Saturday, December 23, 2006

Christmas Verm

Well, Mother Nature is becoming schizofrenic (I'm sure I spelled that wrong), dumping an inch of rain, followed by an inch of snow, then temps above freezing to melt it all together into mush. So, Caleb, Nora, Dennis, and myself headed down to the verm since the rain and snow pushed the river up to paddle-able levels. We had some great surfing, despite the low levels, and Caleb and I even decided to hit some practice rolls in the chilly water. I was only willing to do one, but Caleb stepped up and hit three. Brrr. The two of us also had nice seal launches off the cliffs below Donut. Great time.

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

1st Boosts!

Well, I gave in today. Just couldn't take anymore studying without some sort of fun sports. Since the rivers are still dry, that meant kiting. I headed out to Lake Como (by myself, unfortunately, so there's no pictures) and was treated to some great winds. I learned alot, including that falling on the ice doesn't feel very good. See, everything went fine and I was practicing little boosts in 8-10mph winds. No problem. Then, the wind picked up, the kite started pulling like crazy, and I decided it would be fun to try for some actual air. The good news is that its a totally awesome feeling carving upwind and feeling the kite loft you into the air. It's an even better feeling when you're up there. The bad news is that it's a way less cool feeling when you can't stick the landing and wind up directly on an elbow. Twice. So, while I have one very tender elbow, I am also the proud new owner of some very nice (but used) elbow pads I picked up on the way home from the lake. Live and learn.

Only one more final to go! Wish me luck.

Sunday, December 10, 2006

Ice Kiting!

Today Nate and I headed out to Nokomis to try our kites out on something that actually moves. We've been practicing flying while standing/running/dragging for a while, and were really anxious to be able to actually move with the kites. Soooo, today we broke out our ice skates and headed to the lake. It was a beautiful day -- warm, sunny, and with thick, smooth ice. The winds were light (~10mph), but that was all we needed for the skates. It's amazing how fast you can get going, even with just a light wind. It's an awesome feeling to be gliding along at close to 20mph with the only sound being the kitelines whistling in the wind. It's surreal, and I'm totally hooked. We managed to come away with about 2.5 hours of Kite time, no major bruises or injuries, and some great experience. We even met a couple of the local riders and got some tips. Can't wait for next time -- definitely going to try to get some bigger air.

Thursday, November 30, 2006

Verm Day

Brrrrr. Nora, Brian, Spot, Dennis, Caleb and myself braved the cold to go paddling on Nora's Birthday. The verm was only pushing about 55 cfs, but we still had a couple of good surfs and definitely some fun. We even had a bit of an early river clean up, removing a microwave and a traffic cone that the local losers threw off the bridge. It was interesting getting the gear off at the end of the run. With temps in the 20's, everything froze together. The zippers made for an especially challenging task. My paddling camera is currently on vacation in the Bahamas (darn camera's got it better than I do) so I don't have any pics, but Nora's got some great ones. Check out her blog to view them (the link is on the right of this page, under "links" -> "Nora's Blog". Make sure you get a look at the icicles hanging from Spot's helmet.

Monday, November 13, 2006

New Toy

Well, the Midwest Expo got the best of me this year. After several months of wishing for rain that never came, new hobbies were looking pretty good. So, when I saw the Kiting booths set up in the tent, it was pretty tough to resist. I am now the proud owner of an Ozone Samurai2 power kite. My plan is to mostly use it with my skiis this winter, but who knows. Rumor has it that you can use them with just about anything: skiis, boards, skates, rollerblades, you name it. Aside from looking insanely fun, I figure that the variety of uses should finally give me a hobby that's not necessarily precipitation-dependent. Here's a pic of my Kite, as well as a link to some pics you can check out on the local community website. Hopefully soon I'll have some of my own.

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

San Diego!

Matt B and I headed out to California last weekend to visit Jocelyne and take a little vacation -- we had a blast. It was nice to check out Jocelyne's apartment and meet her roomate (both of which are very cool), not to mention using the hot tub and pool in the apartment complex. Also, her place is only a couple miles from the Del Mar beach. This beach (in addition to being beautiful) has awesome surf waves. Unfortunately, Matt and I were only able to try body surfing, but next time I'm definitely bringing my kayak.

