Monday, September 13, 2010

autumn activities

hey!!! indian summer arrived yesterday. just in time for the two bear marathon. although i did not run, i have been a volunteer the last few years, it was a perfect day to run. starting out in clear, cool dawn, by the time most of the competitors were through, it was still not much over 65 degrees. and certainly, everyone was out of the woods, the hardest part, before the sun began to really heat up the earth.

kudos to a couple of local runners. jonathon for winning his age group, and coming in 8th overall in the long race, and richard, another over 40 runner, who won the overall half marathon. i saw both of these guys at the party in the parking lot, and both looked fine, not much worse for wear. obviously, well trained.

saturday brought some a new sport to my world. windsurfing. this is a difficult sport, to say the least. we had planned on trying lake mcdonald, as the forecast was calling for winds in the low to high teens. perfect for beginners and novices, and okay for our more experienced rider, since he has many sails to adjust to different winds. if you think skiing or biking or climbing is gear intensive, they have nothing. in this sport you need a board (duh!), mast, boom, multiple sails, wetsuit. lots of warm clothes for after getting your ass kicked in butt cold water. oh, and a mental edge that accepts falling and failure like you probably do not remember as an early skier. as you get better, there is more gear.

unfortunately, there was ZERO wind at lake mcdonald, and although i was willing to head back and gather biking gear, we made a run for the east side. at logan pass there was a bit of wind, and then as we descended into the saint mary valley, it quickly became obvious that there would be enough wind.

white caps and two foot swells had even jim nervous, as he had not brought his smallest sails, suitable for high winds. it was no doubt, well over my head. i prepared to hunker down out of the wind somewhere and read, and watch the carnage. instead, foiled again in my thoughts of getting out of a humbling experience, we went to check out lower saint mary's, to see if the wind were calmer and less gusty. indeed they were.

there was not much now to do, but watch as kevin and jim geared up, and put on my own wetsuit and cross my fingers.

the problem with beginning windsurfing, especially in cold water, is that one spends more time in the water than surfing above it. and slowly at first, and then more quickly after 30 minutes, the cold water overtakes the warm body. try to get out before hypothermia sets in.

but it was not completely futile. i was able to get up on the board, (better than i have in my brief surfing forays), steady myself and pull up the mast, and even take control of the boom, and thereby the sail. but then things would get untilted, and back into the water i went. by this time, kevin and jim had entered on their own boards,and were sailing out and about the lake. for them, the winds were perfect. and i will also say, that now, as an experienced novice, kevin too spends considerable time in the water, and he too came out after an hour or so, with a smile on his face, and nearly blue lips as well. that east side water just does not warm up.

finally, i got a shot on jim's new board. a much wider, lighter, more comfortable version of his old board. after giving kevin a shot, while i remained in the truck shaking off the last of the chill, it was my turn again. i knew it would be brief, as it would only be three or four attempts before the severe chill would return, but i had to give it a go. using this board, it was easier to stand up, more stable, and i was actually able to sail. okay, almost. i cannot say 5 feet is sailing, and neither of my companions even noticed i had done so; but it felt good, and gave me some confidence to try again. indeed, to look forward to trying again. in warmer water. with the sun shining. and hot!!

so now it is back to work and biking. at least one of these is something i love.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

labor day weekend

once again, Ovando proved a great spot to hang out for a long weekend. we were lucky enough to make our three day weekend into a five day event. so south we headed, with a great forecast before us.

of course the best weather was the first two days, that we spent working on house projects there, and some last minute shopping for self proclaimed necessities. finally on saturday, we headed to the blackfoot river for a four hour float on some mellow to class two waters. i hoped to even cast my line a few times.

about 30 minutes into the float, we noticed some very dark clouds approaching, then some lightening, then of course, some rain. it did not rain too hard, but the wind came up strong, and i struggled to keep the boat moving forward. eventually i gave up and just pulled to shore to wait it out. and luckily it only lasted about 2 minutes. we considered asking some of the river side occupents if we could come off on their property, but quite honestly, when i see a shady house in that area, i don't really like to approach the owners. there are many a story of unwelcoming hosts. plus the weather improved dramatically, so we just stayed on the river to our original destination. four hours later we finally pulled over for good at the sunset hill take-out, and with help of a couple boaters also taking out there, we were able to pull the boat up without much issue. after an hour long bike shuttle, we had the boat loaded before dusk had turned to dark. although i did not get myline in the water, it was still a fine day.

once again we happened to be in the vicinity of trixie's , a truly great bar, located on hwy 200 in ovando, when Russ and the Revelators were playing. they always bring in a crowd from out of nowhere, and the dancing put on by the locals is well above what can be seen in any bars in this zip code. sometimes it is hard to get out and dance, as we feel overwhelmed, but after a few adult beveages, we dropped our guard and made it onto the dance floor. another good night at trixie's. (i haven't had a bad one there)

we also made it to the annual rodeo in helmville, just down the road. this is a real rodeo, in a real western town, without all the fancy hoopla of a big town fair. just cowboys and girls, and broncos, bulls, horse riding and cow milking. despite the early november weather (okay,it just felt that way on september 5th) we had a great time and many a laugh. if you ever have a chance to go to one of these small town affairs, jump on it. it is cheap, fun and full of real people. and you won't feel too far from home, as the announcer is the same one that comes to the fair here, as well as skijouring. the man can just flatout talk.

finally, we had a full day of fishing on the blackfoot. it could not have started out much slower, but after a few hours of mostly casting, we finally hit a few good holes and made it into a very enjoyable day. and again, we found ourselves pulling boats up steep banks at dusk, this time without beating the darkness barrier. this is where it was nice having a place to go to nearby, with a roof and a kitchen. too late for any restaurant, we were still able to stoke a fire, take off the chill, bbq some burgers, and relax into a card game.

hopefully we will get some indian summer along this early fall, as real summer was far too short, and winter, as much fun as it is, is far enough away that it is best to still have some nice sunny weather first.