Wrangler Dani

Writer, editor, marketer and communication strategist. I'm also a wife, mama, hiker, cowgirl and experimental cook living in beautiful Central Oregon.

Archive for the ‘kayaking’ Category

October 11th, 2012 by Dani

Happy {31 Days}

Last weekend, we paddled across a lake on the Central Coast of California, and set up a tiny campsite under a live oak tree. We carried everything with us in the hulls of our kayaks, built a fire from branches and leaves, made meals with our trusty JetBoil and some freeze-dried soup. (It tasted better than it sounds.)

We fell asleep to the sound of foxes rustling in the bushes and crickets chirping under an open, silent sky. We awoke early to the honking of geese and gentle sunshine cresting the hilltops.

We made coffee, black and strong, and put our tents and sleeping bags back into our kayaks, packing everything away with precision and efficiency. As we slid our boats into the water, we watched the fog lift and felt the morning sun warming our backs. We paddled down the lake, and saw wild turkeys, geese, ducks, deer and even a black bear on the far shore.

Adam happily threw his line in the water, I laid back on my kayak and snoozed. The sun warmed our faces, the breeze kept us moving and the lake was still and silent, more like a lazy river than a true lake. My handsome husband reeled up his fishing line and grinned at me. “This is awesome,” he said. I couldn’t agree more.

July 9th, 2012 by Dani

The Staycation Diaries

My handsome hubby and I had plans to go on a long kayaking trip over the 4th of July, but soon realized that our preferred destination might be a teensy bit crowded and thus, not fun.

So we did the next best thing. We staycationed the heck out of our beautiful little hometown, and it was fabulous. Five days off at home really gives you an appreciation for where you live, and it also makes to-do lists grow like weeds (Hi Monday! You are… formidable.)

San Clemente Pier, waiting for fireworks on the beach

Here’s what we did.

Day 1, July 4th. Putter Day. We’d been invited to a few bar-be-ques and pool parties, but all Adam really wanted to do was putter around with his gear and maps and whatnot, and all I wanted to do was sit on the patio with a good book and a cold beverage. So we did. We also ran a few errands, ate a huge breakfast, swam laps and walked down the beach to sit on the sand and watch an impressive fireworks show off of our very own San Clemente pier. It was a great day.

Fireworks! Yay America!

Day 2, July 5th. Mountain Day. Adam had long been dreaming of climbing Mount San Jacinto (why, yes, it IS a state park, and I will review it soon, thanks for asking!) and so we took off early in the morning with boots and cheese and backpacks and trekking poles. About a mile in, I realized that he wasn’t kidding about the whole “climbing a mountain” thing, and that we would actually be headed UPHILL for the next five miles. It was a beautiful day and a great hike, though, and despite my wimpiness we actually made it up and back in a respectable time. Review to come!

Day 3, July 6th. Fish Day. My honey loves to fish. I have only caught one fish in all my born days, and it was super tiny and I was very afraid of it. A couple of weeks ago, Adam went out on a boat with his team from work and caught an obscene amount of very delicious Sand and Calico Bass, so I was inspired to try again to catch my dinner. And guess what?! I did! It wasn’t the most successful fishing boat (most people only caught a few all day) but I caught four bass total and got to keep one of them. I used a very light pole and tackle, which, although not great for catching Halibut or anything else big, was perfect for me and my little fishies. I could easily feel them on the line and got to enjoy a little fight with them on the way in, which is honestly part of the fun. During part of the day a whole crowd of intense and very aggressive fishermen swarmed the back of the boat and I was left my lonesome on the side, casting away to my heart’s content. It was actually wonderful – sunny and warm and peaceful – and I caught all of my fish during that time too. The moral of the story? Watch out for groupthink. And go fishing.

Adam and a couple of the fish we caught. He offered to take my picture with them as well, but, um, I'm a wimp.

