Saturday, December 31, 2011

The Last Word of 2011

Oklahoma Sunset. 
Taken on the way back from Kaw Lake Thursday.

We send to each of you and your families the best possible wishes for the coming New Year. May it be as safe as planning, training, and our gear can make it, and filled with as much time on the water as possible. One resolution for the New Year for each of us has to be MORE TIME ON THE WATER. With the end of this year, we thank those who have been faithful in following our blog and cheering us on. It’s all about mutual support and encouragement. We also need to thank our families for supporting our love of the outdoors, particularly if they are not able to paddle along with us.


Today was supposed to be a paddling day, but a frontal passage is scheduled for around noon, which will transform the wind from breezy to screaming. From 1 pm on we should have winds up to 45-50 mph., making it not worth the two hours drive to the nearest water. I’m trying to work the shoulders a bit for the Florida Keys Challenge. In lieu of paddling, I’ll spend as much time as possible today on the Total Gym.

Best wishes to all, jim

Friday, December 30, 2011

Canu Canoe?


I appreciate any gift I receive, but I got a sweatshirt last Christmas with a pattern that I wasn't a great fan of.  It sat in my office for a year, unworn, while I tried to decide how best to handle the dilemma.  I didn't want to hurt the giver's feelings, but I couldn't see myself wearing it.  So now a Christmas later, I decided to alter it a bit.  All I needed was to make up a design and borrow some of my wife's acrylic paints.  And here you have it...a canoehead sweat shirt, a paddling promotion, and all in a couple of my favorite colors.  Win--win--win.

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

A Paddler's Special Card


This was really special, and I think you'll enjoy it as well.  My wife did a handmade Christmas card for me that I know took several days.  This is all hand drawn and painted.  The orb the mermaid is reclining against is an iris pattern made of four different foils that are cut in 32 pieces and laid in a swirling pattern that is quite intricate.  Then she wrote a poem that I think we can all relate to, but which I thought was very special.


He must come back a better man
Beneath the summer bronze and tan,
Who turns his back on city strife
To neighbor with the trees;
He must be stronger for the fight
And see with clearer eye the right,
Who fares beneath the open sky
And welcomes every breeze.

The man who loves all living things
Enough to go where Nature flings
Her glories everywhere about,
And dwells with them awhile.
Must be, when he comes back once more,
A little better than before,
A little surer of his faith
And readier to smile.

He never can be wholly bad
Who seeks the sunshine and is glad
To hear a songbird's melody
Or wade a laughing stream;
Nor worse than when he went away
Will he return at close of day
Who's chummed with happy birds and trees
And taken time to dream.

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

On The Run

Credit: Google

On The Run: An Angler’s Journey Down the Striper Coast
By David DiBenedetto (235pp., Pub. By William Morrow of Harper-Collins Publishers, NY,2003)

I’m not a fisherman. I worked on fishing boats for several years, served as mate, even ran as relief skipper, but working fourteen fishing trips a week doesn’t make one a fisherman any more than driving a car 10,000 miles a year makes one a mechanic. So I even asked myself why I was reading a fishing book. In the end, if I was reading it as a fisherman, I would probably have taken slightly more pleasure from it, but only by a small degree. After all, it’s the water that ties us all together---fisherman, cruiser, sailor, paddler. We all respond in the same way to the wind and waves, the sound of rushing, cascading water, the distinct scent in the air, the soft, pastel sunrises and sometimes gaudy splashes of color in the evening twilight over a broad uninterrupted horizon. There was plenty to identify with and find pleasure in even for a non-fisherman.
 

The author started in the Bay of Fundy between Maine and Nova Scotia. For three months he followed the fall migration of the striped bass or rockfish as it traveled south to the Outer Banks of North Carolina. Part of the story was about the fish, its life, trials for survival, and what makes it unique in its lure for fisherman. The rest of the story was about the fishermen themselves and how they travel thousands of miles, go weeks on end with virtually no sleep, and risk life and limb to pursue a fish that more and more have learned to respect enough that they merely hook and release most of the fish.

