Definition for Kayak :-)

Kayak [] n. 1. an oblong banana shaped boat with a hole in the bottom from which the occupant dangles. Can be propelled the wrong way up by experts. (definition courtesy of Pete Knowles)
(And I've got this one from Chris' Kayak Lexicon)

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Return to the St Louis (360cfs)

Two days of perfect happiness!

Two years and a few months ago the Louie took everything I had and then some. It sure taught me what mental and physical exhaustion really are.

This time I was a different paddler and it was a different river! It was awesome for me to see how far I had come as a paddler and it was particularly awesome to be able to show that off to Natalie on one hand, who had among other folks been guiding me for the last more than two years, but also on the other hand to Mike, who hadn't seen me progress like Natalie had. He just saw that bundle of misery (me) two years ago and this bundle of happiness now. I ran the Upper clean including the Ledge on the sneak on river left. I could go on and on about how great everybody who was on the trip was and how important that is for me to have a good experience no matter what I do and especially on the river!

Thanks to all of you for the Novice River Skills weekend and especially Natalie for making it happen and leading the weekend! Natalie, I am still laughing at your impression of me "sneaking up" on a wave! :-) Mike and Brian, Did I really do a somersault? Thanks for the rescue! Marie, thanks for all the encouraging scores you gave me for various moves! And thanks to Kathi, Jim, Oggie, Lynn & Drew for the camaraderie, what a blast!

For me that was a bit of an exorcism. If you wanted to look back to one of my very first posts, I am talking about being on the Louie for the first time and how it took me a year to just admit to myself, that I was scared out of my wits from the experience. I had also been beating myself up about not doing better on the river, which of course helps no nothing. I also felt so embarrassed especially in front of Mike, who is so boysterous and fit and the absolute opposite of someone who just can't go on because they are scared and exhausted. I am starting to feel good about my paddling. I am ok about my limitations. Yeah I still need a lot of support from my fellow paddlers to keep me out of trouble, but I don't feel like I need to be babied down the river. And if you read this and find yourself in what I am saying, then listen up: I probably never did have to feel so bad about my skill level. It would have been so much better for me and everybody around me, if I just had been able to accept, where I was at, rather than being so hard and unreasonable on myself.

Just before parting Mike, who had been the face of my own inner critic said, that I was PHENOMENAL. That should teach us a couple of things. For one, nobody can possibly have such a bad start in a sport that they may not eventually be able to enjoy it. And that goes, whether you look at it from being the beginner as well as from the perspective of the teacher. There's no such thing as knowing that a person is lost.

I am philosophising a lot here, but for me this was a really really important run just like paddling is a really really important thing for me to do. It has such a big influence on my life. Going back to the Louie seeing how much I have grown and how much things can change, have bouyed me at work, which also has been pretty darn tough for long stretches of time. And paddling just plain makes me happy. I must have known that it does all along, even during those times when I was absolutely petrified and terrified on the water. I can't imagine what else would have let me persevere. Paddling makes me happy, no matter how bad the week at work was and no matter if that guy I am so smitten with doesn't reciprocate. There is always going to be a river flowing.

Friday, August 8, 2008

Company Golf Scramble!!!

Joyce, yours truly, Steve and Bill.

Ok, this was my first time playing golf and of course to make things more interesting in front of all of my colleagues and in a team with two of our company's chiefs! But I told myself, that this can't be too bad, because after all, you can't drown in golf!

My friend Joyce N did an absolutely excellent (!) job in intructing me on form and how to hit the ball on the driving range and after a mere 60 balls I was ready to hit the course, figuratively and literally. (Those little holes a good golfer :-) leaves in the green are called divets.)

Our team's (848ers) captain Steve K had lent out his family's collection of golf clubs to various folks, but had saved the really good one's for me :-) Sweet! What could possibly go wrong with his wife's featherlight, humongous ($$$) new driver! (She's dealing with a serious injury at the moment and my best toughts go out to her! If you ever had a bad injury, send her some good vibes!) The number 4 hybrid also became one of my good friends, although apparently I had hit a really good one with the number 8...

Highland Park: One of the Nation's highest rated golf courses. It's in the middle of Minnesota's capital AND it is public! I will have to send some business their way to make sure it stays right where it is! It also has a sand trap in the shape of Snoopy to honor Charles Shultz who created the Peanuts and lived in St. Paul!

Steve also showed, just how good a coach is. There are many things he had told me in the past and that I haven't forgotten, but that I also may not have heeded to their full extend right away. I shall revisit all of those as soon as possible...

He sent out a really awesome e-mail to his team before the game and I will just quote that directly here:

Dear 848ers,

No helmets necessary........I have reviewed the opposition and I'm certain we are the favored team to win. We have the chemistry (Ros)......we can make shots that count (Bill).....we will adjust as necessary to maintain quality (Joyce) (Golf is a game of continuous readjustment), and we have a captain that likes to talk (cheer) a lot (me).

Victory is ours!

(It cheered me up, so I'd say, case in point.)

(So you can all understand the references: Bill G is our Chief Financial Officer, Joyce N is our Director of Quality, I'm a chemist and Steve K is our Chief of Technology)

Michelle P, in her well stocked cart supplying us with the necessary hydration with Pat C! The pictures here all curtesy to the two of them!

Nick and Christine enjoying the ride!

Kristen H and Rich M refuelling.

Melissa T and Rebekka S enjoying their dawgs.

Christine D, Nick B, Lindsey W and Mike D.

Jenny Knudson, who's organized it all. Hip hip hurray!!!

John V, look at that form and foot work!

Andy M. my boss and nail to my coffin. He got this close to the hole in one shot!

Heather M and Marty G. Definitely the best hat on the course that day!

Dan C. He's the top cahuna, gotta have a picture of him...

The last hole with everybody lined up to watch us drive and eventually putt... (No pressure there!)

It had been the absolutely perfect day and I had about ten times as much fun as I had expected in my wildest dreams. I'm with Joyce on that one, we couldn't have had a funner group, us 848ers! And the whole scramble thing with taking the best shot definitely gets my vote. Still good practise for a novice, but with the excitement of watching the ringers in the team and actually getting to the next hole in a reasonable time!

Who knows, I may organize a scramble myself one of these days...

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

I rolled!

Roll model Nathalie with Lynn. Nathalie is an important roll model for kayakers in general, but especially or paddling women in Minnesota!

Roll model Alex, one of the best rolling instructors you can meet anywhere.

I rolled! Full barrel rolls! Several times! And on command :-) It took me awhile for this to sink in. I was happy and nauseous at the same time! I know I still have a lot to do on my sweep, but I have done it, so I can do it again! Thanks to Alex and Natalie (and motion sickness pills). And despite snacking on a pack of salt & vinegar chips beforehand. I'm telling you, they do not make a really good pre-rolling snack...

There was fun to be had on this amazing evening for everybody: offside rolls, playboating and just general horsing around. Sailing... canoeing...

The sun is setting over Nokomis on our lake session. Oh happy days!