I have been pretty absent from the forum in the last 18 months or so. It is only because I have been overwhelmed by the sudden transformation of my wife into a paddle addict and planning my retirement all at the same time. I have only 16 months to go before I retire from 36 years of Federal service. 11 in the nuclear Navy and 25 in the DOD as a civilian. Retiring at 56 years old and not needing to work again is a pretty good deal but working those 36 years in rotating shifts in power-utility plants is ENOUGH. I will undoubtedly find a pleasant part time thing to do to make a little spending money sometime in the future,… BUT in the meantime I am going to make a big trip with my “new” wife of 32 years. We will be selling the house in 9 months, purchasing a late model Class A motorhome and make a 9-month western states tour. We bought a really cool older model 28’ Safari Trek Class A last year and have put almost 6000 miles on it traveling all over SC, GA and FL. We have fallen in love with the nomadic RV lifestyle and will winter around Jacksonville FL area but make 8-9 month journeys northwards basically following the 70-85 degree temperatures. We will be bringing as many boats as we can fit on our towed vehicle and possibly on the roof of the RV. It is quite an undertaking as far as logistics go because reserving the best location campgrounds and RV parks often requires 1-year advance reservations. Starting March 1st 2020 we plan on heading west from Columbia SC. Spend March traveling to Texas Hill country and Big Bend. April in Arizona and southern Utah visiting all the awesome desert parks. May will be all over California concentrating on the SF bay area, Lake Tahoe and the Redwood coast. June will be Oregon and Washington with Columbia River Gorge and the Olympic peninsula as our playground as well as North Cascades National Park. July will be northern Idaho and Montana as we visit Coere d laine, Glacier NP and the Paradise valley of the Yellowstone River. August in Wyoming as Grand Teton NP and Green River Lakes as our prominent destinations. September in Colorado. October in the Ozarks. November will be back to our temporary residence for our three months stay in north Florida. I have lived in California for 5 years, Washington for 12 and Idaho for 5 and have paddled extensively all over the Northwest and Northern Rockies so much of this will be “old stomping grounds” for me but I have never paddled in California or Colorado or Arizona or Utah or Nevada so there will be lotsa new experiences for me as well as my wife. I would like to possibly rendezvous with some great p.netters if possible on our paddle trips. Our paddling will be focused on MAXIMUM SCENERY on lakes and calm rivers and not looking to anything over class 2 at which time we will be paddling a tandem kayak similar to our Wilderness Systems Northstar which we plan on upgrading from. Thanks to GOD that our health is great and hope that it remains so that this dream comes to fruition. Our 2021 trip will be up the east coast to Canada’s Maritime provinces if all goes as planned.
Retired at 56! Preposterous!
You have a great plan.
Good to hear from you! I thought maybe you went into hiding, because Nora was right about you. 16 months will go by before you know it. We will be expecting trip reports.Oh I saw all you recent craigslist listings. That MRC explorer is a good deal. Great plan.
Having lived in Washington State, you must know that the Columbia River Gorge is anything, but benign and calm at times and in places. I would strongly suggest that the western side of the Columbia is the best there is, but it too can provide some fine surfing waves–depending on where and what time of the day. I would be happy to advise about launch spots and such.
In your travels, don’t miss the chance to do Flathead Lake in Montana and when in Nevada, Lake Mohave is nice on the south end.
Awesome. Hope we can get together for a paddle or a drink when you are in CA.
Just curious what your plans are to haul a tandem kayak in a Class A MH. Awfully heavy to hoist onto the roof, plus the overall height factor.
I’m a big booster of folding kayaks for us retirees (and also a fan of RV adventuring) so I will toss in my two cents. Folding kayaks are not only much lighter (less than half the weight per foot of length than a hardshell) but can be collapsed into a duffel bag for on-board storage. Pakboat’s XT-17 is only 44 pounds – that is 50 pounds less than your Northstar – and can be outfitted for solo or tandem use by switching decks and re-positioning the seats. A new XT-17 with both tandem and solo decks is under $2000, plus around $200 to outfit it with the optional sliding footbraces – still cheaper than most tandem hardshells including the Northstar.