Talk to any fisherman, and sooner rather than later the tale will be about the BIG ONE. Well, as of 2003, the big one was 78 lbs. 8 oz. Between sweepstakes winnings and tackle manufacturer endorsements, the fish made it into the Guinness Book of World Records as the world’s most valuable game fish at $3,200 a pound. You would think such a prize would make the fisherman a folk hero. Instead it brought him more ill will, personal attacks, and squabbles over money than he could have ever imagined, and nearly ruined his life. When asked how he would handle it if he caught another one like it or bigger, he said he’d pull it up far enough to take its picture, and cut the line.

Whether you are an avid fisherman, or don’t even like the taste of fish, if you enjoy the water and being around it, you’ll enjoy this book.

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Merry Christmas




From our family to yours, best wishes for a safe, enjoyable, and wonderful Christmas.  This is one of our favorite tree ornaments, and one of the first shots with the new camera.

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Gift of Camp Chow


If I don't do anything else for awhile, I'll be doing some fine dining.  My wife got me 25 freeze-dried meals from Mountain House and Alpine Aire Foods.  Included were granola with milk and blueberries, turkey, chicken, blueberry pancakes, potatoes with cheddar and chives, shrimp alfredo with sundried tomato, and chicken gumbo.  That's some fantastic chow!

By the way, I should add that if you've never used the prepared freeze-dried meals before, note that the pouch says it contains two servings.  Not!  Unless you are a very finicky eater, half a pouch won't do it, especially with the caloric output of paddling.

Friday, December 23, 2011

Florida Keys Challenge


I borrowed this picture from the PaddleFlorida.org site, but when I get back, I should have plenty of my own to share with you.  Plans are being completed for the Paddle Florida Keys Challenge.  This is a 115-mile paddle along the length of the Florida Keys between January 12-22.  There will be camping on a different key each evening with entertainment and a hot meal.  If you'd like to see an overview of the trip, there is one available at http://www.paddleflorida.org/keys12/keys.htm.  I thank Gus Bianchi for bringing the trip to my attention, and this will give me a chance to do a face-to-face with someone I've been corresponding and "Facebooking" with.

Monday, December 19, 2011

From A Wooden Canoe


Credit: eBay books
From A Wooden Canoe:  Reflections on Canoeing, Camping, and Classic Equipment
By Jerry Dennis, Illus. by Glenn Wolff. (204pp, St. Martin’s Press, New York, 1999)

The book is a collection of thirty-one essays the author wrote while a contributing columnist for Canoe and Kayak Magazine. Many of his essays, that appeared in a column tagged “Traditions”, are nostalgic in nature, trying to perpetuate the idyllic mental images of paddling and camping that we tend to carry in our heads. That, of course, is his job. Perpetuating the dream is what all magazines tend to do. So, he admits he has no experience with wood canoes, but selects one for the title and cover photo because they represent all that’s traditional and nostalgic in paddling. In the same vein, he writes about his thermos bottle, his old red and black checked logger’s coat, his admiration of the union suit, camp coffee, duct tape, leather moccasins, the scent of musty canvas, and so on. If you want a heavy dose of what we love about canoeing and camping, this is a short, easily read book to feed your addiction. You’ll also find the same mental comfort in the excellent pen illustrations that accompany every essay.


Thursday, December 15, 2011

Great Bear Rainforest

Credit: Ecosummer Expeditions

This 44 min. video is a must see.  It presents some of the most beautiful photography from British Columbia, and includes the Great White Bear, not an albino, but a white Black Bear.  The work was done by the International League of Conservation Photographers.  The film brings a message, but some wonderful wildlife.  Be sure to play full screen for the greatest enjoyment.

http://vimeo.com/19582018

The Long Road Back



Now I know everyone under age 60 will be going, “Oh, what rubbish.” All I know is, it is what it is, and I am willing to try anything to get back to where I need to be. I’ve been sick for the last two MONTHS, if that answers why I’ve been able to do so much reading. I’ve been too sick to do anything else. I started with a cold. After a week it turned to sinusitis. A week later, that turned to a viral infection. A week later I started feeling much better and needed to escape from the house. That’s when I made the run at trying to make an Arkansas River trip with Scott Richard. Crash and burn! The one night sleeping out in the cold knocked me right back on my heels and started the whole cycle all over again.

