Saturday, November 20, 2010

Last Dance?

  November 20th.  27 degrees. Vermilion River at a pleasant play level and still open. Today was my first day off work in two weeks.  Oh Lord did I want to play!
  Friday after work I met up with Jim at the river and we played for a couple of hours in balmy 40 degree weather.  Life was good.  This morning I spent  mountain biking up on Memorial Bluff...I love this new pastime!  My friend Shirley and her husky, Beo, joined me up on the bluff. The day was sunny but cold with a bite to the wind.  It didn't matter as I generated quite a bit of heat on the trails. While walking together a Bald Eagle came soaring above the fields...hunting.  Shirley pulled out her camera to get a photo and just like she called to it, it came and circled right above us. This was special. We're very lucky to have a bluff with some of the best mountain biking trails and an off leash dog park up there to boot. Very special morning!
  A quick stop at home to switch out the bike for a boat...but not my playboat this time.  I have been meaning to take my Villain  to the Verm and play it and decided that since this may be my last paddle of the year it was time.  I've done this with my old creek boat and find it  helps you to bond with your boat more personally so when you get stuck in those nasty holes you have some play foundation established with your creek boat. Believe me it's money in the bank to do this.
  I met Tony at the parking lot at 1pm today.  He's a first year boater with a super dooper helping of natural ability and enthusiasm. A joy to paddle with!  My gear was still frozen from yesterdays paddle and I used the truck heater to thaw it out.  At the put in my skirt had refrozen and Tony had to help me get it on my boat.      Once in the water all was good.  We paddled down to Railroad Hole.  Tony played it. I declined and said I'd wait till Donut.  It was too cold to roll in my opinion but Tony played it well.  With a roll or two....brrrrrr!
  Then it was on to my favorite play spot in the least my world.  Donut Hole!  I kept putting my Villain repeatedly in the hole...first starting out slowly...even a little bit shyly to just get the feel of how he played.  As I got used to the feel I went further. Gliding in softly and controlling the edges.   Anyone can slam their boat into a hole and react to what happens but that's not how I like to play.  Tony and I spent two solid hours playing.  I can say the Villain worked every bit as fun as my Superstar.  I could spin, side surf, front and back surf in him. Towards the end I noticed my face was starting to freeze up a bit and I was having some trouble talking.  My gloves didn't want to work today like they should and my hands were getting very cold.  Neither of us wanted to leave...just the thought that this may be my seasons end for me kept me on the river longer than I should have been.  Finally we had to "rip the bandaid" and just leave.  The Verm has always been an old friend to me.  Many wonderful memories of my friends on this river and so many more good times to come. I felt very nostalgic as I paddled to the take out.
  Back at the truck I saw the water on my drysuit and pfd was freezing up fast.  My fingers were not working very well so I thought the best bet was to have Tony unzip my drysuit for me and then just wear everything home in my truck and let it thaw.  Just getting my frozen pfd off was a chore for my frozen fingers. In the truck I found it difficult to punch the numbers on my cell phone to get my messages. Whoa...just how cold did I let myself get?   With a quick stop at Culvers to get dinner I headed home. A trail of wet gear led to the bathroom where I soaked in a very hot shower for a very long time. Will this be the last paddle of 2010 for me? It's been an awesome year for sure. With only ten days left until my, gasp, 54th birthday...I always hope I'll get a birthday paddle in. Some years I am able to get one...some years not.
  I didn't have a camera with me on the river today but here is some from yesterday that Jim took.

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