Thursday, September 24, 2009

Squeezing the Last Sunny Days Out of a Seattle Summer

I’m definitely not what you would call a morning person. I’m a firm believer that days should start once the hours enter double digits. Still, when the West Seattle Blog announced that Alki Kayak Tours slashed their $65 Alki Lighthouse run to $20, simply because they felt it would be a crime not to take advantage of 80+ degree weather in late September, they got me out of bed. Who can resist that kind of staff commitment to sharing an experience they clearly love?

So at 8:30am on a day when I was scheduled to work the closing bar shift, I found myself scarfing down a bagel & cream cheese and a boiled egg (fuel for this three-hour tour) and catching the free
Water Taxi shuttle to our launch site.

This last minute plea brought together seven strangers, picked to paddle the waterfront, and find out what happens when they stop enjoying the scenery and start getting…tired. Our group consisted of a cute young couple, two adult women who had never kayaked before, myself, with the limited experience of once on a lake this past summer, and an old pro called “North Dakota Dave (or was it Dan?)”. Our gregarious guide was named Greg, but went by “Kona” since half the staff also appeared to be named Greg.

The staff had every amenity imaginable on hand, from the essential life jackets and equipment to waterproof bags for cameras and loaner sunglasses. Kona led us through a brief tutorial of how not to end up upside down while entering and exiting the boat and emergency exit procedures should you find yourself flipped to face the fishies. Then it was all hands on deck to haul the boats to shore and start paddling.

Alki Beach provides one of the best possible views of the Seattle skyline, but being locals our eyes were peeled more for the possibility of a seal sighting, foreshadowed by the far off barking echoing over the water and granted about ten minutes in. The group kept an easy pace to the lighthouse and back, stopping sporadically to let lagging members catch up, snap photos or bask in the sunshine. By the time we were halfway back to our starting point my arms had definitely begun to ache, but I took very little advantage of the freedom of the out-of-sight back paddler to slack off every now and then… I swear!

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