A New Chapter Begins

Yesterday was the 20th anniversary of the Ohio River Paddlefest, recognized as the nation’s largest paddling celebration with 2,000 participants traveling 9 miles through downtown Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky in canoes, kayaks, and other human-powered craft. I love this event. It is therapeutic for me to be in my kayak and I don’t make the time to do it often enough. It was a blessing that this year’s event fell on August 7 as the day coincided with a chapter of and vision for my life permanently closing. I would have moped around in bed most likely the entire day, but I had a reason to get going early and what a beautiful morning it was.

I was armed with a PB&J sandwich, granola bar, mango Gatorade, an energy flavored Vitamin Water and my Pandora radio shuffle playlist of Yolanda Adams, Forever Jones, Wayman Tisdale, James Taylor, Macy Gray, Bonnie Raitt, Ashford & Simpson, Maze & Frankie Beverly and The Commodores. Pandora has a psychic sense sometimes as the very first song to start my journey was Natalie Merchant’s Where I Go, a song who’s lyrics talk about going to the river to “To soothe my mind, to ponder over the crazy days of my life, watch the river flow, ease my mind and soul”. The playlist was spot on throughout approximate 4-hour paddle. I paddle to the beat, so I had a great mix of slow and fast tunes and I stopped to nibble or drink during the commercials.

I’ll admit I started off sad, here I am in the midst of 1000s of people, but paddling alone again. I wasn’t 100 yards into the paddle and I came across this couple.  My mind quickly spun all types of positive scenarios on how great of a relationship they must have.  About a mile into Pandora struck gold again by playing Yolanda Adam’s Never Give Up who’s chorus states “keep the dream alive don’t let it die.  If something deep inside keeps inspiring you to try, don’t stop and never give up, don’t ever give up on you. Don’t give up”.  That song and the friendliness of the paddle community was the snap out of it slap in the face I needed.  Last year I traded my lime green Tsunami 12.5 kayak for a blue Tsunami 14.5 and it drew attention.  Several people gave me positive feedback on how well it tracked in the water and how natural I looked in it.  All were shocked when I shared that was my first time in it and first time kayaking since the last Paddlefest in 2019.  

I had a great conversation with the leaders of this group from River City Paddlesport.  They brought their 30-foot long voyageur canoes up from Louisville, KY.  I checked out their website and Louisville has an event called Mayor’s Hike, Bike, and Paddle, which sounds super cool.  It is held Memorial and Labor Day weekends.  River City coordinates the paddle portion and the plans for this Labor Day sounds absolutely amazing.  They will “lock through”. A flotilla of canoes and kayaks will leave the waterfront and paddle through the Portland Canal to the McAlpin Locks. Once everyone is secured to a line, the doors will close in the lock and drop 37 feet. The lower doors of the lock will open and we will paddle to New Albany’s Jaycee Boat Ramp near the Sherman-Mitten Bridge.  Sounds like a reason for a road trip.  I’m definitely going to try and make that, but my life is getting ready to get really busy (tease).

Despite not paddling for 2 years I signed up for the 9-mile (go big or stay home, right) and stretched it out even further by adding the optional 1-mile paddle of the Mill Creek.  Growing up in Cincinnati I’ve heard of the Mill Creek, but wow did I learn a lot more about it in that one mile journey.  I now know were my sanitation waste ends up.  I also now have another connection for paddling via the Mill Creek Yacht Club.  They’ve got a paddle coming up on August 21, MCYC Urban Stream Adventure, that I will definitely participate in, another chance to get on the Ohio River.

Coming out of the Mill Creek detour the winds picked up and we were paddling into it. I was starting to tire out, but then once again Pandora hit a chord with another Yolanda Adam’s song, This Battle is not Yours, and that was the spark I needed to fight through the winds. I actually abandoned the shuffle and went full on gospel for the rest of the paddle. I made it to the finish line, got my boat loaded thanks to the young men from Hughes High School football team, and enjoyed the best chicken and waffles from Sunny Side Brunch food truck. It was a great four hours.

So about my blog title and featured image. The new chapter is due to me officially filing Sista Girl with Skills with the state of Ohio and IRS to form a LLC and obtain my employer identification number. I’m still working through the logo, but the business is official. My business has two divisions. The first is a bakery division (yes I bake too), which is what prompted the official filing. In the last few weeks demand for my zucchini bread, zucchini muffins, and carrot muffins has soared. I am an official cottage industry and I have aspirations of taking it bigger. The second division I’ll keep under wraps, for now, but it will lead to more frequent post. Let the NEW journey begin.

I’d love your feedback on the logo. I’m working on getting a caricature image of me to add to the bakery text.

My Happy Place

After a three year absence, Saturday I returned to my favorite Cincinnati event, the Ohio River Paddlefest  the nation’s largest paddling celebration.  It was an absolutely gorgeous day for kayaking.  I have not kayaked since the 2015 event, so I was hopeful it would be like riding a bike and it was.  Since the last time I participated the route changed and the course made longer, 9-miles.  They were expecting over 2,000 paddlers.  I dropped my kayak at the launch site on Friday, so I didn’t have to get up extra early on Saturday.

20190803_075340.jpgLaunch time was between 7 – 8:30a, so I was definitely towards the end of the pack when I started.  I packed PB&J sandwiches, a 32 oz bottle of Mango Gatorade, and a frozen solid Vitamin Water, Energy flavor to keep myself nourished, since I didn’t have time for breakfast.

I like to paddle to the beat of the music I’m listening to.  I had my Pandora station shuffling between about a dozen artist and I was crossing my fingers there would be a good mix of slow and fast songs.  It balanced out, but I did use each commercial break (about every 4 songs) to take a drink and bite.  Fatigue started kicking in at what I’m guessing was about mile 6 and then the most perfect song came on, Natalie Merchant’s, Where I Go.  It was all about letting your mind go while at/on the river.  I abandoned 20190623_181456paddling to the beat and just enjoyed a leisure pace to the finish line where I was greeted with a giant happy face.  I most certainly was.  After grabbing a combo meal from the Red Sesame food truck, I loaded my kayak and headed home.

One would think I’d be too tired to do anything else, but once I got my kayak back in its perch in my basement, I changed into my work clothes and continued working on my headboard.  I was bound and determined to get the back portion of the headboard done that day.  20190803_171432.jpgI’m not going to go into too much detail as I’ll do a dedicated post, but I’m so proud of how the back turned out I actually posed with it.  Folks that know me, know I don’t do photos.  I’m torn on leaving it natural, allowing the poly I’ll apply to pull out the colors or staining all or some of the slats.  I’d love to get some feedback from anybody reading this post.

I worked until 5p.  I was showered and in the bed ripping ZZzzzz by 7:30.   I was sore, tired, but oh so happy.  Enjoy the additional photos of Paddlefest and put it on your calendar for next year.  I’ve always done this event by myself (kayaking is a great single person activity), but I’d love to have someone join me next year.

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