I am Traci, a wife and homeschooling mom, a lover of music, reading, animals (especially dogs), my family, friends and faith, the beauty of nature and all things beach.
I am land-locked in Kansas, but a huge piece of my heart lives on a warm beach. I am a water soul, I crave it to the point of feeling homesick for places I’ve only visited.
Don’t get me wrong, there are benefits to being born and raised in Small Town USA. I appreciate the quiet simplicity, the spacious landscape, the absence of concrete and structures that can stretch for miles. The difficulty for me lies in living as far from salt water as one can possibly be.
The ocean has a firm grip on my heart, but is out of my reach. I have found that whenever my world feels off kilter or my mind is out of sorts I naturally gravitate to whatever water source I can most easily access…a warm bath, the banks of a lake or river, or a quiet rest near a pond.
I had always wondered what kayaking might be like, but it wasn’t until this year that I finally acquired one to call my own. I did so much research trying to decide the best fit for me, the pros and cons of the styles and brands. I finally determined the exact one I wanted, the Pelican Mustang 100x was the right one for me. Once I made my decision I was on a mission to find it.
Unfortunately I had this revelation right at the cusp of Covid, and soon discovered that I was not alone in my yearning to get outside to escape the madness. It took some diligent effort to finally locate and successfully order the last one available in a neighboring town 45 miles away. The only thing I did not get to chose was the color, but it turned out the pink was perfect, and earned it the name Rose of Sharon, both for the flower as well as one of my favorite Mumford & Sons songs. A fellow Mumford friend and kayak enthusiast helped me decide on this particular kayak, so everything seemed to come together towards something good.
My mind had been so restless, so cluttered and gunked up with the news and the noise and the disorienting feeling that the world had tipped off its axis and was showing no signs of righting itself anytime soon. The water was calling me, to help cleanse off the mental residue. I took Rose of Sharon out for her maiden voyage and felt like I had unlocked a whole new level of peace.
Out on the water, in the middle far from shore, is a quiet stillness unlike anything else.
Looking around at the beauty of creation surrounding on every side, the gentle rhythm of the water forming ripples around me and rings radiating out from the drips off my paddle, the world suddenly feels in that moment that it has righted itself for just a while.
The sun warms my skin and burns colors into the sky as it disappears, and the birds can be observed enjoying life without a care in the world, unaware of my quiet intrusion. I find a sense of calm when I am enveloped by it on every side. I seek it out as often as possible, discovering new nooks and crannies of the lake, quiet and undisturbed corners in a disturbing world.
Kayaking has been so therapeutic for me. Seeing the photographs of others who forge a path out on the water, capturing stillness and light and beauty, makes me realize we are all searching for the same thing. The quiet reassurance that in spite of an uncertain world, the beauty all around us is still existing as it has since it was created.
I follow along the journey of fellow kayakers who paddle in places I may never see anywhere other than the images they graciously share. They take me vicariously to drift past horses drinking, suns rising and setting, birds and flowers at rest and at peace. I imagine that I am there too, out on the water where the world feels right for just a little while.
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When it comes to being outdoors and enjoying life, the mid-Atlantic region has it all! Centered between the more tropical southeastern states and the cooler, more varied seasons of the north, this area offers dozens of excellent paddling sites for all skill levels.
OK, so you’ve got your kayak, your sleeping bag, a tent and some bug spray. And you’re looking to go camping along a river for a couple of days. The key? Pack light and take only what you truly need. Remember that every ounce you pack is weight you’ll be moving as you paddle. Plan to conserve energy where and how you can.