Saturday, September 24, 2005

Getting Ready to Paddle the Last Leg!

On September 24th, six Mice gathered at the Hutton Lane dock to paddle the last leg of the Virginia Beach Scenic Waterway. It was a five mile paddle on the Lynnhaven River, from Virginia Beach Boulevard to the Lesner Bridge.

Jeanine, Jim and Jeff aren't pictured, but were joined by Jerry, Chris, and Louise, getting ready to go. Louise was with us for the first time, and got to witness a time-worn ritual. It seems that Jerry and Chris can't get in their boats without a hug beforehand.

A qick peek behind them, and you can see it was high tide. We planned to use the tide to help take us north. With the wind out of the northeast, we needed the help!

See You at the Take Out!

See You at the Take Out!, originally uploaded by jmharper.

Chris was in the mood to paddle this day, despite the stiff breeze and overcast skies. it looked like it could rain, but it never did while we were out on the water. The wind was about 15 miles per hour, barely a breeze to those who paddled Kiptopeke two weeks before!

Was Chris saying "see you at the take out?" Maybe. She and Jeanine pulled ahead of the rest of the group, and got to Bubbas in time to step inside for a moment before greeting everyone else!

How Many Birds Do You See?

How Many Birds Do You See?, originally uploaded by jmharper.

There's always plenty of wildlife on a River Mice paddle. How many different birds do you see in this picture?

Seven terns, five cormorants, three pelicans and a gull are hanging out on this piece of dock. The terns were busy during most of our paddle diving form 30 feet up into the water for fish. the pelicans and cormorants seemed content to hang out and relax in the wind.

Lured to Bubbas

Lured to Bubbas, originally uploaded by jmharper.

Jerry commented that there were magnets in the boats that lured us to Bubbas. He was right! It is so convenient to pull up on the boat ramp, get the boats off to the side, then head inside for a snack. Well, in this case, it was dinner and a cold refereshing beverage on the deck.

Looking out over the water, we saw dolphins playing, just fifteen minutes after we paddled through. We looked for them when we made the quick trip across Lynnhaven Inlet to the take-out, but they had gone back into the bay with the tide. As it was, we got back just before it got dark.

And thus ended our trip through the Virginia Beach Scenic Waterway. Chris, Jim and Jeff made it for all four paddles, from Munden Point in the south, over four different days, to the Lesner Bridge in the north.


Tuesday, September 13, 2005

Kiptopeke 2005

Kiptopeke 2005, originally uploaded by jmharper.

To many of the River Mice, the Kiptopeke weekend is the highlight of the paddling season. To others, it is a sign that summer is nearly over. To all who go, it is a great time.

Kiptopeke State Park is located about three miles north of the toll plaza for the Chesapeake Bay Bridge Tunnel on the Eastern Shore. It is only 40 miles from downtown Norfolk, but it seems a world away. It makes for a very mellow weekend, remembered by all.

Of course, the main reason to go was to paddle, and paddle we did. This is one of our few chances to paddle the open water near the ocean. Generally one of the barrier islands along the Atlantic is our destination. In this picture, the group heads out from Oyster to Mockhorn and Ramshorn Bays.

Jim Handles the Chop

Jim Handles the Chop, originally uploaded by jmharper.

Heading out from Oyster harbor, we were sure to paddle against the wind. This way, once we were tired, the wind would help us back to the put-in.

Where the water was more open, and the wind had a bit of reach, things got a little choppy. We met waves up to a foot and a half in height. It was tough keeping your balance when your bow would go out of the water and get blown a foot to the right.

Jim is shown paddling in calmer water- still choppy, but easier to navigate.

Back to Oyster

Back to Oyster, originally uploaded by jmharper.

After 30 minutes of "coasting" in on the wind and waves, we finally entered Oyster Harbor. With judicious use of the rudder, and only an occasional stroke, we could relax all the way back to the dock!

Here, Chris and Jerry demonstrate their technique. Jerry sat as you see him all the way to the dock!

Jim Rescues His Hat

Jim Rescues His Hat, originally uploaded by jmharper.

After the paddle, we sat on the dock for a late and hard earned lunch. We talked about the paddle, and the upcomimg night at the campsite.

Suddenly a gust of wind came along and blew Jim's hat in the water. Everyone thought it would blow on the surface to the other dock, but halfway across, it began to sink. Jim had to hop in his boat and paddle over to it. Of course, the moment was photo-worthy!

The Paddlers at Oyster Harbor

The Paddlers at Oyster Harbor, originally uploaded by jmharper.

Jeff, Jeanine, Jim and Jerry pose after the paddle at Oyster. Chris, perhaps lamenting the fact she didn't have a "J" in her name, stayed behind the camera and snapped the picture.

