Sendero Group Travel Blog

Follow Sendero travelers on their adventures using accessible GPS.

Sunday, September 18, 2005

 

Way Fun Sunday: Denna's Kayaking Adventures

After completing a full day of bus tours with the group Saturday, it was important for me to enjoy exploring my surroundings by myself using the GPS on our last full day of the trip. This experience of using both the Street Talk and the BrailleNote GPS units challenged me to assess the various features as objectively as possible. Ultimately, when I wanted to find an adventure, I was able to search the points of interest database and quickly navigate to my destination: Coastal Kayak Tours of Bar Harbor.

Of the many outdoor activities of which one could partake, I chose kayaking because it was the most economical way of doing something physically active and surrounding myself with the sounds and smells of the natural environment. Sometimes as a blind person, we hear about pictures or other's experiences, but we often lack a full appreciation of the ambiance of the environment without exploring it ourselves.

The instructor's from The Seeing Eye dropped me off at the Kayak location at approximately 3:30 pm. Surprisingly there was little question of my safety solely based on the fact that I am blind. I think that was due to people seeing a number of blind individuals for a few days moving within their city with a sense of confidence and assertiveness. Once I charged my debit card and signed the legal document of liability, I put on the necessary gear of proper Maine kayaking. I was paired with a gentleman from Vermont in a tandem Kayak which was broader for more stability. In this particular boat, the front paddler maintained the speed of the team, and the second paddler in the rear steered with the rudders located near your feet. I was more comfortable in the front seat of the boat due to my inexperience in steering a kayak in waters that could contain a number of buoys and other boats.

We moved steadily around the smaller uninhabited islands in Bar Harbor. It was great to hear the surf hitting the rocks along the shoreline of these islands. I could hear the fish jumping out of the water only to be caught by sea gulls waiting for unsuspecting fish. My partner conveyed his emotions when seeing the surf, the seals popping their heads in and out of the water, and the emerging sunset which had eluded us since we arrived. This kayaking experience made the WayFun trip a once in a lifetime experience. The natural sounds of the sea, the movement of the boat, and the cleanliness of the environment, are imprinted in my mind forever.

I mentioned earlier that it is hard to imagine the meaning of a word or phrase without experiencing it for oneself if you cannot see. For me, the words "wake," "seaweed" and "surf" fell into this category. Of course, I knew how to use these words in a literary sense, but today was the day where the real world gave meaning to literal definitions. For instance, I understood what the word "wake" meant, but could never solidify the actual image in my brain. While we were out on the water, a Whale Watching boat was passing us by several hundred feet. I could feel the rolling waves sent out from the boat. The kayak rocked up and down which indicated the mass of the boat. That was amazing!

After finishing the tour, I removed all of the gear like the water proof boots, the kayak skirt which kept the water from getting inside of the boat, and the life jacket. The other six kayakers thought enough of the meaning of this tour, to collect some sea life like a starfish, a sea urchin, a clam, some opened and closed muscles, and some clean seaweed. I now have a clearer picture of what our sea floor looks like with the myriad of life forms dotting the ocean floor.

Denna Lambert, Greenbelt, Maryland

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