I just can’t bounce back like I used to. I can no longer just tough it out, so I decided to make a more gradual recovery through conditioning. If I had made some outdoor trips during the fall, I would have been fine, but I missed the whole season change. People wonder why wild birds that don’t migrate are able to tolerate such extreme conditions during the winter. According to an avian veterinarian, it’s not the temperature or weather as much as sudden changes that do them in. If they have a couple months to acclimate along with the gradual change of the seasons, they can tolerate much greater extremes. I missed that whole conditioning period. Keep putting the food out for the birds, however. Temperature tolerance doesn’t mean they don’t still have problems finding food when everything is dead or covered with ice and snow.

Jean says I’m crazy, but I’m trying to condition myself gradually in much the same way they do. Feeling well once again, I’ve started sleeping every other night in our unheated garage. After a few nights there, I’ll move to the tent. I have a couple trips I’d like to take in the not too distant future that will be impossible if I can’t tolerate being outdoors in cold or bad weather. Besides outdoor acclimation, it gives me the advantage of being able to experiment more with alternative sleeping arrangements with bags, base layers, pillows, etc. Yup, I’m at that age when I can’t survive without a good pillow. Most agree that you can survive almost anything if you can still get quality sleep.

It also just offers the opportunity of being just a few feet closer to nature. Three nights ago a huge owl moved tree to tree as it serenaded me through the night. Last night the noise of a light rain made me enjoy sliding a bit deeper in the bag as I was lulled to sleep. Crazy or not, it’s still nice to get out of the artificial environment of the house.

Monday, December 12, 2011

Great Heart is Five Stars

Illus. Credit: All About Canoes


Great Heart-The History of a Labrador Adventureby James West Davidson and John Rugge (359pp., pub. 1988 by Viking Penguin, Inc., New York)


There are two chapter titles that really describe this book’s story. The prologue is “The Last Blank Spot on the Map of North America,” and Chapter 11 is “Up Against It For Sure.”

It was 1903, and while a few trappers and Native Americans had tried to trap bits of the interior, Labrador’s interior was mostly unknown. If you could find an Indian to draw you a map, what was available just represented dotted lines giving vague ideas of a couple lakes and rivers. Leonidas Hubbard, Dillon Wallace, and George Elson endeavored to make a trip through Northeastern Labrador from Rigolet to George River Post at Ungava Bay. “Up Against It For Sure” is the best way to describe the entire trip. Their first real goal was Michikamau Lake, but they were suffering from starvation by the time they reached the lake, and the decision was made to turn back as heavy snow and temperatures fell. Before it was over they had eaten some unimaginable stuff to stay alive. They put one spoonful of flour in a pan of water to make soup for three. They found a caribou skeleton and boiled the maggot covered hooves in water to make soup and cut the desiccated hide into strips and boiled it until they could chew it. They staggered and fell while trying to portage, forded streams in ice water as chunks of ice tried to knock them off their feet. If you want to know how far the human body can go, here’s a story that’s hard to put down. It’s probably one of the most human stories I’ve ever read. Hubbard didn’t make it back. Wallace later returned to bring his body out by sled and transport it to Haverstraw, NY, where he was laid to rest on the west bank of the Hudson River.


Photo by Cindy (?)  Click to enlarge.

Mina, his wife, returned to Labrador and made the trip Leon had planned, later writing a book and going on the lecture tour. She later moved to England and married, but had Leon disinterred and moved to England to be near her, while placing a bronze plaque at his grave site. Wallace also returned to make the trip that had failed. He later became involved with youth, wrote 26 adventure books aimed at young readers, and was instrumental in the establishment of the Boy Scouts of America. You really need to read this book if you like to canoe and camp in the wilderness.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

National Paddlers' List

http://www.kayakandcanoeguidebooks.com/kayakclubs.htm

Janice Green posted this on facebook, and I thought you might like to retain it as a permanent resource.  It is a national listing of paddling clubs by state.  Paddling.net has a club list under 'community', but unless the city or state name is part of the club's name, there's no way to ascertain its location without doing an internet search on each one, so this is a nice improvement.  This is especially important if you're traveling and want to hook up with some paddlers in an area you are visiting or traveling through.  Our thanks to Janice for this.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Alaska Paddle

The first address I put up wasn't a direct link.  This one should be.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8dDAGu96BAw

This is a long video (2 hrs. 37 min.) of an Alaska trip from Vancouver north.  The audio is not always great, but it's a wonderful account and fantastic scenery.  Enjoy!

