And, another thing, I am not so sure about this “kayak shortage”.
Great Outdoors has kayaks and they don’t look especially picked over. It’s not about price either. They have the FeelFree Move kayak available at $549. I don’t know if I like sit-on-tops but, if I do, this is pretty and half the price of a Dagger Katana. So, if I am going to be in love with each new kayak I see and the prices are going to vary wildly, how do I pick my “forever kayak”? What is it that I actually want?
So, here’s what I like about going to an outfitter. They know kayaks. The salesman I spoke to was a fan of Jackson kayaks. He explained that for what I am wanting a kayak for – lakes and rivers with less than class 2 rapids – the Dagger Katana is not a good fit. He explained that there are kayaks made for the sea, kayaks made for whitewater, and kayaks made for flatwater. He suggested two kayaks to look at. Both are pricey (but still less than the Katana):
The LiquidLogic Remix says that it “excels in whitewater yet carries speed across flat, calm lakes”.
The Venture Flex says that it allows you to “explore canals, take short coastal trips, enjoy a tranquil day on the lake, or float along gentle rivers”.
I may be completely off of the Dagger now. It’s an elite kayak but I feel embarrassed by my basic kayak when next to a LiquidLogic kayak, even if they are made for two entirely different things. LiquidLogic stands out as a top brand around here. It’s like having a Trapper Keeper when I was in 8th grade. Sure, a regular binder would do but a Trapper Keeper was just better for some reason.
I do not want to thrill seek and bang my head against rocks. A crazy whitewater experience is not on my “to do” list. But I can’t shake the envy/respect I am getting for the LiquidLogic line. Now that I know that they make a crossover, I have something else to think about.
And so I get to the other great thing about Great Outdoors.
World of Beers is a regular restaurant with an extraordinary line up of beers. They have a nice indoors seating area, a great bar, and a beautiful large outdoors patio. Apparently, the latest thing is to not have a physical menu. Instead you scan the QR code and it is supposed to show up on your phone. Supposed to. When that didn’t work for me, my waitress dug out a paper beer menu.
This is just the BEER menu. I had aLost Coast Tangerine Wheat. It must be pretty popular because I’ve even seen it up here in Martinsville.
It was too hot of a day to try the Deep River Waffles & Syzurp. A North Carolina brown ale, 6.0 ABV, “A brown ale with added spices, syrup, and malts that would remind you of your favorite brekkie. Waffles, syrup, bacon, coffee … and more”. I will be going back as soon as there is the slightest chill in the air.
Not to bore anyone with food photos but, when you order a salad, do you have preconceived notions of what it should look like before it gets to you? Because the picture below is of the Wobb Cobb salad. Definitely unique. It tasted great so no complaints here. Just a little in awe.
Next step is to learn to move my kayak from point A to point B, by myself. I got a Rhino Rack for my car but have since learned that I have to put at least $300 more into it to be able to carry a kayak. This already costs more than my current kayak.
Plus, it whistles. It’s like having a giant flute tied to the top of my car. On good days, I’ve compared the sound to those Himalayan singing bowls. On bad days, it reminds me of the sound of a British ambulance I’ve heard on tv shows.
Instead of doubling down and buying J racks, I have backed up, accepted that I wasted a good chunk of change and, hoping not to waste more, ordered something cheaper.
I am on a quest. I would like to get a kayak. Maybe.
I anticipate that this will be a long quest. There will be many obstacles. Like no means to transport a kayak. Some weird shortage of kayaks in 2021. Many obstacles. Some might be real.
I also anticipate that there will be distractions. If today is any indication, wow. Just wow. A ton of distractions.
I also may not ultimately get a kayak. This might just be a quest to find a kayak.
If you are okay with this, please continue. I just felt that I should warn you.
I have been watching YouTube videos that review different kayaks and explain what different kayaks are for. None of what I have seen in the videos has been helpful so far because, as it turns out, there’s a kayak shortage in 2021.
Rural King, which is sort like a version of Walmart catering to people with livestock and/or farms, usually has kayaks lining their parking lot. Not this year. I asked one of the employees and she said that she didn’t think that she’d seen any at all this year.
So I decided to head to Dunham’s Sporting Goods and see if they have any. The quest has begun.
Distraction 1 – The Farmers’ Market
On my way to Dunham’s I pass by the Farmers’ Market in Uptown Martinsville. They generally have someone selling coffee there so I thought I’d stop by there first.
Henry’s Coffee whipped me up an Americana as we chatted about Keurig’s and lattes and cappuccinos. He wouldn’t let me give him money for the coffee so please consider going to Henry’s Fresh Roast (http://henrysfreshroast.com/index.php/shop/) and buying some of their coffee. It is good, strong coffee (seriously).
So, I was there. I had my coffee. I might as well look around. This is how distractions happen. What fun would I have had if I went straight to Dunham’s? There were several nice vegetable vendors but it was the flowers that caught my eye.
Coffee and flowers in hand, I decided to head on to Dunham’s to look at their kayaks.
