Thursday, March 31, 2016

Reducing Cancer Risks and Saving the Budget

Credit: Banana Boat
While I do use this product , it is here to illustrate
the post, and should not be interpreted as an endorsement.

At the beginning you may jump to three conclusions, and they would all be incorrect.  The assumptions would be that this is not a paddling article, that this just involves women, and it must be some type of advertisement.  Again, ‘NO’ on all three, so please read to the end.  It could save you thousands of dollars and also reduce your likelihood of suffering pre-mature aging or cancer.

On the CBS morning program for March 30, they did a very good investigative piece on skin care and cosmetics.  The Senate is considering a bill designed to increase regulation of the ingredients that go into cosmetics.  These regulations have not be updated or revised since the 1930’s, which has been much to the advantage of the industry’s $60-billion annual income.  There are over 60,000 ingredients that go into cosmetic creams for blemish removal, smoothing, wrinkle remover, eye cream, moisturizer, anti-aging cream, and much, much more.  Many of these ingredients are a health hazard in themselves, attacking growth and reproductive hormones, and some are even cancer causing.  On the cost side of the issue, women on average use twelve cosmetic products each day containing 168 unregulated ingredients.  Men use on average six products containing 85 unregulated ingredients.  Not only are the ingredients unregulated, but so are the claims about what they will accomplish for the user, and what the costs of the products should be.  For example, they showed two containers holding the same product.  One was a tube for $10, and the other was the same product put in a small jar for $170.  Another related issue was using the same product for multiple applications, such as a cream that is used as a moisturizer, or which is put into very small tubes with greatly inflated prices and sold as an eye cream.

For the paddler, fisherman, or anyone that spends time outside, time and the sun are the two greatest elements that attack and age the skin, the body’s most important defense system, and the one everyone sees.  To combat these problems, many people turn to anti-aging cosmetics.  Unfortunately, science has never found anything that stops or reverses the aging process.  Plus, not only does the sun try to give us cancer, but the products we use to supposedly reverse the clock may also introduce dangerous or cancer-causing chemicals into our bodies. 

However, all is not lost.  Now that you’ve scratched all the cosmetics counters off your shopping list and saved thousands of dollars from trying to buy false hope or a magic potion, the good news is that there are two products that do work, and those are the only two you need.  “The most biologically active anti-aging products on the market today, bar none, are moisturizers and sunscreen, and they are not expensive.”  For men, it has been said many times that the first thing a man should reach for after shaving is sunscreen.  While they don’t reverse the clock, moisturizers and sunscreen both help the skin, slow the effects of time and sun, and keeping the skin healthier.  It is important to remember that both are temporary, and so should be used repeatedly.  You also don’t need to buy products with French names that sell for $105 and make wild claims.  Inexpensive or reasonably priced over-the-counter products are just as effective as the expensive products found in department stores and salons, and can be found at the local drug store.   Especially for those spending the day outdoors, don’t start your day or leave home without them.   

Sunday, March 27, 2016

What To Do in a Gale

So, what’s a paddler supposed to do when it’s blowing 55-60 miles per hour, or when it is blowing dirt at 25-40 mph for day after day, week after week after week?  Walking would be great except you stagger around in the gusts like a drunk.  I did ride the bike three miles to the store when it was blowing 55.  That was exciting, and once was enough of that.  On the downwind leg I didn’t peddle once, but more than made up for it in first gear on the way back.  There’s also planning trips, studying maps and Google Earth, and reading.  But, I’ve lately added a project for the grandkids---making layered animals.  When I sent one goat to the youngest granddaughter, her older sister swiped it and started sleeping with it.  That’s cute, but it was obvious I’d have to make more and spread them around to ward off sibling rivalry.  I didn’t know if they would really want them, especially the older ones, thinking that perhaps they were too old to enjoy them.  Instead, I ended up with standing orders, with even a couple for adults.

The plans come from The Winfield Collection (, with plans for all the animals in several different sizes.  There are other plans for a couple thousand other things for those really needing something to do.  If you like birdhouses, those are great.  This set of plans has full-sized drawings for 84 different animals.  I decided to do all 14 animals on the first sheet at once.  These include, so far, a goat, reindeer, turkey, elephant, rabbit, a saddled horse, cow, panda, pig, sheep, raccoon, goose, bloodhound, and a cat.   Over the last three weeks, I’ve drawn and cut out 293 wood animal pieces.  They are now bagged in gallon storage bags to keep the pieces together, and I can next shape, sand, assemble, and paint them, maybe getting out one animal for each of four grandkids each month.  We will see how that goes, because when the foul weather stops, I’m going paddling, kids.  Especially once my sail gets here, I plan on getting out in some rougher conditions to take full advantage of the sailing opportunities.

