Sunday, April 25, 2010

Outdoor Expo 2010

One of my rare weekends in the urban jungle was spent in full kayak mode with a brief trip to Mora, wearing the even rarer sport coat. The weekend began Thursday afternoon with safety boating for Midwest Mountaineering's canoe and kayak demo, booth duty at the SKOAC booth on Friday night, frantic kayak auction activity and more booth duty Saturday, a trip to Mora to watch TheLegend get inducted into the Mora HS hall of fame (why do you think they call him that anyway??) , and finished up Sunday with a drive to St Cloud to mentor some budding Greenland kayakers at the St Cloud State pool. A long sentence and a longer weekend.

The canoe and kayak demo was anticlimactic. After hauling several people out of the water during a rainstorm two years ago, and even more last year during a steady 25-30 mph south wind last year, we didn't have a single 'customer' that I saw. One guy went over and the rescue consisted of saying, "Stand up" in the shallow water, but on a beautiful day with over 400 demos, we basically just bobbed around in Lake Nokomis and enjoyed the sunshine. The main accomplishment for the evening was checking out the Juicy Lucy at the 5-8 Club and comparing it with the one served at Matt's Bar at last years post demo debriefing. The kayakers jury is still out on that one, even though Food Wars on the Travel Channel has weighed in with their opinion.

Booth duty Friday night was like watching a bridge rust. Not many folks wandering around and everyone seemed tired from the work week. That all changed on Saturday. The auction began at 11am in a steady rain and there were lots of folks bidding on a bizarre variety of paddle craft ranging from solo whitewater canoes to folding boats to touring and rec kayaks of every way, shape, and form. The IrishPirate was in the market for a boat and I served as her auction mentor, having purchased everything from an antique bicycle tire pump to 80 acres of land in this, the most pure form of capitalism. I won't go into the details but we got her into a boat after frantically running around the Expo looking for the owner, whose identity had been divulged to us by an associate. We found the elusive owner and the deal was done and the boat on RonO's roof before the ink could dry on the check. All's fair in love, war, and auctioneering and everyone, at least everyone I knew, was happy. My 1-3 pm booth duty was just the opposite of Friday night. Lots and lots of people interested in kayaking and the club. Both clubs actually, ISK and SKOAC, and I'm a member of both. One guy asked an ISK friend, "How are you different from the competition?". She replied that she didn't know there was a competition but that ISK probably had more skinny stick aficionados and SKOAC did winter stuff like camping, nordic racing, and some rock climbing. Which pretty much sums it up.

Saturday night found me racing northward for the rubber chicken banquet to watch TheLegend get inducted into the inaugural class of the newly created Mora Mustang HS Sports Hall of Fame. I found the program from a 2006 orchestra recital in my sport coat pocket which is about as often as I'm accessorized with a sport coat. I did wear it over my Hawaiian shirt however, so I was able to feel a little comfortable. TheLegend went both ways for the Mustangs at offensive center and linebacker in the late '40's and was of course, instrumental in getting the nordic racing program going at the high school. It was nicely done and the VOR (on IR with a skiing induced broken fibula that was diagnosed after she hobbled around for a month on a 'sprained' ankle) and I headed for home and........

........The next morning I picked up RonO at the hanger and we headed for the St Cloud pool. We had a nice 1-1 instructor to student ratio and the flexibility and ability to pick up Greenland skills among the 20+ year old students pretty much disgusted most of us graybeards. We had one guy who had not been in a skin boat before that was doing hand rolls by the end of the session. The pride and sense of vicarious accomplishment was tempered by the jealousy and unfairness of having mid 50's bodies that just don't bend that way, no matter how much we want them to. The weekend ended the way they all should end, at Grumpys Bar with a cold pint in front of us. Hectic but rewarding, schedule driven yet plenty of fun, and with the Midwest Outdoor Expo in the rear view mirror, the outdoor kayak season is officially underway in the north country.

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