Saturday morning began one of those bluebird-type days that draw paddlers to Puget Sound. Nary a cloud was in the sky, and Mount Rainier and the Cascades created a majestic snow-covered backdrop. Sailboats and powerboats cruised the placid surface of the Sound.
It was a great day to go paddling, as long as you ignored the frozen grass crunching underfoot in the sub-freezing air while carrying your gear to the water’s edge.
The morning’s chill didn’t deter 20 kayakers and stand-up paddlers from gathering Saturday morn- ing for the second annual Polar Bear Paddle at Owen Beach in Point Defiance Park. Matelot, a Tacoma kayak club, sponsors the event.
“The object is to get out there, not to go far or fast,” said Ken Campbell, one of the event organizers. “It’s neat to see people who don’t know each other having fun together.”
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Among the group was Carol Kalapus of Tacoma. The 811/2-year-old was the first paddler in the water. This energetic woman was eager to get going.
“I just enjoy being out on the water,” Kalapus said.
“There’s no use sitting at home. I want to wear out, not rust out,” she added.
The cold morning air had the group donning a few extra layers. Debra Milkovich of Tacoma and her husband, Nick, read about the event in Friday’s newspaper and decided to join the fun.
But Debra Milkovich is expecting the couple’s first child in May. “I noticed all my gear was a little bit tighter than it used to be,” she said with a laugh.
Peter Costa of University Place has been doing a New Year’s Day paddle for eight years.
“The water is calm and the tide is right – why not?” he said when asked why he was kayaking instead of home watching college football bowl games.
His only regret was that the group had to drop plans to paddle to Gig Harbor. Apparently the inner harbor was frozen.
The paddlers were not the only ones to take to the outdoors to celebrate the new year.
Bill and Trish Stevenson led a bike ride on the roads around Olympia and then hosted a potluck meal at their Lorne Street home.
Now in its 13th year, the Capital Bicycling Club of Olympia event that once attracted five or six riders now draws about 50 people.
“Our house is only so big. If we have another good turnout, we might have to think of another venue for next year,” Bill Stevenson said.
“It’s always nice to get an early start on the cycling season. A lot of people start the new year with some ideas of things in their life they want to change. It’s a nice first step for people,” Stevenson said.
In the past, a few people have also taken part in the Olympia-Lacey Polar Bear Plunge, Stevenson said, “as if riding in the rain and snow wasn’t enough.”
Bob Myrick of the Tacoma Wheelmen’s Bicycle Club had a dual purpose for leading a ride in Orting. He was hoping to attract riders to boost business at Fox Hollow Coffee Shop. Once a Starbucks, the shop is now locally owned.
After a short ride Saturday afternoon, the group reconvened at the coffee shop to watch a cycling movie, “Bicycle Dreams.”
A warm mocha and a good movie had to help after a chilly ride, despite the extra layers of fleece Myrick donned.