Very easy to set up (two people can do it in less than 30 minutes) and very comfortable and efficient to paddle. I had an XT-15 for a while (solo version of the XT-17) – currently have 3 other Pakboat models. I flew to Great Britain last year with one of my smaller solos packed in a rolling suitcase that met the free baggage restrictions. Great boats for traveling convenience.
Can also be set up with a sailing rig. See video to see how the XT’s perform:
Willow leaf they will use the tandem in class 2 rivers. Otherwise they have sea kayaks each. I know they also have a Yakama rack and roll. Brant may put his solo canoe on top. They may pull a car with boats on top. They have a number of options. Perhaps he will fill us in on the details.
I love it that you are such a folding kayak fan. I have an old Folbot Super, and would love a new Trak 2 or used feathercraft myself. Both tend to be more than I am wiling to spend. I may one day do a skin on frame or make a Yost style folder, who knows. Your enthusiasm for folders is certainly justified. They have certain advantages.
When you are wintering over near Jacksonville check out the Florida Seakayak Association. We have over a hundred paddle opportunities every year. Winter is one of our busier times.
Check out Florida Sea Kayak Meetup — FSK-Me http://meetu.ps/c/2wQXb/3LcKP/d on Meetup
We have some retirees that usually go out every Tuesday.
I appreciate the comments and best wishes from my fellow paddlers. Castoff and Curly Bill (String) Brocious know me pretty well and I hope to see you both at Crescent later this month. Lots to talk about! Magooch I am glad to hear your caution regarding the Columbia River Gorge. I am well aware of its nasty winds and chop. It is one of the most beautiful drives in North America and any paddling will probably be done on the Lower Sandy River, Hood River or maybe around Kelso on the Main Columbia. We will be careful for sure. Peter I would like to meet anyone out there willing to join us. We may be paddling around the SF Bay area, Russian River and the Delta. Lake Tahoe if conditions permit. Lake Isabella and then the upper Sacramento River and around Mt Shasta somewhere. Willowleaf I may consider the folding boat option. I plan on figuring out how to put my 42lb solo Dagger Sojourn canoe on my RV roof. I will have my two solo sea kayaks on the roof of my tow vehicle and possibly fit my tandem sea kayak in between using a rear reciever mount TEE-bar for support, I have done this in the past and it worked great. Hey Overstreet we gotta get together sometime because we come down to paddle around Jacksonville quite often. I will certainly check into the paddle group you recommended Thanks again to you all.
Sounds like a big, ambitious, fun trip! I live in the Four Corners area of CO, so you might be nearby in both April and September. My best nearby paddling venue is McPhee Reservoir, which is severely drawn down from the drought this year but still offers plenty of paddling miles. (It is the second-biggest reservoir in CO.) We are hoping for a couple of snowy winters and springs to restore the waters to their unusually high levels of last year and the year before that.
Anyway, when you get near here, let me know and maybe we can meet to paddle. Because McPhee is a huge dammed-up river, it has both open areas and narrow arms.
There are at least two other reservoirs nearby for paddling, IF water levels are normal.
One thing you should bone up on is Aquatic Invasive Species protocols related to freshwater boating in each western state. As far as I know, WA still has nothing in place to prevent contamination. ID, UT, and CO definitely require that boaters take precautions, and specific requirements can vary within a state as well as between them.
For instance, Lake Powell established inspection requirements back in spring 2012, the last time I went there. Unfortunately, since then zebra mussels have been found there. This is a BIG DEAL, because ZM clog water filters and pipes.
Sometimes authorities have different requirements for kayaks (lower risk due to no engines), but always check before going.
Flathead Lake is definitely worth a few paddles, and so is Flaming Gorge Reservoir in its UT canyons section. And Yellowstone Lake…paddle on the other side of tourists in a thermal hotspot!