Day 4, July 7th. Kayak Day. Adam has been drooling over a new kayak, so we decided to take part of our morning to make an honest woman out of his new boat, and actually fork over the gobs of cash for her. We stopped for bagel sandwiches first (can’t go boat-shopping on an empty stomach) and then waltzed into Dana Point Jet Ski and bought ourselves a brand-spanking-new Hobie Outback. She won’t be available for pick-up for a few days, but it’s finally official and it’s been such a long time coming – Adam has been wanting a Hobie for almost three years now – so we can’t wait for more paddle trips to come. Afterwards, we decided to decommission Thelma 1.0 in a proper way, so we took her and Louise for a brief (and very windy) fight with the Jet-Skiers in Mission Bay. Then we went to church, saw our friends, listened to a band, got some free cucumbers and ate some Chick-fil-A.

Day 5, July 8th. Spa Day. We’ve had about $200 in gift cards to Glen Ivy Hot Springs burning holes in our pockets (OK, maybe just my pocket, Adam might rather climb a mountain) for about two years, and it seemed that the staycation was the time to spend them. We drove out to the Hot Springs Spa early and spent all day lounging in the sun, going from hot pool to cold pool (it’s called hydrotherapy and is supposedly legit, it did make us feel invigorated after about five times) trying out the mud bath, the mineral bath, the lap pool, the lounge pool and testing how many nachos we could eat. We also splurged on a couples’ massage (we did have gift cards) which was heavenly. After our day at the spa, we spent a Groupon at one of our favorite local steakhouses and got a delicious meal (although I was worried that my stomach might explode, apparently just because something tastes good doesn’t mean you should keep eating). It was the perfect (economical! Look at us and our good deals!) cap to a wonderful little staycation.

Now today is Day 1, July 9th, Back in the Saddle Day, and my to-do list is stamping its feet and snorting like a very angry bull. In the meantime, leave me a comment about what you did for the 4th, or your latest staycation, or how many nachos you can eat. I need distractions  – after five days of vacation, work is kicking my little tushy.

June 25th, 2012 by Dani

We’ve fallen in love with paddles and sunshine…

…and it’s easy to see why.Our friends Stephen and Hilary have also recently been bitten by the kayaking bug. Specifically, Stephen has been bitten by the “hey Adam you should really buy a new kayak and sell me your old one” bug and Hilary has been bitten by the “oh gosh I can paddle with my feet and talk with my hands?! Hallelujah” bug. As shown in the above photo, I’m just excited. They are too, they just wear their excitement on the inside. I think.

Look at that guy, what a natural.

We launched out of Huntington Harbor because it was one of the few rental places that had the kayak that Adam is interested in buying. Upon arriving, we remembered why Huntington Beach has a reputation for being filled with Bros and Hos – mostly because it is filled with Bros and Hos. We lucked out and got one of the four parking spots by the launch area, only to fight with roughly a bajillion (probably inebriated) people to get out into the harbor.

Once we’d launched, Hilary and I were gabbing away and taking our time (we’re girls), only to realize that we should have kept our studly bodygaurd husbands close – there were a lot of frat boys in the water who wanted to hitch rides on our kayaks. Awkward!

Luckily, we made it to more open water where we could chat without being molested. It was much nicer.

Also, Hilary had to rent a Hobie pedal kayak (like mine, only a couple of feet shorter) and she might have fallen in love. I’m so excited to have friends who want to kayak too!

Adam really enjoyed the Hobie Outback he rented – it has plenty of trays for the keeping of lures, cameras, snacks, GPS and other manly gadgets, and also four places to keep fishing poles. The only bummer was that the kayak he rented wasn’t in very good shape (clearly they don’t take very good care of their equipment at OEX Sunset Beach) and it stank like dead fish – I think there was something nasty rotting in the hull.

But, he seems happy with the model and excited for more fishing/kayaking adventures, so Stephen might get his wish pretty soon!

Speaking of Huntington Harbor, though – if you are looking at renting/buying kayaks, please don’t patronize Sunset Beach OEX. While they aren’t responsible for the behavior of their customers or the culture of the town where they do business, they are responsible for their part – and I was not impressed. They don’t take care of their kayaks and if you are looking at buying it’s a bit discouraging to see two grand worth of boat being thrown around and thrashed. Also, Hilary and I were confused about the rental rate and asked a question of the manager, only to be told that we were being “cheap about it” and asked huffily if he should charge us for using his hose. If we paid you 50 cents for the use of your hose would you be nicer?

