Wednesday, October 8, 2008
The Island of Enchantment
I will be in Puerto Rico most of the week on business and I already miss the fall air and ambiance of the north country. My colleagues all give me grief and say, "Oooooh, poor boy! You have to go and suffer those white sand beaches, lush greenery, and summer temps". They all know of course, that I despise hot weather (its been 90F, 33C, every day) and feel the only thing a beach is good for is to surf your kayak on to. That being said, the people I call on are wonderful, the food is great, the hospitality excellent, and I used to be able to bring my kayak along.
As regular readers know I hate to fly and look upon the airlines and their toadies, the TSA, as an obstacle rather than a conduit for travel. Before I sold it this summer, I would take the trusty Feathercraft on this trip and paddle on various locations around the islands. One memorable trip involved paddling out to a string of islands off Fajardo called La Cordillera with a six pack of Medalla beer and a dozen shrimp so big that I could have clubbed an attacker with them had they been frozen. I brought a small quantity of Marchlight charcoal, made a small fire on the beach, and gorged on shrimp and beer. The next day I paddled into one of the famous bioluminescent bays, where the plankton light up when they are disturbed. When a paddle or hand went through the water, they would light up like the pixie dust on the end of Tinkerbelle's wand at the start of the old Wonderful World of Disney TV show. For a moment I wistfully thought of the old days when the experience would have been enhanced by a couple tokes from a magical herb but quickly realized that it was plenty cool enough in my nominal condition. Those days have ended however due to the incredible hassle and expense it takes to move a folding boat by air these days.
When a paddle, pfd, and other essentials are added to the Big Kahuna bag, it weights about 54#(25k). This puts it in the heavy, oversized baggage category. This means you have to pay extra for it, actually extra, extra these days since just checking a regular bag now can run $15. Its weight makes it a bit of a challenge for the baggage guys also, to see how far they can throw it. I actually watched two of them in Detroit grab each end and pitch it halfway up the conveyer, an impressive feat of strength had I not been concerned with the aluminum frame tubes being bent. I also began carrying pictures of it assembled and disassembled. This was after a woman from the TSA opened it for inspection and was certain that those same frame tubes and connectors were surely fuel rods for the core of an Al Queda nuclear reactor. I made the flight but the kayak didn't.
I finally gave up. I normally tend to just push back harder when stuff like this occurs but a combination of events detoured me from that path. My eco friendly former co worker, Ms ZFI, wanted a folding boat to carry in her Toyota Pious to avoid a roof rack and itsw reduction in gas mileage. I'd been test paddling a Q boat and had developed a yearning for its racy lines, narrow low volume profile, and rolling ease. It was the perfect storm of kayak interchange and I succumbed. As I sit here in Puerto Rico however, I remember the fun I had with the Feathercraft and briny smell of the ocean. I was still able to get that saltwater smell though; I just had to walk away from the roulette wheel and out on to the hotel patio to get it.