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.)

Sunday, September 13, 2020

How to enjoy kayaking in “new normal” era

Enjoying nature more important than ever in these strange days

I was tempted to call this the “new abnormal” but realized… 

we don’t need another reminder that strange days are here. When I posted an item about Covid-19 in March, it was outdated a couple of days later. I had suggested that Californians should get free admission to all state parks since so many other social activities were banned.

Unfortunately, a gazillion people flocked to state parks and beaches that weekend. So much for safe distancing. Most parks were shut immediately, and I scrapped the post. Most state parks have since reopened. Except for those inside major wildfire zones. Or are inhospitable due to heavy smoke that presents a serious health hazard. Strange days indeed.

The smoke will disappear, eventually. Covid-19, maybe not so soon. So let’s focus on safe kayaking in a viral environment. On the bright side, you may not need to carry your own supply of toilet paper everywhere any longer. 

Quarantine on the water
For starters, kayaking lends itself to safe distancing of six feet or more between people. Turns out most kayak paddles are the perfect metric for that. My 210cm paddle gives me a 6-foot-8.7 inch measuring stick. Your paddle is probably more than six feet long, too. 

Paddles also may come in handy off the water. For a time, walking in a local park became hazardous as maskless runners brushed by me as they came up from behind, huffing and puffing. That stopped as soon as I took my paddle on walks and “practiced”

Tuesday, February 18, 2020

There's no otter place quite like Elkhorn Slough

A relaxed resident of Elkhorn Slough studies passersby (Click on photos to enlarge)

 This might be my No. 1 choice for a paddling trip….

…during the “Other Season,” and it’s easy to make that case with generally mild winter weather, beautiful scenery and some of the best wildlife viewing anywhere in California. But on my most recent trip to Monterey County, I noticed that the entertainment worked both ways – while kayakers were watching sea otters and harbor seals in Elkhorn Slough, those critters were gawking at us too.