The launch area was crowded, there’s very little parking, the employees are rude and the kayaks are not well-cared-for.  We learned our lesson and every other place we’ve rented or bought kayaks from has been a great experience, so there’s no reason to go back to Stankville, USA.

But we still had a great time – you just can’t beat warm sun, cool water and a long paddle with great friends.

I haven’t been documenting very many of our outdoorsy adventures here on the blog, but I’m kindof enjoying writing about it, assuming you like reading it. What say you? Is it the equivalent of being shown a four-hour slideshow of Aunt Mabel’s trip to Philadelphia? Or slightly more interesting?

June 22nd, 2012 by Dani

A Tale of Two Kayaks

You might remember a very long time ago when I bought Louise, my sunshiney ocean kayak. Adam and I have gone on numerous adventures with Thelma (his kayak) and Louise – down the Grand Canyon, numerous early-morning harbor tours, Mission Bay, Newport Harbor, one excrutiatingly long paddle from Dana Point to San Clemente, the Salton Sea, Lake Perris and I’m sure many more that I’m just not remembering at the moment.

Now, however, it might be time for Thelma to move on and Thelma 2.0 to step in. You see, Thelma is a Cobra Kayak, a cheaper and less-snazzy sit-on-top ocean kayak. She’s been wonderful for our many adventures, but she has two drawbacks: she doesn’t have a lot of storage (making overnight trips difficult) and she isn’t as well suited for fishing as a Hobie kayak like Louise.

So, we’re considering investing in a new Hobie (either an Outback or a Pro Angler) so that Adam can fish away to his heart’s content and (dream of my heart!) we can go on a multi-day paddle trip somewhere exciting. A couple of weeks ago we tried out the Pro Angler in Dana Point Harbor, and while it was sturdy and generally beautiful, it was also GINORMOUS, very heavy and a bit unwieldy for one man and his weak wifey to haul around. So we’re going to test out the Outback this weekend and hopefully we’ll have better luck with it.

Kayaking has long been a passion of mine and more of a vehicle for Adam to catch fish and be outside than anything else. However, in the last few months, both of us have gotten downright obsessed with kayaking and have been going for any excuse at all. I’m very hopeful that a bigger kayak will lead us to even better adventures.

The weather is perfect today – a soft breeze, warm sun, I can smell the salt water from here and I even think I hear a sea lion, down in the water. Tonight we’re making fish tacos (from the bass Adam caught yesterday!) and tomorrow we’re going to try out a new kayak. Yippee ki yay – Summer is here!

Adam and I, Thelma and Louise (and our new wheels!) at Lake Perris

July 29th, 2011 by Dani

This Weekend (A list)

This weekend, I’m looking forward to:

  • Friends
  • Sunshine
  • The Pacific Ocean (which is a whopping 70-something degrees right now, woohoo!)
  • Kayaking with my honey
  • Tacos
  • Beer
  • Popsicles that turn my lips a fun color
  • Sand on my feet
  • Cowboys and Aliens at the movie-house (Adam loves cheesy end-of-the-world movies and I love cowboys… they call this a win-win)
  • Finishing The Help while outside with a tasty beverage and sunshine on my shoulders
  • Time spent with my Hubs

What are you doing this weekend?

July 14th, 2011 by Dani

Gussy Sews’ Inspiration Workshop: Sunshine

(In case you don’t know what this post is about, click here for more from Gussy.)

“Sunshine” makes me think of this song:

Aptly named.. you guessed it: “Sunshine” by Matt Costa

This song, in turn, reminds me of the heady days of dating my now-Hubs. I was telling a friend the other night how dating was so fun, but so hard. I felt like I was on a job interview for a year! I wanted so badly for everything to work out and for him to like me and all that… so I look back on dating with fondness and a little bit of exhaustion. Marriage is wonderful because we get all the fun of dating without ever having to go to our separate houses at night or have anxiety about “our” future… he’s stuck with me now! Heeeee. (Cue cartoon hearts exploding around my head, single people puking.)

