– A Review of Kayak Annapolis
So I know all of my Baltimore (and surrounding area) friends are looking for something awesome to do this summer, right? It’s the end of June and you probably already exhausted your Netflix account and have just been lying around all day watching the World Cup. (But hey, there’s nothing wrong with that, I may be guilty as well, but after July 13th your schedule will free up.) So I am here to give you the most perfect idea to add to your summer bucket list. Why don’t your grab your boyfriend, girlfriend, best friend, or four-legged friend (okay, so you might have to check on that last one) and take a mini-road trip to our nation’s capital for a day of fun, sun, and kayaking! Make it a point this summer to visit Kayak Annapolis at Truxton Park and have a fantastic kayaking experience!
1. Kayaking is Kool. But seriously, if you’ve never been on a kayak, you need to change that as soon as possible. Whatever excuse you have is wrong, sorry. I promise you that the kayak won’t flip and submerge you under water (even if you can’t swim, you’ll be wearing a life jacket). I promise that a great white shark won’t leap from the surface and engulf you in one bite. And I promise that it is impossible to not have a good time. In addition, Kayak Annapolis offers awesome, sturdy, reliable, two-person kayaks, so you won’t even have to do all the paddling yourself. This also lends itself to the perfect opportunity for bonding time and team building skills with your spouse (and it’s cheaper than couples counseling). Jokes aside though, it’s a great feeling to glide across the surface in a brightly colored boat while taking in the beauty and peacefulness of the water and the life around it.
2. Hidden History. So I know that most of you don’t remember much that you learned in your high school history classes, so ya’ll could probably use a little refresher. What will make this kayak journey unique is that it’s also a guided tour of the capital of the great ol’ U.S. of A. As you’re cruising past the Annapolis Harbor and the United States Naval Academy, you will also be learning along the way, but don’t worry, this is the fun kind of learning, and there won’t be a final exam at the end. You will experience a whole new view of the town while floating down Spa Creek and hearing interesting facts and stories about iconic buildings, like the State House, and other landmarks that make up Annapolis. You’ll also get to kayak past some ginormous and grandeur yachts while wishing that you made anywhere near enough money to afford one (or while plotting out how you can meet and marry a handsome rich man, your choice). Regardless, I guarantee you won’t leave the tour without learning one or two fascinating new tidbits that you’ll be dying to share with your friends back home.
3. Greatest Guides. When you Kayak Annapolis, you’re promised the world’s greatest guides, and you are not going to be let down. If you love to laugh then get prepared for the corniest jokes and puns supplementing your history lesson. Your guide will also have a wealth of information about almost anything you want to know about the area around you, and they’ll be willing to answer any question you can muster up. You’ll never know that your fearless leader has probably had to repeat the same information multiple times a day, every day of the week, all summer long, because they will be just as enthusiastic and outgoing as if it was their first day on the job. In addition, for those of you who like to worry about worst-case scenarios, the Kayak Annapolis website reassures you that your guide will be certified in First Aid, CPR, and Aquatic Safety Management and approved by the U.S. Coast Guard. So I’d say you’re in good hands. If, actually when, you arrive for your kayaking day of fun and you get lucky enough to have Dustin as your tour guide, you’re in for a treat. His humor, wit, and knowledge will only add to your already amazing kayaking experience. Plus he’s a drummer in a band, so that automatically makes him cool, right?
(Speaking of, go check out his Baltimore-based rock band, Skies in Chaos, on iTunes, YouTube, Spotify, or other music media of your choice. You won’t be disappointed. Or check ‘em out one night that they’re playing downtown Baltimore. skiesinchaos.com/#gigs )
4. Storybook Start. Who doesn’t love a good love story? Kayak Annapolis is family owned and run by Kate and Pete, who met and fell in love in Hawaii! They share a passion for kayaking and will extend a warm welcome when you arrive for your tour. Their office is on a floating dock a few feet from shore and you just might believe that you’ve teleported to Hawaii. While you wait for the start of the kayaking experience of a lifetime, relax a bit with your toes in the sand or try your skills at Tiki Toss (warning, it’s addicting). And by the end of your session, you’ll feel right at home and will probably be begging for the tour to last longer. You might even start a piggy bank savings to purchase your own kayak. But if not, Kate and Pete will be more than happy to see you back for a second go around!
Bottom Line: Take a tour with Kayak Annapolis, you won’t regret it! Keep an eye out for LivingSocial or Groupon deals and plan a fun getaway to Annapolis. Don’t forget to leave time to stroll around downtown and enjoy a meal at one of the many delicious restaurants. I also recommend grabbing some fudge from Kilwin’s to snack on during the ride home.
Now if you don’t take my advice you aren’t allowed to complain that you’re bored this summer or that you didn’t do anything fun! I also just gave you a birthday present idea and a great date adventure, so you’re welcome.
