Mythbusters does the Star Trek Gorn Episode…

27 05 2010

OK I admit I do like Star Trek. The Gorn episode from the original series – that’s one I totally remember from when I was like five years old. And back then, that cheesy Gorn kind of scared me. Captain Kirk is stuck on this planet forced to battle with this alien called a Gorn, a man-reptile with super strength, a captain from an alien starship. Whoever wins takes all. It’s all controlled by some super race watching who wins.

My favorite quote from the episode is the Gorn: “I shall be merciful and quick!”

The Gorn threatens Kirk

So, the Gorn is so much stronger than Kirk, there’s no way Kirk can beat the guy physically. It’s gonna have to come down to some good old human ingenuity. Kirk happens upon some bamboo and then finds the material to make a bazooka. He finds charcoal, sulphur and some diamonds….all stuff left there by the super race. He winds up blowing up the reptile guy.

So, what do you think? Here is the original, and the MythBusters version? Pay special attention to the two handed back punch followed by the karate chop! And the dropped dagger!

Original Gorn Episode…

Mythbusters Sequence!





Surprise Surprise Lake Merwin Paddle was Great!

23 05 2010

Monte at the falls!

The weather has once again sucked us back into the black hole of some kind of winterish mix. I don’t know about you, but I’m sick of the stubborn gray clouds hanging around the PacificNW in May 2010. We’ve had a few beauties, but most gorgeous days are teasers in between a week of ugly. So, this past week when I had a Paddle NW Meetup scheduled for Lake Merwin, I was not exactly jumping out of my seat with anticipation. Then, the last evening three people dropped out. Rather than just cancel I sulkingly drove up there. Monte and Bibi did come, and that made me feel a lot better.

On the way, I did a double take seeing the local search and rescue vehicle…hmmm…budget cuts!

Better not need a rescue!

Once suited up in my dry suit, I was ready for anything. We were prepared. The plan called for heading east up the end of the lake and then ducking into canyon creek. So we snapped on the spray skirts and headed out. Wouldn’t you know it the sun came out. It was really pretty, the gray/white/blue sky and then the dappled sunlight on the hills around the lake. It wasn’t windy at all.

Bibi after lunch, ready to go...

Lake Merwin is one of three major hydraulic dam reservoirs in the Lewis River system. The other two are Swift Reservoir and Yale Lake. They’re owned by PacifiCorp. The company runs recreation sites along the reservoirs. On the east end of Merwyn, we put in at Spelyai Bay, which is day use only. Further up is Cresap Bay, and it’s a day use/boat launch, swimming area and campground.

The lakes lie in deep gorges, so the banks can be steep. There are not many places to land a kayak. We found one just beyond where route 503 crosses the lake on a suspension bridge. It’s got a fire ring and picnic tables. There, Bibi, myself and Monte had ourselves some lunch. The weather cooperated, which was very nice. Not widely known is that Merwin is home to a population of Tiger Muskellunge – a very aggressive upper Midwestern fish commonly growing over 50 inches! They were planted to control the squaw fish invasive species. But I’ve got to think the Tiger Muskies will devour everything!

Once done, we hopped back in the boats and headed further east. Somewhere at the east end of the lake, Canyon Creek, famous for its hairy whitewater, enters, but we were really wondering where the heck it was. Finally we rounded a bend and there were floating balls across the lake with a sign warning DO NOT GO FURTHER – DAM. But just before this barricade was the outflow of Canyon Creek. We headed up this little canyon and eventually found the last rapid of the creek, a 3-foot waterfall entering the lake.

Not long after, we ran into two other kayakers who turned out to be friends of Andrew’s. Andrew had canceled, but his two guests wanted to paddle regardless of the weather. They were really pleased with their luck. Nice folks – Richard and Ginette. We paused and visited for maybe 20 minutes. They continued up into the creek, while we started on our way back. We encountered a major downpour, and I kind of wondered about Bibi, who wasn’t wearing a hat! But she’s got a thick head of hair! She said she wasn’t bothered at all. She was having a good time!

Richard and Ginette

Eventually we reached Cresap Bay Recreation area and explored it a little. I couldn’t decide from what I saw if it’d be worthwhile coming back there to camp. Once back out on the lake, we ran into Richard and Ginette again, and the five of us paddled back to our put in. The sun came out while we took the boats out, and that was pleasant! I’d say we’ll return to Lake Merwyn sometime!





Early Season Timothy Lake!

19 05 2010

Two weeks ago we had a group headed to camp at the magical Metolius River. Cars all packed up and ready to go. All week, the forecast had been sunny Saturday and Sunday. Friday morning? Wake up, check the forecast: Cloudy, temperature lowered to high of 50, with 15-20 mph winds gusting to 30! Collectively we said forget it! It was really disappointing.

This past weekend the opposite happened. Everything changed for the better. So good, in fact, that I took it upon myself to call the ranger station and inquire as to whether Road 42, the access road, was clear and if  Timothy Lake might be open.

