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Archive for September, 2012

Oyster boat

In 2006 on one of my yearly Cape Cod vacations we stayed in Chatham.  Great spot overlooking the sound.  Looking for a new place to kayak I noticed Oyster Pond on a map and just had to go.  So on this trip Megan and I met up with my brother Don and we headed towards Oyster Pond River.  I’d spent many summer vacations in Harwich Port and Denis Port and from there Chatham was a frequent destination, but I never had a kayak on top of my car! Launching on Oyster Pond River from Vineyard Avenue, Oyster Pond was on the left. I thought the river was more like a harbor with so many boats moored there. Oyster Pond is what it is named for, as oyster farming here is what it’s all about. Not only were there plenty of oyster cages but it was the first time I observed an oyster shucking boat. Pretty interesting to see, but I wouldn’t want to work on one! The cages and machinery are sea weathered, dark and dirty. Not sure I want to eat oysters anytime soon either. Gee, I think I said that in my Nauset Marsh post. 🙂

Cormorant with breakfast…

Going out to the bay through the Oyster Pond River was not my idea of fun as this particular day brought hundreds of tiny black flies that we’re biting ferociously! We’ve had better days kayaking. Once we were clear of the river and in the bay it got better. Now there’s a benefit of kayaking that you normally don’t think of unless your experiencing a swarm of black flies or mosquitoes, once far enough out they don’t bother you. We watched a Cormorant swimming peacefully when suddenly his head went down and he came up with an eel! It sure was entertaining watching him toss it up in the air several time as he worked at swallowing it whole! Not something you see very often.

Megan – Harding Beach Point

As I said, in the pond and the river there were an assortment of small boats moored, but as we entered out into the bay they were much larger. There was one yacht sitting by itself near to mouth of the bay that I swear looked like a cruise ship! I felt so small next to it, but took solace in not having that gas bill! We paddled fairly hard across the bay to reach the other side which, looked very inviting with its long white sandy beach facing the bay and the dunes, sea grass and ocean beyond. Once there though, it seemed rather desolate and I could only think of having to battle the black flies again on the way back. However, desolate as it was, we did linger as it was very beautiful as well. I might go back here some day but being as a Great White was sighted in the harbor this year I might think twice and stay in the river and Oyster Bay.

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Mirror Lake from the Inn

If a name was ever so just… In 2008 we decided to take a family vacation somewhere different so we booked a suite at the Mirror Lake Inn. It was a magnificent old mansion overlooking the lake. This is where the “Fuller Brush Man” went when he retired in case you didn’t know. 🙂 The Inn was truly a first class experience. The wood working and furnishings were superb. The view, the pools, and the Adirondack setting were all outstanding.

Let the games begin?

Most striking was a game room done up with such warmth that sitting among dozens of wild animals was so soothing. Had some great times here with the family.

The hotel had paddle boats and kayaks available to its guests so we tried both. Paddle boats weren’t worth a dam, maybe they were just bad as we could never get them to go in the direction we wanted. Kayaks on the other hand allowed us free reign around the lake! The dock and beach like the Inn were first class. The lake bordering the town was developed but the remainder was quite pristine. In the distance were beautiful Adirondack hills to round out the experience.

The town was definitely a bit worn with its memories of the 1980 Olympic winter games of past. But what made the week was the Iron Man Competition being held in town. It was abuzz with contestants running, biking, and swimming.

Lake Placid is also right in town, but sorry to say, I really didn’t find a good place to kayak on the lake. It was two or three times the size of Mirror Lake and had much more private development surrounding it that made access hard. So Mirror lake it was…

Ironmen! (and women too!)

The lake was set up for the Ironman competition with cones marking off the coarse for the triathlon swimmers. Just paddling around the course in the kayaks took quite a bit of time. Just imagine swimming it! They do a swim of 2.4 miles! Of course we kept our distance so not to distract them but we were still close enough to really experience the feat they were accomplishing. There were a couple of large groups of contestants taking their turns at it. When watching them close to shore I was amazed at the age span. You really had to marvel at their strength and stamina. Maybe it was just my take as I’m a lazy river kayaker 🙂

Black Duck – Black Sheep?

We saw Black ducks paddle the lake and really enjoyed watching a mom with her seven little ones, one of which was a lone yellow cutie. So was he not the black sheep of the family? When dining later that evening we watched as ducks waddled casually into the restaurant to our table. Actually it was quite fun eating while watching the ducks come in through the sliders and the waitress shoeing them right back out. While kayaking around we saw a wedding boat waiting under a makeshift boat house for the next bride and groom.

We took walks around the town and enjoyed a concert on the town green. While we listened on the lawn while others were floating on the lake! Wished that it where I was. We rode to neighboring sites.

Whiteface Mountain – View from the top…

We went up Whiteface Mountain in a gondola. So very beautiful up above 3,500 ft. One note, we were surprised they allowed mountain bikes up in the gondolas and more surprising allowed them down the slopes! We also took a day to visit Lake George. There we took a boat ride around the lake; seemed too big to kayak to me. We also went to a beautiful gorge nearby and walked into its depths.

“The Trill of Victory…”

Oh one more thing, on the way home we stopped at the Olympic Bobsled course. We just had to stop for the kids. Well, me too… In summer without the ice all that remains is cement; sounds pretty dangerous but I’m thinking slamming into an ice wall is equally as fatal. Anyway except for Diane, we were up for the adventure. The bobsled held the driver and two daredevils. With hard wheels on hard concrete it was a really fast, really bumpy, really jarring ride to the bottom. Would I do it again? No. The girls? Yes I’m sure.

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This way from South Pond to Middle Pond

One Sunday morning I was looking at the map for a new experience. There it was, Congamond Lakes, and it was only a half hour away. There was a boat launch on the top of Middle Pond which would ensure an easy in and out. However, on arrival we found they wanted $5.00 per kayak to launch. My sad face must have struck a nerve as I was graciously given a map and shown where a good kayak put in was. The attendant had just bought kayaks and knew of a great spot on Congamond Road road just by the bridge between South Pond and Middle Pond. We were told “If you go by Crabby’s Cafe you’ve gone too far! Kayaks are better, they don’t pollute!”

There was a nice parking area right near the South Pond, the only caution here was a couple of large sink holes, so watch your step if you go. The water was very inviting, with only few boats out at that time of the morning. We were drawn to the right, behind Crabby’s, looks like a great place to have a meal and or drinks. We then went under the bridge into Middle Pond and made our way to the South Ramp. One good thing about state run boat ramps is they have “facilities”!  Of all the boats docked, a large proportion were pontoon boats.  It must be quite the way of life floating your summers away on a pontoon boat. Maybe when I get too old to get in my kayak I’ll think about one. 🙂

Like a kayaker enjoying the sun.
(Photo Credit – Don Samson)

We didn’t stay in Middle Pond long, as we liked what we saw in South Pond. Deciding that we weren’t going to stay long we decided to head to the east side of the pond for the morning shade. There’s a really great feeling you get when you paddle out of the sun into the cool morning shade. It is really revitalizing when you’re floating in a kayak with nowhere special to go. The spot we landed in was no exception. Trees overhung the water which was crystal clear and the bottom was covered with stones that had been worn smooth by the running waters of previous centuries. It’s a time like this when your kayaking with my brother Don that the conversation will inevitably turn to some new fact about the cosmos or other equally deep subject. Don is a great conversationalist and kayak buddy! I don’t have to ask him if we are going kayaking on Sunday mornings, it is assumed!

Grand-Daddy Blue (Photo Credit – Don Samson)

While sitting under the shade we spotted a Great Blue standing peacefully in the weeds on the nearby shore of a little cove.  We headed in to take a closer look.  He was a granddaddy for sure.  We watched him and he watched us for quite some time before he decided he wanted more privacy and flew off gackling.

As we came out of the cove our attention was shifted to some radio controlled sea planes flying the skies above.   There were three of them and they were doing some serious maneuvers.  Secretly I was hoping to see a mid-air collision…  Two came close once but I think that showed the skill of the pilots.  Heading into shore the pilots were on the nearby shore. We watched as one of the sea planes landed and was taxing in the water around their dock when out of the blue a second seaplane flew in from my left right across my bow only a few feet away!  It could have been a murder by seaplane! Did he know I was secretly hoping to see his plane destroyed in mid-air?  Maybe I should have known I was in his landing zone… or maybe he should have known he was in mine!!!  In the end I escaped to live another day to blog about another yet to be experienced paddle in my kayak.

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In 2010 while on vacation at the Cape I met up with Don and Samantha and we took a ride out to Eastham in search of a new experience. I had been looking at my books and maps and this area intrigued me, a salt marsh right along the Cape Cod National Seashore. So, up Route 6 we went. The put in we chose was on Salt Pond Bay. Hemenway Road was easily missed at Route 6 speeds, but after turning around we were soon at the chosen spot. It looked beautiful, picture postcard perfect!

Oysters all in a row

Oysters all in a row

The first sight to take in was the oyster farm. Stretching out in a great semicircles the likes I’ve never seen. Why were they stretch out in this fashion when most times I’ve seen them the cages are usually bound together in tight rectangles? I may never know. These oyster cages and their inhabitants never looked very appealing to me. Peering into the cages the oysters look dirty and slimy. To think they are probably sucking up the nutrients in that mess does not make me want to partake of the delicacy!

Working for supper

Paddling out a little further we could see a few clam diggers working tirelessly in the morning sun. Again digging oysters or clams out of the mud is not my cup of tea. Maybe it takes more then a cup of tea to make me want to eat them? How about a double shot to Tequila? 🙂

The marsh was quite big, looking at the map it looked like there was a few islands to explore but when we were there it was low tide and it was so very low that approaching them was impossible. In fact when we went around the backside of an island called Tom Doan’s Hammock we found ourselves high and dry stuck in the muddy sand. We had to get out and pull the kayaks back out to deeper water. This was the second time we had to do that, the other time on Barton’s Cove. For some reason when Don gets out of his kayak to pull in a situation alike this he inevitably seems to fall in. Poor Don. 😦 Well this was not the most pleasant task but we managed to save ourselves for another day of kayaking.

Hermit Heaven!

I really thought that this expanse of water would have provided a rich assortment of birds and waterfowl, but alas, we saw very little. A few Great Black Backed gulls, a swan, an osprey nest, tons of tiny hermit crabs and what looked like a Ivory Gull. Didn’t get a great shot to really tell but the Ivory Gull is very rare if it was. We did make our way into Nauset Bay by way of Cedar Bank Creek as it was deep enough at the time we were there but to really see more of Nauset Marsh we would have to return closer to high tide. None the less, it was another great kayaking experience and I do think I’ll return some day.

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