Friday, August 20, 2004

Idlis on the Beach

It all started with a email sent to a friend of mine. I hadnt met him in ages and pretty soon it was decided that we would meet on a weekend and go to the beach.

Despite the fact that I love the beach, I hadnt been to one all this year. With the summer quickly drawing to a close I was getting desperate. My previous beach trip in this country had been something of a dampener with one friend deciding that he would enjoy the beach sleeping in the car and another rolling up in a blanket and reading a book, leaving me to play in the waves all by myself.

I drove up to Jersey City with two kayaks, my Mongoose, trusty companion of many a trip and a borrowed Ocean Kayak Frenzy. We had decided to go to Sandy Hook National Park in New Jersey. The idea was to try the Frenzy on the waves and then take out both kayaks on the Bay.

Well, the appointed day started kind of cloudy and cool. Exactly not the beach kind of day :-) Undaunted, we all set out for the beach. My friend and his family (wife, brother, and his parents) and I.

One of the cool thing about having parents along is that good food is ensured. This time, it was chutney sandwiches and idlies. A little note on the idlies first. These were not just idlies. These were nicely coated with molagapodi and nallennai(gingelly oil). This has to be the absolute apex of idlies. Mouthwatering spicy stuff.

Anyway, we went to the beach and promptly launched the Frenzy. As the 'senior' kayaker, I got the privilege of giving it the first shot :-). The waves were really gentle and the sun was playing hide-and-seek with the clouds. I took the kayak out for a little bit and returned, thereby convincing the assembled populace that the kayak was safe :-)

We played around for a bit in the water and discovered that while the water was not too cold, the cool wind made it a little uncomfortable after leaving the water.

Paddling in the sea was a new experience for me, though I didnt venture too far from the shore. The waves were gentle and it was more a bobbing sensation as opposed to the kind of working over that the rapids on a whitewater river give. Even only a short distance from the shore, the only sounds you can hear are the waves (and the occasional motorboat). When I went a little further out to sea, I could see the New York City skyline and the Verrazano Narrows Bridge. All very picturesque especially when the sun came out of the clouds. I even got to go and 'rescue' a little kid's beach toy which had been blown offshore by the winds :-). The last time I went out, there was a wind blowing from the shore. I 'rode' that wind out to get the furthest I ever did from the shore. I noticed that the wind was getting a bit stronger and the sea a little more choppy. Getting back was interesting, since the wind was still there, but not really hard.

After a while more friends from Boston showed up and with vegetable puffs from Hot Breads. We all had another 'go' on the kayak, desultorily played some soccer and decided to head back.

As a bonus we all went to the beach again the next day, in Manasquan this time. The waves were a little bigger and gave us a little more of a working-over :-)

In all, my first beach trip of the year was really good. Hopefully, I should get to do a little more of this before winter

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