bruce had the bright idea that if i can't do any conventional naturing because of my broken foot, maybe i could try some unconventional naturing, like from a kayak. besides seeing some things we wouldn't normally see, there was also the guarantee that there wouldn't be any walking involved. so today we finally got a plan together and headed out to the newton boathouse along the charles river. i'd never kayaked before, just a single instance of canoeing last summer. after signing an injury waiver, we were handed our paddles, fitted with life jackets, and assigned kayaks commensurate to our size. we got into our kayaks and off we went. turns out kayaking is a lot easier than canoeing; or maybe i was just able to transfer some of the skills i learned from my last outing. canoeing seems to be more about technique while kayaking is just able straightforward paddling. you do things navigating a canoe that doesn't seem very intuitive while the kayak is simpler to handle.
from the newton boathouse there's actually roughly 6 miles worth of the charles river to paddle. however, that's not entirely true, since it's 3 miles in one direction and 3 miles the opposite direction. we went downstream, in the direction of waltham, because it seemed to be more on the wild side.
the first things i noticed right away was all the lilypads growing on the surface of the water. if you look carefully, you see a lot of leaves are actually damaged from all the water traffic that passes through the river. many of the lilypads had pretty white flowers, and occasionally i'd spot a rare yellow flower. the second thing that there was an abundance of were the dragonflies and the damselflies. they were everywhere, bluets, spreadwings, dashers, skimmers, amberwings, pennants, and every once in a while an elusive giant green darner. despite all this insect activity, i didn't get too many photos of them. partly because i've seen most of them before, and partly because moving on a kayak, it was hard to focus on something so small. even when i was "parked" the river current would still slowly drift me away. but if i had more time, i would definitely try to get some dragonfly photos.
animals tend to congregate in places where people don't usually go, and such was the case with the river. there were plenty of birds to be seen. a more patient birdwatcher armed with a pair of binoculars would've seen more, but just from our simple gazing we spotted families of wood ducks hiding in the thickets, red-winged blackbirds, swans, phoebes (hovering above the water looking for bugs to eat), cedar waxwings, cormorants, one female oriole, goldfinches, and at least a half dozen great blue herons. i think i saw a night heron and bruce swore he spotted the head of a large snapping turtle swimming by our kayaks.
for a weekday, there was a surprisingly large showing of people either kayaking or canoeing. there were a few families but most of them seemed to be camp excursions, canoes full of noisy kids crashing into each other and having impromptu water fights with their paddles. being that my left hand is my dominant hand (even though i write with my right), i found myself continuously drifting to the right when i paddled. at about the 1.5 mile marker we stopped for some lunch, locking our kayaks together in the middle of the river, watching the clouds go by as the current slowly dragged out boat downstream. bruce had some homemade pasta salad with mushrooms and red peppers while i just had a bag of doritos. a check of my gps revealed that we were kayaking at about 2.5 miles per hour, although not factoring in the frequent stops. at our fastest, we could paddle up to 4mph. we went as far as the prospect street bridge (2.5 miles) near waltham center (moody street) before turning back, since the landscape started to look more urban and less scenic.
we arrived back at the boathouse around 2:30pm. crawling out of my kayak and onto the wooden pier, i could feel my legs wobbling. we were out for roughly 3 hours. at $14/hr per kayak rental, that came out to $44 per person after taxes. a bit pricey, but still worth it just to have that kayaking experience on the charles river. bruce and i both agreed that we wanted to go kayaking again, maybe at some more scenic rivers, with hopefully less noisy children. we also thought about how much it'd cost to buy a kayak. the ones we had were simple plastic varieties, but at the boat house we also saw some fancy ones made from fiberglass. there's also the possibility of buying an inflatable kayak.
on our way back home, we stopped off at the harvard science department campus to check out the farmer's market. bruce wanted to get some fresh greens for dinner. once i got back home, i took a shower, and got ready for my doctor's appointment. when i checked my e-mail, there was one from client S regarding a bug. with 15 minutes before i had to leave, i quickly fixed it and uploaded a new version online.
result from my early evening podiatrist appointment: the broken 5th metatarsal bone has seen its shadow: 6 more weeks of cast wearing! looks like the earliest i can get back on my motorcycle will be in september. summer riding has been postponed indefinitely! going back for another x-ray in 2 weeks. the doctor showed me today's x-ray (how many have i had already? seems like a lot), and it looks like half the gap (the fracture) has already been bridged with new bone, so i'm halfway done with healing. nevertheless, it's still going to take a few more weeks. i almost wanted to get angry with the doctor. originally he said 4-6 weeks, now he's saying it'll take 3 months before i'm completely healed. can't they give me something to speed up the process? calcium pills? steroids? electrical stimulation? he did say that once the bone starts to reform, it continues to grow exponentially faster. out of curiosity, i asked him as a podiatrist which profession has the most foot injuries. i thought maybe construction workers or bike messengers, but he said athletes visit him the most often. once this ordeal is all over, i think i'd like to get copies of my x-rays to post online.
early this morning i went to the garden to water my plants. i sprinkled some miracle-gro fertilizing pellets, hoping to juice up my vegetables.
i was curious when the pain from all that paddling would hit me. by evening's end, the only thing that hurt on my body was my left wrist. my forearms are black from being out in the sun all day without any protection, and so are my cheeks and the bridge of my nose. i didn't get sunburnt though; i probably had enough of a base coat to prevent that from happening.