Sunday, March 7, 2010


I'm not very happy with this blog site. So, I've moved over to WordPress. Sorry for the inconvenience. I hope you'll still visit me over there. The new Cowboygrrl at:

Sunday, February 28, 2010


Here she is. We had a maiden paddle today, early morning. I hooked up with some paddlers out of Oakland and we put in right at Jack London Square. It rained all day yesterday and dawned somewhat blue this morning, but was perfect on the water. She's still on the car here (already took off stern/bow lines); pulled into the driveway for unloading.

I was sold on the Ikumma but when I sat in this one, it was like coming home! Have you guessed what she is yet? OK, I'll spill the beans............ Current Designs (yes, a North American style)

Solstice GTS; 17'7", Carribean Blue, and I splurged (some would say going into debt) on kevlar.
I've been very fortunate with lots of help from a local store. Also, one of the employees has really taken an interest in the fact that I'm doing the CR100. He's done many years of racing and teaches a lot of stroke classes, and has volunteered to give me some coaching and helping me pick that perfect paddle.

So, now I can focus on getting comfortable in my new boat, work on technique and get some mileage in. I do have a specific training program I'll begin in May, and I continue to cycle 3-4 times a week (will continue cross-training). I've started experimenting with Hammer Nutrition gels, bars, and sports drink, and later I'll need to do some special outfitting on the kayak for the race. Mostly, I'm counting the hours until my next day on the water: SATURDAY.

Friday, February 19, 2010


Sun is predicted for tomorrow, Sat., slipping in between two storms. I plan to kayak in the afternoon. Tomorrow's goal is to get some miles in and mark off some distances for future training. Probably won't focus on any picture-taking. I also plan to work on my forward stroke. After reviewing Barton and Chalupsky's DVD, I don't think my stroke is too bad, but I'm going to do some practice anyway, trying to keep their key points in mind.

I continue to research kayaks. I've decided to stick with a sea kayak, composite, about 17ft. I'm seriously looking at the Seda Ikumma. This kayak is being used by Jake Stachovac who's paddling the Portage to Portage Paddling Project. Check out his blog at: I'm starting to also think about fueling and hydrating for the race. I've ordered some samples from Hammer Nutrition and will try their various products during training. I'm trying both their bars and gels, and later a food supplement for endurance racing called Perpetuam. I'm going to purchase MSR dromedary for keeping both water and a supplement drink and/or fuel on the boat during the race. I need to find out if I'll want real food and what my stomach will tolerate for the long haul.

Well, I'll keep inviting you to comment and share your thoughts and opinions about kayaks, training, foods for endurance races, and outfitting a kayak.

Monday, February 15, 2010


This was a 3-day weekend for me and I was hoping to get in 1-2 days of paddling. Unfortunately I came down with a stomach virus. So, while sitting around home, I've done a little research for the CR100. I continue to investigate kayak options, and reading lots of blogs about people's training. "Paddling With A Camera" posts a lot of resources, and I really appreciate this blog and the time put into it (not to mention the great pics). You certainly can find a lot of stuff for elite athletes, but it's much harder to find realistic training programs for the average, athletic "gal!" Also, since this is my first ultra-marathon, I'm looking to finish. The race is really with myself. The "UltraMarathon Paddling" blog by the Nelson's also has some terrific information; articles about eating and hydration. They also post questions asked and their answers to them. I often find a "nugget" of invaluable help.

So, back to kayaks. I'm looking for a kayak I can use in the CR100, but I may never race again. It will depend a lot on the experience I have. So, if I never race again, I want to be left with a kayak that is still seaworthy for the open ocean and I can use for touring. I would like composite, probably at least 17 ft. COME ON, I KNOW YOU KAYAKERS ARE OUT THERE! Your input is really appreciated; please post your suggestions here.

Well, I haven't been just spinning my mental wheels. For the last month I've been cycling 3-4 times a week. I think I'll get on my bike now.

Friday, February 5, 2010


I just completed my registration for the Colorado 100 in Sept. I have several months to train and gather as much information as I can, AND buy a new kayak. Anyone out there with ultra marathon experience or races like these? Please feel free to impart words of wisdom and share your adventure here.

Sunday, January 31, 2010


It was supposed to rain Fri. and when the storm didn't show I was afraid it would rain for my Sat. paddle. Fortunately it rained all night and dawned sunny and clear. I arrived at the marina a little after 10 AM, and it was really busy. A group of young sailors were preparing for the day and there were two other kayakers besides myself.

As I launched, a 6-person scull went by with the coach in a motorboat. Not soon after came a dragonboat, an outrigger and a paddleboard, all going the opposite way.

