What’s SUP?

Hello avid readers!

Seriously… hello?  Anyone still out there?  Well, I can’t blame you for not hanging around while I do nothing.  Life just seems to get in the way.  Or perhaps I just haven’t been using my time as efficiently as I should.  In any event, I haven’t posted in a long time, but here we go!

This weekend, my wife and I headed down to Bayou Vista, TX for a little Stand Up Paddleboarding (often abbreviated as SUP).  This was her first time, and my second.  I had gone down to the same place a couple of months ago with my friends to give it a shot.  I’ll admit, I was a bit apprehensive to try it.  Last year, I tried surfing for the first time when visiting my sister in San Diego, and it was incredibly difficult.  I think I was able to legitimately “surf” on perhaps two of my attempts, and I feared SUP would be much the same.  Luckily, it wasn’t.

We rented our boards from an establishment called Paddle Monkeys.  For anyone in the Houston or Galveston area, I would recommend them.  It’s run out of a house on one of the inlets.  You have to really look for it or you’ll drive right by.  But after finding it, it was just a matter of signing the paperwork, getting a 5-minute brief on the basics, and off you go.

The inlet is a perfect place to try for the first time because the water is so calm.  This last time, it was like glass.  There’s not a whole to learn about SUP before you try it.  You start out sitting on your knees on the board, and then using your paddle sort of like a walking stick, you stand up.  That’s the trickiest part.  The board will wobble but I think it probably feels worse than it is.  I actually think it’s easier to sort of hop up on both feet at the same time rather than go one at a time.  You get less rocking back and forth as you shift weight.  Then you sort of wiggle your feet out until you have a solid base (or as solid as you think you’re going to get), and you start paddling.

Much like riding a bike, it’s easier once you start moving.  Having some momentum seems to stabilize the board.  Or perhaps it just distracts you.  In any event, we quickly got the hang of paddling, and headed down the inlet.

Now, while Bayou Vista is a good place to try SUP for the first time, it’s now what I would call a scenic destination.  However, in place of scenery, there is a bar (Louis’ Bait Shack) to reward you if you paddle far enough.  We actually went past it a ways, and then came back taking advantage of the current.

Feeling confident in our newfound mastery of SUP, we decided to try out a variation: SUP Yoga.  Now, I have all the flexibility of a tire iron.  I’ll bend, but it takes a lot of coaxing.  And wouldn’t you know it?  I fell off.  And lost my Maui Jim sunglasses in the process.  Now, had I been smart, I would have a) brought a cheap pair of sunglasses that I wouldn’t mind loosing, or b) used one of the floating sunglass straps available at Paddle Monkeys.  The moral of the story: don’t be stupid like me.

Still, it was a good time.  Despite being October, it was probably 90 degrees out, and you work up a sweat paddling.  It does a nice job of working your arms, shoulders and core.  I’d imagine that any sort of destination SUPing would leave you pretty wrung out.  And that’s where the beer comes in.  This place didn’t mind to have two swimsuit clad, dripping (we both fell in attempting yoga) individuals walking in and ordering some beer.  And as we sat outside looking over the water with Shiner in hand, we agreed that there were a lot worse ways to spend an early-autumn Saturday.