Tag Archives: Clearwater

Are we on the right river?

Last spring, my dad bought a tandem ocean kayak. I was an on-and-off rower throughout high school, and while I really liked the sport, I am just not a very competitive person. I’m judgmental, relatively ambitious, and I enjoy success, but I’m too okay with the thought of losing a race to be as dedicated to rowing as a team member should be. Kayaking is like the chill man’s rowing. It is obviously quite a different motion, but the general concept of a small personal craft in which you’re really close to the water is similar, and that’s what I liked most about rowing. I remember getting on the river in the pitch black, unable to see more than a few feet ahead of me, and rowing in the darkness with the rainbow lights of the MidHudson Bridge ahead. We would keep rowing and rowing, and eventually we’d see the sunrise, and it was so beautiful. I think I’m too much of a romantic to be a rower.
 
Anyway, kayaking is all of that cool stuff, but less intense physical pain and more exploring the river, which I am all about. Last year I paddled around with a few friends, and my friend Sarah and I talked about making a trip down the entire southern Hudson River from Albany. However, because we barely made it to Bannerman’s and back without collapsing from upper-body exhaustion, we decided we’d need some time to prepare for that. This past January we started talking about it again, and we decided to do it this summer. We originally wanted to paddle directly to NYC, but because of our independent schedules we had to break it up a bit. After a few months of each trying to get more physically prepared for this, we decided to have a little practice paddle from Beacon to Poughkeepsie and back.
 
It was bad. So, so bad. Mostly because I miscalculated the distance (what I believed to be 14.5 was actually 29, (oops)), but also because it rained like a bitch. The paddle up from Beacon to Poughkeepsie wasn’t so bad, but as it started raining really hard, Sarah and I decided to stop at Shadows to dock and use the bathroom. We then realized that we needed to get things out of our dry bags and we couldn’t from the dock, so we paddled closer to the bridge and beached ourselves on this little sandy patch, and hung out with an adorable duck. It was really cold and rainy, neither of us had sufficient rain gear, and in those few hours we were the definition of miserable. We were pretty beat, soaked to the skin, our toes were blue, and we had to paddle all the way back to Beacon, mostly against the current.
 
We sat in the rain on that beach for two hours or so, and then decided to brave the conditions and get back before dark. That paddle home was one of the most physically difficult things I have ever done. I was paddling in the cold, in the rain, without gloves on, so gripping the paddle was ridiculously difficult. It wasn’t like we could quit and call someone to pick us up, because we had no choice but to get back to Beacon. After a while, we started coming up with some other plans to get our asses out of the river, and we became kind of delirious. At one point, I didn’t think anything around us looked familiar, and I honestly asked, “Are we on the right river?” The sun was setting, and we knew we had to make it back before dark. When we finally did get back to Beacon, the wind had picked up so we were dealing with some pretty nasty waves and literally paddling against both wind and current, and it was already dark so we had a hard time seeing the dock. We eventually found the launch, and as we both got out of the kayak we probably looked like a pair of stumbling idiots as we couldn’t walk because we were so exhausted. We knew there was no way we were pitching a tent in the pouring rain, so we stumbled our way to Sarah’s car, changed into dry clothes, and spent the night watching the kayak.
 
The next morning, we got some coffee and walked around Beacon for a while, ending up in this bookstore which is basically an awesome place with books about all things Hudson Valley, Hudson River, and some about the larger New York State area and its wildlife. There is also some nice Hudson River artwork hanging in the gallery in the back, as well as a huge map of the river. We walked around sipping on our iced coffees, looking all sunburnt and dirty like a couple of scrubs, and I was looking at the map hanging on the wall. I then saw the key in the corner, and put my fingers up to it to measure exactly how far we went. At this point we thought we paddled maybe 12 miles roundtrip, but I held up the ten mile marker to the map and it didn’t even cover the distance from Beacon to Poughkeepsie. I then began to suspect the err of my ways, and I called Sarah over to check it out. She was a bit surprised as well, but we were both a little too stoked for her to be mad at me for making her paddle almost 30 miles in the rain. We then returned to the kayak and the sun was shining brightly with a gentle breeze coming off the river, so we decided to paddle to Bannerman’s and see how we would feel on day two.
 
This was a completely different experience: we were both dry, the sun was shining, the current was with us, and we had no threat of getting lost in the dark. Even though our arms were in serious need of a massage and some TLC, this paddle was cake compared to the previous day’s conditions. Thus, we learned two things: We will go to extreme measures to avoid paddling in the rain, and we are two hard core mother fuckers for paddling 30 miles in the rain, against wind and current.
 
I also made an unusual realization during that terrible paddle. Even in my coldest, most exhausted, most miserable moments, I was still really happy. Actually, I don’t know if I should call it happy. I guess I just felt really good. I felt good because I was on the Hudson River, and something about it just makes me feel so good. I have so many great memories attached to the river, but it’s a lot more than that. I feel safe when I am there, like I am very much in control, even if I’m not. I really can’t describe it, but when I am on the Hudson I feel like it’s all mine, and no one can take it away from me.
 
