Back on the Paddle Again…

Needless to say, it’s been a long time since I’ve written.  I’m mostly healed from my MCL tear so I’ve got content to write about, but there lies the rub…when I’m forced to stay off my board (or trails, or dance floor, or yoga mat, etc) I have nothing to write about relative to the blog.  So I’m doing my best to sneak a post in here and there, while excited to be active again and too busy being active to write about it.

My first experience back on whitewater, post injury, was on the first day of 2018. A great start to a new year!  It wasn’t, however, on my paddleboard.  My first whitewater adventure was with the American Whitewater Association New Years day paddle, an annual event, on the Clackamas.  My guy Sam and I R-3’d it on a raft, with his young photography and paddle apprentice Colby.  To be legit, I’d like to say we R-4’d the run with Mojo (the coolest dog in the world) with us.  Mojo and I were both excited to start the new year right… finally getting back on the water.  The day was gorgeous…coldish but clear and it was large, fun group of paddlers.  The river was running at a perfect level and fun was had by all.  Now, as of March 2, way beyond my ability to remember details about the paddling I have to admit that a highlight was the homemade oreos that one of the paddlers contributed to the potluck after! Ha (my TRUEST passion in life reveals itself…food!!).

The New Years day paddle was great, however I was excited to get back on my paddleboard on whitewater which I did the next weekend with a wildly unseasonable Saturday on the Santiam river.  It was a sweet reunion.  Since I was mildly nervous about what my knee could do I wanted to start small.  I chose the first stretch that Sam and I ran together–our first date.  A fitting stretch and fairly romantic, in my mind, since he has been my whitewater paddle buddy, for the most part, since I started running frisky ripples on my board.  We put in at Mehema and took out at Linda’s (as we did that first day).  The difference this time around, was that the river was running at 4 times the CFS.  I was surprised to find my legs uncontrollably shaking for about 3 or 4 minutes, through the first rapid.  After that, however, they firmed up.  I suppose it was a reaction from my muscles “what the hell is this?!”…hmmmm oh yeah, we’ve done this before.

Honestly, nothing particularly noteworthy about the run except it rejuvenated my confidence in my knee’s strength. The Santiam is always beautiful and fun. Also, 65 degree weather in January is pretty epic.  There have been several amazing paddles since…you might be saying “then why not share THOSE stories Sue…this one was mediocre…? However, I’ve got to get moving out to ski and yoga.  Gotta save something right?  For now, thanks for listening and happy paddlin’….Sue and the Moj

Another Past Adventure…Panama!

I’m still longing to get out on my board, but in the meantime I’m filling my mind with past SUP trips.  Panama was one of those memorable SUP Yoga retreat destinations for me, led in conjunction with the shop I work at, Tumalo Creek Kayak & Canoe.  We went twice and had different but great adventures both times.  Hint, if you’re looking for a phenomenal experience off the beaten path, check out Panama.  Here are my suggestions:

First, spend a few days in Panama City.  The city is really cool–I believe around 11 million in population.  It has a modern financial district with skyscrapers and the whole 9 yards (or in this case…some number of meters? Ha!).  Do yourself a favor and check out the “old town” or Ciudad Viejo.  It’s got a European flare, due I’m sure, to Panama City’s fascinating history.  The area was under major renovation when I was last there and it was incredible to see extremely run down dwellings right next to beautiful, remodeled buildings.  The city comes alive at night and even if you’re not into dancing/clubbing, do yourself a favor and go anyway.  It’s 100% eye candy.  Everyone is dressed to the 9’s.  It’s incredibly fun.

Panama City

Another “must see” is the Panama Canal.  But don’t be lazy and do your research before you go.  Learn what an incredible feat this canal was to build.  Pretty amazing.

After you’ve had enough of city life, you could do what our crew did and head the 5-7 hours to Santa Catalina. It’s a small but growing surf town.  Really cool and really friendly waves to surf at Playa Estero.  If you don’t want to venture farther out you can let the waves catch you just off shore, and at least experience the feel of surfing.  Views are stunning and the people are great.

