As the 8′ high waves came and crashed on my head the only thing I could think was “Get back in your kayak and get out of here or you will die”. I frantically splashed around in the water while the most powerful current I had ever experienced thrashed me around uncontrollably. The boat hit me in the face giving me a black eye, I tried time and again to get myself into the swamped sea kayak and roll it up but to no avail. Eventually I gave up and grabbed my 500lb sea kayak filled with water and started swimming toward the vacant beach.
In the last 2 weeks I …
– Had the bomb squad called on me in the airport
– Was attacked by lawn sprinklers while innocently sleeping outside somewhere I probably shouldn’t have,
– Got pressure washed with foam so hard it hurt while rocking out to a DJ in a plexiglass cage with 80 naked strangers
– Danced 6 hours a day in the desert for a week and ate the best food of my life every day at the Rhythm-Wave camp in Black Rock City
– Built a 43′ high bamboo puppet with scrounged materials found around BRC and walked around for 5 hours over 2 different nights with 5 people helping me
– Hiked for 3 days in Yosemite with Doug while the whole park was on fire, climbed half-dome and didn’t get eaten by bears despite smearing peanut butter all over my face and duct-taping myself to a tree
Words cannot accurately convey the majesty and awe that the Magdalen Islands inspire.
I launched the kayak as the sun turned red on the horizon. Strapping a headlamp on I jumped into my 14′ sea kayak and tightly gripped my favorite paddle and forced my way out through the surf. The beach was tiny, only about 20 feet wide and was the only beach for miles in either direction. The swell caused the giant kayak to tip and sway more than I ever thought possible in a sea kayak. A few feet away the waves pounded the rocks and cliff face. The lighthouse shot up from the cliff. As I paddled away I felt like I had found the edge of the earth. Here the land abruptly ended and sheer sandstone cliffs that would easily give way under your feet shot up hundreds of feet into the air. There were caves everywhere that were easily carved out by the forceful action of the waves. The surging tides would trap air in the holes and they would build up pressure and blow out air, sometimes high up into the air. The noise and the surging water struck a nerve somewhere deep inside me. I plunged the paddle into the water stroke after stroke and mile melted into mile. Before I knew it the sun had disappeared and the lighthouse was miles behind me, completely gone from view.
I had to check out one of the caves before I turned around so I cautiously turned on my headlamp and started paddling into one that looked creepy. The water was rising and falling quickly and the cave went on for a long way. After several hundred yards there was no light left except the light from my headlamp with no end to the cave in sight. As the swell surged up and down little holes in the walls would blow out water, sometimes with surprising force. It was exhilarating and frightening all at the same time, I decided to slowly back paddle my way out again.
Paddling back under a full moon was totally unreal. I could see the waves crash against the rocks and the cliff face rose up hundreds of feet with the moon peaking over the top. I paddled with a furious intensity for miles until I reached the lighthouse again. I left a flashlight on my car so I could find it on the cliff face, the two red LEDs stared out at me in the water like some kind of hideous beast waiting to devour me.
“Love knows not its own depth until the hour of separation” ― Khalil Gibran, The Prophet
Our trip to Iceland started out in the worst sort of way. There was a lot of drama around my separation with my Ex-girlfriend. She was supposed to go to Iceland with Orion and I, but the plane ticket I bought for her ended up going to waste. I talked to Orion’s mom about all the trouble with my Ex-girlfriend and she still trusted me enough to go with Orion to Iceland. To call her a saint would be an understatement. I feel so blessed to have so many people who love me and trust me more than I trust myself at times.
We drove to JFK and I knew things were going to be rough when Orion threw up in the parking lot. He threw up 3 more times on the plane, the woman sitting next to us in my Ex’s seat was very pleasant about the whole thing. I couldn’t help wishing that she was with us, her backing out on the Iceland trip was really hard on me. I knew that I would have to find a way to deal with it as soon as possible, otherwise it would do nothing but interfere with Orion and I having a good time together. There was serious rifts that had come between Orion and I between his struggles in public school. No matter what came I knew I had to be focused and present for him throughout the entire trip, whatever sacrifices that meant that I would have to make for myself.
