*there is a kayak review in there, i swear....
This past weekend, the family and I took a stay-cation to the in-laws. They were at the beach, and granted us permission to use their place for 24 hours. My wife and I get no cell reception out there. Combine that with the lack of wifi, and a trip to the lake is a break from technology.
I loaded up the canoe we bought from the Used Kayak and Canoe section of our store and a Wilderness System Ride 115 High Advanced Outfitting that we had from our Demo Day in June. I wanted to paddle the Ride because it is one of the most popular kayaks we sell and I had never been in it. I have this obsessive desire for first hand knowledge of each boat and I walk our warehouses in a constant state of excited anticipation. We have over 2500+ canoes and kayaks. That is a lot of watercraft to test drive!
We put the canoe in the water and loaded up for an afternoon fishing expedition. My 22 month old daughter had her little rod, which subsequently ended up in the drink. She stood at the bow of the boat for the rest of the paddle chanting, "Pole, Pole, Pole" and pointing at the water. Lesson learned, next time I rig some floatation to her Lightning McQueen Rod.
After the family paddle, I slipped the Wildy Ride 115 into the water for a little evening fishing. I was instantly surprised. The Wilderness System Ride 115 fishing kayak is a big, heavy boat. It weighs 76 lbs. and is capable of carrying 500 lbs. but once in the water, it glides effortlessly. I was pretty astonished at the tracking, speed and maneuverability of the Ride. Then I stood up.
The Ride 115 is exceptionally stable and the additional 4" increase in elevation that comes with the High Advance Seat makes standing pretty easy. I was pretty shocked in the overall performance of this kayak.
I fished into the evening, watching the sun set over the lake. The water level was still high from the flood conditions we experienced last week. It made the fishing a little tough. The bass were only biting one lure, my Powerteam Lures 4" Diesel Craw in Green Pumpkin w/ Purple Flakes. They were hitting it angry!
I retired back to my in-laws house and settled in with my wife. Without the distractions that come with constant connection, I picked up my three most current Garden & Gun Magazines and ripped through the articles. Then I grabbed my George Saunders collection of short stories. Reading, yea, it is still good. I had forgotten how much I enjoyed reading things that contained more than 140 characters.
The next morning I awoke an hour late and shuffled down to the water by 6:30am. It was very gratifying to wake up and stumble down the backyard, with coffee in hand, and fall into a boat. I have grown to really enjoy my morning coffee from the seat of a kayak. I headed into the fog. A couple casts and I got a hit. The fish started fighting and running. It was game on! As I brought it up alongside the kayak, it burst from the waterline and broke free. It was only the second time this has happened and a few choice words escaped my lips.
When we got back from our walk, my girls both laid down to nap and I slipped back into the water. The weather had cleared and it was bluebird conditions out on the lake. The bite was still slow and the only action remained on Powerteam Lures, though I did inadvertently snag a crappie, mid body, with a crankbait. I was so quick extracting that little fella from his predicament that I didn't snap a photo. But the GoPro did catch this sweet scene.
Even the old Bending Branches Whisper paddle looks good! It was a beautiful afternoon paddling this exceptionally stable kayak. I was impressed. The Wilderness Systems Ride 115 is a big boy boat with surprising agility and speed. It really handled quite well. The only gripe I have is with the paddle bungee on the side of the kayak. It has no pull tab, which makes it a pain to release from the plastic notch that it flips over. I never used it. A great fishing kayak none the less. This is a great Ride.
When my girls awoke, I headed back and we broke out the kiddie pool. The whole family played in the yard, squirting each other with the hose, lounging in the kiddie pool and washing the dog. There were lots of laughs and smiles.
Unplugging from our technology-centric society is essential for my sanity. The ability to drive ten minutes from my house and be completely removed from my smart phone and laptop is very satisfying. I do a lot of Content Marketing and e-commerce related, technical data/ feed manipulation and monitoring at work. I have three screens on my desk, four if you count my phone. I use them all. I recognize the exploding importance of digital to the retail sector and I enjoy playing in that field, but it feels good to unplug. Outdoor professionals and enthusiasts walk that line all the time. The wilderness feeds our soul, and sharing the stories with our tribe does too.
I'm still figuring it all out, as I think we all are in this fast moving society. The digital realm gives all our voices a theater. I appreciate that. I also appreciate escaping or unplugging from that theater. The absence of digital satisfaction opens me up to the nostalgic appreciation of my childhood. It opens me up, to engage my family in the way I was engaged growing up. It allows me to cultivate our personal family dynamic in an arena devoid of keyboards, outside and with no distraction. I think it's still important.