Monday, December 26, 2011

End of this line...

Been without a computer for a while and not yet used to this one (hence the lack of postings). The year is rapidly running out on a warm December that allowed me to paddle 3-4 times a week (including today). Tomorrow I head for the east coast to visit my grandson and his people. Home new years day.

It's been a heavy year for me, and I cannot say why. I felt angst, seemed overwhelmed many times; yet I was doing what I've always done. Perhaps this was the year I realized college "students" see themselves as customers shopping for grades rather than consumers of knowledge. I need to address that up front when the new term begins.

I didn't lose the weight as intended, something new for me. I fear it will damage my health soon if I do not shed the pounds, at least 15.

The good things this year included my wonderful family. My daughters are great moms, and Lady Linda is more beautiful each year. I think, too, that my paddling improved, and I intend to take a step up (more on that eventually). For now, I feel blessed and am grateful for all I have...including the many years of life.

My wish for all of you is peace, happiness and a feeling of contributing to the greater good. Maybe we can still pull this planet together.

Paddle safe...

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Where the Heck is Yorkville?
When Geneva Kayak (in Illinois) was looking for a new location an unusual opportunity presented itself. A small town had property on the Fox River and would allow GK to build and work out of the area. The location had a good deal to recommend it, especially the fact that the river there is wide and moving well. There's more:

 There is a damn there that apparently had proven hazardous to some hapless souls. In an act of creativity, rocks were moved around and a short channel of rapids was produced. Now, there was a  place to launch, play and even change clothes.
To be sure, the location is one you unlikely to stumble upon as it is at the end of a road and bracketed by the river and a railroad yard. (I happen to be there because I rode along with JB who was taking in his Explorer for a keel strip).
While I was waiting, a chap named Ray got on the water and played along the rapids. He got caught on a rock and chose to turn over and roll up on the other side. All in all, well done. But, I digress. Yourkville is somewhere in Illinois, and there is a shop there called Geneva Kayak and a river in which to paddle. Oh yes, there is an elegant changing area for your convenience.

Paddle safe...

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

What if...
...when you took your first lesson or began on your own...what if no one ever showed you or talked about feathering a paddle? What if you had been handed an unfeathered one ( or a Greenland stick) and just paddled with it? Would it have ever occur to you, at any time along the way, to feather the paddle?

If you can, imagine you never feathered and someone came along and showed you how to make the blades sit at different angles. Imagine they told you to do such and such with your wrists so that each blade entered the water at the correct angle. Wouldn't you have found that a bit awkward?  Would you have change?

Apparently this whole feathering thing began so that slalom racers could have a top blade that did not hit the hanging gait markers. I know folks tell us that we feather so that the top blade slices into the wind, but that only is true when we go directly into the wind. More over, the feathered blade is ripe for catching a beam wind. So why bother? Why not just do what you probably do any way and lower your angle of paddling when going into the wind?

Now honestly, is feathering what you love, have just gotten used to or a habit?

Paddle safe...

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Enough, o'plenty...
The other day I was grocery shopping with lady Linda when I suddenly realized what was all around me. First, food. Tons of it with a vast selection of brands and amounts of everything. There were staples and candies and fresh meats and fresh fruits and vegetables and canned goods from around the world. Several counters were covered with a selections of wines. What I couldn't see could be ordered.

And people. There were shoppers, folks keeping the shelves full, men cutting meat, some ladies slicing fruits for packaging. Behind closed doors were heaven knows how many more people working to keep the supplies coming. And, there were check out people and baggers and truck drivers unloading their goodies.

And I realized that I live in heaven, in the land of plenty...and I was humbled, and just a bit uncomfortable knowing how little some people have in this world and, even, in my own home town.

This morning's paper had a letter to the editor talking about how our NFL team (the Green Bay Packers) are selling shares of the team for $250. The shares are useless and only of "fan" value. The letter writer pointed out how nice it would be for people to donate that money to a food pantry. The paper also has an article on the agencies in my city that are working hard to find places for homeless families to stay during the cold winter.

The imagery of that picture and what I saw in the super market are now swirling around in my head. I am feeling a bit off and a whole lot grateful.

Paddle safe...

Friday, December 09, 2011

Pool rules...
As my annul service to the kayaking community, I once again present the rules you need to know if you will be using an indoor pool to practice with your boat.
1. Radios: Channel 16 monitory, while still a good idea, is no longer mandatory.
2. Be sure to file a float plan before launching.
3. Clean your boat so no invasive species get hold in the pool.
4. While seal launches may be allowed, catching a beam wave and boogie-boarding ashore is not.
5. Always check a weather forecast an hour or so before launching.
6. Need I say it? Carry a spare paddle in case yours is blown away.
7. Maintain group integrity: assign, at the very least, a lead paddler and a sweep paddler.
8. Keep your flare gun on your pfd in case you get separated from your boat.
9. Daylight hours are short, have a light available to put on deck so you can be seen (remember that your strobe is for emergencies only).
10. Carry fresh water: DO NOT DRINK FROM THE POOL (especially if there are children swimming near by).

Paddle safe...

Tuesday, December 06, 2011

Because we can...

The yachties have their expensive vessels all stored away for winter. Some have gone south, some with their boats. We kayakers, however, remain here in the northern latitudes to deal with the weather and to find a way to spend time and get exercise. So yesterday, with a 30mph NE blowing, Sherri and I went for a paddle. Why?
Because we can.

Paddle safe...

Monday, December 05, 2011

Looking at 2012:

As winter chills my bones, I have to look ahead to the fun stuff coming up next year in order to keep my mojo going. So let's have a look-see:

February, 2012: Canoecopia in Madison, Wisconsin. I look forward to staffing, meeting old friends, hearing all sorts of experts from around the world and seeing all the new gizmos I cannot live without.

June: No symposium this year: The one in Washburn, Wisconsin...near the Apostle every other year.

July: weekend after 4th of July (July 12th-15th): Door County Sea Kayak Symposium sponsored by my peeps at Rutabaga in Madison, Wisconsin. This annual event is held in Door County on the tip of the thumb of Wisconsin. Great weekend to learn, trip and perfect techniques. I look forward to staffing.

July: one weekend after DKSKS: Great Lakes Sea Kayak Symposium at Grand Marais, Michigan, Upper Peninsula:  Beautiful location with Kelly Blade's, et al, leading. I look forward to staffing again.

Between the last two, I look forward to a 3-4 day camp out on the shores of Lake Superior with my man JB. Relaxing, paddling, good food in town and JB's Irish Whiskey. Hopefully, Sherri will also make it this year.
Hey, the winter isn't looking so bad after all.

Paddle safe...

Friday, December 02, 2011

Long and Short of it...

In summer it is easy to choose how to dress on the water. Same in the winter when it is bitter cold. In between is when various combinations of layers present endless possibilities for dressing. Often, it comes down to deciding between a farmer John/Jane or a shorty. In many minds (including my own until recently), the shorty was for warmer weather while the full length farmer outfit with thick neoprene was warmer. Then I read a letter to the editor which brought out some excellent points.
Yes, the farmer john covers the legs and chest with 2-4 mm neoprene; but the shortie covers the armpits and upper arms, areas where water can sap a lot of heat from the body. This being the case, why don't we have available a 3-4 mm neoprene embellished farmer John/Jane that does everything the basic farmer suits do plus cover over the armpits (axillae) and upper arm for protection? This would be warmer than the farmer outfit alone and extend the season for those not willing to buy a dry suit.

Paddle safe...