Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Paddle Tattle

You know it's gonna be a good paddle when Jose wears his Blue's Clues sleeve. No better omen than that. But my heart was already sky high from seeing Bonnie's bright white convertible pull up next to the net shed. She hobbled out and hugged us, letting us know it will be very, very soon when she can get back in the boat. Only a broken kneecap would keep her out. We stood around, warming up, when suddenly someone staked a claim as to what actually defines art, at which half of us circled closer and the other half stared patiently at the empty canoe waiting for us to get on with it.

Two old friends from Halpern's distinguished background paddled alongside us: Steve Bennett from Sound Rowers and Traci Cole from Women on Waves (WOW). I don't know much, but I do know that someday I wanna look that relaxed on the water. Traci paddled back and forth between boats for two hours, covering well over 8 miles looking more fluid and blissed out than an expert frosting a cake.

We turned left into the sun and it was so bright we had to paddle with our eyes shut. We're good at that; just ask Jane. We had to stop the boat to peel layers, that's how warm it was. Dan set a beautiful pace, steady enough to meditate by. Martha managed to schedule a board meeting in 2 minutes, something that usually takes 2 weeks of emails to accomplish. Ivan kept us safe from airplanes, pointing his nose from side to side, switching on the hut.

Becky's shoulder's almost better. She thinks of us every time she lifts a spoon. Denyse is coming back. Where's Rick? I haven't even seen him at the thrift store...

How about YOU? Where are you? If you're out there, wondering when to get back into the paddling groove...we miss you, too.

Monday, March 9, 2009

Halpern's Report

RACE RESULTS FROM THIS WEEKEND: High winds and sub-freezing temperatures forced the race organizers to change the race course three times prior to the start of the race and once during it. The course at the start of the race sent us out nearly directly into three-foot rolling waves. After about 200 meters Amy and I were convincingly in the lead of the OC-2 boats and and in the midst of the small lead pack of the whole race. John Pachuta, paddling a single, was somewhere back in the crowd, but paddling with his usual focus. At what we later determined to be the exact same moment, John flipped his single and Amy and I flipped the double. It was like a car accident in some ways, dragging the event into slow-motion, but slowing your reaction time just a wee bit more, leaving you witness to your own delayed demise. I was on the off-ama side and could see it lifting, floating up for a long moment, just out of reach, indecisive at best, and then over we went. Flip the boat back, tuck under and pop up between the ama and the canoe, kick yourself up onto the boat, brace while Amy gets seated, and off we go, now looking at the backs of the entire field. Then comes the hard part. The waves that did us in are only bigger the further out we go, the wind has numbed my hands which are now solid and heavy as packed snow. I hold in that form, and wondering if I can thaw out enough on the downwind leg to manage the two complete laps left after this first one . . . . and only wondering that to keep myself from wondering if we'll manage this first lap without practicing our flipping technique over and over again. Theories that the ama on the OC-2 rides a little light are hereby confirmed.

Despite the challenging start, Amy and I managed to move back into the lead of the OC-2 class by the end of the first lap. John managed to complete the first lap without turning his biathlon into a triathlon, a better result than about half a dozen others who DNF'd. Amy and I pushed on, learning a little about wave-riding this long canoe with too small a rudder, learning that with the wind or with a side wind, a short high-tempo stroke rate worked better than the power-stroke that pulls you into the wind. Amy learned that when we're riding the waves, I'll use her hut and ho as a guide at best, switching sides only when the challenges of steering and wave immersion allow. And I learned that Amy will do what she needs to do, adjusting to whatever comes along and once in a while just laughing back at the waves because she can. Nice job Amy.

We were passing boats and gaining solidly on those ahead during our second lap when the they called the race. With only one short leg left when we were told, we made an aggressive effort to pass the only OC-2 ahead of us (a strong women's OC-2) and we managed to close their lead considerably, ending up just 9 seconds behind after being down more than a minute. It was a race with a lot of lessons buried in it, the best kind.

Congratulations to Amy and John for jobs well done in unusually tough conditions!

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Becky Merges with the Big Water

Success!! I got to paddle with the Keahou Canoe Club today!
This is of me in front of their boat house. I found out their location and paddle times when I went to the Polynesian Paddle Products (P3) paddle shop in Kona on Thursday. Their first workout is at 6:30am on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays. They go out again at 8:00am and maybe a third time after that if they have any takers. 6:30am? They paddle in the dark???? Oh yeah, WE paddle in the dark! And cold! But, I'm on vacation so I plan on the 8am paddle. My dad, John and the kids all went with me to watch me go out.