Tumalo partnered with a couple of businesses in Santa Catalina to make this trip happen– beautiful Michelle (inside and out) who owns La Buena Vida, a wonderful small hotel with individual cabanas and an outstanding restaurant boasting local, organic foods.  Michelle and her husband are artists, so not only is the stay comfortable and well-located but also adorable and unique.  While there you can experience yoga on the hillside in the jungle…one of the coolest outdoor yoga studios I’ve ever seen. You can also get a massage.  For a rural experience, you’re really getting luxury!

The other partner was Fluid Adventures run by long-time Santa Catalina resident from Canada, Michael McKenzie.  Our first year Michael chartered us out to another must-see…Isla Coiba, considered the cousin to the Galapagos.  A beautiful island with indigenous animals we’d never seen or heard of, a resident crododile, immense jungle and outstanding hikes.  The sea-kayaking was mind blowing with crystal clear waters–visions that looked like they came straight out of a wall calendar.  I assure you, this wasn’t photoshopped.

The second year I took my SUP clients to various locations off Santa Catalina.  Michael made my life easy and essentially followed us wherever we wanted to go with a boat, as support. We paddled out to Santa Catalina island (unsupported), El Banco and El Gobienero.  Each a different experience but equally gorgeous. For example, from El Banco we paddled up a tributary through Amazon-like canopy, more than likely with crocodiles swimming around us, but I didn’t see any that day. No, the trips didn’t disappoint (aside from losing my camera during one of the excursions and the corresponding photos…sad face….I lost the camera, not Michael).

On a personal side note, one of the most enjoyable aspects of leading retreats is being a part of the clients’ experience.  I’ve observed transformations in days, before my eyes.  The second year in Panama was one-such situation and to this day I still remember warmly, a client (I’ll call her “Betsy”) who unwound from her highly uptight and anxious approach to…well…life. She looked physically different from the time she arrived. She left glowing, with a twinkle in her eye.

Many many great memories, too numerous to share and some falling under the category of “what happens in Panama stays in Panama”.  However, if you’re interested in learning more, feel free to contact me directly.  I’m always up for a Panama chat.  Also, it’s not a place I’d recommend just “going for it” without a guide or extensive knowledge of the area.  It’s equatorial jungle and there are plants and animals that can (and will) kill you if you are unaware.  Shouldn’t scare you away from the experience, just saying know before you go.  Or during.  There are local guides that can be chartered to help.

Thanks for listening!

SUP Party
SUP Party
Panama 2
Cold beer after “hard” day of paddling!
Mangroves
Breathtaking mangrove paddle
El Banco
El Banco beauty
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Sunset on Coiba
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Tropical bliss…day paddle off of Coiba
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Playa Estero Sunset
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This is the life!!
Panama 2013 077
Coiba….
Panama Dinner
Enjoying really outstanding Panamanian food…nothing like Mexican food (also good)…just different.

 

 

 

A Look Back at the San Juans

San Juans SunsetI’ve almost completely recovered from my knee injury this summer…haven’t actually gotten on whitewater or surf with my paddleboard, but ready to get back after it! In the meantime, having just spent a few days in the San Juans it gave me an opportunity to reminisce about past visits to this beautiful area.  The trip I particularly cherish was a commercial trip I supported with TCKC a few years back.  It was a great crew…two awesome guides and Julia,  support staff.  Finally, myself to help the clients who might need anything from an apple at the very bottom of our kitchen gear after just cleaning up, to paddle tips and guidance on the water.

The TCKC staff headed out very early the day before the trip to drive the substantial distance (about 9 hours) to Anacortes where we’d camp, greet clients and ready ourselves for an even earlier next day (loading the first ferry).  Sidenote: I think the “behind the scenes” with guide staff is really fun.  It’s a special dynamic of teammates making it happen together.  Sharing the “stoke” and also the “ugggh”.  One thing is for sure–the worst day on a guided trip is better than any day in the office. Our team got along particularly well, and we enjoyed our pre-trip dinner with a handful of the guests.

