Posts for the month of July 2010

Kayaking: Round Lake

My roof rack arrived today. Anton bought a canoe yesterday, but he hadn't had a change to try it yet. After work, I assembled my roof rack on my car, and we set off to do some paddling in the hour or so before it got dark.

This time it was Round Lake. It is pretty aptly named. It was about a twenty minute drive away. And then we had to park alongside the 55mph route 9 to access the water. I didn't realize until we were leaving that I parked under a "no parking" sign. I'm not sure if it was for the road I was on or the area down below. The sheriff behind us as we arrived didn't seem to mind. Neither did the other people parked near us.

View Round Lake in a larger map

For the first time for me, the weather was beautiful. There was an occasional cool breeze, but nothing strong. The lake was flat except for some ripples as boats zipped around. There were a handful of people fishing and some other people out in kayaks and canoes, but it is a bigger lake than I expected, and I hardly ever actually saw any of them. There is a neat little airstrip adjacent to the lake, and a few small planes took off and landed while we were there, for our amusement.



Anton picking his nose as we set off. He's really getting in there:


I don't think that's how you're supposed to use a canoe:


This is a pretty OK place to spend an evening!:


Then it got dark and we went home. Then I copied the pictures and GPS data off of my phone and wrote this.

Kayaking: Thompson's Lake

This Friday came around, and I was thoroughly excited about going out kayaking again. I am determined to go out at least once a week, and I figured that since I am taking Fridays off, this should be no problem. Checking the weather, thunderstorms were predicted basically all weekend, with only showers on Friday morning.

Figuring that was my only chance, I strapped the kayak on my roof in my garage while it rained outside and then took off.

This weekend's venue was picked by a Mr. Plummer at work, as I randomly asked him where I should go, and his familiarity with nearby parks for the sake of hiking allowed to pick a place arbitrarily that suited my needs. Also helped. In the future I think I will cross off parks listed there with a "boat launch" one by one.

I am worrying more and more about the effects of a boat on my car roof. I think I will invest in a roof rack soon.

There were some fun winding roads on the way to Thompson's Lake. It was just beyond Thacher Park, which is another great place to spend some time. It rained most of the way there but started to clear as I approached the lake.

Then it started raining again.

/share/kayak/thompsons/ticket.png I paid a $7 vehicle use fee, as this was a state park. The place looked fairly nice. It was primarily a campground. I carried my kayak past a playground, small beach, and a swimming area to get to the lake, and each were populated with children and families at various times.

View Thompson's Lake in a larger map

I went around the outside of the lake, which took a little less than half an hour. I was wet at this time, but it was probably more from me splashing myself than the rain, which persisted. I made a few zig-zags of the lake to fill out almost an hour of time. Then it started to get a little windy, which was only a problem as it made me start to get cold.

I strapped the kayak back on to my car and headed home in a full downpour.

There were problems with this:

  • Strapping a boat to my roof in the rain when I am starting to get cold is not fun. I am definitely willing to overlook a little bit of work for the parts of this that are fun, but I think that is too much.
  • The kayak acts like a rain barrel. I was pleased it hardly filled with any water when I was on the lake, but when I took it off after I got home, it was substantially heavier.
  • The straps around the kayak wicked water into my car. I was rained on the whole trip, and I worry for my car's interior.
  • Some people were waving at me from inside a lodge nearby. I had half a mind to go in to dry off, but I wanted to get home badly at this point.

Without Internet

This week, for the third time in only a few months, I found myself without Internet access at home.

The first time, it went like this:

  • The cable modem indicates no connection.
  • I call Time Warner Cable.
  • They tell me they shut me off, because of "leakage."
  • They scheduled someone to come check things out (but they couldn't come for quite a few days...frustrating).
  • They plug some measuring device into my cable, which indicates a small but apparently acceptable amount of noise.
  • They remove the ground from my cable connection.
  • They repeat, and the amount of noise remains the same.
  • They reconnect everything, turn me back on, and figure that I was disconnected by mistake.

