Off to Kernville tomorrow to visit my cousin and poke around Bakersfield and the Mojave Desert--both settings for my novel, about which I know rather little. (The way things look now my next novel will be set in Cleveland. Why can't I think of stories about Maui?)
One thing we will not be doing in Kernville is kayaking on the Kern River. My cousin took us out for a spin, literally, about four years ago. We beginners got to use inflatable kayaks, which, OK, don't tip as much, but they do get blown along on the current like giant leaves, causing smaller persons borne thereon to outstrip all the people in the other kayaks who know what they are doing and can shout instructions as you dive over the rapids. Not that instructions might have helped at that point. Oh, the other thing these inflatables do is they spin around backward, which is how I went over the dreaded Ewing's rapid the first time out. The second time, I actually came out of the boat (this all really did happen in slow motion) and hovered above it for a few moments; but I was somehow able to polevault myself back in, using my paddle.
So a little car trip through Oildale doesn't seem so bad now.