Saturday, December 31, 2011


Wow!!! What a year it has been with lots of fun adventures shared with lots of great folks. Thanks to all who came out and played with us in 2011.
Lunch break at Hare Creek.
We have reviewed our photo galleries and come up with our favorite photos of 2011. Here's a link to our 2011 gallery. Let us know what your favorites are and if we are missing any.
Barb loves buffer zones.
In my Woman on Water Blog, my summary of 2011 is titled "A Series of Unexpected Events." We definitely have some tricks up our gaskets for 2012 and are certain that some unexpected ones will occur.
SUPing for crabs.
Thanks for playing and we hope to see you on the water in 2012.
Kayakers Welcome!!!

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Christmas Bird Count

For 112 years, bird enthusiasts have been participating in the Audubon's Christmas Bird Count. Last year was our first year participating as the Mendocino Coast Audubon Society organized a preliminary Fort Bragg Count. Of course we volunteered to count birds on the Noyo River which is only birdable by kayak. It was a fun challenge (link to our tale of last year's count).

This year our inland neighbors of Ukiah's Peregrine Audubon Society recruited us to kayak and count birds on the Russian River. We recruited our whitewater boating buddy and birder Jerry to join us as well as Geoff - a Ukiah area birder who helped us count on the Noyo last year.

Getting in the spirit of the season, we loaded up red and green whitewater kayaks. The red was an Eskimo Topo Duo which is a tandem whitewater kayak which Jeff would be paddling with Geoff in the front seat tallying the birds that we saw. The green was my Eskimo Kendo.

Of course, we truly felt the spirit of the season with frosty temperatures and ice in our boats as we met at the put-in at 7am.

We had never paddled this stretch of the Russian River and enjoyed the opportunity to enjoy its beauty. It was not an easy trip. It was a long day with 7 hours on the water which included picking our way through mazes of willows and strainers and portaging shallow areas to complete the 15.4 mile run. The water flow was only 167 cfs which was not particularly swift but the deeper water channels tended to be where the willows and alders grew and hung over the river making it potentially treacherous. Jeff of course makes it look easy as he maneuvers to avoid a strainer.

We were happy with our whitewater kayaks. Their flat bottoms take very little water to float, they are very maneuverable, and are narrow and low enough to squeeze through tight spots. In this photo, Jerry smiles for the camera as I squeeze through a tunnel of willows.

This wrapped raft shows the potential hazard of the willows and strainers of the run.

The character of the Russian River has changed over the years due to man's attempt to control her flow and meandering ways. In addition to identifying the birds that we saw, we tried to identify the hundreds of classic automobiles that form the banks of Russian.

We enjoyed the warmth of the sun but its position in the southern sky impeded our vision as we scanned for birds.

We didn't see any rare or unusual birds but enjoyed many of the common birds of the river including pairs of colorful wood ducks and lots of chattering kingfishers. The tandem kayak was key as it allowed Geoff to use his binoculars to get a good look at birds while Jeff held the boat in place. Jerry and I had a difficult time keeping our binoculars focused on a particular bird as the current pushed and spun our single kayaks.

It was fun to join up with the rest of the Ukiah area CBC participants at their evening compilation dinner. It was fun to share our results and tales of the day with the rest of the birders. It also made us a little bit bummed out that we will have to miss our local Fort Bragg CBC this year.

Friday, December 9, 2011

Out to Sea

Just shy of her 100th birthday, Marion Osterloh made her final journey out to sea. Marian was an amazing woman - a teacher, actress, and writer. She taught for 27 years in the Chico area before retiring to the Mendocino Coast in the 70's. In 2003, she published a book Fate's a Fiddler about her life in Mexico City during and after the Mexican revolution. Marian was active in our local community and involved in many groups including Delta Kappa Gamma (an honorary service organization for women educators). I knew Marian through Delta Kappa Gamma.

Marian lived in a home on the bluffs above Seaside Beach. Marian's wishes were for her ashes to be taken out to sea off the coast of her Seaside home. Marian's good friend and fellow Delta Kappa Gamma member, Kathe, approached us about helping with Marian's last wishes.

Seaside beach is a beautiful county beach north of Fort Bragg. Occasionally we will see it in magazine and television ads. One of the beauties of Seaside Beach is its thunderous surf zone. Even with the calmest ocean conditions, there is always surf at Seaside. It is a surf zone that surfers want no part of and paddlers view with at with the upmost respect. We knew that it would have to be a small day to fulfill Marian's wishes.

On December 8, the day came. We had been having a stretch of uncommonly calm ocean conditions and the predictions were for another day of small seas. We loaded up the tandem sea kayaks and headed out. At Seaside, it was a gorgeous day - sunny, warm with thumping surf.