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Nahanni Journals

Illustration courtesy Michigan State University


Nahanni Journals:  1927-1929 Journals, by Raymond M. Patterson (edited by Richard C. Davis, 2008, Pub. by Univ. of Alberta Press, Edmonton, Alberta, Canada, 204pp.)

In his forward, Justin Trudeau writes, “In this rapidly urbanizing civilization, we have lost our balance. Our current environmental crisis stems from the fact that we act as if we are not a part of the world, but somehow outside of it. …Our food comes from supermarkets, our water from taps, and our electricity from power lines. As our weather grows more extreme, we watch from within our comfortable climate-controlled homes and shake our heads, and promise ourselves that we’ll definitely make an effort to try to recycle a little bit more.” And that’s our tie to nature. A plastic world, in which we live a plastic life, and hope we can become closer to nature by recycling more plastic.


Unlike most of us, Patterson determined to escape from his office cubicle. “Indeed, much of our pleasure in learning about Patterson’s Nahanni travels grows out of a perhaps unconscious admiration for a man who succeeds at breaking the fetters that we still allow to encumber us.“ He grew up in a comfortable home, but always yearned for the wild, untamed nature to be found in the wilderness and mountains. He graduated from Oxford University, and found himself profitably employed by the Bank of England in London. The unquenchable need for a bolder and more elemental life became more and more pressing until a summer day in 1923. Pushing back from his desk, and went to his employer to give his notice.

At the age of 26, he bought 320 acres of scrub land in the Peace River area of Northwestern Alberta. To meet the obligations of homesteading, he first had to clear the land and build a cabin to satisfy his claim. The lure of the barely mapped and untamed regions of the Northwest Territories were still drawing him though, even from his remote homestead, so by the spring of 1927 he headed up the South Nahanni River to the 295-ft. Virginia Falls. In all, his trip would occupy him for 18-months,and take him 2,888 miles.

Patterson was not an experienced canoeist, but an advocate of the learn-as-you-do school. He was content with skill coming from sheer grit and determination. He describes portaging thus: “the struggle to get the canoe up on to my head was extensive, the tracks on the sands of the bay look as if a circus had come in town. I had never done it before---there is a trick to lifting it that I had been told and had forgotten, so I had to find it out, with much cursing, for myself.” He begins to find peace with this form of education as he goes along. “I was almost disheartened, but the Nahanni is a fine river for building character…it develops in one an appalling obstinacy.”

Patterson’s journal writing satisfied two needs. As an educated man he simply took pleasure in words, whether reading the books he carried or being able to share his experiences through his narrative. The journals also helped guard him from loneliness. He knew his story would eventually be shared with his mother and his fiancĂ©e. The writing made him feel he was speaking directly to them. Those familiar with Bill Mason’s Waterwalker will immediately recognize this dichotomy. They both enjoyed the adventure, the absence of constraint, the lack of any schedule or deadline, the sense of being on one’s own and one with nature rather than a mere spectator of it, but they were alone. To stave off loneliness, they both needed to feel they were sharing their experience with those they cared for. Whether on a flat rock ledge next to the moving water or next to a fire as the sun set, they dedicated time to trying to keep their loved-ones close to them by creating something they could take back and share---Mason by his film and painting, and Patterson by his written description of his day’s struggles and experiences. A third justification for the journals was their use in later writing The Dangerous River. There are some differences between the journal account and that in the book. The book is a more readable and polished narrative, but the journals are more honest.

Friday, December 2, 2011

A Picture's Worth a Thousand Words

A blog is of little value without good illustrations to accompany the stories, so I needed a camera. Paddling brings you into some beautiful, but also some very tough and demanding environments---water, sand, mud, and the likelihood of getting dropped or knocked about among your other gear. Paddling.net has good recommendations on a number of different types of cameras. Not all are intended to survive going swimming with you, but that is an important consideration in a canoe or kayak. I initially decided on the Olympus Stylus 1030-SW. It is waterproof, dustproof, shockproof, freezeproof, and lifeproof. They even had a video of the camera being driven over by the wheels a truck, and then using it to take pictures.