Morning mist on Timothy Lake

The Zig Zag District Ranger said the road is definitely open, and there would be camping. Though opening day is May 21, they were going to try to open a week early if they could. Further, even if the campground is closed, camping would be allowed and free – you’d just have to walk in. With that, I was stoked, and scheduled a Meetup with PaddleNW, my paddling group.

I planned to head out Friday night but during packing disaster happened. a petroleum odor was coming from one of my gear boxes. Opening it, I saw to my horror that one of the tiki torch bottles for Metolius had leaked 1″ of kero all over! Some gear was ruined, and what wasn’t needed a thorough cleaning = heading out that night aborted!

With everything cleaned up, I took off Saturday morning. In Friday’s chaos, I canceled the meetup. But the weather was looking SWEEET. Arriving at Skyline Road, also known as Forest Road 42, there wasn’t much snow around. A few patches at best. All along the 9-mile road there was a bit of snow, but the road was 100% clear. Once at the Timothy Lake area, I passed closed Gone Creek and Oak Fork Campgrounds, and my heart sank a bit. But luck struck! Hoodview was open. And only 35% full. Lots of spots – I got one lakeside.

It was also an opportunity to use my REI Quarter Dome T3 tent for the first time.

New Tent – Big Space, Under 5-lb

It is very strange to set up. It has a system where, once you have them all connected and straight, all three poles are locked together by swivels – you cannot pull the poles out! There is only one right way to do it. Putting it up took twice as long as my other tent. But once done, it does have a lot of room inside, for a 3-person tent. It also weighs less than five pounds.

Fish on a string

Paddling was a treat. It was warm, over 70 degrees, and very slight wind.

A few fishermen tried their luck. One had a whole string of hatchery trout already!

I decided to paddle across the lake to Meditation Point. Meditation Point is a primitive camping area. Access is by backpack or boat only. What’s cool is that these primitive sites have fire rings.

Looking across from Meditation Point

Way nice. I plan on bringing the Meetup group here later in the summer.

The evening brought plenty of bright stars. Very quiet – with the campground not busy.

Next day, it quickly turned sunny. Sooo pretty. I could see the ski areas on Mount Hood, some 13 miles distant. It was closing day at Mount Hood Meadows.

Warning!

I had to use one of summer’s dreaded haunts – the pit toilet. There was some new language in there, reminding me of what is to come. At this early stage, it was darn pleasent in there, though.

I undertook another paddle, to check out the closed campgrounds. I left in the sun, it was just gorgeous. But once arriving at Gone Creek, something weird happened. Rain! The one cloud in the area was arriving over the campground and I was right there. I could see it NOT raining back at Hoodview. So I sprinted as fast as I could to get out of that shower. And once there, I packed up my stuff as fast as I could – fearing another bomblet of rain would soak everything.

Well, all packed up, I bid farewell to the fishermen on shore and headed home. On the road there were places where it had rained a lot! I felt fortunate my spot stayed dry long enough to pack up. I’ll be back in a couple of weeks for Memorial Day!





Rack Envy: Euro Hybrid

13 05 2010

Sometimes I run across something that catches my eye. The other day on Hawthorne it was a Rolls Royce driven by

Brit with Svelte Swedish rack!

a stuck-in-the-1960s, tie dyed hippie with long gray hair and beard. Kind of like a Santa Claus! It all happened too fast to whip out the camera.

Today I almost missed this one! Now that’s a NICE RACK, and so too the perfectly restored Jaguar E-Type!

And I thought my rack was adequate.





Sauvie Island Paddling with OOPS

12 05 2010

This past Saturday I joined OOPS (Oregon Ocean Paddling Society) for a trip around the lakes of Sauvie Island, near Portland, Oregon.

After a frustrating period of stubbornly cold and cloudy weather, the weekend of May 8-9 dawned beautiful. And I was delighted to take advantage.

Looking back at Mount Saint Helens from Sturgeon Lake

OOPS had a scheduled trip around Sturgeon Lake and into the Gilbert River – I was fortunate to grab a last minute spot.

I used to live in Washington, DC and in the summer we’d visit Maryland’s Eastern Shore. Every time I cross the bridge over to Sauvie Island, and drive a mile inward, I’m transported back there. It’s flat, with old hardwoods, cows, fences, farms, and produce stands. All things one would see on the Eastern Shore. Except for the majestic snowy Cascade peaks in the background.

Over the years, I’ve talked to a lot of paddlers who’ve said good things about Sauvie Island. I’ve been there a number of times without discovering anything to say positively about paddling it. This weekend I learned why. The reason is timing. When I’ve visited the island in the past, it’s either been in the summer or hunting season. The little shallow lakes were always full of disgusting green water (due to cow poo) and there were cows everywhere. I remember walking past cow manure to the shore. One time it was so muddy you couldn’t get to the put in. In hunting season, it’s closed altogether.