Added:  On the subject of gales and adverse wind, I received this precise breakdown of the Everglades Challenge results from Patrick Forrester:
When you count all kayaks including the Hobies there were 59 kayak entries in the 2016 EC. Only 19 of them finished.  When you count single conventional (not including the hobies) kayaks and decked canoes and subtract the tandem conventional kayaks only 13 out of 35 paddlers finished.  Tandem conventional kayaks did the best at 2 out of 4 finishing.  0 of the 3 single Hobie Adventure Islands finished.  3 of the 16 tandem Hobie Adventure Islands finished.  In the end the big head winds were just too much. If it could have only been a favorable wind there would have been a lot more finishes.

Saturday, March 26, 2016

In the Wake of Lewis and Clark

Credit: Bruce Nelson's start from Camp Dubois

Two days ago (March 24), Bruce Nelson departed Camp Dubois at the junction of the Mississippi and Missouri Rivers, near St. Louis, with Lewis and Clark’s journal in hand.  He will follow their roughly 2,000 mile journey up the Missouri River, across the Rocky Mountains, and to the Pacific.  To follow the adventure, click ‘Bruce Nelson’s L&C Trail’ in the right margin under Favorite Links. 

Thursday, March 24, 2016

Yet Another Falcon Sailor

I spoke just last night with Patrick Forrester, of Falcon Sails, who had called to say my sail should be done by the weekend.  I’m slow to jump into such purchases, but I’ve been watching the Falcon Sails videos, reviews, and events’ results for a long time, and have yet to see any negative feedback on their performance or in dealings with the sailmaker. 

Credit: Patrick Forrester
Joe Tousignant in this year's Everglades Challenge with a Falcon
Sail on a Clipper Canoe. 

There are two sizes, the 1-square meter and 1.3-square meter sails.  Watertribe limits the Class I entrants to the 1-meter sail.  The sail was designed and built specifically for the Florida Watertribe Everglades Challenge, a brutal 300-mile race held each year from Tampa Bay to Key Largo, in the Florida Keys.  The round-the-clock, up to 8-day endurance race is as good a testing ground for all gear as any to be found anywhere, and the Falcon Sail, since its first Everglades Challenge in 2013, has yet to experience its first failure.  There were three Falcon Sails in the Challenge that year, with two in Class I.  Joe Tousignant, even though he chose a longer route, won first in Class.  In 2014, there were five Falcon Sails in Class I, and they took 3 of the top 4 finish positions.  In 2015, there were 16 Falcon sailors, but the event was ordered stopped by the Coast Guard within hours of its start due to extreme weather.  This year, for the second year in a row, there were more Falcon Sails in the Challenge than sails from any other manufacturer, and for these hardcore paddlers who are always looking for an edge, that says a lot.   Florida weather again brutalized the fleet with strong headwinds, resulting in 13 DNF’s in Class I, and reported about 63% DNF's out of the roughly 80 starters.  Joe Tousignant finished behind another Falcon Sail boat, a tandem-paddled Kruger canoe.

This is a Snip from the Falcon Sails site.  It is an interactive
page that enables you to design your own sail and see what
it will look like.  Ibi's deck is yellow, but also for the safety that
comes with high visibility on the water, I chose two fluorescent
colors, yellow and hot pink.

Falcons Sails have been sent around the world, and have appeared on virtually any type of canoe or kayak imaginable.  The best way to get an appreciation of how they perform is to go to the Falcon Sails site.  Be sure to watch the videos there, and several others can be found by searching Falcon Sails on You Tube.  By using the cues at the top of their home page, you can also check out the large collection of photographs.  I’m hoping the best is yet to come when I get my sail, install it, and can offer some personal pictures and experiences.  Until then, see:

Tuesday, March 22, 2016

Paddling Clinic

Granddaughters Maggie and Lucie 

 We finally had the chance to get both granddaughters with us during their spring break.  To get them out on the water, all we needed was a decent weather day.  Like my paddle on 5 March, with the water still cold, we needed a paddle that would keep us close to shore and in shallow water.  With the wind still from the SE, I had identical conditions from that previous day trip, so another run down the shore through the rushes was in order.