We got the tandem sea kayak to the water, and Jeff and Kathe headed out.

The local funeral home had packaged Marian's ashes in a biodegradable box specially for the occasion. Jeff helped Kathe secure the package in her lap as they prepared to launch into the surf zone.

Jeff coached Kathe on paddling through the surf zone. They would try to time their paddle-out to avoid waves breaking on top of them by waiting for lulls and hovering to let the waves break in front of them.

Kathe did great. Paddling or tucking as Jeff directed. As they made it through the first impact zone, a large set loomed on the horizon.

The virtues of speed and stability of our 18.5 foot tandem sea kayak were evident as Jeff and Kathe launched over waves. They reported being airbourne at least twice on their journey out to sea. They successfully made it past the surf zone and paddled about 500 yards offshore to put Marian's ashes to rest.

The return journey looked mellower for the most part with the exception of a tongue of a wave giving Kathe a saltwater facial.

Jeff and Kathe even surfed on their way back to shore.

Mission completed - feelings of exhilaration and relief swept over us as we felt the warmth of the sun and perhaps the tickle of Marian's laughter as she completed her on her final journey.

Rest in peace Marian.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

LFK's Office Manager

Meet Liquid Fusion Kayaking's office manager - Tom.

Bear gets a lot of glory being the shop manager and on-water dog instructor.

Tom wants you to know that a lot of behind the scenes work goes into operating a kayak business. It's not all fun and paddling - especially for the office manager. The home office of LFK is where most of the real work gets done.

One has to plan the curriculum for classes.

Do bookkeeping and website maintenance.

Inspect and take inventory of gear including kayaks.

Hunt for gophers and tend to the garden.

Of course, Tom's toughest job is managing personnel.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Tis the Season

Planning for 2012 is well underway at LFK Headquarters.

Each year in November, we review our business plan and plan our upcoming year. For 2012 we are expanding some of our Mendocino Coast kayaking programs and creating new fun learning opportunities.

For 2012, we are excited to announce our Mendocino Waves and Caves Weekends. This weekend of rock gardening and sea cave kayaking fun is fashioned after the infamous Los Arboritos Whitewater Kayak Weekend that Jeff Laxier and Greg Knight used to lead for Aqua Adventures. Those that have paddled both Mendo and Arbo describe Mendo as "Arbo on steroids." Don't miss out - space is limited so register early to guarantee your spot.

Our Sunday Paddles are expanding for 2012 to include First Sunday Estuary Paddles, Second Sunday Sea Kayak Coastal Exploration, and Third Sunday Sea Kayak Rock Garden Exploration and Play. These paddles are guided by both Cate and Jeff and will run monthly April through September/October and are only $40/person.
Barb loves buffer zones.

In February, we are teaming up with Sierra Rescue to offer a Wilderness First Aid Course on the Mendocino Coast. Prevention, prevention, prevention is our motto, but it is good to know what to do when a medical emergency arises.

Whitewater river kayaking season is coming be sure to check out our line-up of whitewater kayaking classes for this winter on the rivers of Mendocino County.

Speaking of the season - give the gift of adventure this holiday season
. We are offering special deals on Liquid Fusion Kayaking gift certificates for you to share with your family and friends. Choose from dry and mild or wet and wild or call us to make a custom gift certificate.

FUN, FUN, FUN - well all the computer and office time isn't so much fun, but we are very excited about sharing our 2012 adventures.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Mushroom Paddles

They're HERE!!!

Our Mendocino mushroom season is in full swing just in time for the Mendocino Wine and Mushroom Festival.

Mendocino County is a hot spot for wild mushrooms. In the fall of 2007, a couple of our mountain biking friends gave the wild mushroom hunting bug to Jeff and I. We started learning the most common and easily identifiable choice edibles - hedgehogs and chantrelles.

In the fall of 2008, we were paddling the Noyo River and admiring the wild mushrooms when the idea of hosting mushroom paddles was born. We had been learning more about wild mushrooms by going on mushroom walks at the Mendocino Coast Botanical Gardens. We thought it would be fun to share our knowledge of mushrooms, kayaking, and the Noyo River.

We continued going on Mushroom walks and learning from our friends. For Christmas, Jeff got me David Arora's books Mushrooms Demystified and All that Rain Promises. I couldn't put the books down and ended up taking a semester course in at College of the Redwoods on Mushrooms of the North Coast. When mushroom season hits, our house became a science lab with counters and walls decorated with spore prints and drying samples. Most meals involve fresh mushrooms from the forest.
We are now heading into our 3rd fall of Mushroom Paddles on the Noyo River. We don't consider ourselves experts, but we sure do know a lot about our local wild mushrooms. Our tours have evolved into an on land mushroom ecology and identification lesson followed by a paddle on the river looking for wild mushrooms and enjoying fall scenery and migratory birds.