PikaBike my wife and I paddled McPhee last June on the way to our Idaho/Wyoming trip. It was FULL and It was really pretty and those mushroom rock formations up at the “tee” near the dam were truly spectacular. I guess they formed from the water/wave action since the lake was formed. Really wanted to paddle the Dolores River but it was in peak snowmelt and a little dangerous. Wyoming has a stringent invasive species program in place as well. Not only when entering the state but also entering Grand Teton National Park. Both requiring inspection and fees.
I retired after 28 years USAF then went to work for the court system.
Today I am 22 days from my final retirement.
Have to admit that I am scared.
When I retired from the USAF, they retired 200 in my squadron, within 2 years half were dead. Today there are maybe a dozen of us left alive. So I created a “Project Book” to keep me busy and alive.
But what scares me about finally being retired is money. I know what they tell me on paper but the Govt has ALWAYS managed to screw th4e people over so will my retirement check be enough?
Will I have the money to take paddle trips and such or will be selling my gear and stuff to pay the bills?
I also retired from the USAF (9 yrs military active, finishing up with 22 yrs in the reserves), plus 30 years as a civilian researcher from a USAF laboratory yielding (with unused leave) 41.5 years of credited service toward my retierement. After 41 years, a DoD civilian (assuming regular promotions) essentially works for free, since pension pretty much equals salary at that point. Since then I have been canoe racing on the Yukon River 5 times and made 3 separate vacation trips to Europe with extended stays.
I am going to make a big trip with my “new” wife of 32 years.
I read this as “my 32 year old wife” the first time through. I suspect you mean you’ve been together 32 years, but hey… if you’re 56 and she’s 32, more power to you.
I’m looking forward to the day I can work because I want to, not because I have to. I have quite a few more years to go though.
Yeah Sparky it was in reference to my 32 years of marriage to my wife who suddenly became addicted to paddling as a senior citizen. My “NEW” wife!! HaHa! I am going to be"only 56" when I retire and my wife has her National Parks Lifetime Senior Pass to get us anywhere Federal for either free entry or 50% off camping. Its gonna be very “doable” and we are really looking forward to it!
yatipope, I don’t know if you mentioned when you might plan to come out to Washington, but I would recommend that if you want to paddle the lower Columbia in the summer, it is usually best after the spring freshet, which might extend into July. This year it was over sometime in June.
You mentioned Kelso–well, there really is no launch site in Kelso and the best two launch spots near Kelso is at Rainier, Oregon at the city dock–not the power boat launch ramp. The other site is at Willow Grove Park, west of Longview. That also would not be at the launch ramp, but at the beach area. Even if the river is rough (afternoons), there is plenty of sheltered to partially sheltered paddling. Even the rough stuff is very doable if you are prepared for it.
We can get much more specific about conditions and such when you have some dates in mind.
You mentioned something about the Sandy River; I don’t know anything about that except where it’s at. I think that would mainly be for little boats and inner tubes.; The Willamette in the Portland area is more of a kayak venue, but there again you have to know where to launch. Generally, it’s still the best on the Columbia and in that general area, the best launch site is at Ridgefield, Washington.
All of the places I’ve listed are free and no permits required. Even if you launch on the Oregon side of the Columbia (Rainier) there is no permit required if you are from Washington and no one ever checks anyway. Oregon’s stupid permit is a farce as far as the Columbia River is concerned. The ships that ply the Columbia are from all over the world and they bring every kind of species there is. These ships also go up the Willamette, but if you paddle there, I’m pretty sure there is a chance of being checked for an Oregon invasive species permit.
Thanks Magooch for the info. I am pretty familiar with much of the destinations i am planning EXCEPT the Columbia. I am working on a deal to land a very nice Seaward SouthWind Tandem sea kayak which will make some of these destinations doable.
yatipope, if you have any questions about the Columbia–at least the lower Columbia from about Portland down to Astoria, I’ll try to fill you in. For me, it is my favorite for a lot of reasons.