I crossed the channel and it finally started to thin out from all the people. I got a picture of this big guy.I was headed for Corkscrew slough and the hidden, narrow channel that cut around Bair Island. I'd forgotten to clear my GPS from the last trip so my milage was screwed up but I knew I was close. My position on the GPS indicated I had to be near. Again it was a very high tide, so an obvious channel wasn't present. I took a guess and headed parallel to Corkscrew looking for a passageway to the right as the travel guide suggested. I turned right and headed for the tall electrical lines which you are supposed to paddle under as you cross under a footbridge. A pelican caught my eye; he was sitting right on the footbridge passageway!

I crossed under the footbridge and headed east towards the open bay. There was land to my right. I hoped it was Bair Island. It sure wasn't very pretty. But I was excited to finally find the cut-off and head for open water. Once in the bay, I knew when I turned south whatever land was to my right had to be the island. The tide was still flowing in and it was passing really fast in front of me to the south in a small inlet through the land to my right. As I passed the inlet and looked right, I realized this was not the island I had been paddling along; I could see it off in the distance. All was OK as I could see the open bay in front of me. I decided to continue east.

I finally passed the jetty to my right and popped out into the bay and turned south. It wasn't at all windy and quite pleasant. I saw Bair Island ahead of me.........

I passed a couple of kayakers going the opposite way looking for the passageway I had just come from.

The bay side of the island had a barrier completely made of shells. I guess this is why they called it shell beach!

An interesting design made all by shells.

I continued my paddle south. Here's looking south to the Dumbarton Bridge before I turned west at channel marker #8, heading back to the marina.
Total milage: somewhere around 7.

Sunday, January 24, 2010


The tides are good for next weekend to get around the wildlife island. So the plan is to launch mid-morning next Sat. in Redwood City again. I was driving to visit my daughter at college yesterday and passed Lexington Reservoir. Wow, it was really full. Then I remembered I could also paddle here on the weekends. I didn't have to rely on specific tides in the bay. There's also Lake Chabot. So, now there's a couple new places I can try out.

I've been paddling vicariously by reading lots of kayak blogs, books, and accounts of some marathon races like the Mississippi 340 and Colorado 100. I've found some good information about training for one of these races, but I need to know soooo much more. I think I'm going to shoot for the Colorado 100 this Sept. Kayaking through the winter will give me a good base (I'll have to get out more often though). I'll also need a different kayak. Not anything too specialized, but now I only own a SOT (12 ft.). I've paddled sea kayaks for 10 years, but never owned one. After I spent a few days this last summer on a SOT, it seemed like enough of a boat for me in the summer in the bay, sloughs, and lakes of California. But I didn't realize how much I was going to LOVE TO PADDLE once I had my own boat! Now, I just want to paddle more. Paddle further. Paddle faster! So on these wet, cold, winter days, I'm dreaming of my first long distance race (really the goal is to finish), and creating my mind-set to actually do the work to be prepared to do the race.

If anyone has recommendations for kayaks and training, I'm all ears.

Monday, January 18, 2010

A Long Weekend

Sat.'s plans for a paddle were thwarted by my little dog getting bit by a BIG dog. Off to the emergency vet and $800 later he was home safe and sound, albeit slightly dopey. So, most of the weekend has been watching over him and making sure he gets all his medicine. He didn't eat much the first day and he seemed to want to make up for it today. A good sign.

So I'm reading this great book written by Nathaniel Stone, "On The Water." He rows (yes, facing backwards) from NY, through some barge canals to the Great Lakes, down the Ohio River to the Mississippi, out into the Gulf, around Florida and back up the East coast. Basically he circumnavigates the eastern third of the US. What's so interesting is, right now, Jake Stachovac is doing almost the same thing, called the Portage To Portage Paddling Project. You can find his daily blog by the same name. He's just reached the Gulf the last few days, but he started in Wisconsin, so he has quite a ways to go. What's interesting is both share many common ideas and thoughts; and I can relate to both of them.

".......waking up in the morning had become more of a habit than an opportunity. Days were becoming forgettable; they blended too quickly in memory. It was time to derail the train, jump off, and walk into the nearest forest."
-Nathaniel Stone

I feel this way most days. I yet haven't summoned up the courage Nathaniel and Jake have though.

Friday, January 15, 2010

BIG Rain!

An edit to my previous post. Apparantly a very strong high which has held off El Nino from the west coast is now gone. A 200 mph jet stream is headed our way and emergency teams are preparing for flooding which is supposed to occur with LOTS of rain over 2-3 weeks. Hopefully I'll still sneak out tomorrow (Sat.) before the real rain begins on Sun.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Rain. Rain. Rain!

Well, I'll be put to the test....... my plans for kayaking through the winter will be challenged this weekend. I have 3 days off and I was going to get out on the water at least two. But rain is beginning Fri. night, with a really big storm predicted for Sun. and Mon. The forecast is for showers Sat., so I'm planning to still go. It's not very cold, but I won't know what the winds will be like until later. Keep your fingers crossed!

Friday, January 8, 2010

How Many Kayaks Do You Own?

