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Archive for May, 2009

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Day after a long kayak trip with the HRCKC we decided to spend Memorial Day Monday with the dogs on the Passaic River.  It was slated to be a beautiful hot day, the car was loaded from yesterday so today would be a breeze right?  In all actuality it was.

We just had a couple of stops to make on the way, but we were on our way, kayaking with a dog once again.  This time not just with Scraps the Dog, but also with Rags.  Was this going to be an adventure?  We have taken them out before with mixed results.  The first trip with the dogs was a bit un-nerving with all that would go on with the dogs going in the tank more often than not.  Our previous trip we brought Scraps alone worked well but it was cold outside.  Today is going to be hot outside and we have our hands full with Rags.

DCC_6095_edited-1It was 11:33 and Kathy was in the car ready to go to Terry’s Pet Depot for some treats for the dogs prior to the trip.  There we found a new good small PFD for Rags that fits her snugly.  In addition, I had been eyeing these $5 booggie boards at the 5-Below store  in that shopping center that I thought would work nicely as platforms for the dogs to hang out on while on the kayaks.  They turned out to be really good and we got two of them.  We were able to wedge these boards under the webbing on the bow of the kayaks and they really worked well.  They covered most of the bow.  In places that weren’t  covered at the very tip we placed bath mats with suction cups.  This also stayed in place with the help of the pressure from the boggie board pressing down upon them.  It’s actually amazing how well it all worked.  The only problem is the slippery surface of the boggie board is not too enticing and cozy for the dogs.  It think a towel on top of it next time will make it real nice for them.  The slippery surface was convenient for cleanup especially when Rags lost her breakfast on it during the trip.  I was able to easily rinse it off with a few splashes from my paddle.

DCC_6098_edited-1We got to the Essex County Environmental Center on Eagle Rock Ave. at 12:45.  This was after Kathy and I stopped in the nearby Dunkin Donuts for a bow-tie, 3 munchkins and a potty break.   Once parked, we took our time unloading.  Kathy was a bit paranoid about being stung by bees at this place like last time, so we tried to do most of the work far from the hives.  A couple with a canoe and a SUV pulled up besides us and brazenly took the boat right down to the water, past the designated driveway.  We got a kick out of that.

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It was at 1:20 Kathy was in the water safely with both dogs.  There was no mud thankfully at the bank of the river and I pushed Kathy and the two dogs into the water right into a rock.  That was a bit of an obstacle.  Nevertheless, I got them parallel to the shoreline and they were off floating.  Rags was a quite uneasy at first, wanting to get to me but Kathy held her in nicely while I figured out how to launch myself.  I don’t recall it being too hard to get in the water.  Within a few seconds I paddled up to Kathy and the two dogs and took hold of Rags like a 6-pack of beer and brought her into my boat.  We tuned left and started paddling upstream against the virtually non-existent current.

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I have to say, while Rags seems to be the “I don’t care” dog, she never seemed too thrilled with the whole experience.  I didn’t sense that the life vest was bothering her, although she did eventually throw up and maybe the compression on her diaphram by the life vest had something to do with it.  I think not, but you don’t know.  Maybe picking her up like a 6-pack upset her stomach.

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For the first 10 minutes or so she was OK, I was able to get her to sit on the boogie board but she wandered to the tip, always wanting to be where Scraps and Kathy were.  When I was behind them she would want to be on the tip of the bow, when I was ahead, she would work her way to the stern of the kayak and hang ot there.  At least the long red lead I have attached to her life vest never got tangled on this trip as she walked around like the first time she was with us.  Eventually she fell into the soup.  I quickly plucked her out of the water and she never went in again.  While she was in the water she was wimpering until I pulled her out, so she wasn’t swimming in glee.  After that experience she was much less active on the boat.

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It was hot out there, probably 90 degrees and no clouds.  We tried to paddle under the shade of tree when possible but it was still hot.  Rags pooped out and calmed quite a bit for the second half of the trip.  She at one point vomitted on the bow of the boat.  Maybe it was fom the heat? On the homeward leg of the journey she would rest inside the boat either lying on the floor in the shade under the bow or sitting on the floor with her head resting on my thigh.  It was pretty comfortable for me.  Sometimes she would pop back on the top of the boat. Scraps usually just sat quietly and majestically on top of Kathy’s boat.

