Tuesday, August 21, 2012


It's been two years since Bug joined our family. It hardly seems like it could be that long ago and it feels like an eternity. Mostly, it feels great; terrifying, overwhelming, joyous, proud, thrilling....
I now understand what people mean when the say a child takes over your life. Bug takes a lot of time and energy. It feels like our job is to entertain, and feed, her and there are no mandated eight hour work days. She is on the go from 6am to 7pm, with a few hours of napping (most days). It is exhausting and frustrating, and yet the most fun I know how to have. It really isn't a job because it is amazing, and tiring and frustrating and head wracking.
The past two years have been and incredible ride. I look at Bug and cannot believe that she was the tiny baby in all the pictures. She is a little girl now. She is talking in sentences; often we have no idea what she is saying, ,but they are definitely sentences. She runs, climbs, feeds herself, and has definite opinions about what she wants and doesn't. Her favorite phrases are "Me do!" and "Why?".
Both phrases are the best and worst of dealing with a two year old. It is great that she is so curious and independent. It is crazy making when she insists on doing things like changing her own diaper or spending 20 minute trying to put a shirt on when we are trying to get out the door for work. Coming up with answers for the tenth why occasionally makes me want to bang my head against a hard surface repeatedly. There are times when I almost resort to the "because I said so" non-answer. When I am quick enough to remember that she can answer questions, I do pull out the "I don't know, do you know why?"
One of the most incredible parts of the journey has been how much it has changed my life. I have developed much better eating habits and started brushing my teeth twice a day. I have learned to be more present in each moment. I have discovered wells of patience I never knew I had. I have learned to be more cognizant of my own behavior and how it effects those around me. Everyday I feel like I've grown a little bit.
The growth springs from my fervent desire to give Bug the best life possible. That means being able to play with her and take her into the wilderness for explorations. I want to instill a love of being active and nature. It means that I need to be a good role model and a good coach. It means being aware of how what we do today effects the future.
Parenthood is, while daunting, frustrating, wearisome, etc, is also the most important, rewarding, and challenging thing I will ever do. It is my labor of love.

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Rockport to Thatcher's Island

Cape Ann has some great paddling. There are a bunch of neat islands that dot the coast and the coast itself is interesting to explore. It poses a few issues: access, parking, and company. The Cape Ann shoreline is pretty rocky and the cape does not have a lot of major roads, so finding a place to put a boat in the water with car access is tricky. Most of the easily accessible launching areas have very limited parking. Most of the people I paddle with live in RI and can get onto the ocean with ease, so the idea of driving two hours is a hard sell.
Fortunately, one of the guys I paddle with was visiting Gloucester and was willing to do the leg work of finding a place to launch and work out the parking. He was also recruited a few other paddlers to drive up for a paddle.
I got clearance from H as soon as I knew the paddle was going to happen. She knew that a day on the water would do wonders for me and was more than happy to give me some time. One of the funny things about having a family is that while you know you need, and will enjoy, time away from them, you also know you'll miss them the whole time.
As the weekend got closer, the weather forecast got bleaker. By Friday it looked like the weekend was going to be bust. Then Saturday turned out to be a decent day and Sunday's forecast got worse.... Before setting out for the paddle, I checked the weather and the radar showed a block of showers sitting over the coast. NOAA was predicting an 80% chance of showers with Thunderstorms and fog likely. That was no reason to cancel the paddle.....
We met at Back Beach in Rockport. It is a popular place for divers and provides good access to the water for kayakers. It also offers some metered parking and restrooms within an easy walk of the beach. The longest meter is five hours, so the parking is not great for all day kayaking trips. There is a limited amount of on street parking to be found with in walking distance which is what we used. Of course, that meant we had to leave the kayaks sitting on the beach for a while we took care of the cars.
Fortunately, the kayaks were fine when we returned. We headed out of the harbor towards the breakwater. Our plan was to checkout the breakwater on the way to the Dry Salvages. Then we planned on checking out Thatcher's Island for lunch. In the afternoon, we would head back to the beach along the shore.
The paddle out to the breakwater was uneventful. One could even say it was boring, but it was also a good chance to warm up. The water was flat and there was no wind.
Once getting out to the breakwater and seeing the relative position of the Dry Salvages, we decided to skip them. It would be a lot of extra paddling to see a bunch of rocks. So we made a bee line for Thatcher's. Once we wete beyond the breakwater the conditions picked up a little. There was now some wave action to make life interesting.
Thatcher's has a nice ramp that is perfect for landing. It is designed so that it is easy to drag a kayak up onto shore. The island is also set up for camping and tourists. There is always personnel on the island to help out and make sure you sign the guest book. There are trials that can be explored, a museum, abundant bird life, and the towers.
The north tower, which is not now only a landmark and not an official coast guard lighthouse, was open when we were there. Getting to the top is a slog. The stairs wind up in the dark tower for seven or eight flights. Once at the top, we checked out the disappointing views from inside the light housing. It was hazy and the plexiglass made it worse. As we started down, BH discovered the door to the outer landing. The view from the landing made the climb worth it. Even with the haze and the fog you could see for miles.
After lunch I decided to swap boats with TM so I could try out his old school Cetus. I have always been intrigued by the Cetus since it appeared on the scene and gained immediate rock star status. TM's was equipped with plastic foot pegs that supposedly can be adjusted without climbing into the cockpit. The one side the worked was great. The other side came off the track and was a floppy mess.
I cannot say I was impressed by the Cetus. Admittedly I was paddling with only one foot peg, so it wasn't able to give a fully fair shake down. The kayak was stable and maneuverable for a big kayak - and it did feel big compared to the Q-boat. Like the Q-boat's back end the Cetus' back end releases pretty easily. Unlike the Q-boat, the Cetus felt more predictable. The best comparison I can make between the Q-boat and the Cetus is that the Q-boat is a Porsche and the Cetus is an Audi A6. The Cetus drives nice, but isn't quite as much fun.
Before TM and I switched back to our own kayaks, we explored the backside of Thatcher's and Milk Islands. The conditions were excellent for playing in the rocks. I hung back because I wasn't quite settled into the Cetus, but the others played. This area could get real in fun if the sea state picked up a notch...
After a quick repair break on Milk Island, we made our way back to Rockport along the shore. The conditions were calmer along the shore, but still lively enough to play. The shore line is rocky and dotted with houses which makes it fun and interesting.
Before heading back into Back Beach, we made the obligatory trip into Rockport Harbor to see Motif 1. Then it was a short trip back to the beach.
It was a great day for a paddle. The threatened rain never materialized. The haze was just enough to keep us from baking in our kayaks. The fog threatened to roll in, but never did. I don't know that I could have asked for a better day to explore the north shore.