My Week 33: Kayak Adventures and Air Miles

Sunday: We buy kayaks and I become obsessive

Last week, Ken and I bought kayaks. We’ve wanted kayaks for a very long time, since last year actually, after we got a canoe for $25. This might seem like a weird connection, but here’s what happened. Ken was buying a bowling alley floor from a guy in Cambridge (it was cut into 4 x 4 sections and we were going to use it for the floor of our barn, which we were in the process of converting into a shop for our antique business. It came from a bowling alley that I used to go to as a child, and it looks very cool, thanks for asking). Anyway, as he was loading up the flooring, he noticed that the guy had a 3-seater canoe on his lawn, so he asked him why it was just sitting out there. The guy said he was going to put it at the side of the road because no one in his family used it anymore. Thinking quickly, Ken told him he’d give him $25 if he DIDN’T put it at the side of the road, but waited for Ken to come back later, and he agreed. Ken’s smart like that. So we got a really cheap canoe. We were worried that it might have a hole or something and sink the second it went in the water, but for $25 it was a chance we were willing to take. When I was a kid, I went canoeing quite a few times with my dad and brother (Mom, I totally get why you wouldn’t come with us now), and I really enjoyed it, so I was thrilled at the thought of Ken, K, and me quietly paddling down an idyllic river, the still water parting for us with tiny ripples. Yeah, right. So we bought lifejackets (I already have paddles—I have a collection which has stood in the corner of my office for years, and while Ken mocked them regularly, I got my own back when I pointed out that I was just “planning ahead”), and we took everything down to the mouth of the Otter Creek. Ken got into the canoe first, to steady it for me. I had a moment of doubt right as I was stepping in, and as I sat down, the canoe starting tipping from one side to the other, which turned my doubt into mild panic. Then it was K’s turn to get in, and the tipping turned into rocking. I was starting to feel REALLY anxious, and then we realized that we were all facing the wrong way, and had to all turn around. At this point, I think I was making very quiet, keening sounds under my breath, kind of like “Ummmm….unnnnng….uhhhh”, but we all managed to turn around without capsizing. As we pulled away from shore though, my mild panic turned into full-fledged freaked-outedness, as the canoe bobbed from side to side with every slight movement, threatening to toss us all out into the mighty Otter at any moment. The “under my breath” sounds became A LOT louder, and I started to hyperventilate. At this point, Ken said, “Are you OK?” because he was behind me and couldn’t see how petrified I was. Then he realized I was shaking, and they took me back to shore before I had a total breakdown. I spent the rest of the afternoon de-stressing on the deck, until Ken called me to bring the truck and trailer down to the launch to pick him and K up.

But I’m no quitter, not by a long shot. When I told people about my experience, everyone said, “Oh, you should totally get a kayak. They’re much better and not as tippy.” I took this advice to heart and convinced Ken that we should get kayaks. I’d been watching the Canadian Tire flyers for weeks, waiting for a sale, and last week, they dropped the price on their “entry-level” kayaks by $100 apiece, making them very reasonable. So I called Ken from Toronto, and we agreed (after he refused to take time off work and go first thing in the morning because he’s just mean) that we would get them the next night when I got home from Toronto. I was worried that they’d all be sold out, but luckily we were able to get one for each of us. Then the problems started. Our neighbour in Port Burwell had had his kayaks stolen from behind his cottage, where they were CHAINED UP, so how were we supposed to retain possession of ours when they were just either sitting on our trailer or lying on our lawn? Ken didn’t share my fear of kayak thieves, which just made things worse, because he insisted on driving places with them, and leaving them unattended while we did stuff like grocery shopping or going to restaurants. And there they were, in the trailer, like shining blue beacons of adventure-ness, secured only by a rope and a couple of knots. Here’s a sample of one of the MANY conversations we had about the kayaks:

Me: We can’t just GO into Staples. We have the kayaks on the trailer. Someone could take them.
Ken: No one’s going to take them. It’s broad daylight.
Me: Some of these people look really sketchy. Don’t park next to the guy with the pick-up truck!!
Ken: Right. Because he’s going to untie the kayaks, put them in his truck, and drive away BEFORE we come back out.
Me: He looks like he enjoys water sports…What about those guys over there?
Ken: They have bicycles. What do you think, they’re going to tie them onto their bikes like a pontoon?
Me: It could happen. Stop mocking me.

