Thursday, December 1, 2011

7 of 30: Paddleboarding And The Date I Never Intended

It was bright and early on a Saturday morning when my friend, W, and I stumbled over to Bayshore Park in Long Beach for our first Paddleboarding session.  The hardest part about surfing (for me) is being able to prop myself up on the surf board.  I’m really heavy and it’s extremely difficult to ‘push up’, especially when wet and twice my actual weight. So the idea of just standing on a surfboard with a nice long paddle, channeling the athletic prowess of a gondolier really appealed to me. It’s like surfing without the hard work!
We were greeted by a strapping blonde young lad named Kyle – who reminded me of Dude Crush from Finding Nemo. 

the fundamentals...

“Is this your first time?” he asked. And when I said yes, he nodded his head. “Right on, girl. Right on.”
“Is it fun?” I asked.
“Toootally…” he nodded again.

He handed me in a life vest and walked me over to the paddle boards for my training session. At this point, W already backed out, claiming she didn’t feel very well. I wasn’t too pissed off because losing a paddle boarding partner meant gaining a photographer! She took my camera and all was forgiven.

gently, he says...
There really isn’t much to paddleboarding. I guess the main thing you have to know how to do properly is how to hold the paddle – and even that you can learn in 2 minutes.  Also, to try and NOT fall off the board. I already have pretty good balance to begin with, so everything felt instinctual to me.

I was out in the water after only about 10 minutes of instruction. The sun was out, but not scorching, and the winds were still. It was a perfect day for my activity, and Dude Crush and I merrily paddled around the canals surrounding the Naples area. It really was reminiscent of the Venice Canals – both in Venice Ca, and Venice Italy. It was quiet, calming and very pretty.

The instructors were only supposed to take you out to a certain point, and after that you’re on your own. But because W didn’t come out with me, Dude Crush was nice enough to accompany me around Naples on my full hour. I didn’t even find out about the rules till the very end! What a sweetheart!
We were making small talk as we paddled through and it was cool because he's a nice kid and he was easy to talk to. It wasn’t until a few minutes later when Dude Crush was asking me about my family that I realized what was happening. Two people, in a quiet and romantic location, paddle boarding,talking about each other… alone…

Dude Crush and I were practically on a date! 

I almost fell over at this realization! And just as I was about to plunge down the shallow waters of the canal - head first, he held out his paddle for me to hold on to. My hero! Best date ever!!!

This what I found out about him. His name is Kyle, and not only is he a paddle boarder, he is a surfer and a skateboarder as well (figures)! He is originally from Newport Beach, and he thinks he is going to be fired from his job. And when I asked him why, he just shrugged and said, “The manager and I, man. We just don’t get along…” He didn’t seem to be too bothered by the prospect of losing his employment because according to him, “You can always grow some weed, man. That’s where the money is…”

I liked this kid. :)

My core started to hurt after about 20 minutes. It was a nice surprise to discover that stand up paddling is actually a form of exercise! Great for your abs!

I think Paddle boarding is more of a relaxing activity than an aerobic one though. It’s so quiet in the canals and it’s got quite a nice view too. I thought it was a really chill way to spend a Saturday morning, away from the city. The repetitive motion of your paddling helps keep your mind focused and clear. It was nice! And my good company was a plus too!

I got back to the shore an hour later, happily dry. They said people fall off every now and then, but I’m glad I escaped that fate.

The company I went to is called Stand Up Rentals. I paid 25 bucks for the hour that included the instruction, and it was 25 bucks well worth it! They have an early bird special for coming in before 9am, and you pay only 16 dollars for the hour. They also have Catalina trips and Dolphin Adventures! You literally get to paddle right next to the dolphins – and I wanna do THAT! 

I doubt I'll be coming back this Winter because it's going to be way colder in the canals than it will be anywhere else in Long Beach... I think. But I know that when I grow weary from my troubles, and the city noise overwhelms my senses... When I feel the yearning for a still mind and a light heart, I will hear Dude Crush's call... and I will paddle.

That is, if he still works there. :)