Thilde and I were ready for vacation in early October until her car got hit in Syracuse. After months of hell fighting with the insurance company, we finally got a settlement and got her RAV4 fixed and hit the road. By the time we were able to leave it was December so we decided to drive down to Florida since Thilde had never been there and we knew it would be warm. We ended up having one of my best trips yet and found lots of great spots to SUP, hike, bike and kite at. It was a trip to remember and gave me a new appreciation for our southern flat land state.
Love has taken me a lot of places in this world. You could add Denmark as another country that I’ve visited for love, and then afterwards fell in love with. So often in the US I feel that my life is so good and that I am so blessed that I find it hard to imagine that things could be even better. The two weeks I spent in Denmark with Thilde made me feel even better than that, which I didn’t really think was actually possible.
A year ago Thilde and I committed to each other in a beautiful ceremony in the middle of Cayuga Lake with 150 other kayakers and standup paddle boarders in attendance. It was an amazing ceremony which was attended by no less than 6 Danes who crossed the pond simply to support Thilde. They were great company and seemed to laugh and smile a lot more than your standard American. I was more than a little curious to find out if Denmark really was as great as people kept making it out to be. Free universal healthcare for all, 50% of the urban population bike commutes, you get paid $1000/mth to go to college and new mothers can get 3 years of paid vacation time to take care of their babies. It sounded like a fantastic fantasyland that was too good to be true. Although I was skeptical, after spending 2 weeks there I can confirm that it is a real place and the Danes really do live that way. No wonder they are consistently polled as the happiest people on the planet although they were recently surpassed by Costa Rica probably because they have unmolested rain-forests and Denmark doesn’t. Not liking to be 2nd in anything I’m sure the Danes will buckle down and redouble their happiness efforts to beat the Costa Ricans again.
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.
So much of art is people wandering across something that you have created and saying to themselves or out loud if they are bold
“Wow that is pretty cool”
When they see something that is generated they don’t often even think about the work that went into creating it. There are those that call the state of creation the ‘flow’ state. So often when I move into that space-time seems to fly by and the outside world often shrinks away. Most of the time when I try to create something I start without much of a notion of where I will end up. Every time I take a step back and look at when I’ve painted or written I end up thinking to myself.
“Oh my god, this sucks so bad”
Almost all the art I created in the first 30 years of life I have destroyed because I honestly can’t stand to look at it. I keep throwing my heart at whatever I am doing again and again until I can start to tolerate my own creation.
But I never feel love. I never look at something I’ve created and say to myself
“Wow, that is pretty cool, I am so talented”
Even when complete strangers come out of nowhere and tell me that whatever I have made is the coolest thing they have ever seen I still only look at my creations and think…
‘It could be so much better’
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.
I met Norm at one of my many trips to Hatteras that I take whenever I just can’t get my kite fix in Ithaca. I was down in NC for a couple of days riding by myself and I pulled into kite point and saw their larger than life camper retrofitted greyhound bus and the Flysurfer kite and I immediately struck up a conversation with Norm. I knew from my paddling experiences that French Canadians in general are some of the friendliest people you will meet in all of North America. Norm and his crew did not disappoint. He invited me to sleep in the driveway of their overpriced rental home which I gladly took them up on. It is quite fatiguing when you poach a sleeping spot under these million dollar homes thinking you’ll get woken up by the cops at any minute, but I could not afford one of those nice $150 tickets for sleeping in my van and being a world-class kite bum.
After a while my buddy Gregg showed up and he camped in their driveway with his minivan too. It was heaven, kiting all day then warm showers and our own toilet by the pool. We made all the Canadian’s dinner one night to show our gratitude and they were incredibly hospitable for the entire week. Norm even let me fly his Speed 3 15 demo he had borrowed from Ted. That demo kite inspired me to buy 2 new Speed 3’s for my quiver. After I returned, Norm invited me to tag along with them to the Caribbean for a week so I bought a ticket to fly out of Montreal and join them for a week of kiting madness.
I got to see over 30 stingrays flying through the water while kiting
I was stung by a couple of jellyfish
The stray dogs ate through my nice tent twice to eat my food
The same dog broke into the bathhouse and ate my soap twice, yuk!
On the last day I was there I broke the rear window of a very nice $500,000 helicopter and caused over $1500 in damage
As I got off the plane in Nassau in 2005 and was going through a motorized revolving door it abruptly came to a halt and I walked right into it. It took me a minute to realize I was bleeding all over the place from a cut on my head. This was pretty indicative of how the entire trip was going to go. John and I arrived early enough to head out on the water, the winds were marginal so I took the 17 Speed and the Flydoor. The winds were so marginal I got blown downwind for about 3 miles. There was not enough wind to jump so I just rode as best I could. John tried to go out on his 9 foil but there was not enough power to get up. At one point he crashed the kite into the middle of the road and the cars honked at him. I walked for about an hour then caught a ride back the last mile or so with a pickup truck full of construction workers. The buffet dinner at Orange Hill was spectacular even though the breakfast and lunch was pretty nominal. It was all you can eat for $20 and John and I gorged ourselves and went to bed at 7:41PM.
The following is an account of 12 days I spent in the DR in 2004 with Kyle where I was desperately trying to learn to kite.
What day is it, I can’t remember and I don’t care. One day blurs into another. Eat, sleep, kite that has become the routine. I can’t remember why I do the eating and sleeping anymore except that I can’t kite if I don’t do the other two. I feel like I’m in a movie, beautiful women everywhere, there is sun and sand and little local DR kids that grab your kite and walk it back up the beach for you for 50 pesos. I’m making these kids downright rich as I’ve been going up and down the beach 7 times a day for about the last 12 days.
Just how much abuse can a body take anyway? Every day I look in the mirror and see a handful of new bruises. It’s so exhausting learning Kiteboarding that all I’ve done for the last 3 days is eat, sleep and board and hardly anything else. It is so brutal that I am sleeping almost 12 hours a day and often have to lay down for a nap in the middle of the day. I feel like a lame old man (no offense mom, dad and President Bush all of which love their naps). I can get up on the board consistently now and can stay up for a pretty long time, my major problems in the past have been that I have been way under-powered. I am flying the 13.5 meter kite in about 20-25 knots of wind every day and that is about the right size kite for me. For Ithaca I’m going to need a 25 meter kite I think seeing as how most of the time the winds are low there (under 10mph).