Getting back on the prompt train and reining in the mush, sunshine also makes me think of:

  • Kayaking with my roommates when they came out for my getttin’ hitched. (Specifically Val’s “ooooooh!” when we went over a wave… I still think of that every time I hit a swell.)
  • Laying out in the backyard with my mom, getting a tan and chatting over Diet Coke.
  • Cajun Cones. Sweet and sticky and cold, perfect for celebrating the end of another school year in Abilene, Texas.
  • Laying out by one of Park Newport eleventy-billion pools with Hot D. It doesn’t get much better than that.
  • Road-tripping and camping with the Hubs, smelling the fresh pines and fresh air all day, roasting sausages and drinking cold beers at night, waking up to more sunshine and coffee in a Nalgene bottle.
  • Rock-climbing and scrambling with friends and my bro and sis in Joshua Tree.
  • Lazy Saturdays on the beach, playing in the waves, laying on the sand, inviting friends over for munchies and laughter at night.
  • The smell of horses and fresh-cut hay.
  • Blonde streaks in my hair, the smell of Hawaiian Tropic suntan lotion, the feel of being barefoot 85% of the time, the taste of ripe strawberries.

Oh, and a little adventure we had recently:

kayaking adventure in arizona

Kayaking the Colorado River in Glen Canyon for the 4th of July! Yay America!

June 23rd, 2011 by Dani

Gussy Sews’ Inspiration Workshop: Spend the Day Playing

ocean kayakingIt’s been a rough couple of weeks. I’ve been SO busy, and all I can think about is playing instead of working and it really is kindof tortuous. So when Gussy‘s prompt came up about “spending the day playing”, all I could think about is how I want to play this summer. I started getting a little grouchy (insert little-kid whine: “but I want to play NOW!”) until I realized that playing isn’t much fun unless you’ve earned it. A great weekend off is only great if you’ve had a week on, ya know? So, grouchy face begone, I’m going to keep working hard so that I can take Louise out for a paddle or my hubby out to dinner and feel satisfied by my time, on and off the clock. Good pep-talk, Self, I feel inspired.

Anywho, I bought Louise, my lovely Hobie ocean kayak a few years ago (that’s me and her on our maiden voyage, above) and I adore her. Adam and I love to spend weekend mornings fishing, paddling, spitting sunflower seeds and lazing around on the water, and this fourth of July we’re even going down the Colorado River on kayaks! I know, right? I really am the luckiest girl – despite being SO busy, our play time is pure gold.

I’m so excited to earn some fabulous play this summer… long hikes, bar-be-ques and beach days with friends, the woods, salty ocean-water kisses, sun tans, girl-talk, big burgers and cold beers.

Hiking in Idyllwild - more perfect playtime

It’s going to be a great summer, and I can’t wait to work hard and play hard. How are you balancing working and playing this summer?

May 31st, 2011 by Dani

Memorial Day Weekend, 2011. (A list.)

Memorial Day 2007 marked the beginnings of romance between my studly Hubs and myself, and so I spent much of my Memorial Day weekend hollering, “HAPPY ANNIVERSARY!” at random intervals to the bemusement of said patient, oh-so-patient man.

We did other stuff too, like:

  • Box up a truckload of stuff that should’ve been given away BEFORE we got married, not left in random corners to gather dust. Anyone in the market for a boom box? No? It still works and it is awesome and you would look very cool with it resting on your handlebars. I know this. Go to Goodwill today and you can still get it! Hurry!
  • Rummage through oodles of old doors, mantles, windows and cornices for inspiring creative projects.
  • Stay up late. JUST BECAUSE.
  • Sleep in. JUST BECAUSE.
  • Spend roughly 3 hours at the REI Sale.
  • Spend LOTSA dollars at the REI Sale.
  • Spend roughly 3 hours in the fishing section at Wal-Mart.
  • Spend LOTSA dollars in the fishing section at Wal-Mart.
  • Realize that we own more outdoorsy gear than we deserve and yet we still buy more.
  • Shrug.
  • Go out to a swanky dinner in a vintage train car. (Thanks Groupon!)
  • Go for a several-mile-long kayak fishing expedition.
  • Almost get killed by a rogue sailboat.
  • Get super buff paddling against gale-force winds.
  • Catch fish (Adam) only catch weeds but freak out anyway (me).
  • After the expedition, get asked by multiple people in the parking lot if we are leaving yet and get meanie fingers wagged at us for taking up too much space. Only Adam’s southern gentility saved them from multiple snarky responses from his lovely and demure wifey. (Am I not moving fast enough for you? WANT TO COME OVER HERE AND LOAD THIS KAYAK?! HUH?!)
  • Have our very intoxicated neighbors ask us multiple questions about our kayaks.
  • Decide that coming home is not very restful when you have intoxicated neighbors and you share a front porch.
  • Hang out with friends and their assorted offspring for a last-minute Memorial Day bar-be-que. (No intoxicated neighbors present, hallelujah.)
  • Yell “HAPPY ANNIVERSARY!” at my Hubs roughly 56.920 times over the weekend.