Official day #1…early rise and successful load onto the ferry.  Gorgeous weather and chit chatting throughout the 90 minute or so ride.  Then onto our launch site where we promptly and efficiently…like a herd of turtles…re-packed gear, redistributing and sharing the clients’ load.  Then, onto Patos!  With 2-foot chop and several clients who were fairly anxious about the conditions, it was a little rowdy and we had to stay on our toes.  Eventually we all made it over to Patos a spectacular location.  What a great little uninhabited island, with the exception of a lighthouse on the far end, and a shitter about 1/4 mile from the grassy camp area.  Perfect!!  There were campfires, there was whiskey.  There was plenty of great food and laughter (see “whiskey”).

The next day was an optional paddle to Sucia to restock water, or a crew of us that stayed back while I led a yoga/stretch session overlooking the ocean.  With the free time after, I was more than happy to go for a run around the island trail (twice).  Checked out the lighthouse (cool!) and then back to camp to prep for dinner.  Night two, a trip highlight with a late night paddle…sans clients.  Nothing but the stars and some bioluminescence to light our way.  Little did we know that when we reached the tip of little Patito island, we also lost our protected bay and met 4 foot (at least) standing waves. Considerable waves.  But we were up to the challenge and had a hoot hollerin’ time.  Literally.  We hooted and hollered and I remember, like it was yesterday, as we “rafted up” in our kayaks, giving hugs and yelling “Isn’t life GRAND?!” just as Bo (one of the guides) looked down and asked “Sue, where is your paddle?”.  An offering to the ocean gods and maybe a lucky Canadian as the current was definitely heading that direction.

Life IS grand.  The rest of the trip was good too.  The ocean turned to glass the following morning and the typical fun paddling, campfires, paddle back and unpacking ensued.  That’s the great thing about trips like this–whether a river trip, multi-day sea-kayaking tour or ocean retreat–there’s just something about the water and positive energy that surrounds it.  Doesn’t have to involve waves or rapids (although I kinda like it when it DOES).  Leaving the cement jungle and reconnecting with mama earth and the water is a special luxury.  And if you haven’t done anything like this before, I recommend you do.  There’s something to fit every level of experience.  Give me a shout if you want some tips.

As always, thanks for listening….

Sue San Juans SuciaHank teaching some skillzHank teaching some skillz twoHank teaching some skillz threeSan Juans Sucia Sunset

 

I didn’t move off the grid or break all my fingers…

If you’ve read my posts before you know I’ve been meaning to start this blog for awhile, but didn’t actually do it until I tore my MCL and was forced to slow down.  I was really, really good at keeping up with my writing at first. As I’ve improved, however, I’m kind of a lagger. On this blog anyway.

It’s been a really fun last month actually.  I’ve been full of gratitude for what I CAN do (rather than focusing on what I can’t do, as I did before). Checking off the list, I got back on my bike, starting really slow…all pavement first, graduating to gravel-maintained trails and as of yesterday did my first “legit” bike ride.  Felt great!

Hiking.  Probably most of you reading this are from Oregon (4 of the 7 anyway!) and you know how beautiful this area is.  I hiked some wonderful trails in Bend, Salem, Cascade Head on the coast and Paulina Lake.  Feels wonderful to be moving and strengthening my leg muscles as I go. I’ve also begun running again which has been more recent but feeling strong.

Yoga was a big step and so happy to do that again.  Not only for the phyical benefits (extremely crucial with all the misalignment and tension from the injury) but mentally and socially. Bend has such a wonderful and strong yoga community…really bummed to have been separated from that, even if just a few months.

