Off-Season Adventures with Riley & Kona
Story and Photos Contributed by Maria Christina Schultz
As sad as it is to watch the sun set on the last days of our after-work summer paddles, I have to admit part of me looks forward to the off-season. The colder months bring some much-needed change in routine. For example, they give my sore shoulders and small nagging aches a few months to rest and heal. They also give us time to reflect on the past season, remember the highlights, and plan and set new goals for the spring.
Instead of rushing out the door at 5:00 and tossing the board on the car, we put the hammock up in the backyard, read books, watch movies, and make nice dinners. Yea, right! You didn’t believe that, did you? Riley and Kona are so not into relaxing! So all that lasts a few weeks, then I have two dogs climbing the walls, and I’m not much different.
We’ll paddle throughout the fall on the weekends when the sun’s out and the river calls us. But for the most part, we switch from Float Coats to Web Masters and spend more time on the trails. Hiking is definitely this pack’s second favorite activity, and we frequent the trails almost every weekend in the winter months.
We’ve also been mountain biking more with Kona. She’s a natural runner, and we’re training her to stay on the trail in between my husband, who leads, and me (the slower rider). Kona loves running up fast with her dad, then circling back to me to make sure I’m still coming. We’re working her slowly, and she’s been able to keep really good pace with us for a solid 6 miles.
But during the week, we all still need activity. First, our nightly walks get longer; we double them. Kona and I also run, with a headlamp, reflective clothing, track jacket and beacon – we’re not afraid of the dark!
Second, we hit the gyms. I go to the local YMCA to work on staying strong for the spring, but since the dogs can’t join me, I look for indoor training classes for them. Obedience and agility are great off-season activities. Obedience is good because it helps reinforce the basics, plus it’s always challenging. Agility is super fun, and it maintains the dogs’ strength, balance and coordination – all great assets that translate well to the board.
And third, we plan at least one trip down South. Even with all our activities, by mid-winter, we’re all feeling blue and in desperate need of vitamin D. Florida has some great spots along the Gulf Coast, and that’s been our go-to escape for the past few years.
This year we may try a new spot – we’re open to suggestions! Let us know if you have a favorite dog-friendly winter escape. Stay warm and safe this winter!