Posts Tagged ‘Mother’s Day’

Mom needs a kayak

May 12, 2017

Yup, you read that correctly: it’s your answer for the annual Mother’s Day conundrum — and you still have two whole days to shop (or procrastinate).

Freedom. Power. Shopping. Those are the reasons why you’ll buy Mom (or your wife or significant other — or yourself or your daughter!) a kayak this year. Let me explain (note: this is one of those kayak-endorphin inspired musings that revealed itself to me as I plied the windy waters of the St. Lucie River, which will make more sense as the explanation unfolds):

Freedom: The realization that she can’t do anything she wants and she can’t do everything the boys do is something that slowly and insidiously seeps into a young girl’s consciousness. The result is often a home-bound woman frustrated by her limited choices and afraid to step outside the boundaries that society and the media have created. Those boundaries tell her she’s too old or too weak or it’s dangerous for her to do something like kayaking.

Of course the first problem with kayaking is “I can’t lift one of those onto my car.” But this video (link below) shows plenty of ways to get around that issue, even for a small woman. Where there’s a will …

Think about this: As we age and grow, true freedom evaporates for girls. We’re in the kitchen cleaning up after parties and dinners while the guys continue drinking and watching the football game. There’s little choice in the matter. We’re constrained by expectations of appearance in dress and manner, further eliminating choices and options. By adulthood, because we’re working and nurturing others or doing free work at schools and libraries many women are too pressed for time to do anything for ourselves. We’re too concerned about smelling bad or looking disheveled to participate in anything athletic, so we turn to finding cute outfits and cooking or keeping house as our outlets.

But eventually the beast emerges, hungry for freedom and choices that aren’t satisfied by retail therapy. A woman who’s been saddled with raising children, toiling under an ungrateful boss, and frustrated by time passing will inevitably implode.

Unless she has a kayak and freedom.

A kayak is a vehicle that doesn’t need roads and signs; it carves its own path to adventure and happiness. Travel quickly or meander aimlessly, the kayak doesn’t care. She may look for fish, for birds, for signs of spring or fall colors — or nothing but peace and quiet.

A in kayak Pittsburg NH  Freedom. Serenity. Power.

Power:  Women are generally discouraged from building or using muscle. “Let me do that for you” is a frequent phrase we hear for everything from lifting groceries to moving furniture. Call the handyman when a job requires lifting. Get a man to do that. Well, I’m calling BS — start with a kayak and pretty soon she’ll be doing pushups like Ahhhnold.

The sore muscles are a badge of honor after a long paddle. They remind you that you did it yourself, you propelled a watercraft and succeeded. You tamed the wind and were challenged by the tides, but you survived. Pretty soon the desire to tackle more physical challenges takes hold and the sky is the limit: a 5K run? climb a mountain? anything is possible.

Shopping: This is the gateway, it’s one of the ways a woman’s mind works when her options are limited. Bear with me: If Mom/wife/daughter is used to handling the family shopping, she will love a kayak because it opens a new world of choices and decisions. Cruise through a scenic harbor and she’ll begin to imagine herself aboard a variety of yachts or looking down from the balcony of a chic townhouse (whether as a Bond Girl or maritime skipper, that’s up to her). Glide by some cute seaside shacks and she’ll consider the scenario of running away from responsibilities to make a new life without the SUV and 9-to-5. She may be immersed in the suburban lifestyle now while raising a family but things will change eventually and unless she’s got some inkling of her next step (through “shopping”) the transition could be rocky.

It’s liberating to enjoy sights and sounds and sensations that aren’t loading up the car, getting kids to school, or the same old power walk around the neighborhood. You might have let the genie out of the bottle, but that’s OK because she will escape one way or the other.

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Note to readers: if you’ve read this far, I have one small item of advice — DO NOT buy a tandem/2 person kayak. If she’s timid of the water then start on a quiet, windless day on a small pond in separate kayaks. Tandems simply accelerate the implosion that I warned you about.

Also, don’t buy a crappy $300 kayak. Spend the $1400 and get something above 12 feet with a bit of a keel. If she’s nervous about controlling it, get a rudder installed. Mom is worth it.

Mother’s Day Mountain

May 15, 2015

Mount Greylock, at 3,491 feet, was a mountain I had to see. Nevermind that the hike was scheduled for Mother’s Day, when my family would be day drinking and talking about … our childhoods? … yeah, that made the hike nearly irresistible!

