Monday, June 21, 2010

Fathers Day weekend

Since both sons are on opposite coasts, New York and Portland, I spent Fathers Day weekend on Oak Island. A tough assignment but someone had to do it. There was a bit of tent angst because of the three tent rule, but that was solved by SilenceOfTheLambChops, who owns both a CD Titan and a large 8 person Big Agnes tent. I was harassed all week by people asking me 'so when are we going to launch on Saturday', knowing full well the quota was full. Rather than a 3 tent rule, I might suggest that the NPS change the rule to 7 people or however many tents can fit in the designated tent pad area. SOLC's Big Agnes could flatten enough vegetation for 4 two person tents or at least a half dozen solos. We also ran into a young couple from Marquette who weren't familiar with the reservation system, having done the 'first come, first served' camping in Pictured Rocks, our other Lake Superior National Lakeshore park. They wound up camping back country, which would have not been necessary because a Twin Cities based outdoor group 'burned' the group camp on the spit and didn't show up. It was a rough ride out through the 'Basswood Triangle' with lots of waves breaking around the cockpit, some rear quartering seas for a stretch and a generally fun filled 6 mile double crossing. Our three guy, three women group was very compatible, with the ladies sharing Big Agnes, RonO and I going 'Brokeback',and Silence relegated to the snoring section. But what I really enjoyed most about the trip was the swapping.

No, not that kind of swapping, get your minds out of the gutter! Paddle swapping. The crossing back was pretty flat with a bit of a nice tail wind coming right down the channel. After YogaYenny led the women in some Oak spit yoga (we guys pretty much stood there and watched, now and then scratching ourselves under our neoprene) we headed for Buffalo Bay and Red Cliff. There could not have been a more diverse paddle selection on a trip. I had an Inuit paddle made out of basswood by RonS at Novorca. RonO had his Werner high angle carbon fiber, the VOR had her beloved Betsie Bay Greenland stick, the IrishPirate had the VOR's old Aqua Bound Euro, SOLC carried his hand carved Greenland stick, and YogaYenny wielded a Werner Kalliste. Its a bit schizo switching paddles every 400 yards but it was also instructive. Paddling angle, plant spot, cavitation, forward speed, and the amount of effort of the stroke were all discussed as we leisurely 'headed for the barn'. Both the ladies thought they should own a Betsie Bay like the VOR. It seems like its wider blade and longer taper makes it a friendly transition between between the Euro and the more traditional Greenland stick. The lightness of SOLC's red cedar stick and Ron's carbon fiber were noted, as was the fact that my Aleut "had no bad habits". It enters the water nicely and has zero cavitation. Its made of basswood and has the heft of a war club but I've never broken a basswood paddle, unlike the red cedar and Sitka spruce sticks. I could wax more eloquently on the differences and pros and cons of the various paddle styles and maybe will do so in the winter when I'm bored. For now I'll just say that they all have their good points and bad points and that I'll likely continue to hop indiscriminately from paddle to paddle. After all, everything has a time and place. A guy wouldn't want to get caught drinking wheat beer in the winter or a doppelbock after mowing the lawn, right?

Happy belated Father's Day to all the dads out there. A wise man once said that anyone can be a father but it takes a real man to be a dad. Dads, keep up the good work out there.

PS Breaking news! I guess not all the guys 'pretty much stood there'. I was sent photographic evidence that at least one enlightened soul did some yoga on the beach........

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