Thursday, October 16, 2014

Kayaking at Paddle Sports Center

{I'm posting every day this month for the 31 Days writing challenge!
Click here to see an introduction and a list of all the posts I've written so far.}

The first time I ever went kayaking was in college, when I went on a weekend lake trip with a family I babysat for.  And on my very first time kayaking, I had a three-year-old child IN THE KAYAK with me.  Talk about terrifying!  I had someone else’s life in my hands, and I had no idea what I was doing.  This was also back when I was not remotely interested in any form of fitness, much less any outdoor activities, so needless to say I was weak and extremely uncoordinated.  Fortunately, the girl’s mom was in another kayak with her younger daughter, and she assured me that everything would be fine.  We all had life vests on, so even if I did tip us over, we’d be okay.  

I don’t actually remember much about that first time kayaking other than being extremely nervous the entire time.  I probably paddled slower than molasses, and I doubt I made it a hundred feet out from the dock.  But I survived – without flipping us over! – and after that, I never thought I’d get (or want) another opportunity to kayak again.

The second time I ever went kayaking was on my honeymoon.  It was mostly a means of cooling down because we were in Las Vegas in August and it was HOT, and the temperature out on the lake was at least ten degrees cooler (so, you know, only 99!).  I think I actually did enjoy kayaking that time, although I still felt very weak and uncoordinated, because back then, I was only beginning to toy with the idea of being a physically active person.

The third time I ever went kayaking was here in Santa Barbara, about a year and a half ago.  And you know what they say: third time’s the charm!  I have since gone kayaking quite a few more times, though I would love to make it more of a regular occurrence!  (Yet another instance of not having enough time to do All The Things.) 

So now that I’m basically a pro (ha), here are some reasons I think YOU should try kayaking in Santa Barbara:

  • It’s a great upper body workout.  You will obviously work your upper arms and shoulders, but if you do it right, you’ll ALSO feel it in your core!  (And please do it right, because otherwise you can totally hurt your back if you’re not engaging your core!  There’s your PSA for today.)   Seriously, my abs and obliques get fired up when I kayak!  And on top of being safer for your back, engaging your core also really helps give you more power and control as you paddle.

  • You can see Santa Barbara from a whole new vantage point.  Whether you go at the SB Harbor or at Goleta Beach, the view of this beautiful city from out in the ocean is just ridiculous.  I tend to wish for clear, sunny skies whenever I go kayaking, but the times that it’s been foggy have actually been even more magical.  The fog makes everything feel a little bit ethereal and mysterious.  

    (Click to enlarge)

  • You’ll encounter various ocean dwelling creatures.  You are pretty much guaranteed to see a few sea lions if you venture out to the buoy near the Harbor, and you may also spot dolphins if you’re lucky!  Then there’s all sorts of birds, and if the water is clear, you can look down and see all manner of fish as well.  And last time I went down at the Harbor, we also saw a couple of starfish and a TON of mussels underneath the pier!

    (Click to enlarge)

    (Click to enlarge)

  • It can be both relaxing and exciting.  You can take kayaking at your own pace, meandering lazily and mostly letting the water carry you where it will, or pushing yourself to pick up speed or paddle against the wind.  And unless the wind and waves are super strong that day, your kayaking excursion can be a mixture of relaxation and intense exercise.  (If the winds pick up, though, get ready to paddle for your LIFE to get back to shore.)

  • It’s a perfect outing with one or two other friends.  Why go to the movies – dark room, no human interaction – when you could be outside, breathing in the fresh air, chatting with your friends, and mixing up your workout routine all at once?  I have had some of the best conversations while sitting in a kayak!

    This was on my birthday this year!  Taken on Alicia's sweet old-school
    underwater camera with ACTUAL FILM! (Click to enlarge)
  • You may find a fresh perspective or a deeper appreciation for life.  When you’re in a kayak, it’s hard not to take in your surroundings and think, “This world is so much bigger than my problems or temporary complaints.”  At least, that’s how I feel whenever I get out there.  I am one of those people who feels closest to God when I’m observing the different landscapes, colors, smells, and textures of creation.  Even if you’re not religious, I think getting away from the hustle of the city can really help to quiet your mind and refocus your attention on worthwhile things.

  • Just about anyone can do it.  Even if you are completely out of shape (like I was the first two times I ever went kayaking), you can do it.  Trust me.  You can always ride a double and have a friend come along to help you paddle and steer.  (“Two are better than one,” after all.)   

If you ask me, I think everyone should try kayaking at least once in their lives.  But if you’re anything like me, you should also try it a second and third time.  Because it might take a couple tries, a couple different settings, or even a couple years to “get” what is so special about kayaking.

(Click to enlarge)
Now for the fun part: another sweet deal coming your way!  

My favorite place to rent kayaks is Channel Islands Outfitters at either of their Paddle Sports Center locations (which, as previously mentioned, are the Harbor and Goleta Beach), and they’ve kindly offered $5 off your next rental if you use the code “5RACK” and mention my blog post.  

The great thing is, this applies not only for kayak rentals but also stand up paddle boards and surfboards!  And the GREATER thing is: this deal does not expire!

So to all of you readers who don’t live in Santa Barbara and are thinking, “Shoot, I wish I could take advantage of that deal,” well...start planning your next vacation, and even if it’s a year from now, you’ll still be able to walk into the rental shop and say, “Hey, I read this blog post awhile back that said I could use a code to get $5 off!”  

Local friends: what are you waiting for?  Let’s get paddling!

{Disclaimer: All opinions in this post are my own; I reached out to CIO to see if they wanted to give my readers a deal, and they graciously agreed!}

1 comment:

  1. Kayaking is awesome, especially when paddling by lazy, sleeping sea lions ;-) We should definitely go together sometime!

    When we went to Catalina this summer, we had to kayak from our ship to one of the islands for some snorkeling. Allan had the misfortune of being paired up with a know-it-all in a double-kayak, and she kept wriggling around so much that they kept capsizing! Especially since she didn't know how to properly get back into the kayak. I think he's soured on doubles now, unless it's with Todd, possibly ;-)


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