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Monday, December 21, 2020

Picture this: Good times for paddling just ahead


Near the end of some long, tough paddles, it became a standing joke: “We’re almost there, it’s just around that next bend!” Sometimes it was, and sometimes it wasn’t, but it was always good for the moment. And so it can be now, as we find ourselves arriving at year's end. 

Given the turbulence of 2020, it’s easy to forget the good paddles we've had in the past. But in just a little while, one hopes, our troubles will be far away.  Meanwhile, here’s a photo album to recall some great times around the water, and inspire adventures in the New Year, as the fates allow. (Some iPhones may not open the album app, but it's better seen on a larger screen anyway.)

 © Glenn Brank 2020

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...

...it’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 certain global virus, we will start early since 2020 has delivered the winter of our discontent. (Shakespeare, with words he had way.) He also never overused parentheses, but I digress.

Otter puts on an aquatic show -- video below
Paddling is among the safest forms of recreation, Covid-wise, and with continuing mild weather, it’s a great time to get out of the house and on the water. Plus, most state parks remain open for day use. And as I noted last year, there are unusual things to see this time of year. Last weekend, that included paddleboarders in holiday tutus and a river otter foraging for lunch. 

A couple of caveats: State officials ask folks to stay local as much as possible to avoid overcrowding park venues. And even though daytime temperatures are often in the 60s,

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.)