It is 10.1 mega pixels, auto or manual operation, outstanding macro capability, zoom lens, through the lens exposure compensation, and a long list of other capabilities. For a camera that is waterproof, and small enough to slip in the pocket of your PFD and thus always at the ready, it’s hard to beat. I’ve used it a couple years now, and find no fault with its abilities, except on one count. It is not intended to compete with a long-lens camera, and therefore leaves you without the ability to capture most wildlife.
I’ve had a few people compliment some of my pictures and encourage me to expand my capability. They’re undoubtedly being most gracious, but I’ve taken the encouragement to heart. The next problem would be the most appropriate selection of gear to meet my needs. I’d lose the waterproof advantage, but wanted to gain the advantages of SLR (single lens reflex) ability to format, focus, and meter directly through the lens. For the most part, what you see is what you get, in other words. I lacked the expertise to know what camera and lens would give me good wildlife capability, especially while taking pictures from the uncertain platform of a canoe. While searching links at Paddling.net, I found John Van Den Brandt, of Wild Wind Images.


He’s a professional photographer, and one of his specialties is wildlife photography from a canoe. I didn’t know if he would take the time to entertain my inquiry, but he was both cordial and supportive. He recommended a Canon 60D or a Canon Rebel, with a 300-mm F4 IS (image stabilization) down to a lens of 220-mm. with IS. He also recommended B&H Photo as a very reliable outlet that is used by many professionals. I wanted to add zoom capability, so I got the Canon EOS 60D digital SLR with a Sigma 18-250-mm IS (Sigma calls it OS for object stabilization) with auto-focus ability. Then comes the next challenge. I don’t remember his exact words, but Mr. Van Den Brandt pointed out ‘it’s not the wand that makes the magic, but how the magician wields the wand.’ So, I have some work to do. I thank him sincerely for his guidance, and offer it here for anyone else that may benefit from it.


I’d also like to recommend you check John Van Den Brandt’s website, Wild Wind Images. You’ll enjoy the outstanding pictures, and they’re available for purchase. He also has a 2012 calendar available with some wonderful images that would make great Christmas presents. If you enjoy wildlife photography, go to http://www.wildwindimages.com/

For B&H, check
http://www.bhphotovideo.com/

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Welcome Aboard Port Canaveral


1,436 miles from Port Canaveral!

We’ve had another person sign on to follow the Log of Ibi blog. Welcome aboard. I’d like to express my appreciation to all who have been so devoted as to follow Ibi’s blog through the lean times when there hasn’t been much to write about---or at least not much to write about that I felt anyone else would find interesting. I think the newest member of the family is from Cape Canaveral, Florida. That was always one of my favorite ports when I was doing vessel deliveries. It is an all-weather port, and until the turning basin filled with marinas, it was a great place to pull in and drop the hook for some sleep while running up and down the coast, or coming in from offshore. One little anecdote is from a trip taking a trawler from New York to Puerto Rico. I was approaching the channel entrance after making the loop around the Canaveral missile range restricted area. I heard, then saw a submarine breaking the surface a quarter mile off my port quarter (over my left shoulder). There’s a sub base just inside the port entrance, and my immediate reaction was, “Great! He’ll get in the channel and tie things up for half an hour while tugs join him and jostle him into the base.” I reached for the throttles and nudged them forward, determined to get in ahead of him. I was wasting my time. The skipper flew in there and right to his berth like he was piloting a little Boston Whaler. I was impressed. The speed and maneuverability was mind boggling.

On another occasion, we were anchored in there when the menhaden were in there in the millions. And these weren’t the little bunker fish you generally think of; these were all around a
foot long. They were leaping from the water in such numbers that the splashing was making sleep difficult. They had the cat all excited, since a couple had already landed on deck, and one had come to rest in the dinghy tied off the stern. We were sleeping with the forward hatch open, and I commented to Jean, “You know, it’s only a matter of time until one of those come down the hatch and land in bed with us.” Splat! Then there was a lot of scurrying to corral the thing before the whole bed was covered with slime and scales. Sometimes she accuses me of making things happen just to prove a point. Anyhow, Peter, thanks for joining us.