Thursday, August 18, 2011

Get Up, Stand Up

Monday I took the day off. I had just survived Grantmageddon, roughly definable as "a set of cascading deadlines for multi-million-dollar, multi-year grants with way too many moving parts and not enough people around to help out with them because it's the middle of the summer." I knew I was going to need more than just a regular weekend to recuperate, so I took Monday too. And a damn good thing I did, since after a trip to SFO, Los Gatos, and Santa Cruz Friday night and Saturday, I spent the entire day on Sunday on the Big Poofy Chair, except when I moved over to the leather couch for my second nap. Hey, the Boardwalk is tiring, especially the Giant Dipper.

But by Monday I had worked my way up to a little activity, and I voted for kayaking at Lake Natoma because it was hot hot hot. Summer hasn't been at all evil by Sacramento standards, but water sounds a lot better to me than pavement or trails when it's 95 out. So I cruised my way up Highway 50 to the Sac State Aquatic Center, where kayak rentals are cheap and the water is cool. It was all good; I got my backrest (so critical for the creaky-old-athlete crowd), my paddle, life jacket, and finally boat, and I set to it.

But almost immediately I wanted to be doing what the cool kids were doing. And the cool kids were all doing this. I have, of course, seen the stand up paddleboarders. Down in Santa Cruz, lurking outside the Giants' home ballpark in McCovey Cove, even on Lake Natoma. But suddenly I wanted to be doing it too. The guy in front of me at the rental line got one, and I immediately felt a twinge of envy.

I like the sitting down aspect of kayaking, of course, but the paddleboarders just looked so free and light. No heavy kayak to haul around (for the plastic sit-on-top kayaks available for rental tend to be quite massive), no awkward clambering in and out of the boat, no backrest to buckle in. Just stand up and go. And therein, I'm sure, lies the challenge. Of course they are wider than your average surfboard, but the balance thing looks a tad tricky. And then you have to paddle on this side and that, taking care to preserve symmetry of effort? Could be tiring.

However, the Aquatic Center has classes, and the next one I could go to is August 28. Stay tuned to see if I succumb to the lure of the new.

Even if I don't, I still have kayaks to rent. I had a great afternoon out. Paddled till my arms were about ready to fall off, took a break to swim in the cold green water, enjoyed the golden late-summer hills, and engaged in silent smugness about not working that day.


  1. We have the standup paddleboarders here in Austin as well! I have been curious to try it but haven't gotten up the courage to attempt it. Looks like fun though!

    Valeka :-)

  2. What's the worst that can happen - you fall off? It appears to be pretty nonthreatening in that regard. Granted, the falling off can be a source of amusement for onlookers, but that may be considered just a gift to the public good. ;)

  3. Cool! Glad you posted about this! Stand-up paddleboarding is something that I hope to learn in my 1-year in Florida while I complete my master's degree. I'm afraid of doing a triathlon in the gator-lakes or the big old ocean (being from Minnesota, our lakes seem much more manageable) and surfing seems a bit scary to me at present...but stand-up paddleboarding looks like something that I could do! Keep us "posted" as to whether you try it!!!
    p.s. I lent your book to my mom on our annual family canoe/camping trip in the BWCA - she read, laughed, and loved it! Now, a friend of mine has it to read. Thanks for inspiring us with your wit and real-life nitty-gritty!

  4. Nburow - thanks for the kind words! If I do try paddleboarding, you'll be among the first to know!

  5. I tried it a couple of weekends ago. It was quite tiring, but I hear it gets easier as you relax on the board. I stood up on my first try though and that surprised me. Go for it! Its fun!