Wednesday, August 29, 2007
Last Saturday Paul and I were up in Boone again. Our daughter had asked us to bring her a few things for school, and she had a day off to play with us. We would never turn that opportunity down. We drove on the Blue Ridge Parkway, had a nice picnic lunch at an overlook, then spent the afternoon hiking a couple trails to some fantastic waterfalls. Ending the evening taking her to the movies (Bourne Ultimatum) and then to a great Thai restaurant for dinner. It was a great day, full of fun and laughter, ending with lots of kisses and hugs.
Since then it's all been about chores and work as I get ready for some time off. I'm looking forward to long walks watching the sunrise off Kailua beach. Photo below taken last July during our family visit.
Thursday, August 23, 2007
Monday, August 20, 2007
Scott, a recent convert to the Greenland Paddle, was out practicing rolling with his new Lumpy Paddle, made by Bill Bremer. Bill a well known local paddler, has quite a following both locally and nationally with his handmade Greenland paddles. I love mine.
Scott had a previous on-side roll with his Euro paddle, now he can scull and roll on his off-side too. We practiced rolling for about an hour, then I went off for a short paddle.
Photo below is Scott and I in January 2205 on a training paddle for the EC.
Monday, August 13, 2007
There was lots of excitement. Saturday started band camp for the Appalachian State Marching Mountaineer's. This year she's on the drum line, playing the tenors (or quads).
Then on Saturday afternoon, Paul and I played tourist and hiked up to Linville Falls, off the Blue Ridge Parkway.
Sunday, we took an even longer hike (~ 6 miles) around Stone Mountain, a 300 million year old, 600-foot granite dome, part of a 25-square-mile pluton, an igneous rock formed beneath the earth's surface by molten lava. Over time, wind, water and other forces have gradually eroded the softer layers of rock atop the granite block and exposed the outcrop we hiked over. We hiked to the falls, then up across and around the dome. Weather was perfect; it was just a wonderful weekend.
Next weekend, the beach for some kayaking and surfing.
Monday, August 06, 2007
Top priority right now is to play with Paul, we've been getting in lots of biking as he adjusts to his new recumbent. Last weekend, looking for a ride without hills, we checked out the American Tobacco Trails rails-to-trails ride in Durham.
I'm also taking a weeks vacation next month, visiting my parents in Hawaii. While there I plan to try out a number of OC1s (a one-person outrigger canoe). Outrigger canoe paddling and racing has become quite popular on the East Coast these days through ECORA, the East Coast Outrigger Racing Association. It hasn't quite moved into North Carolina, but it's close enough.
I've been interested in OCs for awhile now, an expansion to my single blade paddling. I've been reading everything I can, joined some forums, and hope to pick up a used OC1 this fall. Always planning big, I've always wanted to race in the Blackburn Challenge, possibly next year, maybe in an OC1, and my ultimate goal will be the ultimate race from Molokai to Oahu.
I'm also going to retire my Kruger Dreamcatcher for awhile. It's had most of my time the last couple years. I'd like to spend more time paddling my NDK Explorer sea kayak, I've really missed it's playfulness. I may even go back to the sea kayak for next year's WaterTribe Everglades Challenge. I did my first 2 EC's in the Explorer, it might be time to come full circle. We're talking about ordering a Balogh sail rig for the Dreamcatcher, it's an excellent sailing can-yak, and I think Paul would really enjoy that.And, I'm committed to finally finishing building my Skin-on-Frame. Hard to believe I actually finished the frame in 2001. I attempted to skin it with a polyester skin, and was so unhappy with the unfinished result, it's sat in the basement ever since. I've just ordered a nylon skin fabric, and plan to re-skin after my vacation (and before I buy anything else).
Of course in order to fit in this skin-on-frame kayak which I made to fit my anthropometric measurements 7 years ago, I HAVE to lose the 20 lbs. So, in the meantime, I'm back to my usual swim-bike-run fitness routine. Hmmm, that reminds me of the life-long goal I've had of finishing an Ironman Triathlon before I turned 60. I'll be 55 in November, maybe I should start getting ready for this too.
And there are still expedition goals of paddling around Isle Royale, the Baja, a return to paddling Maine, the Inside Passage, and the Northern Forest Canoe Trail, and, .....
It was as we were leaving that we first heard about Ann and Wayne and their barge accident. I only quickly heard that they were thankfully OK, I left wanting to know more. We had seen barges, and on this day would see many more, including a double barge being pushed up river, we did not see any at night. However, at night we came upon a number of silent sand dredges and other large pieces of equipment anchored in the middle of the river, with minimal lighting, often just 1 small white light, nothing to let you know their size until you are right on them. From a distance it is very hard to tell if these are moving or not, at night, depth perception is seriously hampered, and everything appears to be moving at you, rather than you moving towards them.