Distraction 2 – Downtown Murals
As I was leaving, I noticed the pretty mural in the parking lot. Had it always been there? I don’t know. I have a poor memory. Maybe. It sort of looks like it’s been there for awhile.
I had just passed another mural on my way in and could have sworn that was new. So I drove around the block and parked in a different parking lot so I could look at that mural.
The mural on Main Street is signed CHILL and dated 2018. So, it’s not really new. I’ve just not been paying attention.
I started to get even more distracted by the old courthouse downtown and I snapped one more shot before I remembered that I was supposed to be headed to Dunham’s.
Dunham’s Has Kayaks
I think that Dunham’s is aware that there is a kayak shortage and they are working it.
And they do have quite a few kayaks. They really are not kidding.
They do have a lot of kayaks but they primarily, right this very minute, have one kind of kayak – Sun Dolphin. This is probably a great kayak and, under $300, a great buy, but I wanted to look at least a few different kinds.
It looks like they have another section that is pretty picked over. I want to know more about this section but I suspect it is for people who want use their kayak to go fishing. Hard to tell right now, with all the empty slots.
I had heard recently that the Roanoke River (in Roanoke) had been voted the 3rd best urban river. Surely, if it’s 3rd best, there are people up there selling kayaks, right? So I go to Roanoke. Right around lunch time.
I picked Wasena City Tap Room & Grill because (a) I already know it’s good (b) it has a great selection of beer and (c) it is NEXTDOOR to the first outfitter that showed up on my Google.
So I had my beer, ate my lunch and watched all the people pass by. This is a very busy spot.
Roanoke Mountain Adventures Rents Kayaks
There was a long line at Roanoke Mountain Adventures but it moved quickly. Roanoke Mountain Adventures does not sell kayaks. They rent kayaks. And tubes. And bikes. And they are very, very popular. You book online and show up and they shuttle you to where you will start and let you go.
They do sell a lot of gear. They also have something else that is pretty sought after – used bikes at great prices. I ended up buying mine on the Internet and paying the local bike shop to put it together for me. If I hadn’t already done that, this woman’s Schwinn with the basket would have come home with me today.
I spoke with the owner (he was manning the floor, not stuck in an office somewhere) and he said that he didn’t know of an outfitter in Roanoke that was selling kayaks right now but that I should check out Bob’s Up The Creek Outfitters in Moneta. Okay. Smith Mountain Lake is having Pirate Days next weekend and there’s a pancakes with pirates event not far from Bob’s. This is an awesome suggestion.
As for renting kayaks from Roanoke Mountain Adventures, I’ve checked out the online booking system on his website and I’ve got to admit that this is pretty slick: https://www.roanokemountainadventures.com/. Go to the website and click on “Kayak”. This will give you a popup window. In the upper right, there’s a “Select Date” link. A calendar will pop up. If there are no open slots on a day, it will say “Sold Out”. They don’t have trips on Sundays or Wednesdays. When you select a date, another window pops up and tells you what times outings are scheduled and how many spots are left in each outing. So, for example, right now, there are 38 spots left in the outing going out next Saturday at 9 and there are 26 spots left in the outing going out at 1.
This is a must-try.
Distraction 4 – The Green Goat
Distraction 4 should have been Wasena Park but there was a misunderstanding between my phone and … well, spacetime. It turned out that the road I was on dead-ended and Google suggested a U-turn which pretty much put me in The Green Goat‘s parking lot. It was too intriguing. I had to go look.
This is a lovely restaurant with a good beer selection and it serves fried raviolis. I had fried raviolis once in St. Louis, where they were adamant that they were a St. Louis “thing”. I’m curious. Is there more to this story? Maybe. Maybe not. I’m willing to go back again to try them. They do brunch.
This area seems to have gotten so much busier and popular since the last time I was here (probably 2016). The history on their menu explains a bit of why. The building that The Green Goat is in had been empty since The Flood of 1985 (google that and Roanoke and the capital letters will make sense). Apparently, this area has been enjoying a resurgence in popularity. It really is a lovely area and the surrounding residential area is full of well maintained historic homes. Go Wasena! You Rock!
Distraction 5 – Wasena Park
I did eventually find Wasena Park. It was ridiculously close by. It was also not the park I was looking for. It turns out that my husband and I used to go to Smith Park but I must have just decided it was called Wasena Park because of the Wasena City Tap Room. So, that counts as a bonus to me that I found something that I wasn’t actually looking for.
From the other side, you can see that there is a trail where kayaks have been put in and taken out of the river here.
The river is beautiful and the bike path was still busy with walkers and bikers but it was growing hot.
My bike was in the car but I walked a little of the path – enough to see that there are interesting art installations along the path that I could look for – but I thought that there had been enough for today. It was too hot and this looked like something to start in the morning rather than early afternoon.
The Quest Will Continue
So the next step appears to be Bob’s Up The Creek Outfitters. Possible distractions might include miniature golf or even the D-Day memorial. There may be pirates. I haven’t completely ruled out going back into Roanoke. And then there’s an outfitter in Eden that has a rack that would fit on my car without me having to get the dealer involved. That could be huge.