Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Pelicans & Tasty Eyeballs

Since my last entry I acquired a kayak and helped open a store front for Nina's bakery.

My motivations behind getting a kayak were exercise and as a way to "get away from it all" without having to drive long distances. It's a kind of substitute for mountain biking in Corvallis's hills and forests. A kayak seemed like the ideal solution for Texas City. The city is bordered by bodies of water to the north and east. North of town is Moses Lake and Dollar Bay. Although they have two names it's really just one body of water, which I generically refer to as Moses Lake. Moses Lake is a saltwater bay which extends into a marshy bayou to the west. Eastward the lake is bounded by a levee which protects the city from flooding. The levee has a floodgate which serves as a gateway into the much larger Galveston Bay. Galveston Bay extends northward 50 miles inland towards Houston and empties into the Gulf of Mexico on its south side. Galveston Bay forms the eastern boundary of the city. The city's petrochemical port is along the bay, towards the south.

I've never owned a kayak, although I've rented one on a few occasions. My main criteria was price and the ability to haul the kayak inside the Buffalo. I ended up buying a basic 10 foot model. It has the word "Pelican" on it so that's what I've taken to calling it. So far I've mostly paddled it in Moses Lake. My first trip was a lesson on the effects of the wind on a small watercraft. The windier it is the more choppy the water becomes. (I know, it seems obvious, but like many things it's not something you think much about until it effects you personally.) In such a small craft the wave action is a major consideration. Heading crosswind in high wind is most exciting, since it tends to induce rolling. So far I've managed to prevent myself from tipping over, but I've gotten pretty wet on a couple of occasions. I found getting through the floodgate to also be a bit challenging. When the tide is coming in or going out the flow through the floodgate is substantial. Standing waves form on the outgoing side. You have to paddle hard and focus on staying parallel to the flow if you're going against the tide. The marshy bayou at the west end of Moses Lake has the best wildlife, mostly various types of birds. I've seen a few flamingos there. I'm planning on taking one more trip into Moses Lake before I start exploring the Galveston Bay shoreline.

The weather has been pretty nice lately. When I first arrived it was still rather hot compared to what I'm used to. The mosquitoes were still out in force. Since then the weather has taken a decidedly fall-like turn. Most days it's clear and sunny. Warm in the middle of the day, but not hot. The mosquitoes have abated. There's the occasional thunderstorm, but they roll through pretty quickly. It's a welcome change from the seemingly endless days of cold misty rain which I associate with Corvallis for much of the year.

Other than that I've mostly been helping Nina out with the bakery. The display case arrived about a week and a half ago. We had to remove the front door and partially disassemble the case to get it into the building. It's a nice case, especially considering that it's used. Opening day was last Friday, the day before Halloween. The case was stocked with cakeballs, cupcakes, cookies, and brownies. The brownies (which were a special diabetic friendly recipe Nina came up with) were the first to go. The cakeballs have also been popular. Nina and her two employees made some that looked like eyeballs, which were pretty cool looking. Overall the first two days exceeded expectations in terms of display case sales, so it was encouraging.

Nina consistently hears from the bakery's customers that they didn't know the place existed. One said she found the place when she got lost. So, a series of promotions are planned for the next few weeks. First up next week is a free cupcake / cakeball day that's being advertised in the local paper. Then there's an event called Taste of the Town. We're also to making a float (in the form of a giant cupcake) for a city parade in early December. Lastly, we're signing up as a vendor at Dickens On The Strand, a Victorian festival held in Galveston. Between that and the normal orders for custom cakes the bakery will be pretty busy.

Nina and I have continued running. She's broken her record for longest continuous run a few times now. Her record now stands at 30 minutes. In a couple of weeks we'll be running a 5k. The aspirational goal is to run the entire distance. I saw my brother Jose and his two kids on Halloween. The Blur has been relegated to commuting duties, as the nearest hills are a few hours drive. My mom has been busy sorting through my clothes, unceremoniously tossing anything which she deems too worn to keep wearing and replacing it with something she considers more appropriate. I suspect my old North Face climbing t-shirt was one of her victims. Her eyes got pretty big when I answered her question "When was the last time you washed your backpack" with "I've never washed my backpack." Nina talked me into filling out a contestant application for the TV show Survivor. One of the questions on the form was "Which previous contestant do you most identify with." My answer was none, since I haven't owned a TV in years and I've never watched the show.

Hope all is well wherever you are. Here's a few photos.

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