The second time was my fault:

  • HTTP requests were being redirected to a "your computer has been causing trouble, we're disabling you" page.
  • A local user account with an apparently easily guessable password on one of my computers had been compromised and was running a number of sketchy-looking scripts.
  • I wiped and did a fresh install of the affected machine.
  • I should add that I had to call Time Warner Cable to sort things out, and they turned me back on before even asking whether I had the machine under control, though they did threaten disabling me for longer if it happens again.

The third time went like this:

  • Cable modem reports no connection.
  • I call Time Warner Cable.
  • They ask me to try power cycle the cable modem, fiddle with the cable.
  • No, that doesn't improve anything.
  • They schedule an appointment.
  • The guy comes out, plugs in his meter, looks at it for a few minutes.
  • "Your signal's perfect."
  • He replaces my cable modem, and everything is fine.

It's slightly less annoying now that I have a Droid Incredible with an unlimited data plan.


For some reason, until recently, I had never gone kayaking. My family owned a canoe. I've rowed row boats. I've paddled paddle boats. I had never kayaked.

Some weeks back, I was with a group of friends at Saratoga Lake, and four of us hopped in kayaks and paddled around for a bit. It was fun, and it made me say I would get a kayak.

After looking around a bit, I had a lengthy and informative conversation with someone at Eastern Mountain Sports, who basically steered me to the Pungo 120 but emphasized that they were having an event on Saturday where people could try all of their models for free. Despite wanting to buy one then and there, I held off, went down on Saturday (today), and tried a few boats. It was fun. The staff were great (though one dropped and lost his radio in the water, hehe).

Then came the first problem. I went straight back to EMS, but most of their kayak enthusiasts were busy at the water. I knew exactly what I wanted, but of the few staff members there, one was clearly brand new, and the others were clearly overwhelmed by everyone else. It took some time finding the right things. I got the boat, a paddle, and a life jacket that were on sale as a bundle. There was confusion about this, which items were actually part of the special, where they were, .... But eventually I got everything I needed, one of the staff members helped me strap the thing I bought to my roof, and I was off.

Where to? I searched around (the Internet) a bit for a lake nearby with public access to the water. I picked The Great Sacandaga Lake, arbitrarily. It was about an hour away. I wasn't really sure where I was going to launch, but I drove around a bit and finally found a public boat launch. There was apparently a beach area where I would be charged $15 for parking, as a non-resident, but I couldn't launch there. I ended up carrying the boat to a boat launch where there was a formidable line of people putting motor boats on the water. I snuck in between two of them, and I was off!

View Great Sacandaga Lake in a larger map

That's what my route looked like. There was a strong wind. I was tired before I started. I had also paddled for a while in the morning, testing boats, and I'm not in any kind of shape. I headed into the wind and stopped now and then to adjust the numerous adjustable bits of my seat and paddle. I was hoping to find a quiet moment to bust out a ukulele and sit back and snack and whatnot, but the water was really choppy, both from the wind and from boats zipping back and forth near me, and waves overtook me every few minutes, despite my best efforts to avoid them.

Here's some data from my phone, which was sitting in one of the kayak's compartments, gathering GPS data. It and my other cargo stayed dry, but I was soaked by the time I was done.

I paddled into the wind until I was tired. At about that point the clouds started to look intimidating, so I turned around. The wind basically carried me straight back, and I mostly just steered.


That's what the kayak looks like on my car, all ready to go home. I found a metal loop under the rear bumper, which is just perfect for hooking a strap into, and a big threaded hole in front which worked fine, too. For some reason it was much more stable on the way home than the way there, which was a relief. Shortly after I had pulled away from the store, one of the straps started buzzing. I found that giving each bit a half-twist, though less aerodynamic, helped silence that.

Conclusion: All in all, I had a lot of fun. The weather, despite the wind, was beautiful at the lake, while it was incredibly hot and humid back home. The water was a really nice warm temperature. Such a big lake was probably the last place I should have gone, but there is no shortage of other places for me to explore around here.