Change Is Hard

…but change is certain.


A little water therapy

We had some bad weather Saturday night, with rain blowing sideways for a time. I was sure that my tent, up in the backyard, would be flooded but it wasn’t. There was, however, a tornado that touched down not many miles from us during the storm, and a tree across the street from us split, falling across the road and into our yard.

None of that made me smile.

What did make me smile was a couple hours of paddling on a lake with one of my college roommates. We don’t see each other very often, but it’s always a good time when we do.

We caught up with each other’s lives, her kids, my dog.

And we enjoyed a sweet after the storm breeze, bright blue skies and sunshine as we floated across the water.

You just can’t beat being on the water for giving yourself a pick-me-up.

So that’s my smile for this week. What made you smile?


The canals of Detroit

Kayaks waiting for us to begin our adventure.

Did you even know that Detroit has canals? Me either, and I live only an hour north of the city. But I saw an advertisement months ago on Facebook for kayak tours of the canals and I thought it looked interesting.

I know, I know. An advertisement on Facebook? But a friend of mine, someone I haven’t seen in a lot of years, agreed in a comment that it looked fun, and she made all the calls to get us a reservation.

Safer to do this while still on land than once we were on the water.

So Sunday was the day and of course there were thunderstorms predicted. Our early morning 3 hour tour was delayed until afternoon, and in the end that worked out just fine.

We arrived at the marina located just off the Detroit River slightly before scheduled takeoff. We got our life vests fitted and our safety lecture, and then we were in the water.

A quick meeting with one of our guides…

We started the tour by paddling around an island, originally built out of swamp land in the 1920s for wealthy people to live in big houses away from the city. Now it’s mostly filled with homes built in the 1990s.

…and we’re off!

But there are still a few of the original homes left. Like this 30,000 sq foot 2 bedroom mansion built for the Fishers, part of the General Motors team way back when…

The Fisher mansion is in disrepair but seems to be under renovation.

…and some smaller homes, also built in the 20s. Most of the homes built during that period burned in a big fire in the early 70s because the bridge to the island hadn’t been built large enough to carry Detroit city fire engines.

A couple of the smaller original homes.

After we circled the island we headed out to the Detroit River.

Headed into some serious paddling now.

The river is a busy shipping channel, connecting the Great Lakes and lets ships get, eventually, to the Atlantic Ocean. We were told to stick together, not go too far out into the river, but stay away from the wall along the shore, where waves would be slapping and bouncing back at us.

Almost immediately we saw a huge freighter coming our way. We were in no danger, but the size differential between it and us was hard to ignore.

That’s one mighty big ship.

And right behind that ship was another, bigger, deeper more foreboding ship. I knew they’d both be kicking up some serious wake and I was eager to turn off the river back into the safety of a canal.

Another huge ship coming our way.

There was already some serious chop going on and I didn’t really want to ride out any huge waves in my little orange kayak. Soon enough we turned away from the big water and into the relative calm of another canal.

This is much more relaxing!

Turning the next corner we found ourselves in a small community of river homes complete with boat houses. Most of them looked like they’d been around a long time.

Those boathouses might need a little work.

But other boat houses seemed in better repair. And some even held beautiful vintage wooden boats.

High tech garages for beautiful old boats.

We paddled through more older waterfront homes…

Pretending we’re gliding through Venice.

…and then had something of a traffic jam under a bridge.

Some confusion about who has the right of way.

Out the other side of the bridge, around another corner and past more boat houses we headed back toward the big river.

The locals tell us the water is very high this spring.

The sun was beginning to break through the clouds as we entered the Detroit River again. To the east of us the skies were still dark…

Let’s not go toward the storm.

…but to the west of us the sun was shining and the water sparkling.

Even the water got more vibrant when the sun came out.

But the wind had picked up and the water was even more choppy than before. There was little time for taking pictures. I had to try, though, because the Detroit skyline was right there and just stunning with big puffy white clouds overhead.

It turned into a beautiful day!

And then, just as everyone was getting tired paddling into the wind we turned one last time into the safety of the canals.

Back where we started, all too soon.

We had a wonderful time. We saw some really interesting houses and boats. We were challenged on the river. And the sun came out at the last minute to make it all look brilliant.

