Tuesday, August 9, 2016

Summer recap: what we do in the off season

So what does a girl do in the off season whose dogs take up much of her time in the fall and winter?

You would think the answer is relax, but we have been very busy this summer! Clearing trees, creating new puppy paths for daily walks with the dogs on our property, renovating this old farm house, and yakking! 

"Yakking" - my affectionate term for kayaking - has been a passion of mine for about the last eight years. This summer, I have officially passed the yakking bug over to my 12-year old daughter, Elise. She's become quite good at it too. 

Elise in the background being cool on her kayak
This summer has been unbelievably hot, with a total accumulation of three weeks worth of days at 90 degrees or above, so it was perfect to spend lots of time on the water. For her first kayak, I didn't want to invest too much. My Wilderness System is a mid-level kayak that costs about what you'd expect a mid-level kayak to cost. Not knowing if Elise would "take the bait," I opted for an "entry-level" Sundolphin brand sit-on-top kayak for her birthday in May. She had been kayaking in a tandem yak with me before, but this was the first time completely on her own. I gave her a brief lesson about the basics, and she took to it swimmingly! She's become quite adept on the water too and can easily keep up with me when paddling. We have enjoyed many hours paddling together this summer watching the fantastic sunsets over the lake by the Ranch.

Taken with my "real" camera: on of the amazing sunsets at the lake we kayak on

Elise's silhouette while watching the sun setting in the west
One thing I adore about kayaking is, because it's relatively silent depending on how you paddle, it allows for an extremely up-close and personal view of wildlife. I have seen more wildlife while paddling than at any other time, including by dog sled or backpacking. Elise got to see her first active beaver couple doing beaver things beside their den, muskrats, countless blue heron, falcons, hawks and many other animals.

A lone beaver swimming in the setting sun
We have been doing lots of fishing this summer too. Elise caught a fairly large catfish one evening, and last evening while kayaking, I caught a 12 inch crappie from the same lake. 

Elise focusing on her line

Me and the "crappie" - an unfortunate name for a beautiful fish

When it wasn't too hot, we trekked many miles hiking in various places where Pokemon don't go. 

Elise and her sister, Sophie on a family trip

Cooling their feet in the creek after a hike


We have ventured into less wild places too, like Stan Hywett Hall & Gardens in Akron - the largest house in Ohio. 

A view of the hall from the rose garden on the 70 acre grounds

Sophie and Elise in Stan Hywett mansion

And we have ventured into various craft stores and been silly ...

Sophie in Pat Catan's bouncing a giant fluff ball on her head ... 

...while a masked Elise watches on

Now we are gearing up for fall training to begin, and that normally begins around Labor Day, but I have little faith that the temps will cool off by then for us to run. 

Here's to a great summer and blanket weather ahead! 

A grainy cell phone photo from an evening when it was cool enough to cuddle in a blanket
Until next time,

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