We had 120 miles to go to the finish, and we thought that after the 115 miles the day before, we could probably do this without another few hours of sleep. Alan had really developed a nice rhythm and strength to his stroke. Neither of my kids (Tana 19, and Alan 21) took to paddling with the obsessive passion that I have, though we have as a family enjoyed many weekend paddling camping trips over their lifetime. But other than a one time long 12 mile paddle, and a few 6 milers over the summer, Alan did not train for this race at all; though he's certainly fit in great good shape, and of course 21. I wasn't at first really sure why he was interested in doing this, except, like me, he loves a challenge, and has competed in the endurance catamaran race the Tybee 500, and did very well in the 2007 WaterTribe Everglades Challenge. We had joked for months about it being a race between us, his youth and energy against my age, training, and experience.
During our long drive home, each of us expressed interest in doing the race again next year (a sentiment expressed by many of the finishers), even during the race, I always felt that there was little else I'd rather be doing. Keep on paddling!
Thursday, August 02, 2007
Early the next morning we would would hear the horrific news that Ann and Wayne had miraculously survived unhurt after being hit by a moving barge paddling their Huki tandem Outrigger. I think this left all of us racers a bit emotionally fragile for the remainder of the race.
Coopers Landing, the 5th checkpoint in the race was bustling with activity when we arrived a bit after 10PM. Stan and Dana had Subway sandwiches for us, a real treat after all the energy bars and other energy foods we'd been eating and drinking. We didn't stay long though, and got back in the boats, floating for a few minutes while we ate our sandwiches, and calculating that we would make Jefferson City sometime around 3AM. It was going to be a very long day.
It is the people who do these challenges, that keep me interested in continuing to do do them as well. They are a varied lot, from all walks of life, all shapes and sizes (not all are serious racers in top physical condition), and they enter these challenges for many different reasons. They are the very types of people that I love to meet, get to know, and hang out with. They love the outdoors and the environment, kayaking and canoeing, physical activity, and are not afraid of hard personal challenges. I got to meet up with some old friends from previous races and challenges, like RiverJohn, John Flegg below, and Marek and his wife Connie, and of course Mark and Brian, these all other Kruger paddlers.
And there were new people to meet this year, too many to go into much detail, and all very fascinating. It was great fun to get to meet and spend a few minutes or an hour paddling with the racers as you chanced upon them.
Alan and I came upon Jeff Barrow, at a time when I was starting to think this river was getting a bit boring. Flat, and lined with trees covered with Kudzu. Jeff coordinates river cleanups for Missouri River Relief, so he was totally familiar with the area, and in fact told us that the very bank we were passing, he played on as a child. His canoe sailed a flag with the logo for the Missouri River Relief. Jeff told us stories of the river, the past floods, and the renewed effort of building wildlife habitats that trail off the river, and he spoke of the diverse wildlife. I had not even realized that the charts I was using, showed both the Missouri River as it was during the days of Lewis and Clark, as well as how the river has changed to what it is now. Having met Jeff, I actually started seeing a much more diverse and interesting river. Another interesting note, Jeff left the race for a 12 hour period to do a book signing, after which he got right back in the race and still finished at 96 hours and 43 minutes. I was there at the finish to cheer him in.
Then there was Eric Pepos, probably my favorite of those I met, certainly the paddler we might have spent the most time with, though less than a couple hours. Eric paddled with us a bit on both the 2nd and 3rd day, so we got to visit quite a bit. He was paddling a beautiful wooden strip built canoe that he had made himself, it was very low volume to reduce windage. He talked to me a lot about canoeing. He is from Oregon, and paddles five times a week from 4AM to 6AM every morning, all year long on a local river. He often paddles the Columbia River, and even takes his canoe out in open surf. He was using a bent shaft carbon fiber canoe paddle similar to mine, and explained to me the difference between 'J-stroke' and 'sit and switch', with my rudder I don't need to switch nearly as often. He was a very strong and a very fast paddler. I also really enjoyed the stories of his young twins, already starting to learn yoga, we laughed as he told the story of them pulling off thier diapers and trying to do down dog; naked yoga. He was excited that his kids would soon be 2 years old, and his wife has agreed that he can then take them out in a canoe. He also told me that he hoped that when they were 21, he could be doing something like this with one of them, as I was with doing now with Alan, as he'd be the same age as I then.
Alan (photo above) and I paddled into Jefferson City at 3:09 AM, very tired. A wonderful boy scout offered to help set up my tent, Alan just opting for the thermarest on the ground. We slept till 6:30AM, three very noisy hours. I was sure every truck in America had driven over the Jefferson City bridge while I tried to sleep. We planned to paddle to the finish the 3rd day, so we lightened our load, leaving any unnecessary miscellaneous gear with Stan, and got back on the water by 7:30.