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)

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Snowshoe Lacing Complete!

Phiew! Finally Marsha and I have completed the lacing of our Ojibwa snowshoes!!! You know what, we did not expect it to be as nerve wrecking when we first started with a pilgrimage to Duluth to our class with the RSOP.

What is so difficult about it? Well, you have to think about 3 things all at once and here and there you forget one of the three and then notice several rounds later that you made a mistake.

- There is first the knots, which have a habit to all of a sudden escape your brain, even though you have done the same knot dozends of times maybe even that day.
- Then you need to make sure it is all tight and taught, because after all, the point of the exercise is to have something that distributes your weight from a small footprint to the large surface of the snowshoe. We ain't just makin' them to hang on the wall ya know! According to Pat K. our instructor when you first start out you can't get both, right and tight. Well, we did a bit of redoing on just about every section of the shoes...
- An then there is the "unders and overs". It's not like weaving, where you have a warp that is set beforehand and then you weave your way through those constant warp threads, no, you are creating the warps as you weave! One directions warp is another direction's weave and all of that in a triangle. A very patient Pat gave us 3 sets of instructions that describe it slightly different, so you have a hope that at least one of them suits you. He even sent us another set by e-mail after the two sessions were over because he knew that a lot of us would still be lacing.
This kind of thing usually comes pretty easy to me and I have strong hands so I can tighten a knot, but this project really challenged me! But you know what: We will cherrish those snowshoes forever!
Can't wait for next Wednesday when we do the last step of the deed, the forth base of snowshoe making: Putting on flexible marine varnish to protect the wood and the lacing. Marsha also has a woodburning tool, so we'll be signing them before sealing them. Oh yeah and we'll put some bindings on as well. I was going to make them myself, but since I couldn't get a cheap sheet of latex from a busted truck or tractor tire, they will be ready made and only need to be tied to the shoe, quick and easy.

And in the summer? They'll be deco on the wall :-)

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Minneapolis Tap Water

Wean yourself off the (plastic) bottle, take the pledge! It saves the planet and your pocketbook! That leaves more money to play!! :-)

Learn more about how much money, gallons of crude oil and carbon emmissions you help saving here:

Minneapolis Tap Water

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

My Pictures In The Rake's Secrets of the City=I'm very excited!

Check it out while it's there!

The Trees in Minneapolis are Looking at You

Pretty Old Traffic Light

Edgy Seed Art at the State Fair

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Whitewater River and State Park

Whitewater statepark is an annual Rovers trip, but me thinks we are the first ones to run the river that gives the park its name! Thanks Cathy H for pioneering that one! Important first thing to mention is, that the name Whitewater is just a tat misleading when you expect rapids: the name comes from the limestone turning the water white and is a translation of an Indian name. The river is narrow and meandering, so it takes some maneuvering also to get around fallen tree strainers, but it's otherwise flat and gentle. Apparently the area is a paradise for Anglers and a friend of mine likes to go trout fishing there. We put in in Elba just across the bridge right next to the tackle and bait shop. As you can see in the photo, despite the good amount of rain we'd had recently the beginning was tough going, but after a few yards it got easier and overall we had just the right amount of water to run it without having too swift a current to enjoy the landscape or for it to be too shallow. John G was the experienced canoeist in the boat and found good channels so nobody had to get out other than for lunch. Cathy and I as kayakers don't need quite as much to keep us afloat, but then I don't have as much space to carry big thermoses with hot cocoa as John G, Marsha C and Kim L had in the canoe :-) I couldn't find flow data specifically to Whitewater, but the closeby Mississippi at Winona was in its 75th-89th percentile for flow for next time to look up if it might be runnable.

Colors are getting scarce. It's now up to mainly oaks providing lush rust tones in contrast with the blond grasses.

It was REALLY gusty! Leaves were raining down on us frequently torn off by fierce sounding blasts. We however were protected in our little river valley and could only pity the hikers up there on the bluffs that might be exposed.

Lunch! There are a couple of spots along the way to get out with stoney beaches that invite to look for interesting rocks.