Each year has show us different weather patterns and different mushrooms on the Noyo. What mushrooms will we find on the river this year? Mushroom Paddles are November 5,6, and 12 so we will soon see.

Mushroom identification and wildlife watching by kayak on the Noyo River in Fort Bragg, CA.

Monday, October 24, 2011

Lumpy Waters 2011

In the summer of 2010, the Lumpy Waters Symposium blipped on our radar. It is a kayak symposium on the Oregon Coast that features kayak instruction in surf and rock gardens. In 2010, we had already committed to going to the Traditional Arctic Kayak Symposium in Trinidad but penciled it onto our calendar for 2011.

This year at the Golden Gate Sea Kayak Symposium, Jeff coached with many of the Lumpy Waters coaches. We were stoked to be invited to come.

It was a super fun event. The weather and coastal conditions were ideal for lumpy waters - some surf and some wind.

The gathering of paddlers was ideal too - instructors who like to paddle and teach in rough water, surf zones, and rock gardens, and students who are willing to take some lumps and learn to paddle in these conditions.

It was a pleasure to work with top instructors. We enjoyed teaming with them to give the students the best possible learning experience. Courses that we taught included short boat surfing, rough water rescues, rock garden safety and rescue, advanced rock gardens and caving, and fun and feedback (sea kayaks in the surf).

The enthusiasm of the students, the camradery of the coaches and sharing our love of surf and rock garden paddling was invigorating. Huge kudos to Paul Kuthe and the crew from Alder Creek for putting together a great event. We are looking forward to next year but before that the Golden Gate Sea Kayak Symposium in February 2012.

Here's a link to Neil Shuman's photos of Lumpy Waters and a link to my photos from Rock Garden Safety and Rescue.

Monday, October 3, 2011

Lost and Found

The Lost Coast is a rugged wilderness stretch of California's coastline. It is so rugged that California's Coastal Highway 1 bypasses it. Many travel from all over to backpack into its remote wilderness and to admire its dramatic scenery of sheer coastal cliffs, black sand beaches, old growth Douglas Fir trees, groves of Redwoods and SURF.

Clear days on the Mendocino Coast afford us views of the Lost Coast where the steep mountains meet the sea. Each time we drive north on Highway 1 before the road diverts inland, we pull over to admire this stretch of coastline and dream of exploring it. Our friend Hawk Martin of Humboats in Eureka has views of the northern portion of the Lost Coast from his home waters in Humboldt County. Many discussions have occurred among the 3 of us about sea kayaking and exploring along the the Lost Coast.

This fall we found ourselves carving out some time for a trip to the Lost Coast. This was a challenge as we work hard to keep our heads above water in a struggling economy. Days off mean no income. But days off also mean rejuvenation. This particular trip will also lead to more trips and possibly guided trips of the Lost Coast with Liquid Fusion Kayaking and Humboats.

Stay tuned for our photo gallery and more about our hiking and sea kayak exploration of the Lost Coast (no mountain biking on this trip - darn guess that we have to go back).

Monday, September 19, 2011

Coastal Cleanup Day

The sun shone on us again for California Coastal Cleanup Day.

This was our 3rd year organizing an on-water cleanup of the Noyo River Estuary and Harbor. We had a great turn-out with 11 paddlers on the water and 5 rowers.

As usual, Jeff paddled the wood duck and towed a kayak garbage barge for us to empty into when our bags an boats got too heavy.

It was also great to have members of the Lost Coast Chapter of the Traditional Small Craft Association helping with the pick up too. Jim and Stan both rowed and towed garbage barges behind their craft and hauled a lot of the big stuff that didn't fit into our kayaks.

Jerry paddled a double kayak so that he could get some of the bigger items - a chimney pipe and a rusty old bicycle made it into his boat.

I don't have any photos but June hauled a microwave out of the muck which sat between my legs in the double that I was paddling.

It was a great day all around. The weather was perfect and we enjoyed company as we picked up trash. The good news is that there was less trash on the river than in the previous 2 years. We filled our dumpster but did not overflow it like last year.

Less trash meant for a speedy pick up and more time to enjoy a potluck BBQ at LFK Headquarters on the Noyo afterward. We will be adding this to our regular CA Coastal Cleanup Day routine. Mark you calendars for September 15, 2012.