Monday, July 21, 2008

Back Home

We are back in the land of easy internet access, fast food, and gainful employment. Frankly I would have been good for a couple more weeks on Lake Superior. I plan on posting on different elements of the trip over the next couple of weeks as I mentally digest things. Today I want to throw out a plug for attending seminars and symposiums. I have to also confess that I discovered I've been doing most everything incrementally wrong for quite some time now. I hope the stuff I learned in Grand Marais has me back on track.

Last weekend was the 24th Annual Great Lakes Sea Kayak Grand Marais, MI. I tried to remember the last seminar I attended and I think it was three years ago. I definitely have fallen behind! There seems to be a lot more traditional paddlers, men and an increasing number of women, and a corresponding number of excellent instructors. I discovered over the course of three days that I was wasting a lot of extra energy on my forward stroke, that my paddle angle was slightly wrong on my standard Greenland roll, my angel roll rated a 2 out of 10 on form, and I’m still clueless on any forward finishing rolls. Progress was made on the forward stoke thanks to Doug V, enough to win a medal in the harbor race Saturday night. Sure, it was the old guy class but in the two lapped figure eight race I managed not to get lapped by the winners and that made me happy. My angel roll looks and feels better thanks to Mike M, my standard roll is smoother, and my side scull is a bit more effortless thanks to Roy. I’ll be damned if I can hit one of those diabolical forward finishers however. Always something to work on. As usual we met lots of fellow kayakers of all skill levels from all over the Midwest. The setup in Grand Marais is perfect. The campground is next to the community rec center where the registration and off water programs are held. The rec center is a block and a half from the water and the instruction/demo beach, which is a half a block from the brewpub/restaurant. The brewpub is a half block from a great breakfast joint. They have secure kayak parking area by the beach which means there is really no need to get in your car once you take your boat off the roof. The practical effect of this setup is to have lots of people walking around, talking to and meeting other people. When the basic human needs of food, sleep, kayaking, and beer can be met in a two and a half block radius wonderful things happen. I got to reacquaint with fellow bloggers Silbs, JB, and Derrick, as well as meeting KayakWendy who had driven down from eastern Ontario for the event. We met Rick from northern Illinios who is as passionate about Lake Superior as I am. Rob from Virginia, MN, who paddled the Slates with BjornDahlieOfMahtomedi, heard my name when I went to retrieve my race medal and introduced himself. At the pasty dinner we sat with a couple from Minocqua, WI, Paul and Deb, who are actually long distance SKOAC members.and who will be on an upcoming Apostles trip with the crew. On the more reknowned side, we had a nice chat with both presenters at the wine and cheese party Friday night. Sam Crowley of Marquette, MI recapped his Irish circumnavigation of last summer. I asked him if he ever determined if Irish Guinness was better than US Guinness and he felt there was a difference but much additional research would be needed. I offered full support and assistance. Justine Curgenven and Barry Shaw were in town from Wales to show images and footage of their trip around New Zealand’s south island earlier this year. I can’t wait for the DVD. They also hit our ‘home waters’ a bit. Justine and Barry got a nice paddle at Pictured Rocks and are hitting Devils Island in the Apostles this week before returning to Wales. Maybe Lake Superior will make This is the Sea IV.

As I mentioned we can't say enough about the instructors. The VOR refined her forward stroke and and did advanced traditional strokes with Bonnie, Doug, and Lynn. She wound up with a spankin' new Betsie Bay paddle also, a sweet piece of gear. Women on the Water was popular as well with the ever energetic Gail from Living Adventures as co-leader. I of course, was banned from that particular event but was instructing my new Men in the Brewpub course simultaneously. As part ot my continuing education, I worked with Doug, Roy, and Mike M on the above mentioned flawed techniques. ChrisG had alerted Roy to my presence at the event and he tracked me down on the beach. The beauty of the traditional paddle discipline is that its not dogmatic; everyone has a slightly different take on it which is how it should be. Being able to weave your own nuances around the basic elements makes it more personal and actually introduces a bit of art into the process. It wonderful stuff. The bottom line is that we both have a bunch of stuff to practice and work on, definitely a labor of love. There is already talk of next years event, the 25th anniversary.

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