Orion and I have discovered a French Canadian paradise a mere 25 hours north of here. For 2 weeks we spent every day playing on the beach and having amazing adventures all over the island. We discovered an abandoned cargo ship, an island full of nesting baby birds, as well as countless caves all over the island.
We drove 10 hours to Acadia in Maine and had awesome Wild blueberry pancakes and my yearly lobster omelette at Jordans. Afterwards we hiked the Beehive trail (Precipice was closed) and then hung out on the beach for several hours. There was a baby seal that had climbed out to sun itself that was so adorable. I so wanted to club it, doesn’t everyone fantasize about clubbing baby seals? After chilling on the beach for several hours we setup and played a boardgame next to all my spraypaint art and I managed to sell several pieces.
We headed out to Canada and drove another 10 hours to the ferry. I setup my artwork on the ferry to sell, but the captain of the ship didn’t have such a good sense of humor about that. The ferry was huge, like a cruiseliner with 5 decks and a movie theater, arcade, cafeteria, bar and restaurant. The kids loved running around and playing hide and seek on the ship, and they had 5.5 hrs to do it. The ferry was insanely expensive, I paid $200 each way and Norman with his schoolbus paid almost $500 each way. We made arrangements to arrive a day early for a huge party. The first night was a huge party where almost everyone on the island attended. There was some fantastic Quebecian music that I loved dancing like a crazy person to. Everyone was super friendly, although many of the people I talked to who lived on the island spoke no English at all.
If I had one word to describe my experience at Tug Hill this year it would be ‘Epic’. I rode for about 14 hours over the course of 3 days, most of the time in foot deep powder.
I drove up Friday after work to meet Zebulon ‘Crab Nebula’ at Deer River Farm. The winds were very light and he was giving lessons to a very nice couple. Later on in the weekend I would discover that the woman thought the Speed 3 was sexy, and is probably the only woman in the USA that thinks that ANY kite is sexy. I put up the 19 Speed 3 but the winds were too light to ride in such thick powder and I forgot my spare lineset so I couldn’t make the linesets longer. I setup a new triple release system on my 19 and 15 meter kites which works like a suicide leash and keeps you from dropping like a rock in the event of harness, spreader bar, chickenloop, chickendick, chickenloopline or depowerstrap failure. The only failure that could drop you hard would be a front line failure which would still leave 3 lines to support you on the way down. Last winter I had a close call when my third spreader bar broke and left me 20+ feet up off the ground with a fully powered up Speed 2 15 in 20 mph of wind. If I had let go of the bar its certain that I would have broken both legs at best or been dead as a doornail at worst. The redundant kite support system worked well with my climbing harness and I tested it extensively in light winds. I have destroyed 3 spreader bars, 5 harnesses, 10 chickenloops, 2 depower straps and countless chickenloop lines. The equipment is designed for 150lb guys that are far less aggressive riders than I am. Continue reading “10 Years Of Snowkiting In Marginal Conditions Was All To Prepare Me For Tughill Festival 2011”
My friends for Montreal were planning a kiting trip to Fort DeSoto park on the gulf side of Florida for 10 days in January. I had been looking for an excuse to head south, Norman’s two children are about Orion’s age and I figured that he could learn some French from them and they could learn some English from us. The drive down was pretty uneventful except there was a serious snow storm from DC all the way to Florida. There were cars in the ditch everywhere, people in the south really have no idea how to drive when there is snow on the road. At times there was as much as 3 inches of snow on the freeway and some people still insisted on going 70 mph.