The girls had no real experience paddling.  They had been to a church camp a couple years ago, but “training” amounted to little more than splashing about and wetting each other, so we started from the beginning.  I told them I would teach them six paddle strokes, and we started with a dry practice in the backyard.  I threw in a little background about never lying a paddle on the ground, never loading or stepping into a canoe until it is fully waterborne, the different types of hull materials and their advantages/disadvantage, the bowman setting the cadence, the stern paddler keeping time with the bow paddler and calling a ‘hut’ to switch sides, etc.   We had lunch, and with two canoes on the Dodge Ram, headed for the lake.

We started out from the Longdale ramp and again headed south along the shore.  In the first 45-minutes, we managed to make good only two-tenths of a mile, and a good bit of that was in circles.  It was chaos.  Like most tween sisters, the bickering and yelling was making me feel sorry for the emotional well-being of area wildlife and birds.  “You’re supposed to turn your thumb down---DOWN.”  “Stop telling me what to do.”  “No, you’re going the wrong way.  Over there, go over there.”  “What do you think I’m doing?  Why aren’t you paddling?  Paddle!”  “Shut up!  I am paddling.”  “No, you’re not.”  “I am so.”

By the end of their outing, success.

Finally, I called them into a spot where the water was shallow, and they were mostly surrounded by rushes that shielded them from some of the wind.  I told them to use their strokes to practice keeping the boat stationary and straight.  I was surprised how quickly they caught onto the use of the pry and draw, and they began to get control of the canoe, so we started on down the shore.  The idea of control over just moving forward made the difference, and they began to settle in.  Quickly they started picking their own route and made a couple rest stops on sandy spots along the shore.  They made it two-and-a-half miles to the dam and Blackjack swim beach, where I suspected they would be ready for another rest break.  Instead, they opted to come about and head straight back non-stop.  Five miles for their first real paddle was good.

The transition was fun to watch.  They were going straight, picking their own route through the shoals and obstructions, and paddling in unison.  I could hear them counting “1-2-3-4-5-6-hut” as they switched.  Before long, they were singing, and at times, I was busting my gut to keep up.  It was wonderful to see.  The next day we were having Oklahoma gales again, so we took them to the Cherokee Strip Museum in Alva, OK.  They wanted to paddle again the following day, but after much consideration, I called it off.  A cold front had moved through with a rapid drop in temperatures.  The temperature was barely going to break 50-degrees for a high.  If they got wet, even if they were close to shore and could wade out of the water, the risk of hypothermia seemed too great in the time they would need to change into the dry clothes they had carried.  It was decided to err on the side of safety.

When their Dad picked them up, they both told me they wanted to go canoeing again.  They later told their father the best time they had had on spring break was canoeing with me.  What sweeter words could a canoeing grandfather hope to hear?

Sunday, March 20, 2016

Northern Forest Canoe Trail

Credit: Google Images
Well, it’s official.   I had entered a raffle at Canoecopia for a free membership with Northern Forest Canoe Trail.  I didn’t win.   That, of course, is not a surprise.  Had I won, that would have been huge, because I was really interested in the trail and paddling it.  Four people won memberships, and I wonder how many of them will actually through-paddle the trail.  There are two advantages of membership.  The first is that it supports the paddling trail and helps to spread the interest for people actually camping and paddling the trail.  The second is the 15% discount on the cost of the trail guide and maps. 

So, being a big loser, I went onto their site and bought my own membership.  So there!  And, I ordered the guide and complete 13-map set for paddling the trail.  While I was at the NFCT booth, I also met Katina Daanen, and purchased her 2nd Ed. NFCT Through-Paddler's Companion, a guide she wrote after her 2011 through-paddle of the trail.  The upside, of course, is paddling the trail can’t help but make me a winner.  How could anyone spend one or two months in such beautiful country without feeling like a winner?  One of our fondest memories from early in our marriage was a winter camping trip on Eighth Lake, which the paddling trail goes right through.  We came close to being shot by a couple poachers spotlighting deer, but it was still a wonderful time in our lives.  The country is pristine, beautiful, and the trail offers the widest possible variety of paddling experiences and challenges from upstream, downstream, flatwater to class IV, easy reprovisioning, isolation when you want it, or friendly, quaint villages when you don’t feel like being alone.  It is 740 miles long, follows the oldest hunting and trade trails in the country that were used by Native Americans, fur trappers, voyageurs, etc.  It takes the paddler through 22 rivers and streams, 58 ponds and lakes, over 63 portages (ouch!) totaling 55 miles, over beaver dams, through bug swarms, through three national wildlife refuges, 45 towns and villages, spans four states plus a crossing into Canada and back, and allows for camping or lodging about every 15 miles in the beautiful Adirondacks and Northern New England.  The following link will take you to the blog section of the Northern Forest Canoe Trail, where you can read posts from the through-paddlers that have actually done the trip.  Enjoy the beautiful photographs they share.  Share the experiences.  Maybe you too will be moved to make the trip.  See