For more information, check out their website www.kayakannapolistours.com
Twitter @kayak_annapolis, IG: kayakannapolis, or on Facebook!
“You deserve a good paddlin’!
It's coming up on one year since I spent a month studying abroad in London, England with my two best friends and there isn't a day that goes by that I don't wish I was still there. I'm most happy when I get to talk about my trip and how amazing London is, so here are the top five things that made it so special to me. There are so much more, but I do not have nearly enough time to put them all into words.
1. Parks, parks, parks. The weather is getting warmer here in the states and all I can think about it how deeply I wish I was strolling through Hyde Park in the sunshine. I’d give anything to be back there sitting on a bench and watching all the handsome British businessmen take their dogs out for their evening walks. Or laughing at the awkward couples out paddle boating on the lake. Or running through the groups of swans eating breadcrumbs off of the pathway. Please, someone get me back to the Princess Diana Memorial Fountain so I can take off my shoes and walk the length of the stream while my best friend rambles on and on about how perfect Diana was. And if only I can rent a Barclay’s bike and cruise through Kensington Park and casually ride by Kate Middleton’s house. But of course, the night wouldn’t be complete without stopping to watch a group of Australian guys play cricket, and then maybe joining in for a round or two. And all of this magic is only a ten minute walk from our house, perfect for a daily routine. Mother Nature cures all sadness and seeing the majesty of these Royal Parks day after day is sure to foster positivity and happiness!
2. One word: Tube. Would you like to casually take a ride underground and end up face to face with the most iconic building in London? Yes, you would, because it’s amazing. One of the first Tube rides we took was to get to where our photography class was meeting and as we walked up the stairs, Big Ben was right in front of us. Like I’m not joking, you walk out of the station and good ol’ Ben is staring at you saying, “Welcome to London, everything is better here.” The fact that we could get on the Tube and go anywhere we wanted within minutes was awesome. Want to have lunch on the Thames River today? No problem, fill up your Oyster Card and you’re on your way. As expected, the ride itself was always entertaining as well. We quickly learned that during “rush hour”, we would feel like sardines all squished into the smallest, hottest, sweatiest space possible, but we’d somehow be alright with it. Oh, there’s a hot British guy next to you? It’s no big deal if you ‘accidentally’ bump into him as the train comes to a stop and hope to make small talk as you stare into each other’s eyes and he’ll invite you to live happily ever after with him and his European Greyhound. But usually it just resulted in creepers asking us if we were Americans and then explaining in great detail about how much they love Canada. On the occasions when the cars weren’t packed, then there was plenty of room to spread out, find a seat, and enjoy the lovely British voice repeat, “mind the gap” over and over again.
3. The yummiest food. This is not a drill. Some of the food I ate while in London was the best I’ve ever had (and probably ever will). First and foremost, I so desperately miss the weekly trip my friends and I took to eat gluten-free fish and chips at a lovely place called Oliver’s. We would take the Tube about 45 minutes, switching trains twice along the way. And after arriving at our stop, we’d walk another 25 minutes through some random neighborhood before we reached our destination. The first time we set out on this adventure, we had to huddle outside of a closed Starbucks to use their free Wi-Fi to access the GPS on our phones. But during the second and third trips, I’m sure anyone of the streets would have assumed we were locals (that’s if our loud and obnoxious American accents didn’t give it away). Regardless, it was all worth it because that celiac-friendly authentic British food made your mouth water and we craved it on the daily. Not to mention they also had [gluten-free] deep-friend Mars bars on the dessert menu.
Which brings me to the next thing that I miss oh so much; Mars bars. Seriously, this candy bar is heaven in your mouth. Apparently they used to be sold here in the states, but I haven’t been able to find them. There was nothing like a late-night stroll down the street to the convenience store to grab a Mars bar, or a frozen Mars bar, the perfect treat in our non-air conditioned dorm room. Thirdly, I will still wake up in the morning craving one of these so badly, and I am well aware that I can make it myself, but it will never be the same as arriving to class early in order to stop at the café and grab a tomato and cream cheese bagel sandwich. Yes, cream cheese with tomatoes on top. Don’t knock it till you try it because those Europeans really know what they’re doing when it comes to breakfast.