When we got to Florida it was amazing, there was sun and the ocean was beautiful. Although the wind was very light I very much enjoyed spending time with our new friends. At night we would sneak into Norm’s campsite and play boardgames with him and his children. Once of the smaller boys started getting a sore throat and fever early on in the week. I thought nothing of it really. Then we met another elderly kiter who talked about how he wasn’t kiting because of ‘some strange virus’ that going around giving everyone sore throats and making them tired. I had a sore throat since the day after we arrived so I figured I had gotten something from the kids and thought nothing of it. On the 4th day there I kited on Norman’s big 21 meter kite for several hours in the gulf. Orion was acting very sluggish and did not want to play with capture the flag with the other boys. I knew something was really wrong. That night was New Years Eve and so I went and parked the van in the middle of a residential neighborhood that was in the middle of having a huge New Years Eve bash. There was partying and fireworks for the better part of the night. That night my throat was so sore I couldn’t sleep. I knew something was very wrong. The next morning I used my cell phone to search for sore throats and gulf and although there was very little in the US mainstream media I was able to find articles like this that scared the crap out of me.
Of the 4 Burns I have attended, the 2010 burn was by far the best yet. The combination of having family, good weather, and camping with an RV for the first time added to the experience far more than I thought it would. It’s hard to imagine going back to Burning Man with nothing but a tent and sleeping under stranger’s trucks in the day once you’ve experienced the desert with the comfort of an RV.
My good friend Zoe who is Burning Man celebrity with her Pee Funnel Camp had previously lambasted me extensively online about being a parasite/tourist. This motivated me to bring my 12′ high glowing blue man costume and tons of empty IC tubes in my backpack on the plane. The idiots that worked with homeland security unpacked everything and then could not get it back in the backpack so they just haphazardly tied the sleeping bag and my thermarest pads on the outside of my backpack by one of the straps. It was a miracle it all got to Oregon in one piece. I had to pay an extra $25 for the privilege of having the airlines lose my luggage for 3 days, the airlines are getting downright intolerable.
Arriving in Oregon we spent most of the time preparing the camper for BM. I worked on 5 different bikes that all had flat tire, seized up cranks and rusted chains and got them so they all were ridable and had at least 3 or 4 gears that worked. We also went to the Oregon Caves National Monument and did the candlelight tour which everyone really enjoyed. We were late getting there and had to run the last 1/2 mile to make it there on time. Before we left I also got to see my sister paragliding. She has been working on her certification for 6 months now and she was so excited to be flying. It has been great to see Laura and Tim really focus on doing the things that make them happy for the last several years.
There was no piss on any toiletseat I used in my entire 2.5 weeks in Japan. Of all the things that struck me as odd in Japan, that one was the most unusual. After spending time in Japan you really begin to realize how rude and obnoxious people everywhere else really are. Folks are so polite in Japan that they will not even smoke and walk at the same time, no one uses their cell phones in public spaces, and when crammed into the subways together somehow people manage to not bump or touch their neighbors. Everywhere we went people would stare at Orion and I but would not say anything unless we spoke to them first. Everyone wanted to talk to us, but were too shy and polite. I remember on one train that was full of school kids in uniforms pretending to ignore us, I took the ketchup container out of my backpack and said ‘ketchup’ in a loud voice and the entire train car was in an uproar with everyone yelling ‘ketchup’. Within 2 minutes there were 20 cellphones snapping pictures of Orion and I with our arms around the local school kids.
Whenever I go on long trips I have so much time to THINK while driving. It’s amazing how words wind themselves around my mind and I think and think and think about what to write, how to make my adventures interesting, worth reading, engaging for others. I love that feeling of thinking about what I want to say before I say it, and the act of creation, when I write or draw it is the closest thing to sheer bliss I think I will find on this crazy planet.
The overwhelming feeling I had on this latest 2 week-long road trip adventure with Orion was one of Joy. I spent a lot of time remembering when I was young, going to school, keeping my head down, burying myself into books. Most of the time I spent intimidated, afraid, mostly of my peers, my teachers, my principle or my parents. Never in my wildest dreams would I ever imagine that I would grow up and would be able to find and hold onto happiness. Through a brutal exercise regime and by avoiding sugars, meat, drugs and alcohol I have been able to find a lot of joy in this life. When I am on these trips with Orion we both spend most of the trip totally giddy. Orion is the best travel partner I have ever found. Although at night in bed he is all-elbows and knees every other aspect of my traveling experiences with him is just amazing.