Best Places to Kayak

Spring is quickly coming and temperatures are continuing to climb. People are ready to go outside, bask in the sun and hang out in the water. I’ve been busy checking out other blogs and resources to figure out the best places to go kayaking in the United States.


Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore in northern Michigan offers an unforgettably scenic adventure. Here, kayakers will paddle alongside red and orange tinted sandstone cliffs that are 50 to 200 feet higher than Lake Superior’s shoreline. Luke Superior is the largest, deepest and coldest of the Great Lakes and the sandstone cliffs are memorable. When you kayak here, you will also be able to listen to the waves crash against the rocks and will see caves among other natural formations that have been carved by the waters for 500 million years.


Upper Iowa River is unlike most parts of Iowa because of its cliffs and rushing waters. The views here include sheer limestone cliffs. There is an area of the river where you can see cliffs, palisades and chimney rocks all at the same time. This river has fast currents and shifting sandbars so it is important to pay attention to the water. It is best to check out this spot during the Spring and Summer because it is easier to navigate the water after it has rained there.


Glacier Bay, Alaska’s cold waters are surrounded by tidewater glaciers, snowcapped mountains and pristine shorelines. You will see humpback whales, orcas, sea lions, seals and sea otters in the water. Outside of the water you might be able to see bears, otters, coyotes, moose and mountain goats. Usually more experienced kayakers go here. If you decide to go kayaking here, make sure you bring waterproof rain gear and other warm clothes.


The Everglades are probably the most popular kayaking spot in the United States. The Everglades have 10,00 tiny islands, forests, rugged landscapes and mangroves full of wildlife. This is a really great spot because you can do anything from taking a kayaking tour to fishing. This brackish area attracts all types of wildlife. As you kayak through this area, you can see brightly colored birds, snakes and alligators. Sometimes, you can even see manatees, dolphins, otters and sharks. The best time to kayak here is during the winter and spring months because it is cooler and drier. If you go during a different type of the year, you will be attacked by mosquitoes.


Check out this website to see more awesome places to canoe, kayak and raft


Benefits of Kayaking

Kayaking requires upper body strength, but is considered to be a low-impact sport. Kayaking has many benefits that include toning and strengthening muscles, improving joint health and mental health benefits. Kayaking can provide a lifetime of benefits and comes with many rewards. The basic skills to kayak take only a day or so to learn and can quickly become a hobby. This is a rewarding hobby that provides the basis for a healthy and fit lifestyle. Kayaking is relaxing, challenging, a social or solo activity and can last a few hours or can even turn into an expedition.

When paddling a kayak, most of a person’s upper body muscles are activated. The repetitive motions of paddling tone and strengthen muscles, and even burns calories too. It is estimated that 500 strokes are needed to paddle a kayak one mile. Kayaking helps to build strength in the core section of the body. Because of the control and balance that is required to kayak, the upper and lower abdominal muscles are strengthened. In addition to this, an isometric effect comes about in the legs when kayaking. The pressure that is used in legs to turn and balance the kayak acts as an isometric exercise through the tightening of the muscles.

Cardiovascular health is improved through kayaking. The continuous and brisk movement raises the heart rate, in turn increasing cardiovascular health.

Joint health is often improved through kayaking because of the low impact movements that are used to paddle. The movement patters improve range/motion and flexibility, which helps to keep joints fluid and lubricated. The extra calories that are burned from kayaking can also function as a natural weight loss aid that helps tired and aching joints. This helps joints because the more weight a person carries, the more stress that is placed on the joints.

Kayaking reduces stress and promotes relaxation for man people. A sense of calmness is created as a result of the smooth strokes upon the water, allowing kayakers to feel at peace with nature. Peaceful exercise in nature settings allow the mind to clear during the time spent exercising. This has a positive effect on stress relief and an improved mental state.