Friday, March 18, 2016

Canoecopia - 2

The other side of the expo draws as many people as the trade show does.  Rutabaga amasses a long list of speakers that offer programs each day from when the doors open until everyone staggers tiredly out the doors at the end of the day.  The speakers include those that have completed impressive expeditions and are there to show their films and slides while answering questions about what the experience was really like and how it was accomplished.  Other speakers explain how to pick a boat, outfit it, catch a fish, pack, plan menus and cook a meal, introduce your kids or dog to paddling, get fit and stay that way, experience birds and wildlife and photograph them, navigate, explore new areas, become a happy camper, and everything you need to know from beginner to expert.

If Kevin Callan is on the schedule, he's a must see.  He's not only a
fountain of information and inspiration, but he's as entertaining as any
Vegas show.  I was sitting by the projector when he needed to come back
for some adjustments, and as soon as he saw me swing around with the camera,
he flashed his iconic thumbs-up.  If you ever see a guy that's always upbeat
and fun to be around, you've probably just bumped into "The Happy Camper"

If you should plan to go next year and order the show guide and colored wristbands, which serve as your entry tickets, early enough, both arrive in the mail.  If you wait until the last minute, the 84-page guide can be printed off the Canoecopia web page pdf.  Parking at the Alliant Energy Center is $7.00 a day unless you purchase the 3-day parking pass.  That doesn’t save much money, a dollar-and-a-half, but it saves a lot of time each day sitting in line to get through the gates.  Lodging abounds in the area, but the longer you wait to make your travel plans, the further you will be commuting each day to and from the exhibition.

No, I wasn't on this trip with Kevin and Andy, his equally upbeat
camping partner.  I just shot this picture of the screen during Kevin's
presentation.  These two met by accident, but make the perfect duo
by all appearances.  Photo credit: Kevin Callan

Was it worth the 1,700 mile road trip?  Yes.  Everyone should make the trip at least once even if you think of it as a pilgrimage.  For us, the 3-day show was a 6-day round trip, but it was a great experience.  The show is in the middle of the heart of paddling country for both Americans and Canadians.  Those that live close are fortunate, but I did see one person whining that they didn’t know if they’d make the trip since it was four hours away.  Wow!

Credit: Wikipedia
On several occasions while watching a Callan video, Jean and I have
talked about how much Andy looks like Red Skelton.  (If you're young
enough you don't know who Red Skelton was, you missed out on a lot. 
You should talk to your parents about that.)  His appearance, expressions,
mannerisms, and great sense of humor would have you thinking he's 
Skelton's reincarnation or his son.  So, we had to chuckle when we saw
Callan labeling him as Andy, alias, Red Skelton.

For a final word that may be of interest, Jean wanted to know how a paddling outfitter came to be named after an obscure turnip.  Here’s the story.  “Back in 1974, the original owner of Rutabaga and his friends would play Frank Zappa and the Mothers of Invention’s album, 'Absolutely Free,' on repeat.  There is one song called “Call Any Vegetable,” and at one point in the song there is a repeated chant of “Rutabaga.”  The neighbors used to call them the Rutabaga kids, and that’s what they named their business.  We hold with the legacy today, but we don’t play too much Frank Zappa over the stereo anymore.”  To plan your trip, see

Wednesday, March 16, 2016


We’ve been talking for three years about making the trip to Canoecopia.  We always enjoyed the trade shows.  Being from the Chesapeake, we went to the Annapolis Sailboat Show for decades.  We were even there when they rolled out the new Cruising World Magazine, and we became charter subscribers.  Now Cruising World is arguably the standard in the sailing world.  We also got cornered in a pub one evening by a recruiter/fundraiser for the Irish Republican Liberation Army, who was seeking funds for guns.  The more he drank, the scarier the stories and threats became.  We weren’t looking for that level of excitement on this trip, but the trade shows are always fun, and living in the desert, we have missed the crowds of like-minded people.

For those of you not familiar with Canoecopia, it is an annual paddling industry show that is held each March in Madison, WI.  What is promoted as the world’s largest paddlesports expo in the world is organized and sponsored by Rutabaga Paddlesports.  At least 20,000 paddlers, campers, fishermen, and photographers attend every year during the three-day event.  There are basically two sides to the expo.
The greatest thing about the shows is you get one-on-one contact
with the staff and instructors of any supplier, manufacturer, or
outfitter.  Here, we spoke with staff and instructors from  Camp
Manito-wish.  If you wish to send your child to an established program,
you get to have all your concerns addressed by the people actually working
with your child.  This camp, by the YMCA, in Boulder Junction, WI,
has been in operation since 1947.

