taylor bridge 10 min.

The next time I’m driving cross country, I pledge to stop at Wall Drug. It’ll probably be just to use a toilet, but at least I’ll have expunged the mystery created by the masterful marketing campaign of billboards (500 miles of them) and bumper stickers that show up everywhere from Key West to Bellingham. There’s no mystery per se, I know it’s a glorified rest area with tourist shops: I’ve passed it about a half dozen times in my life en route to either the West Coast or the Midwest.  It’s in the boring part of South Dakota. I wouldn’t be surprised if engineers got the idea for cruise control while driving across that part of the state. By the same token, some of the most amazingly non-desert/non-ocean infinite horizons I’ve ever seen are in South Dakota. You can see a part of the highway in the distance but still take a half hour and no trees to reach it. Alaska, I haven’t visited since 2003. I’ve never been to the French Quarter. I walked on the shore of Lake Michigan the day before I took this picture. I’ve never been to the Soo Canal, which allows ships to travel between Lake Superior and the lower Great Lakes.  Taylor Bridge is a half mile from my sister’s house.  And the last time I was in Chicago was the same weekend as Matt Hasselbeck’s last game as a Seattle Seahawk. The whole point of being in Chicago was to go to that game at Soldier Field but when we realized we’d have to wear snowsuits and smear an inch-thick coat of vaseline on our faces to prevent permanent frostbite damage, we wimped out and decided to watch the game from my brother’s apartment.

My brother Eric and I introduced two of our nephews to canoeing, last week.  And this is a picture I took (i kept my camera triple grocery-bagged when not in use) before we got out of the river at Taylor Bridge on the last go-round.  We were on a relatively tame stretch of water with the boys but as far as they were concerned it was the Colorado River, haha! Altogether, three took turns floating with us (one at a time). That was the only way we could do it since there was only one PFD for the kids. My sister’s husband ferried the canoe back and forth for us.

I looked at more kayaks, today! I’m getting closer and closer to buying one. It does appear my first boat will probably end up being the Ford Taurus station wagon of kayaks. I’m going to take it out for a test paddle tomorrow on Lake Union. I’m not exactly going to present the picture of class on Puget Sound: Plastic boat, big honking rudder, the color of an exploding pumpkin. I nearly bought a nice used fiberglass boat earlier in the week from the kayaking school I’m taking a class from this Saturday, but it didn’t exactly fit me (the owner offered to lengthen the rudder cables free of charge, but only if I bought it). I’m going to be a slow but steady explorer. On the other hand, stability is good: I’m looking forward to doing a lot of photography on the water. And frankly, I came to the conclusion a rudder makes photography in a kayak a lot easier.  Although I’m not thrilled about having a 65 pound kayak (if I go for the 17 foot version of what I’m looking at), a rugged plastic boat may be a good thing since I have a feeling I’ll be doing my share of incidental scraping. The fiberglass boat I was looking at had wear and tear: A few rips and chips in the cockpit, peeling-off letters on the hull, rusty screws from homemade rigging- cosmetic things that have nothing to do with performance. It’ll make someone faster than me. In the end, I didn’t like it that the model name of the boat was the Tsunami. That seemed like bad karma. It would be like buying an airplane that was from Boeing’s Turbulence line.

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