Rob and I went back east this summer to visit family and to help fiberglass the DadSUP! It was great to hang out with the grandparents, swim, and play some ping pong while taking a break between fiberglass coats! Plus, the board looks fantastic! What do you think?
Rob was off throwing his brother’s bachelor party, so I headed east in order to help my dad build a SUP. You may remember this story from a while ago – like 4 years ago. Freshman year of college I cut out the pieces for my dad to build a SUP. Each summer, my dad finished a step or two, but enough was enough – it was time to finish the project.
The other goal of the trip was to visit with my grandparents. Along with gluing the top of the board together late at night,
I was able to sneak in some quality NYC time. We went to a Broadway show (The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time), walked in the park; I got my butt kicked by my grandmother’s pilates class, and did some pajama yoga (the best king of yoga).
Back to the SUP, we recruited neighbors, friends, and even my grandfather for extra hands putting the thing together. It was a whirlwind blast of a trip, but you will be seeing DadBoard on the water soon!
Summer came and went as quickly as I thought, It may be too hot. It seemed like there were only a few days when it was appropriately hot in Jackson, but whenever it was, we took full advantage. It was nice to get some use out my wetsuit again. We set out to SUP String Lake in Grand Teton National Park, nestled in the shadow of the mountains. This is an adventure I recommend to anyone who enjoys an awesome view.
The next hot day we ventured down the river. We upped the ante a bit, running the canyon in kayaks. I am not very good at whitewater, and frankly terrified of it, so I was put in a duckie. A duckie is the tricycle of the kayaking world. Flipping one is practically impossible, and the entire thing is a giant squishy cushion. In this manner, I grimaced my way through the rapids.
Rob, the brave one, tried out packrafting by paddling a superlight watercraft that packs down to the size of a large water bottle through the huge holes in the river. It was a little unnerving watching him bob around in what seemed to me like a thin balloon compared to my beast of a water craft, but he managed to get through even the big stuff without swimming.
The team was rounded out by two really skilled kayakers, Jay and Scott whose hollering could be heard for miles as they showed off in every ripple and hole.
Downriver SUPing has always been both a great thrill and a huge challenge for me. On one hand, I love to paddle. I love water. On the other hand, whitewater terrifies me. I grew up paddling and swimming in lakes, the flattest of flatwater. Having that friendly substance turn white with turbulence and feeling it move with a force that never pushes in the same direction makes my legs turn to jello. Most of the time the water is pushing me straight down the river. Good. But other times it is pushing me into a rock or a bridge pylon, or just swirling me so I am facing upriver – not all that helpful for seeing where I want to go.
Unlike skiing if I want to turn to get around a large rock, I cannot just lean and change direction. If the river wants me to go near that rock, I am going to go near the rock. From my experience if I don’t grit my teeth and maybe curse a bit while paddling frantically I will likely hit it.
But that’s the fun of it. The river wants to pull me onto a path and I have to stretch that path like a taught string to move slightly in the direction I want to go. And maybe cuss a bit too.
I can’t believe it has been five weeks in a neck collar, but I have another two weeks before school starts. I want to spend them breathing the clear dry air in a mountain town. So I hopped on a plane to Jackson just in time to see some wonderful sunsets from natural hot springs, listen to Lynyrd Skynyrd in concert, and get paddled around a lake with the remnants of an old forest submerged under 20’ of water. Having a neck collar sucks, but sitting on the grass with a beer in hand, listening to Free Bird live doesn’t.
Straight off Dartmouth’s stress griddle, I joined my parents and brother for a complete change of pace – a Caribbean Paradise. I have never seen anything quite like the deep, crystal blue-green ocean surrounding Turks and Caicos. Paddling around, I could see the bottom as clearly as if it were only a few feet deep.
For a week I spent most of my time in the ocean, either standup paddling, boating or kiteboarding. Paddling tandem SUP with my mom was especially fun, but the kiting takes the cake for challenging.
With a wind filled 12’ wide kite pulling me, if I didn’t get the board on my feet quickly enough I was dragged toward shore. If I let go of my board and lost it behind me, I struggled to swim back upwind for it. But when I finally stood up, leaned back against the kite and flew on top of the water it was an amazing feeling. The ride ended when I highsided, and pressure washed my sinuses. But for those few moments, I was flying.
up up and away
After kiting, it was great to hang out with the family, grab some delicious food, share stories, and even practice some spinning moves with washed up bamboo.