Another prime example- crepes bigger than your head, for only 5 pounds. Another weekly tradition that my friends and I shared was walking to My Old Dutch to indulge ourselves in, what were actually large, thin pancakes on American terms. Pick anything you want and they offered it on a crepe; Nutella, peaches, cheese, chicken, ice cream, spinach, and the list goes on. Bonus points for offering gluten-free crepes for my glutard of a best friend to enjoy! Really, I could probably write an entirely separate post simply of the cuisine in London. No wonder I gained weight while I was there…
4. History is everywhere. This is pretty self-explanatory. Everywhere you turn there is history to be learned about this magnificent city. During our month there, we made sure to do all the touristy things and took multiple tours through the must-see places such as Westminster Abbey, Shakespeare's Globe Theater, and the Tower of London, and we even traveled to see the Roman Baths (which were so cool!) We took a bus tour the second day we were there and our kind and hilarious tour guide showed us Buckingham Palace, St. Paul’s Cathedral, Trafalgar Square, and so much more. The architecture everywhere you turned was phenomenal. I’m sorry, but you just don’t see beauty like that in the US. And the museums! We were lucky enough to walk through the Tate Modern, the V&A, and the National Gallery and last time I checked there weren’t any Van Gogh or Picasso pieces in any museums around here. I just felt like it was impossible to go anywhere and not learn something new and fascinating about London, and maybe it was solely because we were tourists, but I never wanted it to stop. In addition, I also forced my friends to go on a ghost tour with me, which was also super neat!! (Our room was haunted anyway, so we really didn’t need to go looking for the paranormal)
As if that wasn’t enough history, Prince George Alexander Louis of Cambridge was born while we were there and we got to watch William and Kate bring him out of the hospital!
5. Dream cars, everywhere. Now anyone who truly knows me would occasionally describe me as a dude, and that side of me definitely came out in London. I mean, how was I supposed to contain myself when we walked right by a jet black Ferrari everyday while walking to class? I could sit on our balcony and wouldn’t be able to count the dream sports cars that passed on one hand. Granted, we were living in Kensington, the richest borough in London, but I was still taken aback every time I saw (or heard) one of these drive by. One of my fondest and favorite memories from the entire trip was going to the Aston Martin Centennial Celebration at Kensington Park. Aston Martin was celebrating 100 years and they had a car on display from each and every year from 1913 to 2013. There were also race cars and cars from the James Bond movies too! Everyone there was in fancy clothes, trotting about the grass with champagne in hand. Of course, my friends decided to be super girly that day and didn’t want to go with me, so I went alone. Again, anyone who really knows me would know that I don’t go places alone, but I wanted to see those cars so badly, and I’m so glad that I did. I must have spent close to two hours wandering around and marveling at the cars that I’ll never be able to afford as the men behind me discussed payment plans and transportation arrangements. It was great to ride the London Eye and do all of the London-y things, but this celebration was a once in a lifetime chance and easily one of the coolest things I’ve ever been too!
Pretty much the moral of the story is that I need to get back to London, ASAP.
As told by a Sports Authority cashier of two and half years
1. Hand the money. This is one of my absolute biggest pet peeves about being a cashier. Apparently I must have leprosy or some sort of other highly contagious disease that you are bound to contract at the mere idea of placing your money in my hand. It is extremely rude when you simply throw your cash on the counter, especially coins. Seriously, if you’re going to give me ninety-nine cents exact change, don’t count it all out and push it towards me and then watch as I slide each individual coin into my hand. I’ll do it nice and slow, taking my time, just for you. And don’t be surprised when I throw your change on the counter back at you.
2. Unfold your bills. For crying out loud, do not give me a folded or crumpled up wad of bills. Props to you for obeying number one and handing it to me, but you’re still going to have to watch as I unfold, smooth out, and face each bill. It also drives me crazy when your bills are upside down and all facing different directions, but that’s just my obsessive compulsiveness coming out, I can let it slide if and only if you place, in my hand, straightened out money.
3. Don’t force payment until I give you your total. On the contrary, please don’t place your credit card or one hundred dollar bill in front of me as I’m still unhanging, de-sensoring, and scanning your items. Usually the proper time to give payment is when payment is asked for. Also, what is up with you trying to slide your card before I’m done? I’ll just stand there folding your clothes as you repeatedly slide your card over and over waiting for a miracle to happen. My favorite thing to do is to let you put your card back in your wallet and then, after pressing total, kindly inform you that you slid your card too early. That’s what you get for trying to escape the checkout as if, once again, I am a diseased cage animal that you can’t bear to near for one second longer.
4. Do not ask for a discount. No we don’t offer military, senior, student, single-dad, broke mother, or handsome stranger discounts. (UPDATE: We do now offer a military discount, but the others are still a no-go.) No you cannot use my employee discount. And no I don’t keep a stack of coupons in my back pocket special for customers who lean over my counter and look under the register while asking if I have any coupons hidden back there. If you would like a coupon, try checking the Sunday paper, our website, or the hundreds of smart phone apps, all of which are means that we provide coupons from. Maybe put a little effort into the hunt and the reward will be a little sweeter. We’re not going to randomly give you a deal on our merchandise because you asked nicely. Even if the cashier thought you were the kindest person on the planet or wanted to try to score your number and a date that night, most of them do not even have the capacity to change the prices without getting a manager involved anyway.