Must be someone's favorite fishing spot.

It is a pretty little stretch of river with lots of turns to keep the paddler entertained. We also were really lucky with the weather! There had been a possibility of rain in the forecast, but we even got some sun and not a drop of precipitation :-)

Minnesota has got 4 Biome and this here is the deciduous forest with it's leafy trees. A lot more of my trips are into the coniferous forest area of Minnesota up North and recently I am getting more acquainted with the prairie grassland. I am getting quite eager to see what the tallgrass aspen parkland area of Minnesota looks like. It's close to Lake of the Woods and Garden Island SP which recently peaked my interest due to its remoteness. Since this corner of MN is quite a bit of a drive it'll be a good idea to combine a few things for a longer trip...

Brr at the windy take out near Beaver. Once you see the bridge your landing is on the left. It's a steep and muddy landing. The run took us from about 2 1/2 hours with a short break for lunch.

Warming up at the fire in the lodge. That fire is one of my favorites at this group camp. It's in the middle of the room, so there is plenty of space for folks to sit around it. I remember that massive chimney working better last year, so we were joking around that John F should go up there and maybe even come down it at the Halloween party for a grand entrance like Santa. He did say he had brushes and stuff, so who knows next time he may have a chimney sweep costume. Come to think of it, Pat R would make a great Mary Poppins :-)

Kim L, Chris T and Suresh.

Mike S.

Gorgeous time of the day: When the sun beams start grazing the hilltops. Such a great metaphor to see that the same thing can look so different depending on what light you shine on it and how.

And it's a fleeting pleasure as the sun rises the colors fade again...

But here are some more pinks in the distance.

The group camp with its very comfortable cabins. John F told me that this camp replaced an old POW camp where Germans were housed during WWII. We still need to find out whether they got offered passage home when they were released or if they needed to make their own way like their counterparts in Europe did.

Blue skies for a brisk hiking and biking day.

Another lovely trip with a great Halloween party that deserved a post for all the costumes all by itself.

Thanks so much especially to Jen O and Stacey "Blossom" G for organizing!

A Rovers Halloween at Whitewater SP

Blossom (aka Stacey G) and Private Kim L getting ready for the party in our cabin. All the stops were being pulled for a good reason: a 10 dollar gift certificate to one of our favorite outfitters was at stake!

Barry S in his mushroom hunting outfit. You'll see his favorite 'Shoom later :-)

Deb and Lauren G as head phones who went on to win the prize for the best costume!

Jerry as you know who, Mike H as a Chicago Gang Banger (he'd been working in Chicago for a few months...) and groovy Blossom smokin' a "doobie"

Dr. John F, Magic Uwe T, Chris the Shakesperean woodnymph, Mary the Spice Girl and John G in what people wear to work and to church where I come from :-)

John G and Mike S. (Same wig as last year, VERY different result.)

Baloon Boy Tom.

Dr Sarah 'exploding head' A, Kristen somewhere outside of Kansas, heartless Jim and costumeless (like yours truly) Kristen.

Barb S is one scary chick en.

Obama's Adult Corrections Czar Frank T., wicked Pat R and swashbuckling Shelly G.

Chris, John F, MaryAnn, Deb G, John G, Lauren G, Claire, ?, Cathy H, Suresh S, Bryan B.

Rich, Kristen H, Jim H, Mike H, Chris, John F, Mary the spice rack.

Chris T made a great Thing #1, Kristen, Terry, Julie

Deb M as a fab girl scout with lots of REALLY cool badges. (And she wasn't shy bribing the judges for best costume with thin mint cookies either!)

My favorite pumpkin that won Claire first prize in the pumking carving contest! She's from France and that was her first one!

My personal runner up.

Barry's favorite mushroom and trip organizer extraordinaire Jen O. It ain't easy bein a mushroom!

Games until past midnight! I learned a new game: I don't want anybody to play with my heart, but I'll happily play Hearts with anybody!

What a fun party! MN Rovers rock!