Finally I did it. I bought a sea kayak. For the last 10 years I have been paddling my Dagger Transition (white water boat) on flat water. It has been killing me. It is like paddling a bath tub. The tail drags and it has no keel what so ever.
So this weekend, while down at Binalong, I decided it was time to invest in a boat. Helped along with a surprisingly bigger pay cheque than expected, I went to a Kayak shop in Canberra and went shopping. Fortunately they had a 30-40% off sale so it was fate.
I ended up getting a Riot Edge 14.5 plastic Kayak. It is so nice. It ended up being the only one I could really fit in, but it had all the features I wanted and it is nice and light.
I just rode (and walked a bit) to the top of Kileys Hill, behind our house at Binalong. It is a killer ascent.
I have done the ride a few times before from the south side, but not for many years. Today I decided to do it from the North side, which involved a lot more riding across (rough) sheep and cow paddocks.
Heading up the hill I got to the point where I was riding along a fence line and had to set myself mini goals of the numbers of fence posts I had to go before resting.
The ride down the hill was short but fun. I did realize half way down that breaks don’t work so well on wet grass. With all the hidden rock in the grass this did become a little alarming at times.
There was plenty of wildlife on the way. I got chased by cows and a bull. Was visited by a couple of horses. On the way down the hill I ended up chasing a lot of sheep and a couple of kangaroos.
When we went to Fiji, I left the car at the office. Since Kath is unwell, I decided I would ride into Chatswood to pick up the car. Rather than doing the direct route via Warringah Road (and the step Roseville Bridge road), I decided to make it a bit more interesting.
The route went via the Cascade Track (Garrigal NP) and up into St.Ives. The hill from the base of the Cascades into St.Ives is pretty killer and involved a fair amount of walking.
The route was about 12km in total and a nice way to start the day (and see how fit I am). I think next time I can will extend it by some more distance or even do the return trip.
On Friday night we got back from the most fantastic holiday. We had a week on Malolo Island in Fiji.
The resort (Malolo Island Resort) was a very friendly place and the majority of the staff were from the local village. They were really good with kids and almost all of the staff knew James’ name within a couple of days being there (even without him participating in the Kids Club).
The snorkeling on the island was fantastic. We could snorkel right of the beach outside our buro. We also did a number of boat trips out to some of the other reefs. The fish were plentiful and very friendly. I had plenty of opportunity to test out the GoPro under water. At one point I was going down to the bottom of the reef to retrieve the camera (which I had placed on the sand) and just as I was grabbing it, a black and white sea snake swam towards me. It was spectacular and (apparently) very poisonous. Unfortunately the camera ran out of batteries before I could get a shot of it.
The video below pretty much sums up the entire holiday. We will definitely (one day) go back.
My walk today did not start well. Just outside our house there was a nesting magpie that decided that my ear was posing a threat to its nest and decided to have a goat it. With a hard crack, next thing I knew was I had blood dibbling down my face.
However this did not deter me and I continued on. Today I decided to finish a walk I started the other day. Half way down the Cascades track (our regular walking track) there is a small track that follows a small creek up into the bush. Having looked (briefly) at the map, I could see that the the track would eventually end up in the backstreets of Belrose and looked like it would be fairly straight forward.
As I was walking down the Cascades track a couple of hikers mentioned to me that the Forest Creek track was pretty overgrown the last time they walked down it. Again, not deterred I continued on. For most of the way, the track was pretty good, however in the last kilometer, as the track rises up towards Belrose and then completely disappeared. Using the creek as my guide, I bush based my way up to the backs of some houses in Belrose and found a path back onto a road.
It was a nice walk, despite a bleeding ear and lots of scratches on the arms and legs.
I woke up to a pretty miserable day. It had been raining pretty much all night, but after my first coffee of the day I decided I needed to get out and do something regardless. So I decided that I should do just a short 1 hour walk.
About 15 minutes drive away from where we live is the Ku-Ring-Gai National Park and there are heaps of fire trails in the area. I have down a lot of mountain biking in the area. One of the trails I have ridden on the past is a pretty easy fire trail called Duckholes Trail. It is a pretty gently uphill that runs from the road to West Head up to the base of Terry Hills.
The track is only about 2.7km one way and it was really wet after all the rain. It was a nice walk in the drizzle and a great way to start the day (instead of drinking more cups of coffee).
After last weekend’s paddle, I spent the first part of this week with a sore tendon in my wrist, so this weekend was going to be all about walking.
Having accomplished a 12.5 km walk in Austria, we decided that James would be ready for a longer Sydney walk. For ages I have wanted to do the full work from Davidson (starting at the top of the Cascades Walk) and ending in Davidson Park (under the Roseville Bridge).
The walk is about 10 km, but even though it is pretty much all downhill and along the edge of the upper Middle Harbor (which looks more like a creek), it is pretty windy. So with a seven year old it is pretty slow going.
Unfortunately James scraped his knew about 3km into the walk, so the final 7km was spent coaxing him along and dealing with a lot of whingeing. Mental note: take more food and lollies when walking with James.
Whinging seven year olds aside, the walking is very nice. It was a pretty warm morning and in the valley there is not a lot of air flow, so I would be wanting to do this walk in the heart of summer.
