The Equipment Balloon

A friend of mine has a husband who is an early adopter of recreation. Like, he surfs, but also kite boards. He canoes and kayaks, too. He bikes, runs, swims, participates in marathons, 5K’s and triathlons like they’re no big deal. He just seems to embrace every sport, or at least, try out every kind of outdoor recreation that looks interesting or challenging to him. As a result, he has what she calls an equipment balloon. Her balloon is a clothing pile that grows and shrinks next to her side of the bed while he has an equipment balloon in the garage that grows and shrinks with boards, bikes and training equipment as he moves through his different foci* and interests.
Now, I could understand the clothing balloon. I have one too, except it lives in my closet, stuffed into random drawers, making for a really fun Monday morning from time to time, but an equipment balloon that diversifies out of one area of interest? Nah. Like I said before, I really thought that once I picked running, that was it for me. All I needed was a decent pair of shoes, a good bra and some running pants and I required no balloon. Not me. Then I got a bicycle. Then an elliptical. Then a Bowflex and stairclimber and a stationary cycle and a treadmill and now I want to add a spin bike and cross country skis and snowshoes…
I think I have an equipment balloon and it definitely likes to expand. In fact, I’ve taken over the garage,as well. Wanna guess what? Right now I have my eye on one thing in particular.
I want a paddleboard.

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I have seen the adds for paddleboard rentals all over Groupon and Living Social this year. I’ll admit to being curious, but I truly expected to get on one and immediately tip over, so I decided to save my money and pass it by. But I was really wanting to try one. Out of the blue, my mom sent me a text and told me she bought two paddleboards at Costco this spring in case anyone wanted to try one at their lake! Stars aligned and I was going to get to try one! I seriously looked so forward to riding this thing like it was going to be the highlight of my summer, and it didn’t disappoint. I’m totally in love.
I watched a video of someone using one before we left for my parents place in Idaho so I was able to act like I was a pro despite being a total neophyte. The paddleboard and lake were cooperative as I stepped from the dock to the board and just started paddling out to sea. I couldn’t believe how easy it was to keep my balance on the lake. Before I knew it, I was in the middle of the lake, the all the way across it, among the lily pads and milfoil. I know it sounds gross, but it was beautiful in that late-August, golden summer kind of way. The sun was pink and all I could hear were my kids splashing in the distance, frogs croaking, crickets chirping… And there I was, standing still in the middle of it all. It was an experience parallel to hiking, for me, which I often describe as sincerely religious. A little later during my maiden voyage, I stood in the dead center of the lake and watched the sun fall behind the mountain. The forest fires had snuffed out the sky from Ellensburg to Sandpoint, and as pollution intensifies sunsets, it was absolutely ahhhhhmazing with the spectrum of color. I know I’m really gushing, but sometimes life gob-smacks you and you have to pay attention.
The next morning, Jude and I explored the lake together, paddling clear across to the opposite shore. While we were there we heard an impressive coyote jamboree of extravagant yips and howls. At first it sounded like monkeys, but this is the Idaho panhandle, not the African jungle! Coyotes!
The next time I was able to go it was quite windy and the water was choppy with a few waves. The rougher the water is the better your work out on the paddleboard will be, so I was pretty excited. As soon as I stepped on the board, the wind whooshed me backwards down the lake, pulling me in it like a sail. My daughter had the same thing happen and she was stuck in the reeds, so I rescued her and, together, we paddled together like a canoe on my board while pulling hers back to the dock. If you’re wondering, no, it was not easy having two people on one board. Balance is key to stability, and having two people rowing while also balancing proved tricky but possible.
I, then, decided to really get a calorie burn in the wind. I decided to paddle as far as I could into the headwind on the lake, then I wanted to turn around and let the wind push me back to the dock. I made it quite a ways, almost across the lake, when my arms started getting tired while my thighs and the arches of my feet started to cramp from dealing with balancing on the choppy water. I successfully turned around and was able to kind of use my oar as a wind-rudder of sorts (before it almost made me fall) as I sailed back to the dock. It was awesome but tiring. I woke up sore the next day, which is a good sign that I actually got a workout doing something so marvelous as this. 🙂
Tamara+paddleboarding= true love

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We headed to Silverwood Theme Park while we were in Idaho and my husband caught me thoroughly enjoying the Tilt-a-whirl… Ha ha ha! I’m not sure I’ll be going on that too much more often…
*Actual plural of focus– I looked it up.

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