YES!: MISSION ACCOMPLISHED!!!!
JUNE 22, 2017
Runyak for Liberty Days 114 to 116
If you are new to this blog you may want to start at the beginning.
If that is the case see Blog Archive above and to the right. Or feel free to start here.
In the spring of 2009 I coined the term Runyaking. Not easily explained but in the simplest terms: Runyaking: Placing a kayak by a waterway, and driving a distance down the waterway and parking vehicle and running back to the kayak then paddling to the vehicle. If one wishes to explore the waterway further one can repeat the segment just mentioned from where they left off.
I've completed 113 days of runyaking from the source of my home watershed, the Flint River. By using waterways of Michigan inland rivers, the Great Lakes and connecting rivers, St. Clair, Detroit, and Niagara, the Erie Canal and Hudson River, I've arrived at Yonkers, NY, about 20 miles from Statue of Liberty on 22nd, 2017.
Runyak for Liberty Day 114, June 20, 2017
This is it, my final runyaking trip to New York. I'd continue further but the driving to the end points is getting too crazy. My wife is with me on the finale, or at least while driving the van, never on the water or while running.
We booked a room at a Comfort Inn right on the Hudson River, a couple miles south of the George Washington Bridge, in the city of Edgewater, NJ. After arriving I walked to the waterfront to see if it was suitable for landing. It had a bouldered bank, but I could land with a little work. Better than trying to work with the Edgewater Municipal Marina, who had not been answering my emails.
I awoke Tuesday morning to and take Swiftee to JFK Marina in Yonkers, where I finished the last trip, and prep him. Not an easy task, drove over the GWB, hit Manhattan about morning rush hour. My phone's gps was giving me fits, and several times I was in traffic with no navigation.
I did make it to the marina in Yonkers eventually. I began unpacking Swiftee and was interrupted by a friendly man picking up the parking lot. His name was Luis. I told him I'd not be launching now, but later after running from Edgewater NJ. I left Luis and began battling my way back through Manhattan and the GWB. The ordeal took two hours. I was about to begin my run back to Yonkers when I noticed my Garmin Forerunner was dead. Arrgh!
My wife, Hope, let me borrow her's, and I was off running the waterfront trail toward the GWB. Worst thing about hers, at every one minute interval it would beep for 5 seconds. It drove me crazy all day.... until it too finally went dead.
REMEMBER CLICKING ON PICTURES WILL ENLARGE THEM
View of Manhattan from the GWB
I had to stop in the middle of running across the George Washington Bridge to sing this song:
The run was easy enough until descending into Manhattan. My phone's gps is THE WORST ever. So I was basically on my own, trying to get to JFK Marina, which Google Maps initially said was 12.3 miles on foot from the hotel
Adding to the difficult was the the heat, which was near 90 by the time I'd reached the marina. In Bronx, on Broadway, I found a gas station and bought a large bottle of Coke. Big mistake, I was soon burping up foam. My phone's battery was low so other than the shots from the GWB I never took another photo. There was just enough battery when I arrived at the marina to call Hope, to let her know I was launching. It was during the last two miles when in Yonkers dread overcame me! I remembered I did not cable and lock Swiftee before driving back to Jersey. I was in that process when interrupted by Luis, the man cleaning the litter from the parking lot. My thoughts were that I put the lock and key in the van... yeah the van that was now back at the hotel. Have Hope bring it to me? As hard as I found it getting from the hotel to Marina, there simply was no way Hope could bring it to me. With each running step, I kept wondering what was I to do. Basically the whole day would be a waste by the time. I 'd have walked the 12 miles back, or pay a taxi or Uber to get me back to Jersey.
When I got to Swiftee at the marina, next to a boulder near the launch, there was the lock and key, sitting on the rock. That sight totally made my day... terrible day that it was, and would yet become.
It had taken me so long getting to the marina, I knew the incoming tide would be working against my forward strokes. I looked out at the river and what I saw also scared me. The rough water from up-fjord winds looked ominous. I made a quick call to Hope, got through just to say I was launching, the phone was at 1% and then went dead.
I jumped into the kayak, paddled out of the protected launch, and began battling the waves.
I still had Hope's Garmin Forerunner but it too soon would be dead. I've never had a problem getting my Garmin to last through the run and kayak, but her's, was set to beep every minute, which made it go dead much faster. I'd already endured the entire run hearing the incessant one minute beeps, now it continued while paddling.
