Last Day of Summer

And just like that the leaves turned yellow, the air felt crisper, and another summer drifted into memory.

In three short months we managed to squeeze in quite a lot of action, particularlly considering that the world was still fairly locked down with this pandemic.

We visited the mountains for two weeks across two separate trips, completed a modest list of hikes, kayaked on a couple mountain lakes, photographed glaciers, and enjoyed the wilderness.

We cooked outdoors on our new backyard fire pit, roasting a crazy variety of meats, a garden’s worth of vegetables, and too many marshmallows to count.

We hosted friends in our backyard, spending lovely afternoons or evenings with (on different occasions) family for elaborate meals, co-workers for beers, friends for campfires, and my running crew for a brithday party.

We met our neighbours in the park, new friendly relationships spurred on by the magnetic conversation starting magic of a cute puppy who makes pals with anyone and drags me into it at the other end of a leash.

We ran as I hosted at least a dozen weeks of adventure runs around and just outside the city, encouraging a dozen (give or take) of my running crew to join me in exploring new trails and unfamiliar routes, often with an ice cream or beer at the end of it.

We enjoyed our own backyard.

We toured our own city.

We lived in our space, not always by choice, but making the best of the situation.

The summer of 2021 ends in a couple short hours and it may not have been perfect, but it certainly was not wasted.

Inflatable Summer

Our adventuresome summer is nearing an end as the last day of August brings that calendar page flip into sharp focus. The final third of the year is upon us once again, a time when the days turn shorter and crispier. And as hoped my writing and posting reprieve has given me a healthy backlog of blogging fodder which I’ll be dishing out over the next month or so.

Case in point: for us it took an unexpected turn into the summer of inflatable adventures.

Early summer, we bought two inflatable kayaks.

Mid-summer, we received just one.

Therein is a whole other story about the modern state of the supply chain and the demand for recreational equipment these days which I am mostly unqualified to write about. But if you’re reading an adventure and lifestyle blog, more than likely you are already familiar with the undersupplied market for bikes, skis, PFDs, things that float, things that grill, and all manner of consumer sporting goods.

We managed to snag one kayak from that panic, so for that I am grateful because the kayak we did receive quickly became a driving fixture in our weekend and holiday plans, stuffed in the back of our small SUV and pulled out at a dozen opportunities, both planned and emergent.

We inflated that bright yellow tandem boat beside multiple lakes, lakes in the mountains or on the prairies, out on open beaches, or pebble scattered shores, or on the grassy, wasp-swirled picnic areas while picnickers looked on curiously.

We bought the dog a floatation safety vest and she seemed to have found a curious comfort nestled between my knees as we rowed across the still waters of many random lakes.

We bought life vests, paddling gloves, and started talking seriously about things like paddle length and water clarity.

That first kayak has turned out better than I had hoped when I held my nose and clicked the “buy” button. After all, I had been comparison shopping kayaks for a few years, weighing the pros and cons of higher-end inflatables versus simple hard shells, comparing costs, transport and storage realities, quality, price, and a hundred other little things. The first kayak was us settling for something “cheap” because of those supply chain issues I alluded to earlier. We took what we could get.

The second kayak, the one for which the stalled shipping status never did change to a tracking number (and is still sitting in a vendor fulfillment queue somewhere!) is a kayak of marked superiority in both quality and function at least compared to the basically-a-toy rubber first kayak we did receive.

Yet the first kayak has brought us a heap of entertainment over the last month or so. I still check the delivery queue for the second almost daily, even as the days get colder and the kayak opportunity dwindles alongside the wait, but I’m all-but resigned to the one we have.

If I have learned anything of note from the experience of “settling” for a lesser product (and I don’t intend for that to sound entitled, merely that putting good money into bad equipment has always sat poorly with my frugal mindset) not getting the one you thought that you wanted after a couple years of thinking, planning, saving and eventually buying something, it is this: mediocre equipment is better than no equipment.

It is better to be sitting upon the water of a gorgeous mountain lake rather than standing on the shore watching. It’s better to have that inflatable summer than not.