I think that’s also why I feel like I need to protect it. After seeing the fourth condom float by, it was pretty disheartening to realize that so many people don’t think about taking care of the river. Some see it as this massive, menacing body of water that can take care of itself, and it scares them. More people need to realize how delicate the Hudson actually is, and how carefully we need to consider how we treat it.
 
This is part one of my kayaking adventures for the summer. Until next time…
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July 2012

SO HEY. It’s been a while. I’m going to college. Shit just got real.

It’s been over (way over) one month since I last posted, and quite a lot has happened in these past weeks. The problem is that I can’t write about most of it. You see, I have pretty strict rules about what kind of gibberish I publicly post on here, and all of the cool stuff falls into the category of “Do Not Post.” So, sorry. Some things are supposed to stay in my head.

However, tons of things that I CAN write about have also happened! Firstly, I spent a week on the Clearwater, and although it was a much different experience from last year, I am still really happy I did it. Then I started watching my cousins in Mt. Kisco and oh dear God they are the best kids in the world. Like, we are most definitely related. It’s really cool…I am so happy to have the chance to make some memories (and pie) with them and give them a super fun summer. So, yes.

I have also been kayaking quite a bit. We have a kayak in Beacon now (surprise surprise) and I absolutely love it… Also, my graduation party is tomorrow, and I am not quite sure if it will be successful or not. I think there are close to 75-80 people coming, and it’s supposed to rain, so I hope everyone will fit inside my house. I mean, I don’t think its physically possible, but I barely passed physics. What do I know?

And Harper is getting pretty big- she is 18 lbs now, and still annoying as fuck. But she’s really such a well behaved dog, I can’t complain. She just smells like a dog. And I don’t like the smell of dog.

OH! And I got my room assignment today. I met someone on Facebook, and we seemed to get along well enough (she’s actually really cool) so we requested one another, and we are together in the hall we wanted, but with two other girls! In temporary housing! With wardrobes and coat racks instead of closets! With two desks and a table! And bunk beds! In the basement! lol…I mean I really don’t give a shit, but it would have been nice to be permanently (well, for the academic year) in a double, not in the basement, with closets and our own desks as was requested, but I am not going to complain. There is no point. We will be moved eventually anyway, so we can just suck it up. And hey, I might even like the basement.

Hahahahaha. Yeah, right.

Seriously though, I keep a legitimate countdown of the days until I can finally just GO. FAR FAR AWAY FROM HERE. (Dear God, make me a bird, so I can fly far, far away from here.) I love my family, but I cannot wait to leave them. They are my family. They are great. But they make me insane. And I will be so, so relieved when I can just GO.

I also temporarily dyed my hair purple. I fucking loved it, and so did loads of other people, including my grandmother. However, the only 4 people to not appreciate the wonder that is temporary hair color were my parents and my brothers, so I had to wash it out for my party. I swear….32 days. That’s all I need.

My friend Vero also came to visit NY and we met up this morning and had coffee and went to this awesome store in Beacon called Play, and I bought the sickest pair of earrings. Seriously, it’s the most I have ever spent on jewelry for myself, but I am SO happy I bought them. (That’s the problem with me…I have never experienced the phenomenon of buyer’s remorse. I think I need to sometimes.)

I don’t know how to end this. It was pretty much just a boring, scattered update. So whatever. Bye.

PreClearwater II

It’s 11:57 pm and I should be sleeping. Probably.

I leave to begin my week as a volunteer on the Clearwater in 7 hours and I am so excited. It will be really nice to reconnect with the boat and the organization, and to meet some really cool people. I’ve realized how important it is to have a network of awesome individuals, and this definitely helps me to meet tons of truly amazing people.
I have to admit though, I am a little anxious about returning because I don’t know what to expect. Almost everything changes with time, and I can expect everything to change. However, I get the sense that the Clearwater is something of a time capsule, and I suspect that maybe, in this case, things may not change that much. I mean that would be fucking awesome…if things didn’t change, because it was absolutely amazing last summer! So yes. I am super super excited about spending some time on the Hudson again, but I am just really curious to see how everything is the second time around ;)

Suds in the _____; _____ of names.