Now, the final test will be back on my board, on whitewater.  Slated for this next week.  Ironically I’ll begin with the next stretch of the Santiam that my sweetie and I began together when we were first getting to know one another… from Mehama down where it gets more and more gentle.  I’d worked my way UP stream before (as I got better on my board…the river is rowdier upstream and chills out as it flows past Mill City falls).  A year and four months later I’ll start again, but I’m wildly optimistic that my knee will do great.  If nothing else, we’ll have a great time running a beautiful stretch of river that we’ve been meaning to do but were having more fun on more challenging stuff.  This seems a metaphor to life… full of ups and downs, starts and stops.  Just when you think you’re invincible something happens to blow you off course.  However, at those times when you’re flailing hard, something great happens to prop you back up.  So I’m going to get out there and start all over again.  Onward and upward folks….keep moving, keep trying!

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My Continued Gratitude

 

I continue to improve from my MCL tear 6 weeks ago today.  Finally, I’m starting to see the light at the end of the tunnel, and while I’m still on “injured reserve” for many of my fav activities I’ve also been able to do normal things like walk, paddle on flatwater and shop with this incredible human, Kelley Shanan, who I absolutely plan on teaching with as originally sceduled this next Thursday for our Yoga SUP Sundowner event at Tumalo Creek Kayak and Canoe.  I’ve had to give up a lot of my activities which is fine…really… this summer.  But I’m kind of stubborn about this.  First of all, it’s rare that Shanan’s schedule is open and since she made the commitment I’d be really bummed to miss the opportunity to co-present this fun night with her.  Second, it’s the best way I can think of to kick off the eclipse weekend (that’s eclipsing all other normal activity…haha…mmmm I’m just not that funny…sorry!).  Finally, I think this event will be awesome for those who attend.  It’s yoga SUP which is awesome, on the upper Deschutes on a summer evening.  However, I’ve also had two of my favorite brands step in and ask to be a part of the project by donating raffle prizes.  Product from lululemon and a pair of shoes from Astral.  If you’ve read my blog before you know I love Astral’s shoes AND their company’s values.

Recently, I’ve gotten better acquainted with our local lululemon and it’s new manager Emily Kyle.  She’s a sweetheart, and clearly knows her stuff which Shanan and I recognized on a recent shopping spree. Shanan and I went to the Old Mill location to try on some product recognizing we were both greatly in need of new stuff for this event.  I personally still wear exercise clothes circa 1999-early 2000’s to teach my classes.  I think 50 First Dates was the new release movie and Brad Pitt and Jennifer Aniston were the hot Hollywood couple last time I bought a pair of yoga pants. Probably time to upgrade? Ummmm yeah. Emily hooked us up with product that I’m confident saying will shock (in a positive way) all my regular students.  They might not recognize me.  These clothes are seriously way too cool for me even to wear.  I’ll do my best to do the brand justice.  Shanan, on the other hand, always looks adorable and rocks the lululemon.  You don’t believe me? Come check her out on Thursday night at the event.

Aside from Thursday, I look forward to getting back out to teach SUP and maybe into a yoga studio, in the next few weeks.  Things should get exponentially better from there.  Patience.  It’s been an interesting “ride”.

Thanks for listening and happy paddlin’….

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My Hobble is getting to be a walk!

Well it’s been an interesting month. What started out an amazing summer full of hiking, biking and lots of paddleboarding then took a drastic 180 when I tore my MCL on July 2. It’s been a soul-searching event for sure with many compromises. My lifestyle has been turned upside down (I might not be badass, but I do many hours of activity a day, frisky ripple-style). I’ve traded in my typical gear…boards, paddles, 1 mm O’Neill capris/paddle jacket, bikinis and my Astral Brewess paddle shoes for laptop, books, knee brace and dresses! It’s a transition for sure…temporary…but different. For the first week I was pretty much laid up in bed or a chair (leg elevated and iced). However, as recovery began I was altogether ready to get out of my studio and back to work, even if greatly modified.

Now a month in, I’ve begun walking—slowly–and have the great pleasure of doing so in comfort and style thanks to some new skids from Astral. We carry their brand at the shop and I needed something that gave me good traction (please, please don’t fall and re-injure myself!), Something comfortable (I need that more than ever right now!) and style (common…even in the direst conditions a gal wants to appear at least marginally cute). I got the TR1-Trek for (eventual) hiking/canyoning, Mary Jay’s for fashion and the Rosa for summer casual. So let the fun begin, trying these shoes out!