In my dry bag I did have a digital camera that I haven't used in four years. I dug it out and was able to take a few photos. One was of the Palisades.
I'd long been looking forward to seeing the Palisades, mostly because in my mind, I thought I'd round them to see the NYC skyline for the first time. That was not to happen, I first saw NYC miles back at the Tappan Zee bridge. So, the Palisades were sort of a let down, also because most of the time the sun was above them, or it was overcast, and made them look like silouettes. This photo is about the best I'd seen them in three paddle days that I saw them.
I could see the George Washington Bridge as soon as I launched. It took hours to get beneath it.
Each mile was taking 30 minutes or more. By the seventh mile of the 10 plus paddled, the Garmin went dead. I had no was of checking whether I was making progress other than to watch the shoreline.
Once under the bridge I still had two miles to go. I knew I was going slow, but just kept paddling. Near a mile to go, I had to be delirious. I even think I was hallucinating.
I heard a man yelling to me, he was on a dock, or was he on a boat?
"Are you okay?" he yelled out.
"Yeah," I yelled back, trying to speak in normal voice, as if to say, "Why not? Why wouldn't I be okay?"
That's a strong current you paddling against, it's about 10 knots."
The man had to be real, if imaginary my mind would never have said "knots." I have no idea how fast a knot is. (Yeah right, a dude who always wears a Captain's hat, who doesn't know what a knot is. Go ahead laugh at me. I have no reason to be on the Hudson in a kayak)
When he said it, I, with arms aflailing, began looking at the shoreline. I was going nowhere, I was basically on a treadmill.
I immediately changed direction and paddle into a small marina-like cove to get out of the current. I looked back at the river and saw just what I was paddling in. Holy beejusus! the current looked horrific. And who knows how long I'd been there before he spoke to me?
I later had to find out how fast it was, if what he said was true, 10 knots. 10 knots equals 11.5 mph or in runners terms, 5:18 minutes per mile! I was on a (water) treadmill doing 5:18 min/mi? NO WAY! Something's not right. From there on in, I hugged the shoreline, and hit inlets when I could to make forward progress.
I received this Facebook post below from Dom J. Manalo, whom I will write about later on day 116. The graph shows tide info for the GWB, about where I was paddling. According to it, I was in the river when the current was the fastest. It was no where near what the man in my hallucination said, yet, I was lucky to be paddling 1 mph! No wonder I was stationery in reference to the shoreline.
When reaching the large Edgewater Municipal Marina, another man standing at a slip, yelled, "Your wife's here, she's looking for you." It was 5:00 pm, still earlier than the time I originally told her, to soon for her to be worried. She had to be looking for me to get pictures. I looked for her, but not seeing her I kept paddling for I still had another half-mile to go. At times when I had to be in the current, to make forward progress I'd push against seawall or boulders until I finally made it to the hotel. With much difficulty I was able to get out out of Swiftee. Getting him out, and onto the bank, was like trying to land a marlin.
I was spent, I'd just gone through 23 miles of hell. I've dribbled 3 basketballs 26.3 miles and have felt better than this. Oh wait.... I have to do the same thing again tomorrow?
Runyak for Liberty Day 115, June 21, 2017
I got a good rest last night, after a hot soaking in the hotel bathtub. Today will be the very last runyaking day of the Runyak for Liberty. There will be no running tomorrow, just paddling out, circling the statue, and paddling back. Despite yesterday's difficulties, I felt like I could tackle the last runyaking day just fine. First, to give the legs more rest, and to be sure the tide was on my side, I decided to paddle first, run last. The unorthodox runyak will make for a hot New Jersey 10 mile run. It's odd that I've runyaked this far, but New Jersey is only the third state of the entire distance.
One good thing about today launch, no driving. Step outside the hotel, hop in Swiftee, and paddle off. But wait... no paddle. Somewhere after the debarkment, the paddle was not recovered. Unseen it went back into the water or I left it and it was taken. Thankfully, I always carry a backup.
The Manhattan skyline was right across the the river, but my plan was to paddle on the Jersey side all the way to Liberty State Park, which is in Jersey City, NJ.
Constantly looking at skyline, it looked too exciting to resist, the Jersey side was boring. I crossed the Hudson to be nearer the action.
I actually paddle too close to Manhattan at times, so it seems. Here (picture) I was paddling past a US Coast Guard facility. I read this sign and immediately paddled away. How was I or anybody paddling to know without being too close?