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While I was comfortable with the concept of having the camcorder and tripod in my life vest to record the trip even if Rags got overly wet, I wasn’t as comfortable with my Nikon.   I video tapes for the most part from the beginning but it wasn’t until 2:10 that I was comfortable enough to unpack my Nikon and take pictures.  This is after Rags jumped in and calmed down considerably.  For the rest of the trip I had good access to get the Nikon out and take pictures.  With Rags sitting on the bow facing me, it gave me a great opportunity to get a few nice pictures.

At 2:33 I spotted some deer off in the woods in East Hanover.  They quickly ran off.  Kathy never saw them because she was ahead of me when I spotted them and they were there and gone in an instant.  Not so fast that I couldn’t capture them a bit on camera.

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Rags looking North at the Old Mt. Pleasant Ave. Bridge with the Route 10 Bridge just beyond.

Rags looking North at the Old Mt. Pleasant Ave. Bridge with the Route 10 Bridge just beyond.

Rags looking north at the Route 10 Bridge

Rags looking north at the Route 10 Bridge

At 2:45 we spot the Route 10 bridge after being on the river for an one-hour and twenty-five minutes.  It was around this time we also spotted a bunch of small ducklings struggling to get away from us.  This stopped Kathy in her tracks but I managed to get by the blockade made of guilt and feathers and got under the Mount Pleasant set of Bridges (Route 10 and Old Mount Pleasant Road) at 3:00.  This really woke Rags up as she kept barking and barking at the ducks.  This was Rags last horah, as she for the most part concked out afterwards.  Kathy never made it past the bridges and I finally turned around and went back toward home at 3:17.  It wasn’t until 3:28 that I caught up with Kathy and Scraps again.  By 3:45 Rags was getting reaaly tired and was seaking shelter inside the bow of the kayak.

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At 4:00 we spot the abandoned railroad bridge that we had so much troubled getting through on the way out with its three constricted channels.  Kathy gets through them at 4:05.  We spot the major electrical substation located off Eisenhower Parkway in Livingston at 4:19 and we know we are close to home.  At 4:15 we spot the Eagle Rock Avenue Bridge and it’s time to put the river shoes back on, pack up and prepared for grounding.  I put my Nikon camera away at 4:19 but I wanted to keep the video rolling to capture my landing.  As I was getting out of my boat the video camera slipped out of my life  vest and into the mud at the bank of the river.  I quickly scooped it up and apprently got lucky this time.  Not damage.  I was on the shore by 4:22.

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I think we were home by 5:10 or so, just in time to feed a couple of tired dogs dinner.  I unloaded the kayaks in the basement in no time and another double header of kayaking is in the book (blog).  Time to eat a little Carmel Haifa, chicken kabob and kibbet and think about the next adventure.

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DCC_5855_edited-1This was our first adventure with the Hackensack River Canoe and Kayak Club (HRCKC) and with the trip being the Rockaway River, it made it a nice close journey for Kathy and I.  The club cost $25 for the two of us for the year and today’s trip made the annual dues pay for themselves. It gave us an opportunity to meet a whole bunch of nice people who are into the same thing we are into.  For instance, while Kathy was hanging out with some of the women at the put-in point while the men were shuttling the cars at the beginning of the day, she realized that  most of the couples on the trip were long-term couples but yet,  not married just like Kathy and I.  Maybe we did find our little niche.  Finally, this trip showed us two new launching sites for the Rockaway which we had not experienced or specifically knew about.

