SUP, Finding Solitude in Nation’s Fastest Growing City

If you follow me or Tim on Instagram, (@annesavvy & @carfreedays), you might have noticed more SUP, or stand up paddle boarding photos this past year. Tim got his first board in 2011 and I joined him last spring. Why should Tim have all the fun? Plus paddle boarding is so much better with a buddy!

Why we SUP

lakeunionIf you live in Seattle, it’s hard to miss the drastic growth over the past couple of years. There are so many indications that Seattle is one of the fastest growing cities  in the US. The crane-dotted downtown skyline, and the new apartment/condo complexes being built on seemingly every neighborhood arterial are proof of this growth. This town is exploding!

With growth, comes growing pains. And let me tell you, these Seattle natives are feeling some pain. Gone is the sleepy, somewhat backward, airplane-building timber town of our youth. It’s been replaced by a shinier, quicker-paced, stressed-out version of itself.

Also gone (or hiding) are the polite, reverent, wait-your-turn-and-use-a-turn-signal drivers. They’ve been replaced by honkers and fist wavers. Seattle didn’t used to be a honking town, we were too polite for that. Sigh, I really don’t like honking, it stresses me to my core.

Anger and short fuses are not just limited to drivers, bikers are exhibiting their fair share of rage as well. We used to wave to fellow bikers out on the road (especially fellow cargo bikers). Most we encounter these days are in too much of a rush to wave. That or they’re too focused on not getting hit, they just don’t have the energy for pleasantries. I’ve all but sworn off the Burke Gilman trail, because of the bike-anger-factor. Like drivers, people on bikes are in a rush to get to work or home or where ever. They want to go fast, and they don’t want anyone in their way. The past couple of times I rode on the trail, I got yelled at and scolded for pretty much everything I did; riding too big of a bike, riding too slow or just plain riding. I’m not slow nor am I a newbie bike rider, I couldn’t figure out why everyone is so agitated. I bike so I don’t have to experience road rage. Why would I want to deal with bike-rage? Anyone else noticed this?

Rage aside, we’re slowly learning to accept the new normal. But still, I yearn for the old days, when sleepy backward peace prevailed, and we could experience solitude in the city when we needed it.

Back to my SUP story. I think we’ve found one way to deal with the heightened Seattle mood. Our new on-water sport; paddle boarding or stand up paddle boarding or SUP, what ever you want to call it, is a sport, AND a form of meditation. Paddle boarding provides peace, solitude, plus it’s a really good all-body workout. Bonus that it doesn’t require knees. Tim’s still recovering from knee injury and knee surgery, and paddle boarding is one activity that doesn’t hurt.

lakewatimWanna get away from all the people and all the rage? Find a way to get to the water! From Lake Union to Lake Washington to Puget Sound, to Greenlake, there’s no shortage of water in this town. Plus we have multiple human-powered-on-water-vessel-options to choose from: sail boats, crew shells, SUPs, kayaks, outrigger canoes. Hell even a sturdy blow up raft will do. Just get out there, I promise you’ll love it.

From our house, we can be on the lake in about 30 minutes, including loading and unloading SUPs on/off the car on both ends. That’s 30 minutes from home to solitude. The second our SUPs hit the water, the peace sinks in and the stress melts away. Sometimes we paddle 3, 4, or 5  miles on Lake Washington and don’t encounter a single person or boat, especially this time of year. But sometimes we do encounter wildlife — beavers, herons, and bald eagles up close. Wildlife viewing is an added bonus!

Oh no, hopefully I didn’t jinx the peace by sharing my SUP-solitude secrets. It’s ok, there’s plenty of lake to go around. And no cars!

Why drive? Can’t you tow SUPs with a bike?

Cargo-bike zealots, like us, will tell you that you can haul pretty much anything by bike. Because, really, you can. From Christmas trees, to washing machines, to lumber and even 14′ SUPS. Tim was into Bike-SUP-towing a couple of summers ago. It was new, fun, weird, and liberating to tow a 14′ SUP on a bike. But last spring Tim gave up Bike-SUP towing for good. Remember the rage and the honking I mentioned earlier? If a single biker taking up space in the road makes Seattle drivers mad and aggressive, imagine how they react to a long-bike towing a 14′ paddle board? Hooonk, Honnnnk, “Get off the road, asshole.” Now that I paddle too, two riders on bikes towing a combined 28 feet of SUPs would definitely tip the rage scale. I  can’t imagine the honk-fest that would unleash if double-bike-SUPS were seen pedaling down the road. The trail is the same. Angry bikers do not want to deal with bike-SUP towers. Could these be the four wheels Timothy Egan thinks roads are safest for? I'd be OK with that.

Let’s be real, bike-SUP-towing is similar to bike-washing-machine-hauling and bike moving. Yes, it can be done. But you don’t do it out of necessity, you do it to get attention or to be bad-ass and make a statement about what bikes can do. But in all practicality, cars are better suited for SUP-hauling. And large vans and trucks are better and more efficient at washing machine hauling and house moving. I’m still holding on to Christmas-tree-by-bike tradition. That’s just festive! We really are trying to reduce some of the SUP-driving. We’re mulling over SUP storage at the lake at some point so we can ride on occasion. Or maybe we’ll get a couple of inflatables?

We’ve even continued to SUP this winter. It’s very similar to winter biking, just add a few more layers and get out there. Wetsuits, booties and a few extra layers enable winter SUPing. Don’t fall in though, that lake is cccccold.

How about you? Any water-loving folks out there? We’d love to hear about your adventures.

 – Anne

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4 responses to “SUP, Finding Solitude in Nation’s Fastest Growing City

  1. wanted to comment on your last post. did you love All the Light We Cannot See? I think it was my favorite book last year.

    • Hi Marge — I’m still reading it. And I do love it! I’ve been a lazy reader of late, so I haven’t finished it yet. If it doesn’t get too deep or sad, I think our son will really like it too. I’ll let you know when I’m done.

  2. I’d definitely wave to you guys… fellow cargo bike family!

    • We’d wave to you too! We used to yell, “Hey Cargo Bike” or “Xtracycle” every time we passed a fellow cargo biker. But people just started giving us weird looks, so we stopped.

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