Yay shopping!

I am not your average girl. I actually despise shopping.  Parting with my hard earned cash is not something I do willingly or lightly.  Pile of REI gearBefore I separate myself from any of my cash there is copious amounts of research that goes into it; studying reviews, reading technical manuals, etc. When I finally do part with my money it is usually a very quick trip into the store, get the item, leave the store (that’s if I can’t get it online.) Then I usually wind up knowing more than the employees and I get offered a job (happened twice today.)

Currently both REI and EMS are having their annual blow out sales.  I am a member of both so I take advantage of the sales to get the gear I need. They are similar, yet different, in the gear they carry so I do my due diligence before I walk into either store (or website).

Over the course of the past two days I have done quite a bit of shopping for gear for my Grand Adventure. Today’s trip included; the Passage 2 Tent, Goal Zero solar gear, ooh and my personal ‘luxury’ is the egg holder.  Hey, anyone that has gone camping with eggs in the cardboard box will tell you after 2 hours against ice and in water the container falls apart. Even better, when I got home my SPOT was waiting for me, so I got to activate it as well!

Additionally, with a recent windfall of second job paycheck I’m also slowly building up to buying my kayak.  I have one more test paddle to do out in Delaware in a couple of weeks before we (Perry and I) commit to a kayak, but while the sales are going on we are buying some basics that we will need. Yesterday, I picked out my Thule Slipstream roofrack.  It’s not installed yet as I had to order it, but hey I’ve got a nice rack.  (LOL).

One of the items I’m most excited about is Perry’s Ruffwear PFD (personal floatation device).  Dog LifejacketHe’s an excellent swimmer, but as my Dad always taught me it’s not about whether you can swim or not but whether you can tread water long enough.  This way Perry has a fighting chance should he (or we) wind up in the drink.

Perry is what I like to call the “au naturale” dog.  He hates getting his nails trimmed.  He hates taking his heartworm medicine.  Heaven Turmurgitroid if I try to put flea medicine on him.  I knew that he wasn’t going to be so thrilled with the idea of the lifejacket.  Once I actually got him in it he seemed to take to it just fine.  Now, let’s see if that was a one time freak occurrence, or if he will actually wear it.  He seemed to like it…..

Dog Lifejacket and a smile

Trail Dog+Water Dog= Wet Mama

Eastern Mountain Sports has their annual paddling demPerry Kayako today.  I was super excited to get out there and try all sorts of different types of boats to see what one was going to work for HRH Perry and I.  Paddling with any dog is challenging, but paddling with a dog that loves the water as much as Perry does is even more of a challenge.  He’s been out in a kayak before (a couple of years ago on a lake in the Adirondacks) and really enjoyed it, but I was a little apprehensive to see how he would do in a new park, with tons of people around, lots of activity, without tipping me out of the boat.

Trail DogWhen we got to the park we weren’t exactly sure where we were going so we headed off on the trail that seemed to follow the river.  Perry was having a grand old time running up and down the hills pulling me behind him.  (Note to self; put his harness on him.)  We found a low spot on the trail in a cove, so I let him off leash and he promptly and gleefully bounded into the water.  Trail dog+water dog=happy dog.  After a few minutes of throwing the ball and him bounding in after it we continued on our way.  Finally we popped out over the hill to discover the EMS demo day.

After signing the waiver we headed down to the waters edge.  John was trying out a sit on top kayak that he could potentially take fishing.  Perry and I were first trying out the Wilderness Pungo boat we had been looking at online.  Three feet after pushing off from shore; SPLASH! Perry was in.  As soon as he jumped in he realized that I was still in the boat, he was in the water, and he was not happy because I was floating/paddling away from him.  He swam quickly to the edge of the boat and I hauled him in.  Trail dog+water dog= wet mama.  I promptly got soaked down to my knickers.  Silly beast.  We paddled around for a bit, but he just never seemed to settle down in the Wilderness.  Plus, I felt like I was paddling around with a cinder block attached to the boat.  Wow that thing was heavy.  I couldn’t imagine loading it on top of the Glenda. Even if I did get one of the Thule assist systems.

Getting back to shore I saw the other boat I had been looking at online the Hurricane Santee.  I had already been in contact with the company asking questions about the handling of the boat and whether it would put up with a dog in the cockpit.  They were exceptionally knowledgeable but it still isn’t the same as actually paddling it.   I got in, loaded Perry up, and we pushed off.  While he thought about jumping in, luckily, he did not.  He finally settled down and started to enjoy the paddle.  This boat not only sat lower in the water, but it paddled much easier.  Perry seemed to like it a bit better too, finally settling in and actually enjoying himself.  I think that the EMS staff were very impressed at not only how well behaved he was, but how well he handled being in the boat.  While we will have to come up with some commands for him to get him in and out of the boat, overall, he did exceptionally well.