Disabled veterans can use kayaking to heal emotionally and physically. Kayaking is especially helpful to those who have lost limbs or suffered from spinal cord injuries. Team Rive Runner realized how beneficial this is and has created a wonderful program to work with wounded warriors.

Kayaking can also be a wonderful activity for someone with “exercise burnout”. Many people get really frustrated doing the same routine at the gym every day. This is the perfect activity to get a great workout in without setting foot in the gym.

Veteran Talks To Larry & John About Wounded Warrior Project

CBS Pittsburgh

PITTSBURGH (NewsRadio 1020 KDKA) – The Pittsburgh branch of the Wounded Warrior Project is run by local veteran and Marine Michael Palarino.

KDKA-AM’s Larry and John talked to Palarino to discuss the Wounded Warrior Project Monday morning.

Palarino said they have six staff members that help returning soldiers acclimate back into society after serving overseas. They help in ways from mental health to job placement.

Palarino said that, “As warrior’s we can be hard headed.”But, he also said that they need to go get the help and to, “Please take advantage of the services, we’re here for you.”

Larry Richert will host “Larry’s Heroes” this Thursday at the Lexus Club at PNC Park.

Sean Parnell a former Army Ranger and Captain will be joining wrestler Bruno Sammartino to talk about why it’s important to honor heroes.

Richert will honor five individuals within the community at the event.

To purchase tickets…

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Dance studio hosts fundraiser for Wounded Warrior Project

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BROOKFIELD (WITI) — Instructors at Fred Astaire Dance Studio spent Wednesday, March 6th giving ballroom dancing lessons — with 100% of the proceeds going to the Wounded Warrior Project.

“They fought for our country. They’ve risked their lives and their families and everything for us. So to be a part of it, I can`t even describe it. It`s wonderful. It really is,” dance student Jennifer Horvat said.

The Wounded Warrior Project provides services and programs for veterans injured in the line of duty.

“This country is a land of opportunities and I absolutely and passionately love it. I became a United States citizen about three years ago, which I am very happy about and this is my opportunity to give back to the community,” Brookfield and Milwaukee Fred Astaire Dance Studio owner Albina Habrle said.

From beginners to advanced dancers, everyone was invited to attend.

“You`re welcome to come…

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Wounded Warrior Project

Before starting this blog, my interaction with the Wounded Warrior Project had been minimal. I did not know much about the project and contributed to the cause by buying the Wounded Warrior gear University of Maryland sells at the bookstore because of its partnership with Under Armour.


Every time I wear my Wounded Warrior apparel out, someone asks me about my involvement with it. Before this project, my responses were pretty bad; I would tell the person that I simply just thought the jacket was cool. Now I can honestly say I support and understand the cause.


The Wounded Warrior Project serves to:

  • To raise awareness and enlist the public’s aid for the needs of injured service members.
  • To help injured service members aid and assist each other.
  • To provide unique, direct programs and services to meet the needs of injured service members.


As of January 1, 2013 following September 11, 2001 there have been 6,653 deaths, 50,405 wounded, 320,000 estimated TBIs and 400,000 estimated with PTSD. The Wounded Warriors Project serves as a catalyst for change by honoring and empowering wounded warriors. The Wounded Warrior Project helps warriors with every type of injury including the physical and the invisible wounds of war.


Through my research of Wounded Warriors, one story particularly stuck with me; this is the story of Joe Washam. On April 26, 2004 Joe’s team was removing containers from a suspected chemical weapons site in Baghdad. During the mission, an explosion occurred in the building that Joe was only 15 feet away from. He describes his hands as being bloody and burnt crisp and the sleeves of his uniform were burnt off. His burns were so bad, that he was sent to a burns intensive care unity in Texas.


Joe had to learn to walk again and had third degree burns covering 40 percent of his body. He was also suffering mentally because two of his friends were killed in the explosion. It was extremely difficult for him to be so dependent on those around him because he considered himself to be an independent man, joining the army at age 18.


