Nov 19 2015
I’d biked across the arid asphalt flats at Walmart to get a closer look at a couple of faded kayaks now wilting under an unseasonably hot autumn sun. And the closer I got to the outside display, the sadder the neglected boats looked. Still, having made the hazardous crossing — harried drivers were racing toward the entrances, showing little concern for the solitary cyclist in their midst — I figured I’d give the forlorn boats a once‑over. Action followed hard on the heels of thought. I squatted down, duck‑walked under the nearest boat, and then straightened up, the better to inspect the kayak from the inside.
And there I stood, my head deep in the well of the inverted boat’s cockpit, when I heard the somewhat muffled tones of a woman’s voice: “Hey, there,” the voice said, “how you doin’?” The words bounced around inside the hull for a second or two, making it all but impossible for me to tell where the speaker was standing. But I was sure of one thing, at least: She wasn’t in the kayak. So I waddled out from under the boat. Then I stood up and swiveled around to face the woman, who had stopped only a few feet away from the display rack. She was someone I’d met a couple of times before, and we soon fell into a casual conversation about kayaks.
It turned out that Ellen (not her name; she’d no idea she’d end up in this column, and at the time neither did I) and her husband were keen car campers. Now they were thinking about giving kayak camping a try. This seemed like a good idea to me, and I said as much. Before long we were discussing the art of camp cooking, something near and dear to Ellen’s heart. Not wanting her to get the wrong idea about kayak camping, however, I contrasted the comparative freedom of the car‑camping cook with the more straitened circumstances of the kayaker, whose kitchen pack has to be reduced to the size of a large toaster.
That’s when Ellen’s face lit up.
“You really have to try this awesome lasagna recipe!” she gushed. “A guy we know makes it, and…” Here Ellen paused for dramatic emphasis, before continuing: “And he makes it in a big frying pan on a little one‑burner stove.” She began to tell me the lasagna guy’s secret. But before she’d gotten out more than a few sentences, a car pulled up next to us. The driver (her husband, I presumed) honked the horn, and Ellen blurted, “Gotta go!” Then she sprinted for the car… Read more…
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