It was 9:00 am on a beautiful Wednesday morning, and I was the only kayaker on the entire Hudson. I never saw another during the 11 mile paddle to Liberty Park. While paddling I found it hard to believe, sort of flabbergasted, that within 15 miles of me, there were over 10,000,000 people, and I was the only one kayaking!
Also strange was seeing a commercial airliner parked in a slip on the Hudson. I was ignorant to the fact I was passing the Intrepid Air, Space and Sea Museum. Never did I realize the plane was an SST, behind it was the USS Intrepid aircraft carrier, and under the tent-like structure was the Space Shuttle Enterprise. That would have been great knowing when paddling by. With all the things I have to contend with on this journey I don't have time to research everything I might pass.
When approaching the Battery, south end of Manhattan, it was after 10:00 am, I began seeing much water traffic, ferries and water taxis. The water was getting choppy, I had to make a break for it, and get to the Jersey side of the river.
This pictures gives an idea of how choppy it was getting across the river to Jersey from Manhattan. Lady Liberty can be seen near the center.
I paddled close to Ellis Island without realizing I'd crossed into a restricted zone. Out of nowhere came the US Coast Guard and I heard over loud speakers, "You are in a restricted area, you must leave immediately."
Not till then did I realize the bouys around the island, stated "Restricted Area." I knew about the restricted area of the Statue, but not that of Ellis Island. I obeyed, and wished I had known about the a no paddle zone within 150 yards.
Ellis Island and Statue
After getting around Ellis Island I was only a mile to where I'd find a boat launch. When I landed there and got out of Swiftee, there on the launch was a dead crab. Only then did I realize, "that is an ocean species," I'd paddle from my home in Michigan to the ocean!
The 11.5 mile paddle was over, the easy part. I know had to run close 11 miles back to the hotel. It was noon and the temperature was 90. So glad today I had my Garmin and not my wife's, and it was still well chargedl. But I was still having problems with my phone gps, and I knew it would be dead before I finished the run. The run time was less than 2:30 hours and avg. pace was 13:15, but I stopped many times. It was about 4 hours before reaching the hotel. The first stop was when leaving Jersey City, and in Hoboken. where I stopped at a hot dog vendor, had a hot dog and a Gatorade. That was at about 4.5 miles. By 7 miles I was dehydrated to where I was feeling it. I saw some construction workers, and knew they had water. I didn't hesitate to ask. One worker looked in a truck, did not see any. He asked his co-worker, who said he'd drank the last bottle. "Where is the nearest store where I can buy some?" I asked. About a half mile further there is a Starbucks."
I took off, and he wished me luck. I wished he told me the truth about how far it was. Well after a 1/2 mile I asked a cop where the Starbucks was. He assured me I was going the right direction but it was another 1/2 mile before I found it.
I ordered a venti frappuccino and a venti water. My phone had gone dead since I last talked to Hope at the hot dog vendor in Hoboken. I felt the need to let her know my progress, that I'd be later than expected because of the heat. I saw a thirty-ish millennial standing near the counter with a smart phone. Dripping wet in running clothes I asked him if I could borrow his phone to call my wife. He, in a defiantly tone, told me, "NO, I DON'T LET ANYBODY USE MY PHONE." Behind him was an older man, and EMT or firefighter, I asked him the same thing. He said, "I don't have a smart phone just one of these." (showing me a flip phone) "Yes, a phone, I really need to call my wife."
Thankfully, Hope answered a call from an unknown caller. I quickly let her know my situation, said bye, flipped the phone shut, thanked the man a couple times. I finished my water and frap, and before leaving walked over to the young guy who would not let me use his phone. I whispered to him in a Jack Nicholson way, "You're a New Jersey asshole," quickly turned away and walked out the door. He said something in defense, but I did not engage, just kept on going. So glad I didn't. It might have gotten ugly, as it was, it felt great running in the near 100 degree heat the last 3 miles.
