Monday, May 25, 2009

Kayaking in Fair Haven- Memorial Day Sunday

Saturday of Memorial Day weekend was spent at work, first working Commencement in the morning and then scrambling to get odds & ends cleared up for reunion this week all afternoon. I'm in charge of all registration, registration accounting, airport shuttles, vendors, a host of reports to run, and answering the gazillion emails and phone calls that come into our office about reunion. It felt good to get a lot of that squared away, even if it WAS on a Saturday. And a Saturday of a holiday weekend to boot. Hopefully it will make this coming week less crazy??

Sunday (yesterday) my parents invited us up to Fair Haven State Park on Lake Ontario, where they were camping. Dad babysat all the dogs while Mom and I went Kayaking on Sterling Pond and Sterling Creek for several hours. Mom has her own bright yellow kayak, and I borrowed Dad's (a gray color. And his lifejacket which was WAY too big for me and really annoying but my swimming skills are quite poor and I've always had the fear of drowning, so I wore it).

After I walked Lucy and Cliff down the campground road a bit, they got settled in their Ex-pen at the camping site with Dad, and Mom and I drove the kayaks down to the boat launch on Sterling Pond, which is separate from Lake Ontario by a small strip of land. I had only kayaked once before, when I went to Poland back in '02, and it was a 2-person kayak that rode more like a canoe. Needless to say, I got the hang of kayaking pretty quick (Mom gave me some excellent pointers) and I actually ended up liking kayaking more than canoeing. It's easier to steer, and you go faster. You sit rather low in the water though, which made me nervous at first.

We skirted along the edge of the pond, where we saw hundreds and hundreds of turtles!! We couldn't get that close, though, before they jumped off their logs and disappeared. I was able to get a few pictures of "heads" in the water as they watched for us to pass... but they were really wary of us. A little baby turtle sticking his head up, watching us carefully (can you see him?):
I think most of the turtles we saw were little Eastern Painted Turtles. But take a look at this monster sitting on a downed tree!!! I wonder if it was a snapping turtle?? Half Plesiosaur? Holy moly....

We paddled by a muskrat lodge... no sign of muskrats though:

...and some nesting Canadian Geese. We tried to go by as quietly as possible. Mamma Geese can be aggressive and neither Mom or I wanted to get pecked!

We spent hours paddling and coasting the edges of the marsh. We saw lots of Red Winged Blackbirds, heard frogs, and even had some carp jump up in the water beside us. They almost scared me into flipping my kayak--TOTALLY was not expecting something to leap out of the water besides me. Jeesh. But Mom and I were most interested in the turtles. Mom LOVES turtles and so do I. I really wanted to see one up close and personal, and let Mom have a look at one. We saw so many sunning themselves on logs, but whenever we got close they bombed into the water. One, however, jumped into the water and didn't hide himself properly, and I saw his shell sticking up under some flotsam... so I leaned over my kayak and carefully fished him up LOL. Photo op!:

Mom was a bit scared to hold him at first, but I showed her how to hold him by the back so he couldn't nip her. He was a beautiful turtle, I think an Eastern Painted Turtle.

After we examined him a bit, I put him back into the water next to the flotsamI found him in, and we paddled off.
Back at the campground, I hung out with Mom and Dad a bit, and then took a little walk with Cliff. Then I packed the dogs up and we headed a few miles away to the Sterling Nature Center. My plan was to do a little hike with both dogs, put Lucy back in the car, and then do a longer hike with Cliff. Unfortunately Lucy has been having some difficulty the past week or so... not with walking, but her breathing is AWFUL. We get walking (VERY slowly) and she is heaving like she just ran a marathon and smoked 3 packs of cigarettes. It's scary to hear and I'm not sure what is going on. She had her 6-month vet visit last month and checked out fine... is it age? Do I have Radon in my house that is bothering her?? Does she have Lung Cancer somehow?? We can't even get down the street now without her slowing down, heaving and panting so loudly that I'm afraid she'll go into cardiac arrest. So we slowly turn around and go home.
Anyway, we hadn't gotten far down this little dirt side trail at Sterling before Lucy was breathing very, very hard and loud, going quite slow and obviously not enjoying herself. So we turned around and went back to the car, where she got a drink and I put her in bed. Then, Cliff and I went out but the main trail we chose had been coated with large gravel rock. I hate walking on that stuff and Cliff didn't like it either, so we turned around and went back to the car. Disappointing. Guess we won't be going back up to Sterling with that sort of trail surfacing. The side trails were dirt, but to get to the side trails you have to walk on this sharp stuff. Jeesh.
We ended up getting home quite late and I was so tired-! The dogs were, too. Even Cliff. Last year, a day hanging out in the ex-pen, a little walk at a campground and Sterling wouldn't have phased him in the least. Yesterday we got home and he crashed. He will be 11 next week, and I just hate, hate, hate seeing him age. And Lucy too... she will be 13 in September. I am thankful Cliff is still rowdy and loves to hike, but I wonder how much longer he will be able to do it. This morning we took an hour-long walk down into the city to see the Memorial Day Parade (we missed it) but he was dragging on the way back. What? My Cliff? Dragging? Last year a walk like that wouldn't bother him in the least. And Lucy, having difficulty just getting down the street? What the heck is going on here? Sigh.
Well I'll sign off because the dogs and I are going to head to Syracuse today to have a BBQ with Bridge, Trace, their husbands and greyhounds. I would usually plan a hike while we were out in that direction, but I'm worried that Lucy wouldn't be able to go even a quarter mile and I don't want to over-exhert Cliff after his long walk this morning. It is potluck and I am going to make Vegan Potato Salad. I hope it comes out okay, I am a horrible cook.
Hopefully I will have pics to post later!


Hiking Hounds said...

What a beautiful area! All of your pictures really make me want to visit that part of the country.

Sarah said...

sounds like a wonderful Saturday! Are you still thinking of getting a third dog? It is so sad to see them get old :( Every time I say something about the age of Franklin to Josh he does the 5 year old child "la, la, la" voice while plugging his ears....

Kristin @ Going Country said...

I'm not really a water person, but I do like to canoe. I've always wanted to try kayaking. Your pictures are great. Some day . . .