EMS SUPWhile I was off getting soaked by Perry, John, was off trying out paddle boards and other boats.  He had a grand old time and walked away much drier than I did. I know he was a bit disappointed that he couldn’t try the SUP that he was most interested in, but he still managed to have a grand old time.

When both of us were done trying boats out it was time to let Perry have a bit of a swim.  There were two docks on either side of the launch site and in between SUPers and kayakers heading out into the river John and I took turns tossing the ball off the end of the dock and allowing Perry to throw himself off the dock and Dock Doginto the water.  There were more than a few people who were getting an absolute hoot out of watching him race to the end of the dog and launch off of the end.  All for his tennis ball. Silly boy.

At the end of the day I was wet, Perry was wet, John was dry, but I now know one of the boats I don’t want to consider.  I have one more boat I want to try in June; the Jackson Ibis.  Once I try that one out I will be able to figure out what type of kayak I want to get.  Progress has been made though, I know what I don’t want and sometimes that is the hardest part of the decision making process.

Shakedown Cruise

Shakedown cruise (n.)- Cruise of newly commissioned ship to test machinery and equipment and to train the crew as a working unit.

Ah yes, the shakedown cruise, most of the time they are grueling, frustrating, and generally filled with consternation over issues that shouldn’t be issue but actually are issues.    However, occasionally you are given a piece of gear told to break it and you do so in the first five minutes which means you get to have some fun (true story, but I digress.)  If shakedown cruises are good enough for the fine Navies of the world then they are good enough for me.

This past weekend I went out to Cape Henlopen for my first shakedown cruise before the Grand Adventure.  There is absolutely no reason in the world for me to figure all of this out while on the road.  No, no, I want to work the kinks out before I’m 7k miles away from home.

Friday afternoon my brother John and I packed up the car and headed to the beach; Perry happily sticking his head out the window as we loaded the car.  He knew we were going somewhere and he was not about to get left behind.  We got to Lewes, John got his fishing license and then we headed to the park.  After everything was set up we set off for the beach.  On our way we (ok he) got a bit distracted by the WW2 base, bunkers, and artillery that he found. WW2 Fort Miles Artillery He was in his glory.  Me?  I was more interested in following the sound of the crashing waves, but I indulged him.  He was so excited.  As I dragged him away telling him that they would be there tomorrow and I wanted to get to the beach before it got too dark and we couldn’t see where we were going. (Lesson 1: Don’t forget your flashlight next to the pile of stuff you are suppose to pack.)

We spent an hour or so on the beach before the sun started to tuck in for the evening.  After dinner and a quick clean up it was time to hit the sack.  I should probably mention Perry refuses to crate.  John climbed in and then I tried to get Perry to hop in.  Perry gave me the “mama this looks an awfully lot like a big dog crate” look.  I climbed in first and then he hopped right in.  I guess he figured if it was going to be horrible at least he’d be with me.  Ah the joys of a velcro dog sometimes you get to play Jedi mind tricks on him.  (Lesson 2: A 3 man tent may be fine for 2 people and a dog, but for just Perry and I we are going to need a smaller tent.)

The next morning we were up and ready to go.  Another fine glorious day at the beach and we were all very happy campers.  Everyone played had a good time and by bed time Perry was a pro at getting in the tent.  One tiny problem.  Perry also figured out that my Perry Thermarestsleeping bag and Thermarest Neo was the warmest place in the tent.  Um, excuse me sir, that’s my sleeping place.  He was quite put out that he was not able to sleep there.  (Lesson 3: Definitely going to have to figure out a good sleeping arrangement for him.)  Perry says; What do you mean I don’t get the R4 rated sleeping pad and 0 degree bag.  Say wha???  That’s puppy abuse!

Sunday morning we packed everything up (including half of the beach I think) loaded it back into the car and headed home.  The boys (the two legged and the four legged one) slept the entire trip home.  I guess they both had a good time this weekend.  Me?  I spent the 3 hour drive home running down the list of things that worked well (my Coleman stove, the Neo/bag combo so I didn’t freeze) and things that didn’t work well (my organization system, the tent).  That’s what shakedown cruises are for though, working the kinks out before you get underway.  I’ve got one more scheduled in June.  We shall see how that one goes.  Fingers crossed.