Monday, July 27, 2009

Call me Ishmael...

Jim Fall's...I remember my first year kayaking and I went there. It looked really big to me...five years later I can call it pleasant water. I met up with one of my three favorite open boaters, Dave, to catch a quick paddle. Brian Brezinski has been running Safety Classes there and we watched the class put on. There was an excited buzz and I asked what was up? Brian said he had seen a sturgeon jumping on the far side of the river. We watched for a bit but it didn't jump again...of course. Dave and I decided to do some attaining to warm up. We paddled to right below the dam. I could see the tail fins of some huge sturgeon poking up in the wash from the dam. Now I like sturgeon. I see raw beauty in the ancient, prehistoric, remnant from another time. A glimpse of the past we can only imagine. We turned and paddled easily down stream enjoying the river when BLAM...about 18 inches from the side of my boat the biggest sturgeon I've ever seen jumps completely out of the water. Holy sh%$@#!! Dave was turned around at that time and saw the whole thing. He estimated the fish at almost the length of my boat. My boat is 6'1"! Up close and personal it looked like Moby! Oh man did we laugh...after the initial shock wore off...! Dave and I paddled over to see what the Safety Class was doing. Jim Falls is a great location to have this class. This is the second year Brian and Glenn have been doing this class and they do a fantastic job of arming new kayakers with important information they will need on whitewater. If you haven't had a safety class try to make one of theirs. You will walk away with more confidence on the water and it's definitely fun. Onward Dave and I went to Wausau for the clean up...Craig had organized a clean up and there were lots of people that really pitched in and cut the brush away from the river...It looks fantastic! The rest of the weekend was bouldering on Rib Mountain with Amy, John, and Tommy. Wet rocks in the evening. Dry rocks in the early morning. It was all good! I love it up there! God's playground for climbers. Now for Wausau...Changes were made and they were awesome! Mike had some great inventive ideas! At the very bottom they formed a new wave by blocking the river right channel. This deepened the left channel so when the newbies swim they won't be bouncing off the rocks like before. Great idea!! The holes at the bottom were changed into more waves and my favorite bottom hole (sorry that sounds "bad") turned into a wave...a surging unpredictable wave...I loved it! My rock star newbie Pamela joined me for her second time at Wausau. She did great and learned a lot of new things this weekend. The big news came late in the day that Little Drop is going to be the location of the rodeo hole for the Midwest Championships. Personally I haven't been in that hole very much so I thought I'd better start working it and see what it can do. I ferried out and thought hmmm...easy spins..left and right. Very retentive..I could paddle back up without being washed out. I was starting to think it was going to be pleasant...then I started sliding down into the trough of the hole backwards and thinking I better throw something soon or something is going to happen. Being the end of the day I just didn't feel like throwing anything and yep something happened. It caught my stern and threw me up and backwards...I tucked tight but when I landed it was hard and I came a bit untucked. I crunched back up to my boat knowing it was shallow and rolled up into a perfect rock splat on the rock behind it. My backband then popped loose and I slid down and got into an eddy and thought Damn! What a hole! I am really looking forward to playing more there. Bryan Z had some fantastic runs in there and loved it! Comp is going to be tough this year! Cole has been working hard and has a great format for the weekend. It promises to be insane fun! The "new" Wausau was so much fun I didn't have time to take out my camera...can you believe that? Sorry about that but you'll just have to drive out and see it's better in person! Here's some photo's from bouldering and Jim Falls.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Ha! What a Joke!