What did you do? 🙂

May 27th, 2011 by Dani

What do you do when you realize you just Don’t Wanna?

You don’t.

This doesn’t always work, of course. We can’t always get out of distasteful things, and sometimes we need to suck it up and eat our veggies or sweat our tushes off or actually GET SOMETHING DONE now and then. (Pinterest, I’m looking at you.)

But occasionally, it is so, so nice to just say no.

Last night, Mr Hot and Godly and I were packing up to head out for a long and supposedly glorious camping trip, when we suddenly realized that we just Don’t Wanna. So you know what? We’re not.

We’re staying home and (ahem) sleeping in (ahem) and kayaking and making yummy dinners and taking care of each other and being creative, because most of those things have gone away in our latest rush of busyness, and that’s just sad.

I’m so glad that we both Don’t Wanna. It’s gonna be splendid.

June 10th, 2010 by Dani

Why I love living in the O.C. (No, not the Ryan Atwood version. Oh, who am I kidding, I love him too.)

Freedom Jumping the Pacific Ocean!

(Valerie’s right. I should hate it here, and sometimes I kinda do. But mostly I love living in the O.C., and since I would rather focus on love than hate, here goes – a list of love.)

  1. The Pacific Ocean. (Duh.) When I first moved here and lived with my Grandma, I lived within a few miles of the beach. Then I moved to Dana Point, where I could see a tiny sliver of ocean from my deck, but it was still quite a ways to walk. Now, Adam and I live a block from our very own slice of sand. I can only guess that our next house will be a boat.
  2. Depth. I moved to the O.C. straight out of college and spent my first year crying about how much I missed college, my roommates and everything about everywhere else I’d ever lived. I kindof hate that time in my life when I look back on it, but I grew up SO much. College was a huge growing expereince, and then learning to give college up was even bigger.
  3. Community. A large part of the reason that I spent so much time bawling about missing college was because I honestly did not believe that I could make good friends again. Luckily, I was wrong. We have an incredible group of friends, who make living here when I’m mad at smog and traffic still worth it.
  4. Awesome jobs. Adam loves his job, and of course it fell right into his lap as soon as he moved here, because Jesus loves him better. (JK God!) I have been “professionally challenged” (see: crying, job angst) but finally landed at the job of all jobs – teaching horsey lessons in the middle of a suburban wasteland. My friend Holli pointed out the other day that my job is so unlikely that I can never say that God doesn’t care about my happiness. Ouch. Yes. I’m blessed beyond belief. (Also, freelance writing is starting to actually pay out these days. Dream come true!)
  5. Kayaking! Camping! Outdoor recreation of all kinds! ‘Nuff said.
  6. Speaking of recreation, it’s a great place to come visit, and many people use us for our location, which is actually quite fun. Consider this your open invite to beach it up at the Nichols Family Beach House, as long as you’re willing to put up with our insistence that you try the fish tacos.
  7. Fambly. Adam’s cousins and various relations are close by, as is my Grandma and Aunts and Uncles. My Uncle Dud is especially awesome to have in one’s corner in a pinch, since he knows EVERYBODY under the sun and is always willing to use Pratt Family Good Vibes to get his favorite neice a tax guy/truck repair/cold beer/freshly killed meat/Best Tacos Ever.
  8. Last but not least – I met the Love of my Life here. Who knows what would have happened if I’d given up in those dark days and gone back to Texas or Oregon? I would’ve missed on Hunky McHunkerson, that’s what. So thanks, O.C. Way to make magic happen.

San Clemente Pier. (Photo courtesy of Rick Wells.)