This past Sunday, January 13th, the temperature rang in at 73 degrees. My wife had to work a 12 hour shift at the hospital, which left me and my daughter on our own. I always try to make daddy daycare an adventure. Why? Why not? The alternative is sitting around the house, both of us going crazy. So, I decided we would head to Holliday Lake State Park and take a Jackson Journey 14 kayak from our great selection of used boats.
The lake sits on the eastern edge of the Appomattox- Buckingham State Forest. It is a nice little treasure here in Central Virginia. The water level was way down and getting the boat in the water was a little messy. The lake is drawn down every winter for maintenance on the beach area and fish habitats. Navigating the knee deep mud bank with a 14 foot kayak on one shoulder and a 15 month old in the other arm is challenging. Like all good fathers, I soldiered on and got us in the water.
The water temp was pretty chilly, so I stuck close to shore as a precaution. It was also my daughter's first time in any form of watercraft since this past summer and I wasn't sure how she would handle it. She doesn't like to sit still. We hit the water and immediately saw some geese. We made a beeline for them in the Jackson Journey. As we approached the 20-25 geese, they erupted, wings flapping and feet kicking, into the air. Water sprayed everywhere and my daughter stood up, pointing and "quacking" at the waterfowl as they took flight and circled the lake. It was awesome. It was the perfect moment and precisely why you endure the ordeal of these missions with young kids. When I got home, I discovered that the GoPro had captured the exact moment, preserving it for my daughter and I to look back upon when she is old enough to appreciate it.
We paddled around for about thirty minutes and my daughter repeatedly tried to drag her hand through the water. I was shocked at her insistence that she be able to play in the lake as it was quite freezing. I used the Aqua-Bound Manta Ray Hybrid paddle as a barrier to keep her in the cockpit, but she took every opportunity I gave her to thrust her little hand into the frigid water.
As we paddled back into shore, I realized that I had no idea how to extract us both from the boat while minimizing mud damage. While it was a bit tricky, I got us out relatively unscathed and began dragging the boat up the steep embankment of boggy mud.
As I walked up the hill from the lake, dragging the boat and carrying my child, I laughed at the scene. A father, solo, on a mission with his daughter. Dads carry stuff. Like a mule in the mountains, we must ferry loads to and from various destinations. It is our job to expertly and tirelessly carry children and toys through this world. It is what we do. Our wives huffed along for nine months to bring this joy into our lives, now it is our turn. There are days my daughter seems to constantly be at my feet, saying "uuuppp" over and over until I lift her into my arms. There are times I throw and catch her into the air, repeatedly, as she giggles hysterically. There are the times my biceps scream as I race into the grocery store, baby on my hip and sling a large sack of dog food over my shoulder. No cart needed. This is training. This is dad strength. Embrace it. How many 25 lb. curls can you do in ten minutes, 30? How many one armed tasks can you accomplish while holding a wiggly baby? Test yourself.*
We had a great day together. It culminated with both of us running barefoot through the grass at Holliday Lake State Park. Our shoes were muddy, the boat was wet and we were happy. 70+ degrees in January is a bit weird, but I'll take advantage of it when it happens. Oh, and be on the lookout for my new book, Dad-fit: Using your Child to Cross Train.*
side note: As I stated before, we have quite a few Jackson boats in our Used Boat list. I found the Journey to be a nice touring style kayak. It had good speed and felt extremely sturdy. The seat was extremely plush and the adjustable and patented Sure Lock back band system gave me ample ability to fine tune my comfort. They design the Journey boats with the same beef as their whitewater boats, so it will last forever. Jackson Kayak, made in Tennessee. We have a full line up of new boats, including their new SUP board and the Jackson Cruise 12, check them out.
*Niether I or ARC, advocates Dad-fit exercises. Perform at your own risk :)
Disclaimer: *the actions taken in this blog represent actions the author chose to engage in. Appomattox River Company cautions against the dangers of cold water paddling. In an effort to educate, we offer the following website dedicated to instruction on the perils of paddling in cold water. https://www.coldwatersafety.org/nccwsRules3.html