Being my first activity as part of my new no more “used to” ragime, I thought I would start with some pretty straight forward as I only had a couple of hours to plan it. So I decided I would go for a longish paddle in a new part of Pittwater. I have done a fair bit of paddling in the Pittwater area, but normally only go out for an hour at the most. I decided I would push myself and paddle for at least 2 hours.
After a quick scan on Google Earth, I found an interesting looking section of Pittwater at the end of Bobbin Head Road in the Kuring-Gai National Park.
Being jet lagged, I was up and about at about 5.30am. Once Kath was out of bed and could keep James entertained, I scrounged through the garage for my kayaking gear and headed off. After a slowish drive down Bobbin Head Road, having got stuck behind a massive group of Sunday morning North Shore cyclists, I found an average launching spot on the edge of a park.
The paddle was a great way to start the day. It was a pretty cool morning, but as the sun came up it was very pleasant.
The thing I love about Pittwater is the way the steep, tree covered hills come down to the water. Oyster encrusted rocks line the water edge. It is easy to feel like you are getting lost as you go around each bend and are faced with various inlets and coves that look very similar.
Apart from the occasional interruption from some water skiers, I pretty much had the water to myself.
We just got back from a month of traveling around Europe. It was a much needed break and really gave me a chance to stop the momentum of life. During the trip we found ourselves in areas like Chamonix (France), the Austrian Alps, Tuscany (Italy) and the Dolomites (Italy). The scenery was spectacular. Everywhere we looked there were craggy mountains, glacial rivers and endless forests that you could just disappear in. I spent a lot of time thinking about all the different activities I could do in areas like this. I also spent a lot of time reminiscing about the “old days” when I used to do these sorts of activities.
We have been back in Australia for a few days and I am still suffering serious jet lag (waking up at 2am in the morning). One positive thing that I have found with this jet lag is that you get to spend a lot of time lying bed, in the dark, contemplating things.
Last night, during one of these early morning thinking sessions, I started thinking about all these outdoor activities I used to do and started really missing them.
In the early to mid 90’s I used to be very active in various outdoor pursuits. I was doing a lot of ballooning, climbing, bush walking, mountain biking and whitewater kayaking. Every weekend I was somewhere doing something. I was not in my element unless I had a 4wd full of gear and was driving off to some obscure location to do some obscure activity.I even dropped out of my first uni degree, because I was more spending more time with the uni’s “Outdoor Pursuits” club than I was in lectures, and ended up working in an outdoor gear shop for 18 months .
Apart from ballooning and the odd “fitness” kayaking session on one of Sydney’s waterways, it has been more than 15 years since I have actively been involved in the outdoors. Even ballooning is something I just don’t do enough of.
There is definitely a point in your life where things like family, work, mortgages etc. start occupying your mind and easily become an excuse to not do (or even think about) other activities.Weekends come and go with no plans and end up with a not having achieved much (and normally involve spending lots of money at the mall). I miss that Sunday night feeling where you are completely knackered and you collapse on the couch being able to barely move your aching limbs.
One of the big things I realized last night was that I have been saying “I used to…” a lot in the last few years. For example, just recently we had a new guy start at work who is a very keen rock climber. Through various conversations about climbing, I have been saying things like “I used to climb at Mt. Buffalo” or “I used to like climbing granite”. It is the same with kayaking when I talk about the rivers “I used to” paddle on. Basically saying “I used to” is me gripping onto the past and I could see myself being old and fat in 40 years still talking about what I did in the 90’s.
Having had a month away from work, and barely even thinking about work, it has given me a chance to think about these activities I used to do and I have decided that I am going to start doing them again.
So what am I going to do?
Firstly, I should really point out that this is not me having a mid-life crisis (I am saving that for later in life). This is me just getting off my butt and using all the toys that are gathering dust in garage. I can easily see why people have mid-life crisis because there is a point when people suddenly realize they are in a rut and need a major change to get out of it. I don’t need this major change, I just need to start doing things again.
So, initially I am just going to make sure I doing something interesting every weekend. Whether it is kayaking somewhere new, going for an interesting bike ride on a new trail, going rock climbing again etc. Basically I need to do something that will allow me to spend the proceeding week planning the activity and the following week thinking about it. Even if it is for just a couple of hours, it just needs to be something.
Even with my ballooning, which as mentioned before I am still doing, I need to spice it up a bit more. For the last 10 years my ballooning has mostly been flying in the same area around our farm in Binalong NSW and has become pretty mundane. It is time to start flying in new areas and trying more challenging flights.
My kayaking is the same. I am blessed to live about 15 minutes drive from some really scenic parts of Pittwater (just north of Sydney). However for the last couple of years I have been paddling the same sections of water and have been taking my surrounds for granted. By even driving an extra 15 minutes down the road I will be able to explore new areas and discover new things.
I am going to use this blog as both a record of my activities and also as a way to encourage me to seek new things to write about. Who knows, it might only last for a couple of weeks, but hopefully I will read this in 5 years time and be glad that I finally did something to get off my butt. Lets see how it goes.
No more “used to”.