The put in point at Jakson Ave. park in Rockaway Borough

The put in point at Jakson Ave. park in Rockaway Borough

DCC_5853_edited-1We arrived at the Jackson Avenue park in Rockaway Borough about 9:20 and there was no problem figuring out where to go.  The lineup of a dozen cars with kayaks, canoes and boat racks gave us a strong indication we were in the right spot.  We quickly parked, unloaded and staged our kayks for launching.  It probably took another 30-45 minutes for everyone else to arrive and for Phil, our trip leader, to organize the shuttle to Tourne Park where we would park most of the cars, eventually shuttling on 3 cars to the Giffith Park take-out point.  There is limited parking at Griffith Park and when our convoy rolled into the Tourne parking lot, it showed how this idea was a good one.  We almost filled up the Tourne with our12-13 car convoy, which impressively fell into place as we automatically loaded the parking lot. On the way back to Rockaway, I was in the shuttle with Frank, Judy, Mark, Walter, Bob and the name of our driver who I forget.  He had a canoe on his roof and seemed very experienced but he wasn’t going on the trip with us just shuttling members back and forth.  This was very nice of him.  We eventually saw him peering over the armada floating down the Rockaway at the start of the trip as he grabbed a view from the wrong side of a fence on the first bridge we went under.

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When we got back to the launch site, most of the boats were carried to the shoreline by the people hanging out.  Getting in the water at this site would not be totally dry. It was shallow and along the shore was too shallow to just jump in a paddle.  I pushed Kathy into clear water with great difficulty but I had to step into the river and launch from it.  Not a big deal.  It was clean water and not mud, so it didn’t impact the cleanliness of my interior too much.  We hung out for 15 minutes while we waited for everyone to get into their boats and down the river we went.

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While waiting to get going I took the cameras out of their water-proof bags and started snapping a few shots, so according to this record we were in the water at around 10:50 and started going down stream by 11:05.

It was a beautiful day, the clouds from yesterdays storms were blowing by us and it was slated to be very nice, warm, but not too hot , with only a chance of pop-up thunderstorms later in the afternoon.  The day started of cloudy and comfortable, it turned to sunny and comfortable to warm and ended with a spitting of a few minor, isolated showers just as we were getting off the river in Boonton.  It felt good.  The weather for the day was really nice and we made it just in time.  By dinner time a few strong thunderstorms materialized over Morristown which had strong rains for a few minutes at a time.  That would have been nerve-racking to paddle through.

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DCC_5894_edited-1Back to the beginning, so we started going down the river 11:10 and the group spread out quickly.  Kathy and I were more toward the rear with a group of 10-12 for most of the first leg.  I tend to lag as I take lots of photos and unfortunately, most of my pictures of the group are from behind.  It’s usually the best side of most people anyway.  Juts kidding.  So I started snapping at 10:53 in the water, we took off downstream at 11:05 and started taking out for lunch at McCarter Park in Denville, at the Stewarts, at 12:02.  Not a long first leg, but it is a great place to stop.  Easy in-out, picnic benches, a Stewarts with a bathroom across the street.  Almost like a drive through.  Stewarts should serve people at the banks of the river in their boats like they serve people in their cars.

The first leg  was a bit tricky at times because it was so shallow.  We scraped along the bottom rocks and several occasions along the first 10 minutes, it was something to deal with but nothing where we had to get out at any point.  It eventually got deep enough after the first 10 minutes where this was no longer an issue.  The water was clear, much clearer than the Passaic and you could easily see to the bottom with the ubiqitous abandoned tire stuck to the bottom of the river.  The look of the ugly mess in the water wasn’t as unsightly and upsetting as the ubiqitous discarded plastic water bottles that form at every strainer in the Passaic.  There was little on-shore littering on the Rockaway, which was nice.

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DCC_5915_edited-1Going with the group meant most of any wildlife has fled by the time you reach where they were before the might armada upset their peaceful habitat.  Geese and ducks were about all I saw.There is nothing thrilling about geese except they do stand still long enough to give you a nice photo-op.  Kathy said we saw and I got a few shots of a cormorant, but I thought it was a goose.  Maybe if someone knows, they can confirm it in as a comment.

As far as the folliage goes it was fully green but there were few other colors to see but  the green of the trees, the hazy blue of the skies and the scummy blackish blue hue of the water.  Kathy, as usual, was the most colorful item out on the water.  Her kayak, PFD and paddles psychodelicate an otherwise overly bland natural environment.

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Take out for lunch at McCarter Park in Denville.  There is Stewarts across the street.

Take out for lunch at McCarter Park in Denville. There is Stewarts across the street.