Monday, September 12, 2005

The Gang at Kiptopeke

The Gang at Kiptopeke, originally uploaded by jmharper.

Part of the group enjoys the sunset at the beach. Chris and Jeanine, along with Jerry, Jim and Jeff arrived Friday. They were joined Saturday by Betsy, Dennis, Ann and Bob.

Hands Off the Fire!

Hands Off the Fire!, originally uploaded by jmharper.

Our Kiptopeke outing combines great paddling with some good old campfire comraderie. Jerry is tending to dinner, while Jeanine finds a comfortable seat to observe. Well, comfort is relative, and possibly a function of how much wine one has had!

As usual, Jerry provided plenty of firewood, and the food was delicious and as plentiful as the firewood.

Follow the Leader!

Follow the Leader!, originally uploaded by jmharper.

We really felt like paddling on Sunday, but our first choice was out of the question. We wanted to paddle around the concrete ships at the breakwater, but the wind was too strong, and blowing the wrong way.

So we went to our old put-in at the wildlife preserve, but instead of heading out to Raccoon Island, we stayed close to shore, and paddled the meandering creeks and pathways of the wildlife preserve. Our goal was the trees in the distance, but there was not a straight line to get there!

A Relaxing Sunday Paddle

A Relaxing Sunday Paddle, originally uploaded by jmharper.

This weekend, there were two ways to paddle- with the wind, or against the wind. There was very little in between.

Against the wind, you had to work. Among the reeds, with the wind blocked, it wasn't too bad. In the open, on the main channel, it took about 5 minutes to go 100 yards in what seemed like a howling gale.

Of course with the wind, things were much easier. Here, Jeanine enjoys a wind-aided stretch, using nothing but rudder to steer her way down the creek. A nice way to travel, especially if you have earned it!

Lost in the Reeds

Lost in the Reeds, originally uploaded by jmharper.

Sunday's paddle didn't take us very far from the put-in, but far enough that we found ourselves in some interesting situations.

Jeff nevigated the group into a dead end with no turning space. So it was paddle backwards, or press on through the reeds. Ultimately, Jerry was able to find the way back to the creek, but not before doing the paddling equivalent of poling across a flat expanse of snow. Through the reeds, and the bugs, and more reeds, in foot deep water.

I Told You Those Kiptopeke Sunsets Were Good!

What a great weekend! The brilliant sunsets were symbolic o f the great time we had. Aside from the wind, the weather was perfect for paddling and camping. Of course, being with friends was the best part of the weekend.

We will be back next year- hope you can join us! Mark your calendar for the weekend after Labor Day.


Tuesday, September 06, 2005

Down the Creek

Down the Creek, originally uploaded by jmharper.

On August 27th, five Mice took a trip down the creek, with paddles. Jim, Jeanine, Jeff, Chris, and new member Jean met at the Princess Anne Road dock, set a shuttle, then headed down the creek.

A few wrong turns later, the group finally found the right trail. Sometimes Jeff gets his right and left confused. (He flunked left/right in Kindergarden!)

The paddle started with the narrow creek, and trees leaning over the top of us. Later, the paddle moved into wider waters, before we finally took out at the Hutton Lane dock off Virginia Beach Boulevard near the Pep Boys.

It was hard to believe that with scenery like this, we were paddling through the suburban heart of Virginia Beach!

Sometimes You Just Blast Through

Sometimes You Just Blast Through, originally uploaded by jmharper.

The word for the day was "logjam". The group encountered plenty of them along the way. Some were easy to solve, we just had to push the logs and downed trees out of the way.

Some were more difficult. If we couldn't pick our way through, the option of choice was to just get up a head of steam and try to ride up over the log. Here, Jeanine tries the technique with Chris observing.

This is an Industrial Park?

This is an Industrial Park?, originally uploaded by jmharper.

The last part of our paddle took us down a very wide London Bridge Creek from Shipps Corner Road to Virginia Beach Boulevard. you wouldn't know it, but we were paddling through the Oceana Industrial Park. You know, all of those buildings set between Lynnhaven Mall and NAS Oceana?

We got to see the fish scurry away from us, and the herons watched us from the trees. As you can tell, this stretch is long and straight. The only signs of civilization are the International Parkway bridge, and the jets at Oceana.

Winners of the Immunity Challenge

And it was a tough one! Counting the wrong turns, we paddled close to nine miles, and some of it was very slow going. No immunity icons, but it was worth it to see the scenery on this very unique paddle! The workout was an added bonus...

The last stage of the scenic waterway is scheduled for September 24th. Join us as we paddle from Virginia Beach Boulevard to the Lesner Bridge!