In addition to visiting, we checked out the San Diego Wild Life Park, where there was a new baby elephant that we got to see. I actually liked the Park better than the zoo because everything was bigger and the animals had huge areas to run around in and do their own thing. We also hit Old Town, where Matt had a gigantic Margarita and I lost my ATM card. And who could forget lunch at Chinese Double Happiness?? I also managed to put my new (and really nice) cell phone into the washer with a load of laundry. It's now a really cool looking paper weight.

Aside from seeing Jocelyne, the main inspiration for the trip was to do some Scuba diving that the weather cheated me out of last time I was there. I got to dive two shipwrecks, the HMCS Yukon and the Ruby E. The Yukon is a Canadian Destroyer that was intentionally sunk as an artificial reef. It's absolutely huge at 366' long and four stories tall. It's size, in addition to the fact that it's laying mostly on its side, makes it a little disorienting and to navigate when you're down there. It's also quite deep, sitting in 105' of water. It did have some really cool stuff growning on it, though.

In addition to the Yukon, we dove the Ruby E, which is a Coast Gaurd cutter that was also intentionally sunk in about 75' of water. This wreck was easier to dive and was completely covered in Strawberry Anemones. It's still almost completely intact (even the prop is still atached), and was really fun to check out. Most of the pictures are of her.

Saturday, September 23, 2006

Vermillion Cleanup

About 25 of us met to clean up the Vermillion River today. The local kids make a hobby of throwing trash off the cliffs and the bridge, so every year local paddlers go down there to clean it up. We took out 16 bicycles, 1 television, 1 mattress, 1 bench seat from a pickup truck, and a couple dozen bags full of miscellaneous trash. Thanks to Nora for bringing her raft along to use as a garbage barge (be sure to hit the link to her blog to see more pics), and big thanks to Bill for taking the pics. Also, props to Dennis and Dave for organizing everything and gathering supplies.

Monday, September 18, 2006

Wolf Part I

Nate G, Natalie G (no relation), Mike J, Kari, Dennis, T-bone, and myself took a spin up to Section IV of the wolf to check out the fall colors and see what the river looked like at low water. We paddled Section IV on Saturday, then camped at Bear Paw, then Nate, Natlie, Mike, and I did Section III on Sunday, while Kari and Tony headed up to Piers Gorge. Despite the low water, the drops were alot of fun and somehow the sun managed to peek out just as we were getting on the river. Gots some decent pictures, but didn't bring along the good camera like I had wanted to. Be sure to look for Natalie entering the first hole in the Dells shot (2nd pic in this post). I had to post the pics for this trip in 2 posts because Blogger seems to have trouble displaying more than 5 shots at a time. Be sure to check the Wolf Part II post for the rest of the pics!

Wolf Part II

Ok, Here's the rest of the pics. Anybody who was on the trip and wants me to send them a CD with all of the pics can e-mail me. Otherwise, I'll keep copies for when I see you guys next.

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

Wausau 9-3-06

Made it out to the last Wausau release of the year. It was great to see Dennis, Bill, Kari, Nora, and others out there. Unfortunately, I wasn't paddling that well, but the weather was great and it was a good time. Also, Kim came along to check it out and shoot some pictures. After the release, we hung around wausau that night, then stopped by the Leinenkugel brewery on our way home on Monday. Fun weekend, despite my paddling issues.

Thursday, August 31, 2006

More Contest Photos

Here's a couple other photos that I took for that contest, but didn't get them in before the deadline.

Sunday, August 27, 2006

Scuba Diving

My friend Jason and I went scuba diving in Lake Wazee (Near Black River Falls, WI) on Friday. It was my first time in the last 2 years, so it was nice to have an easy shore dive as a refresher. Wazee is an abandoned iron mine that has filled in with water to become a 355' deep lake. The bottom is made up of a combination of sheer cliffs and sloping access roads, so there are a variety of environments to dive in. Normally the visibility is supposed to be 30-40', but we went right after a big thunderstorm that kicked up enough setiment to drop the vis to about 8'. We got to do one dive in a sunken forest at about 30', then another dive along a wall where we went to a platform at around 55'. Due to the thermocline, our time below 30' was pretty limited. At surface, the water was around 70 degrees, but at the 55' platform it was around 34 degrees. Brrrrr. We did see lots of bass and panfish in the shallower waters and got to try throwing rocks under water. It's a lot harder than it sounds.