Kathy and I went to Stewarts for a bathroom break and an order of fries and a Coke.  We hung with Joe there and eventually joined the rest of the group at the McCarter riverside park where we ate our BJ&J sandwiches.  We listened to stories of other riversides from other HRCKC members during this break.  It’s good to hear about where you can go and what is around and what others have done.  It was a long lunch, probably as long as the initial leg but very satisfying.

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We put back into the water at 1:05 and headed down the stretch of the Rockaway that Kathy and I have yet to explore.  This is going north through from Denville into Mountain Lakes and ending up in Boonton.  The cool thing is you go through all these towns without actually going into these towns.  There are some beautiful backyards that have riverside property in this area.  A few mansions but most were just very nice homes.  We went past the hospital, St. Clares I believe, and wound our way through a golf course.  I had to scream “four” at one point as a golfer hooked a ball into the middle of the river.

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Four!!!!!

Four!!!!!

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As we approached Boonton, the river widened and we found other paddlers on the river enjoying its inherent fun.  Families with kids were having water fights amongst their boats and a father with a gaggle of kids was using someone’s dock and rope swing that pendulated over the Rockaway presenting a whole lot of fun.

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A flag on an island in the middle of the river indicated the Boonton dam and the take out was near.  It just began to rain at this point.  It was just a few sparse drops but it served as a reminder of how good the weather was to us.  If we did this trip and hour and a half later we may have been packing up in a deluge, but fortunately, this was not the case.

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At about 2:40 we started to stage for final approach and landing.  It took 10 to 15 minutes to get all of us out of the water.  It is great how everyone helps to get the boats and the people out.  By about 2:50 I was out of the water taking a few photos of the dam that marked the end of the trip.  I picked up one of the shuttles back to the nearby Tourne Park paking lot and quickly drove back to and parked at Griffth Park.  We got the boats up on the roof and away we went.  The boats were not muddy at all and required little cleanup.

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When we got home we decided to keep the car packed for another trip tomorrow on Memorial Day Monday.  This time with the dogs who were home all day.  When we got home at 3:40 I immediately took the spare ribs out of the fridge, created a dry rub and got them on the grill for dinner to be eaten 4 hours later after they slowly cooked with a bottle of Keesha 2006 Pinot Noir.  A well deserved break after  a great day of paddling.  Time to day it again tomorrow but this time with the pooches.

Your humble poster, Larry.

Your humble poster, Larry. Please pardon all mistakes.

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DCC_5409_edited-1Kathy and I took this Monday off because the weather was clearing from a pretty wet weekend and we thought we would take advantage of it and take the dogs kayaking. Unfortunately, the clearing of the weather was slow to materialize and by the time it came to decide what to do we decided to leave Rags at home because I didn’t want to to be cold with a wet dog in my Kayak. Scarps was very mellow on the previous trip he went on so Kathy really wanted to bring him.

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We decided to put in and take out of the Passaic River at its intersection with South Orange Avenue. We left the house at 2:06 and we were there by 2:20 or so. It probably took us 30 minutes to get the boats ready and we were off in the River at 2:55. The plan was to go upstream until the first time we would have to portage around and turn around and come home.

 

The launch site was a little muddy but not too bad. Kathy sat in her kayak in the mud and I grabbed Scraps from the car and handed him to Kathy in the Kayak. I pushed them in the river and off they went. I pointed my kayak straight into the river on a steep bank of mud, hopped in and I slid nicely into the river. This was a very quick and easy launch.

The river was high and not moving and paddling against the virtually non-existent current did not take much effort at all. This was in sharp contrast with our trip to the Rockaway River last week.

I had the camcorder nicely shoved into my life best and was taking some nice videos of Scraps and Kathy paddling up the river.  I took 53 minutes in total of boring footage.

We found a little detour into a swampy area which was nice but it turned to a muddy flat and we had to turn around.  I think it would have been a nice place to just float and look for birds.

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After leaving the swamp I was ahead of Kathy and I heard Scarps plunge into the water. The karma of the trip took a turn at that moment. Kathy retrieved him but she was worried about him being cold. She wiped him off but he shivered for much of the rest of the trip. Kathy wanted to go back but I wanted to forge onto the portage point as originally planned.

