Stickin’ Close to Home!

In this time of uncertainty, we are adjusting to the “new normal”….such as ordering TP from amazon, because for 3 weeks there was none on our local store shelves. Our first such order , of 40 rolls, was stolen during shipment, so we had to re-order. We have almost extinguished our supply of hand sanitizer, including the stock from our camping gear. Our family gatherings are on ZOOM, and if we do see another human being, it is behind plexiglass during our infrequent shopping excursions. But we cannot complain. My husband is still working ( from a new home office), and our extended family has remained healthy. And, given our location, we have multiple options for getting outside and exercising with the dogs, all local, requiring only a short drive, and with no interaction with others.

  Gryphon enjoying mud/end of snow/closed state park season!

Edgar, the great wildlife finder!

And, yes paddling has returned! With dry suit, woollies, and neoprene, we have dressed for the water temperature, and have begun exploring our very local lakes and ponds. Many of our favorite birds have returned, and we have enjoyed complete solitude and isolation on the water.

Griff has really enjoyed the extra room in his canoe!

 

Edgar will be glad to get back in his kayak, once the water warms…but he loves going out in the canoe with me!

Since we are doing no presentations this spring, we were excited to be asked to participate in a webinar series sponsored by the Seacoast Paddleboard Club of NH….here is a You Tube version of our event. It was unusual not to have the physical interaction with the audience ( i.e. we could not throw out swag!), but it was fun!

Keep the faith, keep healthy, and lets all look forward to better days…

 

Time it was, and what a time it was, it was a time of innocence, a time of confidence…. (Paul Simon)

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Was it only a month ago? The virus had not yet gone viral, and our end of winter activities were proceeding as normal…snowshoeing daily, making reservations for canoe camping trips and travel adventures, ordering some new paddling gear, and prepping equipment for a spring and summer of fun. Little did we know what awaited all of us.

How quickly it all changed! On March 15th we took some family members from Maine out snowshoeing on a favorite trail; at the time, there was just beginning to be talk about cancellations of St. Patrick’s Day festivities.

The trail leads to the remote campsite where we were scheduled for camping during opening weekend of GRRSP, May 15-17th….maybe next year!

At the time, I was speaking to our son who lives in Washington DC area, about deciding when I should come down in April for an annual spring visit. I had checked for events at the Kennedy Center, and looked into booking a kayak tour of the Washington DC monuments, anticipating a few warm spring days in our nation’s capital. Nope, not gonna happen. Our daughter in Canada said she would be trying to get down for a spring visit; of course, once the borders closed, that became impossible.

When the situation became obviously quite severe, we foolishly assumed that our “Vermont Bubble” would protect us…deep down, we knew that the social, economic, and recreational effects would reach us eventually, but it seemed so surreal. The dogs are, of course, oblivious to the situation, and have provided welcome comfort and consistency in these uncertain times.

 

Though we have had to make adjustments, we consider ourselves fortunate. We live very close to a number of trail options, where we are confident that we will not encounter any other hikers. Snowshoeing ended a bit earlier than usual ( 103 days total, I think), since the mountains and many of the larger trail networks all closed as a preventative action; no need for people getting hurt, when rescue personnel are also dealing with the Covid-19 situation!  We did manage to get in some end-of-season  snowshoeing in local state parks and on local trails seldom used, where the snow hangs on a bit longer than other trails. We are pretty much now into mud season hiking, enjoying a taste of bare ground whenever it is encountered.

 

My husband has set up an office and can work from home, so he is sticking to a “normal” schedule.  The dogs get out for their daily hike each morning, but the hikes are more local, and are a bit shorter in duration. Though I tend to prefer solo hiking, the enforced social isolation has seemed a bit strange.

I did manage to get the modification to my canoe taken care of…I moved the forward thwart ahead a bit, to provide Griff a bit more room to turn around and lie down, better accommodating his surgically repaired knee.  We actually got out on the water last week, and he seemed to enjoy the extra room. The water was cold, but the sun was shining, and the sky was bright blue…neoprene for Griff under his life jacket, and dry suit gear for me, so we kept safe and comfortable.

 

Now snow and cold have returned, at least for a few days, so we are not sure we will get out for our Easter Sunrise paddle.  We are able to access a few local lakes with open water, where we will not see anyone else, so are able to follow the guidelines in our state.

The Stay at Home conditions here in Vermont have allowed outdoor recreation; however, camping will probably not happen until mid-June at the earliest. The cancellation of traditional early season camping trips is frustrating, but we cannot dwell on that. We are fortunate to be healthy, still employed (and retired) and living in an area of great community support.  I love watching the birds return to our area, and though I am not taking any birding road trips, locally we have had some lovely bird and wildlife sightings!

 

Our local camping trips will be in a flux for a while, and we will have to be tolerant…everyone who has had their scheduled trips cancelled will be attempting to get out as soon as they are able. We will reserve our camping spots for September in Algonquin (last we checked, we could still do that), keep active locally, re-schedule all the cancelled doctor, dentist, and vet appointments as soon as possible, and look forward to re-connecting with friends and family in the real world, instead of on Zoom.

Keep healthy, safe, and keep connected…our social media connections to others in the outdoor recreation world have been invaluable in the past…now, they are essential. All paddle shows and presentations have obviously been cancelled, but through our paddle show connections, we were asked to do a webinar  on Paddling with your Pups, via the Seacoast Paddleboard Club.  That should be fun, and is happening on April 19th. Paddle On, Hike On, Camp on…all in this new sense of reality!