I wasn't sure what to expect, if they would be welcoming or hard-core and apathetic to visitors. (With about 300 members, there was some of both, but mostly the former.) I was excited to go and a bit nervous too. Would I be able to keep up with their workout? Their water seems a bit choppier than ours! Do they huli a lot? Then, what song should come on the radio but, "Everybody go surf! Oooooo-waaah-oooo! Everybody go surf!" Very good ju-ju!

It made me remember that it's all fun, and made me wish something awful that I could be sharing this experience with the rest of you! Apparently they are used to having visitors all the time and I would say that about 2/3 of the 8am paddlers were guests. They take everyone of all abilities and fill up as many canoes as they can. They were filling a V-12 first and initially I was queued for that (which would have been 'OK'), but then a whole SLEW of OC-6's came in. Whew! (Above picture shows their water traffic!) We got our boat together and I took seat 4. We were a mixed bag of skill, half club and half visitors. It took a bit to get our timing (me below in the green tank, seat 4. I'm really TRYING to keep my timing!)

We went about a mile, straight out. The wind was a light breeze and we were in swells of about 4-5 feet. What fun! Then, for an added treat, about another mile off, at 1 o'clock, breaching humpbacks! Wow.

We watched for about 10 minutes, then did a few zig-zags. The steersman called "paddles up". Then he said, "Now's a good time if anyone wants to go swimming!" It never occurred to me to go in the water ON PURPOSE! I just HAD to go in! The water was so blue, and so warm! I've never swam in the ocean like that! We paddled back in, racing another 6 (OUR mixed boat would have done circles around the two!) I won't describe the 'singles scene' in too much detail, out of courtesy to Dan, but... the assault on Omaha Beach comes to mind. This last photo is just a part of their fleet. A rather large tree fell recently, destroying 4 of their boats.
Best. Vacation. Ever!

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Aloha! We're back in Kona!

Saturday we spent the day in the park. We took a 4 mile hike down into Kilauea Iki ("Little Kilauea") Crater. This is off the larger crater and was formed by the eruption in 1959. We saw the Pu'u Loa Petroglyphs in one of the very old lava fields. In the evening we went down to see the area where the lava is flowing into the ocean. The viewing area is a few miles away, but at night, the glowing red flumes of steam are quite spectacular! Looking up to the hillside, one can see glittering orange and red spots where lava is making its way down the slope. It's such a treat to experience these things with the kids. Nature really is the ultimate playground and sometimes I really can see more and different things through their eyes.

This lava experience is of sharp contrast to my last visit, 19 years ago.
My dad and I took a 2 day trip over here from Kauai. That was during the fresh flows of the early 90's and you could practically walk up to stuff and poke it with a stick. Location is everything, I suppose, even with lava! Yesterday, I had my first banana. Yeah. Those yellow things they sell in the market? Those aren't bananas. Real bananas are about half the size and look like they're over-ripe when they're good. (These aren't as ugly as plantains). Forget TM. I reached the 4th level of human consciousness with just one of these little gems!
Today, we're going to the beach, go back to Kona Brewery for lunch, and a luau tonight. The timeshare place we are staying is very pleasant. It's an older complex. And by older, I mean the buildings were probably some of the first condos in Kona. Oh, and by older, I would also say it's the "Del Bocca Vista" of Kona. I just might join in with the 3pm Penuchle tourney tomorrow! It's all fun!
1) Halema'uma'u Crater (Pele's residence)inside Kilauea Caldera
2) Kilauea Iki Crater floor
3) Inside the Volcano Visitors Center

Friday, February 13, 2009

Becky's Hawai'i High

I hope the rest of you get well soon! I WAS feeling the crud this week; it's amazing what 85 degrees and a mai tai by the pool can do for a 'cold'. But if it's any consolation, you all may still do more paddling in the next 10 days than I will! "Ho hum, just another sh*tty day in paradise..."
So far, we've been lucky to find wireless hot spots, I can check my mail!
Today we took the Saddle Road to Hilo, visited the Mauna Loa Mac Nut Factory, went to a small zoo (What??!!? No Halpern Flip-books?) and saw a white Bengal tiger and some other beautiful animals, then went to Kilauea Crater and saw some steam vents. Then, we had just about the best Thai food EVER, here in Volcano Village! Tomorrow, we're going to soak up as much info as we can at the Visitor center and hike our little hearts out.
It doesn't look hopeful to get to see active lava flow, but, if I think of a suitable offering to Madame Pele then maybe she'll concede (just a
little!) Thai food again for dinner tomorrow. We'll try the "Thai Hot"
curry, then go try and find the lava glowing somewhere in the evening.
Ohhh, maybe the Red Curry for Pele? Happy Valentine's Day!