Well, in searching and reading the many kayak blogs I have discovered, I've also encountered many different types of kayaks and additional kayak activities. By this I mean kayak marathons (which I'm still not sure what that means), surf skiing, and long distance events like the Missouri 340 or Yukon 1000. So maybe someone can comment on my entry tonight, and give me a detailed description of what this all means. Regardless, I am now intrigued with this idea of taking a longer paddle in an organized manner which I know is not the "sea kayaking" I am familiar with. Also, how does one decide what kind of kayak to buy for these kinds of events? There are surf skis and racing kayaks. What are the primary uses of each or the pros and cons of either. How does one find out about events in their area? And, how do people get their boats to all these places? They certainly can't be driving all over the country. Or do they?

Monday, January 4, 2010

What You Do When It's Dark Already!

Get home at 5 PM. Run the dog, well, really she runs to catch the numerous throws of the frisby she demands. Go grocery shopping. Cook I'll write about kayaking since I can't actually do it today! Also I'm getting more familiar with my GPS and the things I can interface with the computer. So I overlaid my route from Sat.'s paddle onto Google earth to show you what I did (and what it looked like). It's probably more exciting for me than you. But a beginning. So here it is:

The route is that "snakey thing." I'd like to change that to more of a line but I haven't figured that out yet. So, if anyone has any suggestions or ideas, I'm up for input.

Well, based on the tide chart, doesn't look I'll be getting out for another 1-1/2 weeks. Have to depart from the marina about an hour before high tide so the the slough I missed last weekend is deep enough. And getting around Blair Island is my next trip.

Sunday, January 3, 2010

1st Winter Paddle

Success! Yesterday was my first paddle of the winter season. First time hauling my kayak on my new car and using the new rack. All went well. Put in at Redwood City Marina about 10:50AM. It was 61ยบ and the water was calm but there was a lot of fog. Not too busy at the ramp. I guess the clouds kept most away. Living in the San Francisco Bay Area you're surrounded by water and you can get to lots of places without having to drive long distances. The trade off is there are reminders of civilization around every bend. Lots of industry nearby and big electrical towers along the route. Didn't like that part of it, and I was solo today. I think with the cruddy weather it would have been more fun with my partner along. Especially when I started to get a little cold and tired.

Redwood City Marina

I felt pretty good the first 1-1/2 hrs. I had planned well; brought hot tea with a little treat from Peet's Coffee, water, Powerbar, and some ShotBlocks. Not too much wildlife today. I guess the clouds kept them away too. But when I stopped for some tea, up popped 5 seals. They didn't want to get too close, and kept an eye on me. I was hoping to find the slough that went around Blair Island; a wildlife preserve, where lots of seals pup and birds stay. But I never found the turnoff. I kept along the main slough, Corkscrew, for about 3-1/2 miles, checking my GPS. I figured I'd missed the turnoff but I'd never paddled in this particular slough before, so I thought I'd check it out until it was time to turn around. Saw a few Egrets, Pelicans, geese, ducks, and a very cool bird on the way back. I'll have to try to find it's name as I don't know if I'd ever seen it before. It was camped on a large wood post in the main channel. Just as I got my camera ready a power boat went by, and off it flew. No picture!

saw the seals here

All in all, it was a good day. Accomplished 3 hours of paddling, investigated a new slough, saw a little wildlife, and made it back home. Already planning the next day and doing my homework so I can find that channel around the wildlife preserve.

Friday, January 1, 2010

The Beginning; Jan. 1, 2010

My first entry, ever. I haven't even read that many blogs to be truthful. I probably only learned what a blog actually was a year or so ago. At the time I thought they were kind of stupid. Who'd want to put their private thoughts online? But I watched this adorable movie last night (with a glass of champagne), "Julie & Julia," which was intriguing to me. Well, of course, I knew very little about Julia Child, and Meryl Streep was spectacular in the part. I also really liked the juxtaposition of the two stories (both true by the way), and was a little disappointed Julie never met Julia. Clearly, Julia was an inspiration for Julie on many levels.

Julie, also never a blogger (like me), decides to blog about a challenge she sets herself to: cooking the entire set of recipes from Julia Child's cook book. NO, I'm not going to cook all those recipes (or even a few), but what was so interesting to me was blogging about something you had a passion for. I could do that. Writing about your process while in the midst of the challenge; investigating your emotions, the ups and downs, heck putting yourself out there (that in and of itself a challenge for me). Are you grasping the intriguing part yet? You're probably asking yourself (anyways I hope so), "well, what's her challenge, what's her passion?" My passion is the outdoors.

Today I wrote my first entry, in my first blog. I put myself "out there." My challenge? To kayak through the season. Yes, through the winter, which is not that demanding in northern California (well, compared to those snowy parts of the world). My challenge? To get outdoors.......cycling, hiking, backpacking, and kayaking. And if I'm lucky, I'll get to meet a few of you on-line, or on the water or trail, who may share in my challenge, my passion.