The Best Way To Spend Time With a Loved One? Go Kayaking For A Day
Getting older is an odd sensation. I realize that anybody over the age of, say, 30 is going to roll their eyes at this, but hear me out. I got married last summer. The majority of my collectible stuffed animals and velour jumped suits have moved out of my parents attic. I live in a house, *not an apartment*, and I run my own business. I coach high school girls in the afternoon which only intensifies this feeling. I find myself thinking, more often than not, I don’t understand any of the words they are saying or oh my god why are they crying again. Being around teenagers so regularly makes me acutely aware of my status as definitely an adult. While I don’t hate it it (at all!), it’s strange to notice how old you are starting to get.
I firmly believe that everybody needs to be treated like a kid from time to time. Even if you’re 90 years old, actually especially if you’re 90 years old, it’s refreshing to not always have to be the adult. It’s like when you come home from college and suddenly somebody is making you dinner and asking when you’re going to get home. It’s refreshing. I realized, as I was internally dramatizing the impending doom of my old age, that there was one way to fix this immediately. I needed to see my parents.
I called my dad and we started talking about a day date. His social calendar is so bustling that it makes me want to lock myself in a room for days with only Netflix as my companion. We found a date that worked for both of us, and I went on a hunt for an adventure.
I found an REI Outdoor School kayak trip along the Tacoma waterfront that looked fun. I know Tacoma tends to get dragged through the mud, but I’m going to let you in on a little blogger secret: Tacoma is absolutely adorable. There is great food, parking for days, and enough brick buildings to make any Instagrammer swoon. Tacoma was also the perfect setup for an afternoon excursion with my day. You see, I grew up on the southern tip of Vashon Island. Our backyard transitions from grassy yard to a rocky beach within a matter of a few steps. Our next door neighbor was the ferry dock to Tacoma. He literally only had to walk out his front door. It was essentially as close to home for him as you could physically get without actually being at home, so he couldn’t say no. My dad is a busy guy what with being retired, memorizing Jimmy Buffet lyrics, somehow knowing how to fix everything that could possibly exist, etc., so I figured a close to home adventure was the easiest way to convince him to spend an afternoon trying something new with me.
After picking him up from the ferry and briefly getting lost in downtown Tacoma calmly whisper-yelling directions at each other, we arrived at our destination. Without discussing it we had somehow shown up in matching jackets, which made me smile and also panic that I was turning into my father. It was starting to rain, and my dad was positively thrilled! (Read: he was not thrilled and kept grumbling at me). Our guides immediately bounded up to greet us, and I started getting excited to kayak. My forever fear on these sorts of things is that I will be the only one who doesn’t know what she’s doing, but they patiently explained all of the equipment, how to adjust the kayaks for our height, what your form should look like, and more. Despite coaching a water sport for a living, I know next to nothing about Kayaking. I couldn’t tell you about proper form, how to adjust your kayak, or basically anything. I can tell you that Kayak is spelled the same way backwards and forwards and that’s about the extent of my knowledge. I was immensely thankful that they explained everything so thoroughly.
Once we launched, our only instruction was to stay together as a group. The rest of the group, about 6 or so, were also paired off, so we all pretty much stuck with the person we had arrived with. This left us with about two and a half hours stuck together. If I was 14, this would have been my literal worst nightmare. The makings of a truly horrendous Saturday afternoon. Instead, being the wise old age of 28 and all, it was absolutely delightful.
We paddled (kayaked? Stroked? I may never know) along the shore towards the Tacoma ferry dock. We chatted about work, his friends, and spent a lot of time making fun of each other, which is our love language. We saw a seal that I decided was my dog, but in sea mammal form, and he let me share his snacks. I had been convinced when the prep documents said we needed for snacks that I wouldn’t need snacks, but I was starving halfway through and have never been more thankful for the trail mix that my dad has been purchasing since the early 90’s. Our guides checked in on us from time to time and had the group pause when it was appropriate, but for the most part we were left to our own devices. Both of our guides had worked for REI for years, which made me feel like I wouldn’t succumb to the mistakes of a kayaking rookie. I aspired to one day ‘yak as fast as them, but also knew that would be a giant physical commitment and shrugged it off.
As we turned back towards shore and neared the beach, it started to rain. This wasn’t one of those misty Seattle rains that makes you feel like drinking chai, it was absolutely dumping. The wind picked up and I felt my body starting to get tired, but I still found myself feeling really sad that it was about to be over.The best part about the whole thing, even better than the sightseeing, was being stuck on the water with my dad. When I say stuck, I mean it in the absolute best possible terms. It’s been a long time since we got to spend a few hours together with nothing specific to do. Neither of us known much about kayaking, and it was fun to try a new-ish experience together. Afterwards we ventured to one of our regular restaurants to slam back some carbs and complain about how sore we were going to be the next day. It was the perfect afternoon, and I would absolutely do it again.
This post is sponsored by REI but the content and opinions expressed here are my own.