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.