This was the new Chesapeake Light Craft tear-drop camper.  It was
a big draw, and I had to run in early Sunday morning to get a picture
when people weren't crawling all over and in and out.  It really was nice.

The trade side of the show is where booths are manned by the experts from every canoe, kayak, SUP, camping gear, boat rack, sports apparel, paddle maker, and fishing gear manufacturer you can name.  This gives you the chance to be educated about and try on drysuits, paddles, and boats that you may have previously only seen pictures of, and compare them side-by-side.  There are also well known authors that you can meet, talk with, and even get a book signed by.  There are unusual things to see like the log canoe that paddled around Lake Michigan, or the newly designed and built teardrop trailer built by Chesapeake Light Craft.  You can meet any number of guides and outfitters that will introduce you to their paddling or fishing areas, or you can meet representatives from any number of national and state parks, paddling trails, like the Northern Forest Canoe Trail, scouting, paddling instruction, paddling clubs, and gosh, just name it.  You can also meet and discuss concerns with people working to protect our lands and waters from those like Friends of the Boundary Waters, the Apostle Islands, the Wisconsin River, Florida waters, and the Sierra Club.  For the first-timer, walking through the doors to the exhibition hall is a bit intimidating and overwhelming, but with the map of the hall and show guide in hand, it doesn’t take long to settle in.

Saturday, March 5, 2016

A Nice Paddle Day

Can you believe I took off without the camera?  So, I had to pull
a file picture of Ibi from the 2012 River Rumble on the Missouri.

The winds have been horrendous, torturous, and incessant for the last week.  Gusts have been hitting 45-50 mph, and that is without storm activity.  Today was supposed to be better, before we get back to gale force again tomorrow.  The winds were forecast to be low until mid-afternoon, and would be out of the east all day, veering from NE to E to SE.  If I stayed on the eastern shore of the lake, I’d be in the lee of the land.

First things first, however.  This morning was the start of the WaterTribe Everglades Challenge.  They pushed off from Fort DeSoto State Park, on the north shore of Tampa Bay, at 8 a.m., Eastern, for the 300 mile paddle to Key Largo.  I watched them all get started, and will now follow Class 1, which allows the use of a one-square-meter sail with no outriggers or dagger boards, and includes a couple friends who are participating.

I launched from the Longdale ramp.  This campground has been unusable for about eight years due to the severe draught.  Since there has been no maintenance going on, I found a bumper crop of sandburs.  I ended up with them everywhere, including inside my dry suit, so I felt like I was sitting on a mound of fire ants all day.   The draught had withdrawn water from the east shore a considerable distance, which allowed the growth of brush and trees in the fertile dry lake bottom.  With water levels back up, I could now paddle through a labyrinth of foliage, which was providing good habitat for ducks.  I was able to evade a good bit of the wind and experience a whole new and interesting environment.  I paddled to the south end of the lake and pulled out.  The cabled string of big orange floats that mark the swim area had been sitting in a dry field of weeds for much too long, and it was nice to see them floating again.  I sat on one above the shoreline, and enjoyed lunch as I watched water lapping against Ibi nearby.  

With lunch over, I got back on the water, turned Ibi to face downwind and into more open water, and popped the WindPaddle Cruiser sail.  We took off.  I reached 5.6 mph, which is the fastest I’ve ever gotten the canoe going.  The wind wasn’t steady, however, and gusts kept backing more forward.  It both drove me further offshore, and as I was already sailing on the edge of trying to hold a beam reach, backed the sail and blew it over my head.  The Cruiser is 1.6 sq. meter.  In a canoe, that’s big, and when it backwinds and flops over my head, I find myself sitting inside a big yellow tent as the wind, now gusting to near 20 mph, is trying to blow me sideways toward open water.  A couple times it got a bit exciting.  It would have been really nice if I could have kept the wind behind me, but it was backing more.  I finally had to furl the sail and just enjoy the paddle.  By gosh, spring is coming.  I can feel it.

When I got home, I checked in again with the WaterTribe.  In eight hours, Class 1 had traveled 40-45 miles down the Florida coast.  That blows my mind.  Canoe or kayak either one, that’s moving.  If you want to watch the track, which is updated several times an hour, check the site at:  Be quick, or this thing will be over.  To qualify with a finish time, they have to have completed the 300 miles in eight days.