, but I repeat it to myself a lot.

I am capable and so are you.

There should be no stigma attached to a woman doing for herself, no matter what it is. You certainly shouldn’t limit yourself based on that attitude.  Sure it can feel weird, different or even scary at first, but I assure you that you will have no regrets.


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 

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