This column was first published July 1, 2006

I did my best to contribute to the economy of Washington and Hancock counties last weekend. With the weather really lousy (fog and rain) Friday and Saturday, my kayak sat on the roof of my car for a ride to South Addison via the Black Woods and back via Route 1.

My wife and I visited a good friend in South Addison, stayed for dinner and overnight as well. Saturday after a leisurely breakfast we began a long and meandering return to Bangor with stops at The Four Corners in Columbia (I think we hit all four corners there, including Elmer’s, the flower shop and a resale shop – we did the supermarket on the way down), West’s Resale on Kansas Road in Milbridge and the mandatory L.L. Bean and Reny’s stops in Ellsworth.

At all of the above we did our best to bring home a memento or two or three. My wife is more into the durable goods while I snagged a jar of raspberry preserves and a bag of pea soup mix — like I said, the weather was lousy and the paddling nonexistent.

We managed to bury all my paddling gear under bags of goodies and trinkets before setting course for the return leg to Bangor.

Sure enough, the weather at home was mostly clear and warm. And it held that way through Sunday when I got a call from Robert Causey, the dethroned Baron of the Bunny Hutch, who wanted to take the dogs for a paddle — and try out a different launch site. We dug out our DeLormes as we talked on the phone and settled on the northern end of Pushaw Lake on the inlet stream.

We used to paddle up that way when Causey had his kingdom on the northwestern shore of the lake. I recall passing what looked like a launch area, and sure enough it’s on the map. I met Causey and the dogs at his place across town and we headed up Route 221 to Hudson and onto Route 43. By guess and some innate homing device we hit the right road, passed through a gravel pit and we were at river’s edge.

Sunday, being bright and sunny, was a busy day on the water. Before we launched two kayakers paddled by, and once we hit the water we encountered one personal watercraft and two open boats with guys angling for perch (well, that’s what they were catching, anyway).

Once in the lake we kept to the western shore where it was fairly quiet, there being only two camps in the area. I scouted out various indentations and outcroppings in my kayak as Causey piloted the QEII in deeper waters. Our initial itinerary was to check out his former kingdom farther south, but our forward progress was not as rapid as it used to be when we both paddled kayaks.

After a brief stretch on an uninhabited stretch of shoreline where the dogs could explore, we set course back to the inlet – me around the lake side of an island, Causey around the inside. We met just north of the island and made a beeline for the river, driven along by a mild breeze.

Wednesday’s on and off showers and gusty breezes made for an interesting evening paddle. I was to have met four other paddlers for a lesson at Gould Landing on Pushaw Lake’s southern end, but only one person showed up. We ventured out anyway, taking the inclement weather as a teaching opportunity for wind and waves and trip planning to avoid fighting the wind. As for the rain, it turned to a light mist and eventually an occasional mist – enough to fog up the glasses, but not enough to get you soaked, if you know what I mean.

I got so involved in a teachable moment after reaching the lee of an island that I nearly missed seeing a loon on a nest just 30 feet away. I was able to back off without disturbing the bird. It’s not very often you get to see a loon, high and dry on land.

Mark your calendars

Here’s a list of events planned for Holbrook Island Sanctuary State Park this summer. If you’ve never been there, here’s your chance to plan a trip, see some lovely ocean scenery, explore a state park and get some fresh air as well as some entertainment and knowledge.

If you need directions to get there, check out DeLorme’s Maine Atlas and Gazetteer, Map 15, square B2. Getting there is half the fun.

On Wednesday, July 12, there is a compass orienteering program led by Charlie Jillson, a summer park intern. Learn how to use a compass and go through a short course. Meet at the main area parking lot at 1 p.m. with a compass and a friend.

On Saturday, July 15 there will be Scottish and traditional bagpipes presented by local artist Tom Seymour. The show is at the new picnic shelter at the parking area. Bring folding chairs or a blanket for the lawn at 6 p.m.

Then on Thursday, July 20, is an owl slide show and hands-on presentation by Jillson beginning at 7 p.m. at the town house. A mounted owl, owl pellets, a wing and various other items will be on display for learning purposes.

Saturday, July 22, is a day for Wild Wonders where you’ll be able to experience the Earth’s biodiverstiy. You’ll get to classify live reptiles, bugs and more, learn how each featured creature feeds, reproduces, gets around and fits into the ecosystem, all thanks to the Maine Discovery Museum. Be at the main picnic area by 11 a.m. or be square

Thursday, July 27, is a day for a short walk. You’ll be identifying plants, trees, wildlife signs and the like found on one of the park’s trails. Meet at the Bakeman Farm Trail parking lot on Cape Rosier Road at 1:30 p.m. with Jillson.

On Aug. 19 it’s reptiles alive, where you’ll get to explore the topics of evolution, habitats, conservation and animal defenses. There will be shells, skins, live critters and props again brought to you by the Maine Discovery Museum beginning at 11 a.m. at the main picnic area.

And on the same day at 6 p.m. in the main picnic shelter is another bagpipe concert by Seymour. Don’t forget a folding chair or blanket. And don’t forget your insect repellant.

A short reminder

Saturday has been proclaimed by Gov. John E. Baldacci as Maine Seabird Conservation Day honoring Audubon’s work in Maine to conserve seabirds and educate the public about wildlife conservation.

The governor’s proclamation coincides with the grand opening of the Project Puffin Visitor Center, a joint project of Audubon and Maine Audubon. Located at 311 Main St., Rockland, the center offers visitors the chance to learn about seabird conservation and find out where and how to see Maine birds and other wildlife.

Events run from 9 a.m. to noon and include a ribbon cutting, live streaming video of puffins, a puffin-calling contest and other activities.

For more information call 596-5566.

Wear your PFD

One last thing: If you are going to be on the water this weekend and over the Fourth of July, don’t forget to wear your personal flotation device (lifejacket) at all times.

My friend Al Johnson, recreational boating safety specialist for the First Coast Guard District headquarters based in Boston, wants you to know that the Fourth of July holiday is not only the busiest boating period of the year, but it also holds the distinction of being the deadliest, both nationwide and here in the Northeast.

“Over the previous eight July 4th holidays, 36 fatalities occurred on waters throughout the Northeast,” Johnson said. “That’s almost 10 percent of the total eight-year fatality number.”

“Furthermore,” he said “Northeast statistics indicate that an average of 50 victims have died annually in recreational boating and paddling accidents over the past 8 years; of these, 82 percent were not wearing a lifejacket.”

Jeff Strout’s column is published each Saturdays.