I wore first, the TR-1 Trek. I’m sooooo ready to get moving again and hiking is my jam. I simply love getting out into nature. Doesn’t have to be a thigh-burner or intense hike, although I enjoy that plenty. I can also thrive on easy, approachable terrain. These shoes seem great for that…although I haven’t tested them with any true hiking since I currently shuffle along like a slug. In fact, it’s almost imperceptible that I’m moving! What I CAN say for the Trek is that they’re ridiculously comfortable, light weight and highly supportive. That feels great when just about everything hurts from the actual injury in my knee, to the rest of my body that is cranky due to the lying around so much and compensating with the bum knee. When I put these shoes on, it was kind of like a big body sigh. Ahhhhhh.

The second shoe (flip flop) I wore was the Rosa. First, I gotta say that I love red, although this flip flop is also offered in black, gray and turquoise. All the colors are cute and have fun stitching on the top bands to make them “sexier” rather than boring. They’ve got arch support and a back strap so you don’t feel the typical shin/calve tension when walking for long periods of time. This is crucial for me injured, however as a woman who lives in flip flops in the summer it’s nice to save my legs and back in general. I chose to wear these with a dress (as indicated above) but could easily pack them along with shorts or jeans to warmer climes this winter. Their material makes them more durable for, say, international travel this winter to Mexico where I already have dreamy visions of escaping, and have started flight shopping just to appease my anxiety about missing all the great paddling in the PacNW this summer! Props to the Rosa!!

Finally, I wore the Mary Jay’s. Spoiler alert… I jokingly posted on Facebook stating my indecision to wear them in public, just in case someone tried to steal them from me in my compromised condition because they are so super cute. Haha….they’e ADORABLE. All caps. They’re available in several colors but I chose the navy/turquoise. Don’t think that the Mary Janes cuteness negates comfort. They have cushion throughout the footbed with little grooves which I’m guessing are to massage and relax the foot. And p.s…I got so many compliments on them, while wearing them and on the FB post.

You might ask why I am so gung-ho on Astral.  Here’s the thing… I paddled with the RVR2RVR gals the last two years and they rep for Astral.  I ended up hearing more about the company and not only are their products–PFDs and shoes–awesome, but so is the company culture.  How they approach their employees, vendors, and customers.  The whole shabang.  I like to give props where credit is due and when a company excels I think that deserves a shout out.

So that’s the thumbnail on this gal lately… on injured reserve I spend a lot of time getting office work done, rehabbing in the pool and being stoked on my Astrals. Can’t wait until I have more to share!! Hahaha…thanks for listening and happy paddlin’ (get out there and get some for me too!!)

 

Mary Jay
These are the cutest little cruisers around…

Trek

 

Back in the Paddle Again…

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Sooo the day I’ve been waiting for came yesterday. Ok to be truthful the day I’m waiting for is actually the day when I can run the same section I was running when I tore my MCL to begin with. Or even better, some equivalent stretch on a gorgeous river I’ve never paddled.  But now I’m just sounding ungrateful. I’m entirely thankful to have been advised by Denny, my awesome PT, that I should get on a really stable board, on flatwater and give it a whirl. With the gracious help of one of our rental staff I was able to SUP about 8-10ish minutes on the Old Mill stretch. I never thought I’d find that so gratifying! Let’s face it… I’ve taught hundreds of people on that section of river and I’ll just say it’s lost its luster. Or so it had. Yesterday I was joyous….thrilled! I didn’t break any speed records or even paddle well but I was ecstatic. So much so that I went again today for about fifteen minutes.

There is nothing like water therapy. I’ll go again tomorrow and with any luck I’ll be able to take some “bigger” water soon (bigger than flat, ha!) In the meantime you’ll see me in the pool, on the flats and hobbling around the shop (but gaining speed!)

Thanks for listening and see ya on the Frisky Ripples!