The Wounded Warrior Project helped Joe get through the traumatic events he had experiences. In 2007, he used his experience to help pass the HERO Act, the 21st Century GI Bill of Rights Act, and the Wounded Heroes Bill of Rights Act. More recently, Joe has become the co-owner and project manager of a business that provides home oxygen and durable medical equipment to the Department of Veterans Affairs.


The Wounded Warriors Project was able to empower Joe through its mind, body, economic empowerment and engagement programs. I am really excited to be able to tell someone what I have learned about the Wounded Warrior Project the next time someone asks me about my shirt.

Hobie Sport Kayak

For years, my family has been going to the Baltimore Boat Show. This past weekend, we attended the event at the Baltimore Convention Center. The show displays the latest powerboats, sailboats, custom yachts and any time of water gear you can imagine. You can check out more information on the Boat Show here: The Boat Show is a really cool event that showcases the newest water equipment; my favorite part is usually the yachts and the tugboats. The hands-on experience of being able to go in everything is one-of-a-kind (the only down fall being you have to remove your shoes which can sometimes be a process). However, this year the Hobie Sport kayak caught my eye.

Hobie Kayak

Hobie Kayak

The Hobie Sport is a new kayak that has a movable seat, making it perfect to accommodate kayakers of all heights and ability levels. Kayaks have spent their existence virtually unchanged. The Hobie Sport changed the concept of the kayak by getting rid of the paddle. This kayak even has drink and fishing rod holders. It even has the option to add a sail to it.

In this kayak model the paddle is replaced by a pedal. This makes kayaking easier and more efficient than it has been in the past. The pedals control a pair of underwater fins that can be compared to a penguin’s flippers. Pedalling the kayak takes no more energy than walking, and it is nearly effortless. It is quiet and creates no splash like a typical kayak. Reviews claim this kayak to be easy to maneuver and a great workout. Users enjoy that you can stay dry while kayaking in the Hobie Sport so it is perfect for even the winter months.

The Hobie Sport would be perfect for Team River Runner. When service members are wounded, there are a variety of injuries that can happen. If someone has lost an arm, the Hobie Sport would be a great alternative to a traditional kayak. By incorporating this model into Team River Runner’s fleet, it allows people with different types of injuries to be active in the program. There is a bungee tie-down feature and cargo space for storage while you are on the water.

This kayak model allows even more wounded warriors to join and participate in Team River Runner. By not having to use your arms, it gives an exciting opportunity to those with upper body injuries to participate in the kayaking because it eliminates the use of a paddle. The major downfall of this kayak is it does not come cheaply. The average Hobie Sport costs around $2,000, but it does come in five different exciting colors like Golden Papaya.

It would be very exciting to see Team River Runner try out the Hobie Sport with some of their members! Check out this kayak here:

Kayaking and Me

I am 20 years old and I have been kayaking twice. Up until writing this blog, I always considered my first experience with kayaking to be a negative one. I was in 5th grade and my friend, Katie, invited my father and me to join her and her dad to spend the day river kayaking. The weather that day was horrible, it was cold and I can remember it was drizzling. We did this in Ellicott City, MD and I hated every minute of it. I was very small and it was difficult for me to paddle. My arms burned the entire time making it miserable for me. I cried and whined to my dad wanting to get out of the kayak. When I look back on this day, I think about how difficult it must be for a wounded warrior to kayak. It takes so much bravery and strength to kayak and I think it is amazing that these people are able to get in the water regardless of the pain they are enduring.

My second experience with kayaking was much more pleasant for me. This was an ocean-kayaking experience. Around the age of 18, I was spending time with my friend Claire and her family in the Outer Banks, NC. Her family had a tradition of renting two-person kayaks and doing relay races with them. The challenge split the family into two teams. In pairs, you had to paddle out to the nearest buoy then paddle back to shore and switch off to the next pair. I had a blast doing this and recommended to my family to do a similar activity during our vacations. I was so proud of my team for being able to kayak so fast (because it is extremely hard work).