You can replace the word “Staples” with “Zehrs”, “Canadian Tire”, the gluten-free bakery in Paris, and the Lighthouse Restaurant in Port Burwell, because we dragged that trailer around with us for a few days before we even put the kayaks into the water. Despite my worries though, no one stole off with them in the night. Or in the parking lot. Then on the weekend, we finally had the chance to try them out. We took them down to the same fateful spot that our canoe adventure had started, and ended, from, and carried them to the water. Once again, Ken steadied my kayak so I could get in. It wobbled from side to side and I sat there, feeling panic rising again. While Ken was getting himself sorted out, though, I tried a few hesitant manoeuvres, and started to feel more balanced. As I turned around to tell Ken I thought this might be OK, he stepped into his kayak. As he started to settle himself into the seat, the kayak wobbled one way—he tried to re-balance but overcompensated, and TIPPED HIMSELF RIGHT INTO THE CREEK. I yelled, “Oh sh*t! Ken!” but all he could do was flail around in the water, his hands on the creek bottom, trying to extricate himself from the kayak shouting, “Cold!! So cold!!” as he struggled to stand up (luckily, we were only in about two feet of water at the time). Thankfully, he had put his wallet, cell phone, and camera into a ziplock bag, but it was now floating downstream along with his paddle. “Get the bag and the paddle!” he cried, and I was like, “Me? You’re kidding, right?” I had just seen my beloved husband, who was MUCH better than me at both watersports and balancing, dump himself into a freezing creek—how was I supposed to start chasing down his stuff if it meant having to lean over the side of the kayak to get them? But then my desire to get a picture of all this chaos outweighed my fear, and I needed his camera to do that. (See, I had had no doubt that I was going to be the one who ended up in the creek, so I left MY wallet and cellphone in the truck, just in case). Anyway, he managed to get upright, and pulled his kayak out of the water. Then there was the problem of DRAINING the kayak, which was full of water. Well, I guess people must capsize this particular brand of kayak A LOT because we discovered that there was a plug in the prow, specifically designed for draining. But there was a silver lining to all of this, because while I was waiting for Ken to recover, and get all the water out of his kayak, I had a chance to paddle around and get more comfortable. Then, ironically, for the rest of the trip, it was me who kept saying to Ken, “Are you OK? Are you feeling better now?” and HE was the one who was shaking a bit—from the cold water, of course. Halfway down the Otter Creek, I felt like a pro–until a motor boat raced by us. But that’s another story.

Friday: I have a chat with an Air Miles representative

Air Miles are stupid. We’ve been collecting them for YEARS and we’ve never been able to go anywhere with them. As of right now, I don’t even have enough for a bus ticket to Kitchener. Then a new grocery store opened in a nearby town, and they give you Air Miles which can be converted into cash for groceries. When I told Ken, he tried to have our existing multitude of Air Miles transferred, but they wouldn’t let us do that. So what do I do with these stupid Air Miles? I went on their website and it was more than useless, other than to tell me that I could buy a Montblanc fountain pen for 5,000 Air miles and $125 dollars cash. Not a great deal. And I couldn’t find anywhere where it said I could get a gift card. I figured that since Rona gives you Air Miles, you MUST be able to get gift cards for there, and I had a plan for a new garden. Then I saw the Live Chat function and figured that would be easier than trying to navigate their equally stupid website. I clicked on Have a Live Chat with an Agent, and waited. Then “Stephen” came on-line.

“Hello Ken. How can I help?” I loved it. This guy thought I was Ken, and he had no way of knowing that I wasn’t. I could do ANYTHING I wanted. I explained my issue about the gift cards to him, and the notification came up that he “was typing.” Then he typed this: “Ken, I hear you.” And it kind of freaked me out. Was Stephen trying to be hip and cool, or like, comfort me or something? Then he told me he had some good news and bad news for me, and proceeded to give me some gobbledy-goop about how they’ve discontinued their gift cards etc., but I really wasn’t paying attention because all I could think about was what if he COULD hear me? What if it wasn’t a platitude, but a WARNING?!

Obviously this was a real concern, and at the end of the chat, I thanked him for the help, then asked, “By the way, can you really hear me? Because I just swore at my cat.” I didn’t really, but it occurred to me that I needed a way to verify his eavesdropping abilities. Plus, he thought I was Ken, so I was in the clear as far as any Humane Society action went. His reply, though, was, “No, I can’t, Ken. Just don’t hurt your cat,” and I had a moment of terrible guilt that I had just implicated Ken in a cat abuse scandal, but then Stephen added a smiley face, which made me feel better, and more secure in the knowledge that the Air Miles people couldn’t ACTUALLY hear what went on in my house. So I responded with “Don’t worry, I won’t. She’s actually very sweet aside from peeing on my bathmat instead of her litter box which is RIGHT BESIDE the bathmat.” This is actually true, and DOES make me swear at her on occasion because it’s just illogical, and shows that she has a perversely malicious streak that no one else knows about. But he just responded with “Okay. Is there anything else I can help with Ken?” because I guess his cat empathy had reached its limit. I typed in “No, but I appreciate the help”, then he said, “Thanks for connecting with me via chat,” only for a second I thought he said via “CAT” and I started to laugh really hard. Air Miles. They might be stupid, but their reps are pretty clever.

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