A pop of color on the beautiful water.

I’d do it all again in a heartbeat. I guess you can’t always dismiss those ads on Facebook. Sometimes they turn out to be pretty darn cool.

This one sure did.

Fun stuff.


Paddling the blues away

Morning light.

Morning light.

My family has come out to the lake and gone home again. The house feels empty and I’m feeling a little blue. But this morning the sun rose on another perfect day and there’s nothing to do when you’re feeling blue except take a paddle on a gorgeous lake.

So I set out.

Let's head out and see what there is to see.

Let’s go see what there is to see.

This is what we lake people call ‘water ski water’ because it’s the perfect glassy surface to fly free at the end of a tow line. I’ve had plenty of beautiful skis like that over the years but this morning was designed for more quiet refection.

Going around a bend I lost the perfect water and headed into a bit of a wind. And I realized I had forgot the sunscreen and the water bottle.

Paddle harder!

Paddle harder!

So paddling got more difficult physically and mentally. But I wanted to see how far I could go with a bum shoulder. So I’d rest a bit, floating silently, looking at all the lake houses, now empty of their people for another week.

And up at the next point I saw a tree. A tree that made me feel even more blue.

Not fall color.  Not.

Not fall color. Not.

Because surely that was not fall color! Surely that was just caused by the drought. Even though it’s sitting right on the shore with plenty of water. Sure.

I quickly paddled around that point, and the water was smooth again.

Mom and Dad are everywhere on this lake.

Mom and Dad are everywhere on this lake.

I’d have to go way past that island and around that next point to get even close to the mountain where my parents’ ashes were spread. So even though I was curious about whether I could paddle that far I floated a bit and reluctantly turned around for home.

After all the turkey buzzards were circling above, waiting for me. And I wasn’t going to give them the satisfaction of dehydrating in the hot Alabama sun.

Ever hopeful circles.

Ever hopeful circles.

As with any trip, the paddle home seemed a lot shorter than the going out had been. Partly because that breeze was at my back. Partly because I’d moved into a rhythm, one with the water and the sun and the breeze and the paddle.

Still, home looked pretty good.

Home and shade, plus a bottle of water, await.

Home and shade, plus a bottle of water, await.


Rolling down the river

I arrived in the South on Tuesday afternoon. On Wednesday my brother, sister and I kayaked down the Chattahoochee River for several hours. What a fun trip!

Floating on the gentle river waters.

Floating on the gentle river waters.

I’ve thought for a long time that I’d like to have a kayak. I’d even toyed with looking for one to buy while I’m down here to store at the house and use during trips to the lake.

Such form there!

Such form there!

My brother has a friend that rents them, so he arranged to pick up three of them just because I was here. We packed some fruit and water in a little cooler and headed out to the river! It was a beautiful day.

Beautiful day.  Beautiful river.

Beautiful day. Beautiful river.

We didn’t go a long distance, we took a relaxing float down the river, and only had to maneuver between rocks a few times. It was a good time for me to try different kayaks in an attempt to decide what kind I might want to buy.

Taking a little snack break.

Taking a little snack break.

I can’t claim to be an expert kayak paddler. We had a few bumps, even in such a wide river. And I ended up with blisters on both hands. But it was so much fun!

uh oh!

uh oh!

And so relaxing! There’s a spot where the river gets narrowed between the rocks and the current is faster. It’s a great spot for a break and a little cooling off float. We floated down and then walked back up the rocks and floated down again.

Floating our cares away.

Floating our cares away.

Could have done that all day!

We saw lots of cool stuff along the way. A great blue heron, several osprey, kingfishers, and lots of other little birds we couldn’t identify. Turtles too, sunning on logs as we went by.

Mr. Blue watched us slide by.

Mr. Blue watched us slide by.

So I’m sending thanks to my brother who arranged for the boats, and to his friend who lent them to us. And to my sister for coming along taking all the pictures of me!

Can't get more fun than this.

Can’t get more fun than this.

The family weekend continues tomorrow and Sunday. I’m a lucky retiree. Yes I am.

Smile, you're RETIRED!

Smile, you’re RETIRED!