This time, though, it is mid spring. The water was, well, brown/muddy, but at least it didn’t seem a poop lake. The day was as picture perfect as can be, some trees were flowering, the sky blue, and views of the Cascade peaks as glorious as can be.

We suited up, got through the safety talk and headed out. I was thankful to not be leading a trip for a change! Nice to just paddle along. The total mileage was to be 10 miles – most I’ve done this year on the injured shoulder.

We cruised along through Sturgeon Lake. The water was muddy everywhere, and at one point it was so shallow each stroke left a swirl of mud behind. Then, even shallower, paddle faces were covered with mud after a stroke. Out in the widest part of the lake I could see carp jumping in the distance – when we drew closer, it became evident there were thousands of them, and they bumped up against my boat and sometimes my paddle would smack into them! That’s a first.

All during the day, we saw adult and immature bald eagles. Some were pairs circling in the sky, while others were perched regally on overhanging branches. Used to people, none of them even flinched when approached. We also saw plenty of blue herons, wrens, red winged blackbirds, carp, and turtles.

Turtle Party!

Today’s trip required a small portage. When we arrived at the spot, we paused for lunch. Nesting birds were not all that pleased with us, squawking their disapproval. The put in was a bit tricky as the water deepened quickly right at the shore. Where I put my boat, it was a muddy incline, and just before I was to alight my kayak, I slipped, and my drysuit became mud-caked! Once back on the lake,  we soon rounded a bend and started down the Gilbert River. This stretch is clearer and deeper. It eventually leads to the Multnomah Channel. Along the banks of the Gilbert River picnickers and fishermen were clearly enjoying this fine spring day!





Friday Night Getaway: Smith and Bybee Lakes

10 05 2010

Smith and Bybee Lakes are an urban wildlife enclave

Ready to roll down to the put in

in North Portland, Oregon. Driving up there I thought I was headed into an industrial zone, which I was. The parking area sits right opposite a rail yard. Planes coming and going to Portland Airport glide in the distance.

Yet here is a tidy wildlife preserve tucked in the midst of all this. There is over a thousand acres of preserved wetland. Many species of birds make the place home.

Four of us met and set out onto the lakes. The weather forecast for this night was for sun – and of course they were wrong, as they have been for the past two weeks. We got there and instead of a lovely sunset the sky was full of storm cells. Nevertheless, we lucked out. We didn’t experience any rain, though all around us it looked threatening!

Sarah styling!

Heading out!

We saw five beaver dams. Lots of ospreys. Red winged blackbirds were everywhere in the trees. All in all, it was a really pleasant evening! We were glad to be there.





Weapon of Choice: The Werner Cyprus

7 05 2010

I’ve been paddling Werner and AT carbon paddles for years. One thing I’ve discovered is that my feather angle for the blades has narrowed with time. At one point 45-degree feather seemed right – but these days, I’m using a 30-or 15-degree feather.

At one point in 2009, I had both 45-degree paddles and 30-degree paddles in my quiver. I found both paddle strokes and rolling to be an adjustment with switching paddles – actually annoying. So toward the end of the year I conformed all the fixed feather paddles to 30-degrees.

The other elements are length and paddling technique. Some paddle blades are longer – for low angle paddling, while others are fatter – for high angle style paddling. High angle paddling is associated with power and is 100% used in surf / whitewater. Low angle paddling is more tied to long distance paddling. Theoretically one would get more fatigued using a high angle style on a longer day paddling.

For whatever the reason I seem to naturally prefer high angle paddling style. I’ve owned the Werner Corryvrecken for four years and the low angle Kalliste three years. I seem to feel natural paddling the Corryvrecken, with the caveat that its blades are gigantic, so it makes me a bit more tired. I’ve found my Kalliste frustrating because I just don’t like a low angle style – but also, I’ve found myself having to correct my index in the middle of paddling. Also it’s a 220 cm length, and for some strokes it seems awfully long. I asked some people at local paddle shops and they felt maybe my paddle shaft issues are that it’s a straight shafted paddle – maybe my hand slips as I’m not feeling the index as well as the bent? Not sure.

Enter the Cyprus. It’s a high angle style paddle with a medium blade. I wondered if I’d like this one. I know three people using it.

Werner Cyprus Blade!

So, in a conversation with instructor and 2-star BCU Coach awardee Teresa Webb, she offered my her bent shaft Cyprus to try while she was on vacation.

I took it down to the river to quench my curiosity. Twenty feet from the shore I knew I’d found my friend. This blade and paddling style just feel right – like an extension of my body. Not too over this or that, just right. Not only did it feel better for forward stroke, but in bow rudders and draws the length and blade size were just right – this paddle feels like an extension of my body!

Watch my friend and fellow NY Yankee fan Danny Mongno talk about the Cyprus! Can you detect a little NY accent?

So, I went up to Alder Creek to spend the credits I earned from working the paddle festival! And it was on sale! So a $465 paddle cost me $155! SWEET DEAL! Now I need to find some stickers for it.