So we had a great international group with a lot to chat about, which was great because it took my mind off the initial ascent that was nothing if not straight up Thunderbolt, a ski run masquerading as a hiking trail. And of course I’d done my usual amount of research (none) about the trip before signing up, so I only had a vague idea that it was going to be a full day, 12 mile, double-summit hike.

not sure how accurate the blue arrows are but it's a reasonable facsimile of our 12 mile route

not sure how accurate the blue arrows are but it’s a reasonable facsimile of our 12 mile route

One lovely diversion were the numerous wildflowers along the way. In places the forest floor was blanketed with tiny white blossoms, in others the “hobblebush” (white flowers like hydrangea) were taller than us.

tiny yellow lillies

tiny yellow lillies

trillium, a.k.a. stinking benjamin -- looks good but don't bother sniffing

trillium, a.k.a. stinking benjamin — looks good but don’t bother sniffing

hobblebush, said to be a favorite snack of moose (unlikely here)

hobblebush, said to be a favorite snack of moose (unlikely here)

It’s always interesting meeting folks for the first time and spending an entire day with them as we all get dirtier, smellier, cranky, hungry, tired… such a lovely day out! But seriously, there were folks from Ireland, Costa Rica, Mexico, France, Germany and… average Americans, which offered lots of opportunities for interesting conversations about travel, hiking, occupations, and of course, what sort of gear storage you have (mine is basically the trunk of my car).

what is going on here??

what is going on here??

One of my fellow hikers really broke the ice for all of us when she started to overheat before we’d even tackled the first significant hill. The problem was she had long pants on and hadn’t considered the 80 degree day that was just warming up. So our resourceful leader quickly produced a multitool with scissors and reduced her problem to short pants. (No more whining, right? I wish!)

going up thunderbolt

going up thunderbolt

The ascent up Thunderbolt had us all warmed up in no time. It was steep. And yet the summit wasn’t the end of the road. In fact, the summit was was just the beginning of the hike.

the 93 foot tower on the summit

the 93 foot tower on the summit

great views for lunch

great views for lunch

After a little refreshment the serious hiking began. We went down Overlook across the gorgeous ridge and eventually found Moneybrook Trail. We stopped again at Moneybrook Falls (lovely, if a little paltry on the “falls” side), and the day was about halfway done! We’d entered the Hopper, a glacial bowl, and the only way out was up. Then up some more.

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moneybrook falls

moneybrook falls

It really was a damned long day. Somewhere along the way I’d forgotten the reason I ‘had to’ do this hike: Frigging Henry David Thoreau, the bearded bard. When he was in his late 20s, the original hipster built his cabin at Walden (on somebody else’s land) and set fire to a neighbor’s property, burning about 300 acres. That probably caused a little stir in old Concord. So being Thoreau, he walked away — a long way. He walked all the way to Greylock, climbed to the summit and spent a night up there covered by a few boards for warmth. He then continued to meet a friend in New York and went to the Catskills, probably hoping the neighbor’s angst about the fire had cooled by then.

the original shiftless hipster

the original shiftless hipster

No, I’m not just trashing Thoreau for fun, he’s in our new book and when I make presentations on it I talk about his long walks and his enjoyment of mountains and being outdoors, especially his night on Greylock. Penance for his bad deed? Maybe, but what sticks to a guy who’s basically 27, jobless and wandering around like a modern stoner living in his mom’s basement? Maybe the cold night outside had some effect: he became a better writer, published more … let’s just hope my book sells more than “Walden” did — he had 500 copies printed but 450 ended up in his little cabin by the pond because they didn’t sell during his lifetime!

The black flies prevented me from channeling my inner Thoreau on the hike, but living like that doesn’t especially appeal to me, so BUY MY BOOK! If I were going to rate this hike alongside others in the book, it would be right down there with the solo slip-n-slide on Kinsman Ridge in the snow. But I have to give Thoreau his due, the guy could walk. Strolling from Harvard home to Concord was nothing to him, and he was a frequent visitor to Wauchusett and Monadnock just for the heck of it, certainly logging more miles than his old leather brogues were intended for. He didn’t have the option of Vasques or Tevas, poor guy.

the book, the reason for this hike

the book, the reason for this hike

available on www.michaeltougias.com


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