5. Don’t be so cheap and selfish. Opposite to number four, don’t prance up to my register with a handful of coupons and demand to do separate transactions while there is a line of people behind you. For one, the coupons clearly state “one per customer” and for two, if you were behind someone doing the same thing, you’d be pissed yourself. I get it, times are tough, and if you have two ‘$10 off of $50’ coupons then you will save $20 and that could put dinner on the table tonight, but I really don’t want to be screamed at by the rest of the line for accommodating to your selfish needs. I will be more than happy to accept your second coupon and assist you in saving money if you are willing to ring up your first transaction and then get back into line for the second. Sorry, but you can’t save time and money.
6. Sign up for free cards. I cannot express this enough. SIGN UP FOR REWARDS PROGRAMS. It is free. It is worth it. You will save money. We reward you for being a loyal shopper and return 5% of what you spent back to you. How nice of us? Remember those coupons that you expected me to pull out of my magician hat? Well they would be conveniently sent to your email or home address. You know how you told me your whole life story and how you’re tight on money? Well this card would be returning some of that money back to you. Magic! It’s all the things you want but you are still so reluctant to take ten seconds to register. Seriously, I ask you four questions, type it all right into the computer, and boom, you’re done. I’ve heard your excuses a million times and I don’t like being lied to. You’re in a rush, you don’t shop here that often, you don’t want to get emails, you don’t want to carry a card, and here it is again, you don’t want to communicate with this low-life, 20-something, part-time cashier, because you’re clearly better than me in your suit and tie. Well sir, I apologize the next time I see you in here and you spend another $300 and you could have had free money to use on that purchase. Yes, we give you five bucks for signing up. That’s free money. If I handed you a five dollar bill you wouldn’t think twice about taking it, so what’s the problem? In addition, we are monitored on how many of these cards we sign customers up for per shift. We have to meet a certain percentage or else we get yelled at and written up. So we tirelessly waste our breath, reciting the same phrase to customer after customer, only to get turned down time and time again. Not only does this hurt our self-esteem and make us feel like a failure, but then those feelings are reinforced the next day when the report comes out and your store manager is scolding you because their district manage is scolding them. It’s bad enough that we’re at the bottom of the food chain and have to fear for our employment life, but when the shark comes along and attacks and leaves you with a half-eaten fin, then things really get rough. Now we’re injured prey and you as customers are the mean little kid tapping on the fish tank and poking your stupid little net at our wounds. Too much with the metaphor? I don’t care, this is how we feel.
7. Read the fine print. There are restrictions and exclusions on coupons and we cannot make an exception for you. Shocking, I know. Be aware of this before you come up to the counter and throw a giant fit of rage when I inform you that your coupon is not valid on this purchase and you demand to speak to my manager as if I’m some cruel, heartless witch out to make your shopping experience miserable. There is also some pretty clear, concise, and helpful fine print on the back of your receipts. There is a limit to how long you can keep your balled up shirt in the trunk of your car before you decide to return it. Don’t get angry when I can’t accept a receipt from last Christmas when it’s the middle of summer. Also, do you really expect me to take back those yoga pants that were clearly worn and washed and then believe you when you insist that the tag fell off when you tried them on? And how do you suggest I resell these Nike shoes that look like they were worn on a hike through the Amazon Rain Forrest and then tied to and dragged from the back of your car and then believe you when you insist that you only wore them to the store one time? Again, I really do not like being lied to, and I’m not stupid. I’ll call over my manager if that makes you happy, but she’ll tell you the exact same thing I just said. Go ahead, call corporate and throw a temper tantrum acting like a five year old because you didn’t get your way. Rules are rules, friend. We have policies for a reason. If you want me to return your worn shoes then don’t come asking for a discount next time when the new shoes you want to buy have dust on the soles.
8. Learn some manners. It all comes down to this; be respectful and kind. I know that your mother taught you how to be polite and she would be disappointed to see how you just treated your cashier. When I say, “Hi, how’re you today?” it’s usually socially acceptable to respond, not just stare at me like I have three heads, eight eyes, and purple hair. When you approach the cash register, please don’t be on your cell phone talking to your friend about how much of a jerk your boyfriend is or screaming at your assistant for not crossing every last task off their to-do list. If you need to finish this oh-so-very-important conversation, then I’ll be happy to place your items on hold while you step outside. It’s extremely frustrating when I have to ask you questions and you’re not even paying attention.
Bottom line, cashiers have feelings too. We are human beings and we don’t deserve to be treated like garbage because we work part-time, close to minimum wage jobs. Contrary to popular belief, we aren’t there to clean up after you, babysit your children as they play on our equipment, or believe that the customer is always right. Just a thought here, but maybe your shopping experience would be a little better if you acted like a grown freaking adult and learned how to respect other people.
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