I laughed when I read my fortune cookie at dinner Saturday night and asked if anyone wanted to trade. I was very confident that it wasn't going to happen. The fortune said I would soon start a new hobby. lol! Anyone who knows me knows I have enough and have not enough time in the day for the ones I have now. My good friend Bryan, who knows me well, said right out "You don't need another hobby Nora"! I agreed, we laughed, and I thought that was it. "There are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio, Than are dreamt of in your philosophy." This is how it went down. I think of it as a hat trick. That evening under the stars while sipping wine with blackberries crushed in it we were slack lining and and just hanging out. John had shown me before these chains with kevlar on the end used for fire dancing. I just thought "so cool". After it got dark he gave a demo. It was the most exciting thing I've seen in a long time! Damn he was good! The womens estrogen equinox group all came running over to check it out also. We were all amazed and I had that old feeling again...I gotta do that! John showed me how to start and it's tough. He's spent years working at it and it shows. Yes, I'm going to start out with the socks first to avoid self immolation. I feel also that with my left shoulder not having the sparkle that it once had it would be a great way to work it back to being coordinated again. Keep posted on this could be interesting. The plan on Sunday for Aaron, John and I was to get up at the crack of dawn and go up on Rib Mountain for some bouldering. I have never done bouldering outdoors and very little of it in the gym. It hadn't piqued my interest that much before but I was going to give it a try. We went up the mountain and gave a holler to Craig to wake him up and went and looked at the boulders. The formations were fantastic! I was excited! Bouldering is quite a different mind frame from the climbing I've done. No ropes. No draws. Just shoes and chalk and one crash pad. I gave it a try and discovered I love it! I can't wait to get back to Rib Mountain to try it again. The climbs were high enough that a fall past a certain spot was not an option. Your mind had to be one notch past lead to do this kind of rock. It definetely caught my intrest now! On the day went and wow was Wausau fun! It was great to see Caleb, Dennis and Graeme on the water as work and new family responsibilities have kept them home. They looked fantastic out there! Bryan was rocking the hole with and without a paddle and just being awesome! This was also the first World Kayak Hometown Throwdown Competition and it was just great fun! John McConville taking first in points and Craig Esposito second...but hey, it didn't matter as the prizes were awarded by a drawing. I got a water bottle :) The day continued and there was a record amount of people on the water. 149 total!! It was good to see two of my students from CanoeU there, Doug and Stan, and doing great! There were more graduates from some of the other classes there also! Fledglings learning to fly! The day wore on and by three my roll was coming slower and I knew it was time to hang it up and call it a day. Up above I saw Dan the Rescue man...he smiled and said remember what you promised? Uh...yeah...I would swim the course this time. I slipped on my neoprene pants for protection from the rocks and we went up to bwahahaha...Diagonal! Dan was great! He gave me the boogie board basics and I started! Then it was time to ferry over to surfers left of the hole. I got out there and the water was much more powerful but I was surfing! Oh no! I felt my pants start to slip down from the water. Oh NO! They started to fill with water! I looked over at Dan and said I think I have a!! By then my pants were down below my butt...not good! Dan grabbed me and rolled me out of the wave. I told him what had happened and we laughed and I said next time I'd wear the full on wet suit....yes there will be a next time as I found that to be really exciting also. The whole weekend turned out to be just a great party on the river. The banks are looking great but still need more work. The 25th is the clean up party to finish the work. We have to keep Wausau looking great! I know I have a machette someplace in my house...what could be more fun than that? I'll fit that in between my three new intrests...bouldering, Poi, and boogieboarding rapids.

Tuesday, July 07, 2009

Fourth of July!

Fourth of July at Sturgeon Falls didn't happen this year for me. I went to Milwaukee to see my nephew Allan who had open heart surgery the week before. Allan, 31, has Becker's Muscular Dystrophy. A condition that affects the heart. Allan was on the transplant list when things got critical. He needed a pump put into his heart to be able to live long enough to get a transplant. People talk about hero's and courage but Allan is the definition of it for me. The week preceding his surgery he had to make the choice of whether to get the pump or not. It amounted to nothing more than a chance to live or go home with hospice. No guarantees on the surgery. The surgery went well until he started bleeding that night. His chest cavity was opened up twice in one day. The amount of selfless courage it took to undergo this surgery is staggering to my mind. He took the chance and hopefully he'll be able to spend a long wonderful life with his wife and children. Here's his Caring Bridge page I spent Friday with him and even though he looks like he's been through a war he looks good. A hero is judged by how much of yourself you are willing to sacrifice for others. Allan is tops of my hero list!
Saturday morning I spent getting to know a distant relative of mine, Sherie, and her family. I learned how to "float a cow". It was fun being on a working dairy farm again. I fell in love with her Scotty puppy, Sam. Played with Allan's children and hit up the Sheboygan waterfront. Then I took the long way home. I got the call my paddling partners were on the move north...destination Norway MI. I hit the road and found myself within 10 miles of them on the interstate. We stopped in Styles WI for a brief picnic and made it to Pier's Gorge for some evening fun. The crew ended up being Gus, John, Justin, Paul and I. We played down at the bottom before taking Justin up to run the falls...he's a newbie. Whoops! It was kind of rough but he did great! That night we sat around the campfire looking at the gorgeous sight of the moon, one day short of full, reflecting off the river. Fireworks exploding in the distance, A nearby shotgun going off...twice. The night quieted down and one by one we fell victim to the Sandman. Morning came..hiking, biking and sleeping in seemed to be the various choices of our crew. We paddled the river and just enjoyed the day. What a great summer destination! Free camping and pleasant water! It was definitely the long way home late that afternoon but all in all a great weekend! Independence Day..a day to remember that it's honest independent thought that drives freedom and the heart and commitment to follow through.