When Team River Runner hosts kayaking events and competitions, the participants probably feel a similar proudness I felt that day in the Outer Banks. It takes an incredible amount of strength to get in the water and paddle. It gives wounded warriors a chance to compete and have fun to support a great cause. It is a unique way to get wounded service members involved in the community through a really cool activity.

Kayaking is different for everyone. For Katie’s family, it was a hobby. For my dad it was a one-time deal. For 10 year-old-me it was a horrible day. For Claire’s family it was a tradition. For older me, it was a sense of pride. For Team River Runner it is hope. Kayaking is such an awesome way to support wounded service members. I hope to see it continue to be beneficial in the future and maybe I can create a kayaking tradition in my family in the future.


Kayaking gives you the unique opportunity to appreciate nature and your surroundings




Why paddle hard when the surroundings are this interesting ? (and anyway there’s another ‘engine’ sat behind you!)

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Importance of the Correct Kayaking Equipment

The most important thing to consider before stepping foot into a kayak is making sure you have the right equipment. Having the correct equipment is key to having a great time and staying safe in the water.


Before you head to any body of water you need to make sure you have the right type of kayak. Kayaks are made for all sorts of water types and different types of kayaks include whitewater, sea and touring kayaks. Your skill level and type of paddling also determines the correct kayak for you. When choosing a paddle it is important to understand that each type of kayaking uses a different paddle. The best way to figure out which paddle to use would be to discuss with a kayaking expert at a store like REI. You should always use a personal flotation device (PFD). A life jacket or life preserver can safe your life in the event of an emergency. Another essential piece of equipment is a spray skirt. A spray skirt is necessary for whitewater and sea kayaking because it keeps the water out of the kayak. It is important to make sure that the spray skirt is the right size. Similar to many recreational activities, you should always wear a helmet.


There are other types of equipment that is not necessary but still important. Depending upon the water temperature, you may want to consider wearing a dry top/wetsuit/drysuit. Booties and gloves can protect you from scrapes and gashes and can help to keep you warm. A rope bag is important when kayaking with a friend because it could help you save his or her life if an emergency were to occur. A knife is another good thing to keep handy if you get stuck under a kayak or tangled.


By donating to Team River Runner or by participating in a Team River Runner event you are directly helping a wounded warrior. Your contribution allows Team River Runner to purchase these kayaking necessities for participants. It is important for the participants to have the correct equipment so they can stay safe on the water. The kayaking equipment varies from the different Team River Runner locations.


Some cool stores to check out Kayaking equipment include LL Bean, REI and Professionals here will help you pick out the equipment that is best for you and your kayaking needs. Many kayaking destinations give you the opportunity to rent equipment.


The coolest accessory I found was this accessory case at REI. It looks like an awesome product because you can store things like your phone or a GPS device and know that it will be waterproofed even if the Kayak were to flip. The case is $21.95 and is the perfect way to protect your electronics. Team River Runner could look into a product like this for participants to store important documents or electronics in to stay safe while in the water. I would love to hear if anyone has tried out this product. Happy kayaking!Image

This is awesome!

A Plate Full of Crazy

Brief video describing, in the stories told by the veterans themselves, what Team River Runner does. This program will begin at Shepherd University in Spring 2013, in cooperation with the VA Hospital facility in Martinsburg, West Virginia.

This has been a labor of love that began over a year ago, during Thanksgiving 2011.  My office had just gotten word that we would take on the responsibility of certifying enrollment for veteran-students at the university, and we were looking for ways to connect with this group of students.  With my love of kayaking and active enjoyment of our two beautiful national rivers, a gorgeous new Wellness Center pool, and the proximity of the VA Hospital, this program seemed a natural progression.

My heart is so full of gratitude:

  • for the colleagues in every division of the university who have encouraged and supported me from my tentative early conversations with them about…

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