It’s that time of year again – my annual “staycation” to burn leave that will expire at the end of the year. And of course that means logging some miles. Although this is already the second week of my 2 weeks off, it’s the first kayak trip. The wind was not cooperating last week, plus I was a bit back-logged with work for Virginia Water Trails, so last week was mostly spent catching up on the side-hustle.
Not only was it the first official kayak trip of my staycation, it was also Patrick’s first day of kindergarten! Brian dropped him off, but I still stayed at home long enough to help him get ready for school and take the obligatory “first day” photos. Fast forward – he had a great day! The kid loves school so much.
After wishing him well on his first day, I headed up the road to Kent Island. I dropped my bike off at Jackson Landing, located just east of Kent Narrows. I then drove to Terrapin Nature Park, a waterfront county park that overlooks the bay bridge. The noise of the traffic just made me feel closer to the infamous “western shore”. Although I’m originally from that “western shore” I can’t help but feel my blood pressure go up a tiny bit as I approach it. The Eastern shore has been my home now since 2007 (plus a few summers prior to that) and I totally live by the slower, quieter lifestyle of the shore now.
And as I was unloading my kayak, I couldn’t help but overhear a conversation between two early-20s women that were parked right next to me, discussing why they chose X agency over Y agency to sign with. “Well X won’t even consider you if you have a zit.” And then, “Well Y has a specific diet you have to follow.” “Oh no, I could never do that. But I don’t know why I even considered Z agency as they always choose the famous people, I would have had no chance.”
Uh, what? Where am I? Then, two other dudes walk up to them giving them info about when their galleries would be available to view and asking them if they should send the proofs directly to their modeling agencies. Oh my, I am not on the lower shore anymore! Clearly these girls just did a photo shoot down by the water, where I was about to go.
The water, however, was a 0.37 mile walk from my car, so this was the first time I utilized wheels! Nothing like a brisk walk through a flowery meadow to start off the day’s adventures!
The bay was like glass and made for super easy paddling. And there was hardly any boat traffic in the bay. I guess the day after Labor Day is not known as a big boating day, but man everyone was missing out. Such a beautiful day! And almost all of the houses I passed looked completely vacant. Like summer was over and people were already back to their busy autumn lives. Most of the houses I passed were GIANT mansions, but it was odd – the last house on the very northern tip of Kent Island was kind of a dump! Well, in comparison to the huge, manicured lawns, in-ground pools, fancy terraces, etc.
As I rounded the northern tip, the current got kinda swirly on me for a bit. I couldn’t figure out why. Maybe it was the wake of a few boats in the distance hitting the point and the tide? Not sure. I didn’t take many photos for the next 2 miles as I wanted to concentrate on paddling, and be alert for any rogue waves.
I could see the Kent Narrows bridge WAAYYY far off in the distance, and I knew I had to go just beyond it to get back to Jackson Landing, so I started to feel overwhelmed by the fact that I was not even quite halfway through my paddle. My hands and arms were already starting to get tired and the sun was starting to beat down. Luckily, there still wasn’t as much boat traffic as I had imagine on this stretch, so paddling across the open water wasn’t too tricky (once I got beyond that weird swirly current near the northern tip). At times the water was so calm, my depth perception was challenged. The subtle ripples in the water water and the occasional boat wake made for a trippy feeling. Add that to being far enough away from the shoreline to not feel like I was moving at all, it was just bizarre. I checked my GPS multiple times to make sure I was making progress – I was, but not as quick as I thought, given my new, sleek kayak and ideal paddling conditions. I still haven’t looked at what the tides were doing, but I’ll just assume the tide was against me. That’s my only explanation for not paddling the pace I had hoped for. Or maybe it was the wheels that I strapped to the back of my kayak weighing me down?! I probably looked pretty ridiculous to anyone that saw me, with those wheels sticking up in the back!
I finally got to Kent Narrows and knew I wasn’t far from the finish. I did have to wait off to the side to allow 3 boats to go through the Kent Narrows channel before crossing, but that was it. Glad I didn’t try and paddle this stretch on the holiday weekend! Then I rounded the last little peninsula and I could see Jackson Landing in the distance, about a mile away. But for some reason the last mile was KILLER. The wind and boat wakes were at my back, but I still felt like I really struggled to paddle the last mile. Again, not sure why, so I’ll blame it on the tide that I never looked up 🙂 But to be honest, it was kind of all in my head. I had estimated that paddling the 11.2 miles would take 3 hours, and I finished in 2 hours and 59 minutes!
When I arrived on the beach, I swapped out my kayak for my bike, and took the Cross Island Trail back to Terrapin Nature Park. The ride was just shy of 7 miles and was a nice combination of marsh boardwalks, and paved paths through wooded areas.
Here are the paths I took today, both kayaking and biking on the same map: