Saturday, July 21, 2007

paddling and pedaling

For our nineth anniverary, our friend Alan invited my husband Jon & me to join him on a short river trip. Just a day trip with pretty straight-forward logistics: Pack up two inflatable kayaks and three bikes plus gear and drive from Anchorage to Portage. Where Portage creek crossed under the Seward Highway, we stashed & locked our bikes and helmets in the brush out of view of the highway. We would use those to get back to the car.

We then drove to Portage Lake visitor center and parked under the bridge that goes to the first tunnel enroute to Whittier. Inflated the kayaks - Jon & I would share the double - donned our equipment, rain pants, pfds. Packed food & beers, etc. It's been awhile since I've been in a boat, but each time I'm in one I enjoy being on the water so much it makes me wish I didn't have to drive somewhere to get to these conditions.

Alan gave us lessons on how to use the kayaks in the creek since we've only been in them in open water. We started by paddling upstream into the corner of the lake that's open to kayaks and canoes. Caught a glimps of part of the glacier before heading to the creek.

So, I think I know how to maneuver the boat and Jon thinks he does too, but we end up out of sync with Alan trying to shout a tip over the sounds of our voices and my paddle splashing the water since I'm not placing it far enough into the water. "An anniversary challenge," I say to Jon. And it is a challenge. To not get frustrated with Jon; to operate this equipment without frustrating him; to laugh when one of us does something wrong and realize we'll get it figured out. For Jon to not get annoyed when I splash him.

Alan offered perspective by telling us that the person in the front understands the maneuvering from where they sit (behind the pivot point of the kayak), while the person in the back understands it from in front of the pivot. To understand the other person's perspective, it would take switching positions. Walk a mile in my shoes; paddle for a while from the front of the boat. Nine years is a milestone. I hope we can continue appreciating each others' persepectives even if we can never really stand in each others' shoes.

I thank Alan, who was our best man 9 years ago, for the gifts he continues to give to us. I can't stand in his shoes either.

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