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We crossed some minor power lines adjacent to some major power easement and found what was probably the second portage from the last and only time we had paddled this segment of the Passaic. Nevertheless, the river was high and I was able to get through the branches that formed the obstacle.

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It took us about an hour and a half to get to this point and then we turned around and headed home.    It was a bit easier to paddle this way, more so than you would expect looking at the calmness of the water.  Scraps hung in Kathy’s lap for much of the way home in a sad looking towel and it probably made it awkward for her to paddle without banging him with every stroke.

As far as the take-out area, I decided I would try to ram the kayak into a segment of shallow, muddy shoreline with great speed and run my kayak aground.  This worked great, I was easily out with only a little muddy sinking.  Kathy took the same approach and I was there to yank here and her kayak out of the ultra muddy area.

The cleanup and loading of the kayaks wasn’t bad.  A Livingston cop came down while patrolling the launch site’s while we were loading.  He was curious about the whole kayaking thing and how it works.  I discussed it with him for a while and then we were off back to home.  We got home by around 5:30, fighting rush hour traffic and the unloading and pack-in was quick.  Another successful trip and good use of our new kayaks.

Kathy’s off to yoga and I’m gonna call in a Raul’s Empanadas Town order (973-285-5555

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IMG_3065_edited-1Kathy and I were planning on joining a paddle sponsored by the Morris County Park Commission tonight on the Rockaway River, leaving from the Tourne Park.  Of course calling the morning of the paddle found us unable to join the group, even with our own kayaks.  It was a nice day and I was planning on doing the kayak trip so I took a half day and Kathy took a few hours off and we decided to do a paddle on our own.

I researched and decided to select a piece of the Rockaway River, this to be our first time not going on the Passaic River.  How exciting.  It seemed as McCarter Memorial Park on Bloomfield Avenue in Denville would be a good launch point.  I read one article that said so.  It was close.

We decided to try the trip with one car, paddling up stream for a while and then back down.  It seemed easy enough of the Passaic River so why not the Rockaway?  Finding a parking spot at the Park was easy and access to the river was close and convenient as can be.  Path led from the street in the park right to the river.  In addition, there were big rocks at the river’s edge that made getting in and out of the kayak clean and easy.

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So getting into the river was easy, getting up stream right away proved to be quite an effort. This wasn’t like going against the gentle current of the Passaic.  This was a slightly less than gentle current and  it took some muscle.

We got into the river at 4:40 and the initial paddle was tough to get to the first area that you could rest a little.  I wasn’t sure we were paddling forward for a while, but you do make progress, although much slower and and with a lot more effort.  Much like riding up hill.  We went on for 30 minutes almost straight where we had to paddle steadily throughout the whole time.  With a few areas that were really tough to get though some rocky areas.

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It was nice in that I figured out that I could attach the mini-tripod to the bottom of the camcorder and stuff that down the chest of my life preserver.  It held it pretty still and in a good location.  So check out the video because it is pretty cool.

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I wasn’t thrill with my pictures and there wasn’t much to take.  This was our first trip where the river was lined with green trees as opposed to trees with no leaves.  Nevertheless, it wasn’t beautiful.  We saw a few geese, babies and ducks.  One heron, but that was it.

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We got to Gardner Field where there was a lot of  baseball, soccer and fishing going on.  Kathy wanted to quit but I wanted to go on.  There was a tough point to get through in front of the park and I convinced Kathy to  do it.  She did it like a pro.  We then headed under one more bridge and headed under route 80.  Going under all the bridges with their constrictions to the river proved difficult but doable.  We proceeded about 10 minutes past Route 80 and we turned around, just around 6:10.

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The way home while easy, still required paddling and what ever hassles there were getting there were  just small ripples on the way home.  It took 35 minutes to get home and we disembarked on the rocks by the car.  Getting out was nice, clean and easy and so was loading the car.

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We finished the trip with the natural progression to the Stewarts that was staring at us while we packed the car.  My meal of burger and fish sandwich was good while Kathy’s  double Italian hot dog was unsatisfying.  We got home and the unload into the house was easy.

Our first new river, how exciting and we discovered kayaking can be a workout.

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