Thursday, March 4, 2021

Clementine a darling spot for spring kayaking

Airy pearls dot the surface of this foothills lake

Ask paddlers what they remember about Lake Clementine….

…and chances are good they will answer “bubbles.” Clementine blows bubbles like a Lawrence Welk rerun. These airy pearls rise through sparkling clear water from a muddy bottom.

Which has led me to speculate, on previous paddles, that the bubbles may be fish farts. Except that at no time have I ever seen a single fish at Clementine, either swimming or at the end of a line, though fishing is popular here. This had the makings of a good mystery until one of my paddle pals – a no-nonsense woman who once worked as a rocket company exec – said flatly, “It’s decaying matter.” Well, okay, but she’s never going to get an invite from QAnon with that rational attitude.

Paddling past "Robber's Roost"

Clementine, part of the Auburn State Recreation Area, is a great off- or early-season destination for kayakers, paddler boarders and canoeists. It’s usually quiet, almost too

Tuesday, December 8, 2020

Holidays launch that ‘other paddling season’

A holiday toast, but non-alcoholic, the ballerina-elves were quick to say
No store lines, no anxiety, no monitor screen eye strain since...’s not a Cyber Monday event (thank goodness). But I have officially declared an early start to the Other Season – aka winter paddling. Traditionally (and by that I mean just last year), the Other Season begins on December 21, the Winter Solstice. But thanks to a

Friday, October 23, 2020

The invaders that came from beneath the sea


A strange, golden glob appeared in the sparkling water...

It opened like any really bad horror movie should... 

…with a peaceful, idyllic scene. Dozens of families relaxed on a white-sand beach near Monterey’s Cannery Row on a balmy Sunday in October. Children played in the surf and squealed with delight. Young couples strolled hand-in-hand along the strand. And a grizzled old paddler launched his red kayak into the gentle surf. That would be moi. 

...and began clustering around me
Only a few yards beyond the small breakers, I encountered a strange, golden blob in the sparkling turquoise waters. Jellyfish. Not one or two, but dozens jammed together in a floating island.

As I cautiously paddled closer for a better look, I noticed that several jellies had silently begun to surround my kayak. And then realized jellies were surfacing all over the bay. 

An instant of panic was quickly overcome by inspiration. What a great idea for a sea creature horror movie! I whipped out my waterproof camera and filmed a few underwater snippets. Fortunately, my stylings as a film auteur were perfect for the horror genre – grainy, jerky, slightly unfocused video. I could already see my very own starfish on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. 

But those dreams were dashed when further research showed that someone else thought of this idea first. And did it so much better than I ever could. How do you top radioactive, mutant jellyfish? Especially with a title like “Hellyfish,” a 2014 horror spoof that was cheesier than a holiday sale on Hickory Farms cheese logs. I turned seaweed green with envy as I watched the movie trailer.  (See the jump page of this post. And switch to full screen to get the max effect.)