The Inland Paddler: These are a few of my Favorite Things

My favorite things and what I am looking most forward to Post-Covid-19

Last week, I wrote about paddling for the first time in several weeks because of the pandemic. I wrote about how for 80 minutes things felt normal. 

At the time, that felt wonderful. But since then, it’s only served to remind me of the things I am really missing right now. So here’s my list:

1.  Surfing. I really miss the salt water.  It’s a two-hour drive to my nearest break and even though most of our beaches are open to some extent, our “Phase One” reopening plan in North Carolina mandates that we stay at home as much as possible. So for me, my personal interpretation of that is that a four-hour round trip violates the spirit of that order.

2.  Surfing/Downwinding with my best buds. Likewise, even if the distance wasn’t an issue – I miss being in the line up with the people I love sharing the water with most. And that means the obligatory tacos or coffee or beer afterward. Sitting in an awesome cafe and “debriefing” on how awesome the session was, talking about our boards or our paddles, or how we feel our progression is coming along. Can’t really talk story and social distance effectively.

3.  Lingering around the car after paddling – that feeling when you just completed a hard, challenging but awesome workout, you’ve loaded your gear and you’ve changed into dry clothes. When you sit on your tailgate, staring at the water you’ve just communed with,and you feel the warm air on your skin, and everything tingles with energy. The energy that comes only from working hard on the water. Maybe you watch a sunset.  Maybe you watch shorebirds glide over the water, and you smile with satisfaction. And you can linger as long as you want, basking in the proverbial afterglow.

4.  Traveling to races and events and seeing my paddle ohana. So many spring races were canceled, including the Carolina Cup.  This year, after an absence of a couple of years, I was registered to make my third run on the Graveyard – in the surfski. Other races have been canceled, delayed or are up in the air.  Virtual opportunities – thanks to Paddle Monster and SUP Racer – abound and those are great. But I miss the excitement of seeing all you friends – the reunion/party/festival atmosphere of those events where we all come together. 

5.  Teaching. This is the time of year when I would be introducing people to our wonderful sport and hopefully stoking them up on it. 

6.  The river and whitewater sup.  I was so looking forward to improving skills in this area but again, there’s just no good way to insure social distancing, especially when the potential is great that you might have to help or rescue another paddler in the event of a swim. The risk there is too high – again at least for me – under our current pandemic conditions. Then there’s the issue of the shuttle.

7.  My favorite section of my “home” lake. Access to the section where I do most of my training is still closed. I can paddle elsewhere and that is awesome. But there is no place like “home.”

8.  Paddling with my Pup. Cooper and I usually take a spring camping trip in the Adventure Toaster.  I take an inflatable and we spend a weekend enjoying the return of warm weather, being in the water together and sharing a good steak cooked over the campfire. Our favorite spot remains shuttered.

9.  The people. I miss paddling with all y’all.  Without worry.  Without concern.

Now, this might sound like whining.  I don’t mean it to be.  And yes, there are work-arounds or alternatives for many these things – Cooper and I can share a steak cooked over our fire pit, for instance.  The bottom line is I can still paddle. All of us are adapting and are doing the best that we can, in our own ways, to make the most of this time.  When it’s all said and done, hopefully we will all look back on these days and weeks, and we will realize that we learned things.  And we will be happy with how we got through it. 

But think of the things you might be missing the most right now, and then think about how great it will be when you can do them again! I have a running list of things I totally intend to make time to do when we get the all clear, and most importantly, the people I am going to do them with.  There is a whole cadre of people I “see”  only on social media.  One of the things I am most looking forward to doing when we can is meeting those folks for a surf session, a downwinder or even an easy canoe paddle. On the days when I feel the lowest, thinking about how much fun that will be is definitely one of the things that always picks me up. That’s the motivation to paddle when I can, workout at home, ride the bike, walk, and do whatever I can to stay fit and healthy.

The post-pandemic paddles, races and events will be amazing. 

But the hugs…they will be epic!