As a teacher, December tends to be a bit crazy. We are trying to wrap up the semester, get grades in and believe it or not, plan for the next semester. Typically winter is crazy for me because I coach basketball but this year I am not coaching for the school, which allows so much more time. Last Christmas I was not able to travel back home, as many didn’t travel due to COVID. However, this year I jumped on a plane and headed for Wisconsin.
Once I arrived, my family traveled up to the UP (Upper Penisula) in Michigan. The idea was to have guaranteed snow as it is hit or miss around this time of year where my folks live. I had gone to the UP plenty as a kid to ski but I guess my mindset was much different as this trip blew me away. I had no idea all the whitewater in this area and how incredibly the geology is here. I have my wheels turning and have already made contacts to come back to check off some kayaking in this area. If you have not heard about this area, check it out. The Porcupine Mountains are in the area as well as the Apostle Islands.
Coming back to the South East to extremely warm December temps, I got out my MixMaster and played my way down the river without freezing my rear off. Kind of crazy to think about really. It’s been a tease with rain in the forecast and more coming but my break is coming to an end and I head back to work tomorrow. I have far more to plan than normal because I barely start the new semester and then I peace out and take my kayak a bit further south – to Ecuador!
Alright, so about every single SE boater I know has either gone to Ecuador in the last month or they are headed there. This is my first trip there and only my second international kayaking trip and I am stoked. I’ve been nervous and cautious. Cautious because we have a new wave of COVID and I am doing all I can to not mess up this Ecuador trip. I only saw my parents when I went home as we all were tested before my arrival and I am wearing a mask everywhere I go. I will also mask back up at school which is tough since wearing a mask for 6 hours straight isn’t exactly my idea of fun but something I personally feel I need to do.
With going international, I have reached out to a number of folks to get tips/tricks on how to pack, how to get a kayak on a plane, and generally get an idea about what I am about to embark on. I have someone sewing a kayak bag for me, I grabbed my paddle bag from my folks and I have done some test packing experiments already. I have also started to buy items for a first aid kit and will soon complete that task.
I’ve never traveled with a kayak before on a plane and I am told it really is just luck of the draw and who checks you in. I am trying to not stress it as it is something I can’t control and have faith that if I can’t check a kayak, I will be able to find something there to buy. Worst case I know I can rent a kayak. Any tips and suggestions please comment below!
Of course with the new year, it is a good time to look back in order to look forward. I am not big on New Year’s resolutions but I do like to have a theme in mind for the new year. Last year my theme was “focus” and I feel pretty good with how I carried that out. This year for me I think a fitting theme/word will be “adventure.” I’ve had some truly big moments recently in the death of my friend Jen, which I am not sure why now since she passed many years ago but anyhow, I think the word “adventure” would describe how she lived her life and it was an inspiration for me yet I never really set the wheels in motion to really go after the big adventures. What I mean by that is travel and really get outside my comfort zone. I always had some excuse that if I am being honest, was being propelled by a bit of fear. I am at a place where I want to lean into that. So, let’s bring on all the adventures, big and small.