K is for Kayak

The thing about kayaking is that you can get up close and personal with all manner of aquatic critters. Also, you can explore both surf and turf locales that you couldn’t get to any other way. And, of course, there’s the sheer simplicity of a kayak and the tranquility of gliding through the water in one.

I have had the great fortune of kayaking in some pretty fabulous places. In St. John (one of the US Virgin Islands), we rented kayaks at our campground and got dropped off on the other side of the island, so we only had to kayak with the current, back to the campground. The water was the most luscious  sapphire blue. We paddled alongside sea turtles and of course lots of fish, and we stopped at tiny beaches inaccessible by land. (Well, at least not easily accessible.)

On an altogether different trip, I had the opportunity to go kayaking – twice! – in Antarctica. One beautiful sunny day we were let loose in a protected bay where our only instructions were to stay a certain distance from the icebergs, lest they “calve” (think of an iceberg avalanche) and cause a major wave. But there were no instructions about staying away from leopard seals. My partner and I saw one fairly close to the island we were paddling around. The creature leapt out of the water and grabbed a penguin – obviously not a particularly hale and hearty one. For the next five or ten minutes I was tasked with keeping our boat positioned for maximum viewing of the event, while my partner videotaped the leopard seal eating lunch. I felt like I was in a Mutual of Omaha taping session.

Just a few days later, kayaking below the Antarctic Circle on a snowy gray day, my partner and I were enjoying the view of some  smaller seals (not the giant leopard variety) who were lounging on a small iceberg, when suddenly we saw a whiskered nose pop out of the water about half way between us and the aforementioned iceberg. Just as quickly it disappeared … and then popped up again several yards away. Was it really looking right at us? It disappeared again, and resurfaced again, this time considerably closer to our somewhat flimsy vessel. The next thing we knew, we saw the gentle giant swim right under our kayak. Yes, I admit, I almost had a panic attack, but the whole thing happened so quickly, it was just thrilling.

I’ve also kayaked in the Everglades, the Pine Barrens, Monterrey Bay (with the cutest little otters), and Vancouver – to name a few. I don’t think I’ve ever been bored in a kayak.

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K is for Kayak

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