Statue visible with camera
Empire State Building center
Jenga Building, Jersey City
Approaching Ellis Island
Liberty and Ellis Islands
Runyak for Liberty Final Day 116, June 22, 2017
I made sure not to forget it when leaving home, placing it in the side pouch of a soft cooler with hard liner. Today, I filled the cooler with ice from the hotel and took it to the van. I unzipped the side pouch to put the bottle on ice. From what I saw next, I immediately went into a state of horror. Inside the plastic lined pouch the bottle was smashed and there was a pool of beer. I'd been wanting for 8 years to uncap the bottle, which now was smashed. In my disappointment and disgust I began jumping up and down screaming obscenities
Hope had to calm me down, difficult as it was. Alas, the beer was still all there. The situation could have been worse, had there not been a liner. She helped me in the salvage process. We cupped and strained out broken glass from what once was a 22-oz bottle into a 16-oz mason jar.
After the disaster, we together drove to Liberty State Park. We had driven there after the blazing hot run yesterday to retrieve Swiftee, not wanting to leave him at the park overnight. It was only a 11.5 mile drive but it took us nearly an hour to get there driving through the urban jungle. Skirting the city would take about the same time but was a 24 mile drive. From the previous experience we decided to try the longer drive.
We arrived at Liberty State Park well after 8:00 am. I wanted to be out by the statue at 9:00 am, the time I told friends I'd go Facebook Live, so I was pushing it a bit. I still had plenty to do on my pre-launch checklist. One added checklist item, taking more time than usual, was mounting the smartphone to Swiftee's bow, for the ability to go hands-free live.
Seems several kayakers were landing as I was leaving. They knew something that I didn't. They'd paddle out to the statue before 9:00 am. After that the tour boats begin passing, which make the water quite choppy.
One kayaker in particular was interested in what I was doing. At the time, seeing my banner, he was asking questions and breaking my thought process. I needed all the concentration I could muster. Yet, in the end, it was great that he took an interest. Hope knowing my frustration level began answering his questions. Actually, I was a intimidated by him. I, with my 9.5 ft. bathtub with pointy ends, have never considered myself a true kayaker. Here was this guy, with all his fancy kayak and equipment, asking me questions. This true kayaker was Dr. Dom J. Manalo. Dom is a professional photographer, who previously did genetic research at John Hopkins Medical School.
Prepping for the final RFL paddle - photo by Dom J ManaloIn the 116 day voyage, I've met hundreds of people. Some I only spoke to for minute or two. I've gotten help and advice from many. There are a few folks, that I often wonder what might have happen, if our paths had never crossed at the particular moment that we did. I do not believe in guardian angels but in my mind these real people can be called just that. I hope to make a Thank You list when I roll the credits. Dom, just happens to be the final name on the list.
Because of him, when I did launch, I had been forewarned about the ferry boats and that I should install my spray skirt, which I hadn't planned on. I'm glad that he stayed with Hope the entire time that I was circling the statue. During the time he took telephotos.
I was able to launch, and paddle to the statue and go Facebook live at exactly 9:00 am as scheduled. Back home I knew of many people who wanted to be with me when I finished. Up to a year ago I'd never heard about Facebook live. Now, with the new technology, I was able to talk to, and feel the presence of my friends. It was a great feeling, almost as good as being in the shadows of Lady Liberty itself, after 116 day of hard work.
But not until going off Facebook, gazing at the statue, did I really get the feeling of my accomplishment. I spent a few minutes reflecting, the took some photos and made a video to help document the finish. It was time to paddle back to Hope.
Manhattan from near statue
Goodbye to Lady Liberty
Last four photos courtesy of Dom J. Manalo photographyAfter the landing, I got chance to talk with Dom. I apologized for my pre-launch behavior of giving him the cold-shoulder, saying I was sorry and that is not my normal personality.
The rest of the day was spent sightseeing without a kayak. We took the tour boat to Liberty Island, then to the Manhattan to visit the 911 Memorial, a consolation to not being able to land Swiftee at the statue. When approaching Liberty Island by ferry, the particular spot in the water where I had been earlier was tumultuous, because of all the tour boats and ferries. Swiftee and I would have been toast had we now been in the water.
On Liberty Island
Pedestal and inside tickets were sold out
Two LadiesWhat's the next kayaking adventure? It's a question I keep asking myself. The first time, back in 2005 after paddling from Flint River source to the Saginaw Bay. Second time, after exploring the four major rivers of the Saginaw Valley from their beginnings to the Bay. Third time, when I reached Niagara Falls from the Flint River headwaters. Now for the 4th I'm asking it.
Well, please follow my next blog, as I runyak from Flint to Chicago, a goal not as lofty, and also not solo, as this one has been. Hope I, then in my 70's, will be able to say, "What's Next," again after that. .