So, yeah, I've been a little MIA over the past few weeks. I've been traveling, working, and running (not jogging, fleeing!). Back at the end of August I had the pleasure to attend the Paddlesports Retailer industry trade show in Oklahoma City. Now it's already September and I'm currently inland from my home on the coast of North Carolina, running from #HurricaneFlorence! More on this adventure in a later post - it's much nicer to think back about the Paddlesports show. Over the past few months I've been working with my favorite inflatable kayak company -Innova Kayak (parent company Gumotex in Europe). They asked me if I wanted to join them in OKC, meet some of the Innova team, help with the show, and learn about all of the exciting things happening with the company in 2019 and beyond.
This trade show isn't open to the public - it's for vendors and retailers. It's a way for buyers from large and small stores to walk around, talk to companies, make orders for the new season, and check out new products.
After I arrived in OKC (which is a great city by the way), I helped Innova set up their booth at the downtown convention center (middle pic above). We settled and prepared for 'demo day' along the river at the a-maz-ing Riversport Rapids whitewater center.
Demo day is a way for buyers to try out boats on the actual water (instead of just imagining inside the dry convention center). It seemed like there was minimal chatting around most vendors, but lots of paddling, laughing, talking, and relaxing since we all made it and the booths were pretty much set up back at the convention center.
With the sun set on demo day, it was back to the air bnb to rest. The first day of the show at the convention center was a bustle with activity. At Innova we got to talk with several retailers and as I walked around I got to talk with several more. It was cool to be around such a thriving paddling industry event. It was also great to visit Oklahoma City, a place I never imagined would be so cool.
So that's the update for now. We hope to return to normal (from #hurricaneflorence) soon! Maybe we should take a vacation back to Oklahoma City!?!?
Eastern North Carolina has a lot of barrier islands. After paddling to a few of the protected ones (Rachel Carson, Dudley Island), I (with pooch) set out to knock another off the list.
On the edge of Onslow County, in the town of Holly Ridge, is a nice mainland boat launch called Morris Landing. This area is actually part of a 52 acre shoreline restoration project managed by the NC Coastal Federation. The boat launch here is a little elusive when you're searching for it online - it's not a State Fish & Wildlife launch like you may be used to (like the launches at Emerald Isle or Cedar Point). Morris Landing is the closest kayak/canoe/boat launch to the Permuda Island Reserve, my destination for this trip.
The Permuda Island Reserve is a NC Coastal Federation protected barrier island. It's long, narrow, and heavily wooded. It's 65 acres big with over a mile of shoreline. Among the multiple species of wildlife, there's also archeological evidence of human inhabitants from waaaaaay back (into the B.C.!). We read about this evidence online but did not see any signs ourselves.
Commercial oyster beds are scattered around in the adjacent waters (the Stump Sound). As you paddle around the island, you'll see these and beyond them to the beach houses of Topsail Island, pronounced "Top-sol" by the locals. If it's a still day you'll even hear the ocean waves crashing! Although Permuda Island doesn't have any trails (it's thick), you'll be able to bird watch many species right from your boat. There are a few places to beach your kayak and explore - but don't expect big sandy beaches on here. Look for low lying live oak trees, especially on the mainland facing side of the island, these are usually cool places to pitstop (see below).
We paddled, we stopped a few times, we took lots of pictures. It wasn't crowded at all on a weekday at the end of the summer, but I could imagine quite a few cars/trucks/trailers parked at Morris Landing on the weekends when the weather is nice. There's not an actual parking lot so get here early if you want a spot. I set the timer from the time we launched to when we returned - we took 2 hours and 24 minutes. I imagine you could cut that time down significantly if you didn't spend light years trying to get closeup video of ants on a tree like we did. The ants were giant and amazing, the video was not haha.
Also, since most of the cool stop points are on the mainland facing side of the island, probably better to paddle Permuda counterclockwise from the Morris Landing launch site to get more paddling in before you stop for a break. Watch the winds and the tide - this will (as always) impact your trip - which way and how far you wish to travel. It's a cool island, check it out!
~Paul & Eleanor everyonestravelclub.com
NC Coastal Federation
Brochure for Permuda Island
Man did we just scratch the surface of the Pocosin Lakes National Wildlife Refuge. Here's the deal. We always stop in the town of Columbia, NC - it's one of our favorite small towns around these parts. We sort of stumbled upon the NWR visitor's center here in town - I don't know how we've missed it in past trips to the Outer Banks - but luckily we made it this time.
After checking out the park headquarters/visitor's center (located just off Hwy. 64 in town and on the river), we took a quick little hike along the Scuppernong River Interpretive Boardwalk. We passed fisherman, folks on a quick stroll like us, and found a sweet kayak launch.
The actual refuge stretches over 100,000 acres across 3 counties (Hyde, Tyrrell, & Washington). Well over 100,000 migratory water fowl concentrate here in the winter and the refuge is home to the only population of wild, free roaming red wolves in the world. It also is home to one of the densest populations of black bears in the world. Wowza!
Here's a link to a map with descriptions of great water fowl observation points (best in the winter). These points are accessed via dirt roads throughout the refuge (some may be closed during the winter or peak water fowl migration times). We'll definitely be back in the winter to check things out. If you visit during the fall hunting season use caution and wear your Clemson sweatshirt.
~Paul & Amber everyonestravelclub.com
P.S. - We'll do a post on our favorite little town of Columbia NC in the winter when we visit the refuge to see some serious bird migration action!
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