I’ve developed such an appreciation for people who don’t let unnecessarily negative criticism affect them. If you know me or have been reading this for a while, then you can probably guess that I am always working on that. The only thing that I still struggle with, however, is disregarding negative judgements from people who I admire or care about. I always want to impress those people, and make them proud of me, so I feel like I must respond to their every criticism, when I actually don’t. People will always tell me what they think is best, and what they think will make me happy. And that’s great, because many times, I agree with them. But they do not KNOW what will make me happy, or what is right. But when I know that something will make me happy or otherwise, and someone else is trying to tell me differently, well I can’t just listen. I can’t. I am the only one who will directly deal with those feelings, so I am the only one whose opinion matters in those circumstances. If it turns out that they were right, then I have no one to blame but myself. But if they were wrong? If I listened to someone who supposedly knew me better than I knew myself, and they were wrong about happiness, and as a result I was unhappy because I listened to their advice? Well, then I will be a little pissed at myself for not taking my own advice, but I will mostly be pissed at them for giving me shitty advice. And I will blame them. It’s what I do. I blame. I have to work on that.
I made a bucket list, because I think it’s cool. It’s good to imagine yourself as the person that you will create yourself into…not only does it give you something to look forward to, but it gives you goals, and inspiration. I have a Wall of Stuff (if you get this reference then I love you) where I put the clichéd ticket stubs, pictures, letters, and postcards, but I also put pictures of things that I will one day do, or places that I will go, and people that I will become. That wall makes me sad sometimes, because I look at all of the wonderful things of my past that I miss oh (ehem. oh) so much, and I am just genuinely sad that those times have ended. But then, I see the pictures of the places and people and things of my future, and I am just inspired. I am inspired and excited and renewed, and I just feel so happy that I know I have a future. If everything in this world fails me, all I will have is myself, and as long as such wonderful things as the futures in those pictures exist, then I know I will be fine.
I made a bucket list a few months ago. It’s just the verbal presentation of the ideas that have always been in my head, so I figured, hey- I love lists. I’ll make another list. Then someone close to me told me that bucket lists are stupid. And I was like, “Oh, of course they are. Why did I make a bucket list?! They are so stupid!” But then I realized that I don’t think they are stupid at all. Everyone is entitled to their own opinion, and if you can change mine, then go for it. I’m pretty malleable in the hands of logic and reason. But if not, then my opinion is the only one that will determine my happiness, so mine is right as far as I am concerned. Thus, ladies and gentlemen of this strange ball of chaos that we call Earth, I present to you, my bucket list.
(Note: This is just how I wrote it, and I did not edit anything from how it was written when it was originally intended for only my eyes. I promise.)
(Another Note: Things will always be added to this bucket list. That’s how they work! THEY GROW!!!)
  1. Write a book.
  2. Make a seriously awesome work of art that I proudly display somewhere in my home.
  3. Bungee jump.
  4. Sky dive.
  5. Go on an adventure to climb some real rocks.
  6. Run a marathon.
  7. Go to India.
  8. See the Northern Lights. YES I KNOW it’s a cliché. But…you know…I believe that the truth lives in the clichés.
  9. Learn how to play the guitar. I think everyone should be able to play the guitar. When you can truthfully say, “Yeah, I play the guitar,” then you automatically gain like 50 life points.
  10. Have a real job that I genuinely enjoy.
  11. Go scuba diving. Finally.
  12. Ski in Switzerland again.
  13. Learn how to ride a motorcycle.
  14. Learn how to save money, then apply that newfound knowledge to my life.
  15. Have a permanent residence in Spain or Italy. Mint green Vespa with tan leather seat and big black furry dog required.
  16. Learn how to play the drums.
  17. Wear the same t shirt every day for an entire summer. This does, however, exclude The Clearwater and Special events. This is thanks to UT. So, thanks.
  18. This one is inappropriate.
  19. This one is also inappropriate.
  20. Go to Mardi Gras in NOLA.
  21. Be a mother and give my children badass names.
  22. Write something awesome that someone else will read.
  23. Dye my hair an unnatural color.
  24. Be in a movie.
  25. See Rufus Wainwright perform again.
  26. Take dance classes again.
  27. Go on a kayaking/rafting adventure vacation and pretend to live in an L.L.Bean catalogue.
  28. Eat a lot of grapefruit.
  29. Record every day for one year.
  30. Not wear makeup or hair products for one month straight. (obviously excludes deodorant, nail polish, and perfume…but no tinted moisturizer.)
  31. Learn another language. Italian and Spanish do not count.
  32. Sing karaoke.
  33. Always be able to run 2 miles straight through.
  34. Bike across the US or some part of Europe.
  35. Travel on the cheap. Biking, perhapsably. #35 will suffice if done luxuriously (as in slowly- no time limit. luxuriating in time!).
  36. Splurge on a pair of power jeans. They will be known as my awesome pants. And when I wear them, I will become exponentially more awesome. If that’s even possible.
  37. Go on a volunteer/mission trip. Or join the Peace Corps. Same thing.
  38. Go to a Pride. Preferably NYC Pride.
  39. This one is also inappropriate.
  40. Be vegan for one month. Or six. Or twelve. Or however long I want.
  41. Buy a really expensive pair of sunglasses that I love, regardless of whether or not anyone else likes them.
  42. Cut my hair off. All of it. Well, not ALL of it. But a lot of it.
  43. Follow my 37 rules for parenting. Or at least read them occasionally to remember what it’s like to be a child.