Friday, November 28, 2008

Chignecto Lessons

Watching This Is The Sea - 4, Justine's latest DVD about kayaking in various parts of the world, an amateur videographer like myself can learn a variety of things which make a video more interesting and exciting to watch. Take note, for example, of the way she mixes her images, going back and forth to the kayak, to the shore, from one boat to another, and to a narrator, often herself. These clips are mixed in a way to increase the appeal of the story and provide the viewer with a variety of perspectives all of which add up to that "I was there" feeling.

Compare her work with my video of paddling Cape Chignecto's Three Sisters formation. I simply filmed as I paddled through the area. It does give an idea of what it's like to be there, but it's all very one-dimensional and flat. There's little feeling of actually being excited to be there.

One of the things I could do would be to get on shore and film from another view-point. This would add to the 'feeling' and give the viewer that additional perspective which is lacking in my video. I found a great guide which would help anyone wanting to see the Sisters from onshore. It's the Cape Chignecto guidebook written by David Hamilton. Once again, doing some pre-trip research helps to make the paddling trip - and the video record - so much more satisfactory!

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Trip Planning & Research

While in Montreal this week I bought a copy of Kas Stone's latest book, Paddling and Hiking The Georgian Bay Coast. This book takes the reader around the bay suggesting paddling and hiking routes and most importantly, gives some ideas about what there is to see en route. I'm the kind of paddler who plans trips to see places not easily visited in any other way. The fact that I enjoy paddling and camping along the way is an added bonus.

Imagine my horror when I discovered on reading Stone's account of the trip around Philip Edward Island that I had paddled right past a pre-historic pictograph in Collin's Inlet! It wasn't the fact that it was raining, but my sloppy research that led to this omission. Of course, there is a limit to how detailed one's pre-trip research can be, but it also points out that simply having the charts or the GPS way points is to err on the opposite side. Having access to guide books and previous accounts can significantly add to the enjoyment and satisfaction of a paddling trip.

I don't own that many guide books, but this is about to change. I hate discovering that I passed something because I didn't know about it. Of course, now I can happily redo the trip with the goal of finding that pictograph...

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Beer, Pizza, Kayaks!

I almost chickened out when I read the weather forecast: high winds, rain and snow. Not the kind of conditions for making the 150 km trek into Montreal, but the prospect of seeing friends, eating excellent pizza, sipping micro-brewed beer and having my first opportunity to see Justine's TITS-4 video, was too strong a draw. It turned out to be over-forecasted. A bit of wind, some rain and hardly any snow.

There's no need to repeat what every review of Justine's latest video offering has already said. In my opinion, she only gets better and better. The images, the stories and the intimacy of the viewer experience is wonderful. In fact, even more than in any of the previous videos in this series, I really felt I was alongside for the adventure. Perhaps it's because I had the chance to meet Justine last summer in Toronto, but more likely because her ability to tell a video story keeps jumping up a few notches with every DVD she produces. There's a lot of material in these videos for those of us who take videos on the water to learn from a real master.

My thanks to the organizers of the Soirées Aventures for hosting this showing!

Monday, November 24, 2008

Canada's Information Highway

Kayaking along close to the shore allows a person the chance to chat with people who aren't paddling. A while ago I got engaged with a couple about, among other things, internet access here in Canada, one of my pet rants. They told the story of their neighbour who wanted cable TV back when it started to become available in our area only to be told it would be far too expensive to hook up at his lake-side home. Fine, he said. He bought the cable company, installed the service and then sold the company a few years later at a tidy profit.

A farmer in Ontario recently got tired of waiting for his hi-speed internet connection to arrive, so he began a small company which uses farm silos to transmit the hi-speed signal from farm to farm in his area. Not only did he get service, but he by-passed the monopolistic communication companies, and he was able to provide friends and neighbours with cheaper service than the one subsequently offered by the giants when they finally woke up to what was happening.

On the weekend I got an unbeatable offer. For 'only' $69.99 a month I too can have hi-speed internet access! I 'only' have to agree to a three year contract ($2519.64), a "one time system access fee", a meager $99.00 ($2618.64). With the $200 savings offered, I'd pay only $199 for the satellite equipment ($2817.64). In very small print, I'm informed that unspecified "additional charges will apply" if I live beyond the 50km round trip limit from the dealer - which I do... Naturally the offer omitted any mention of taxes, another amount which brings the total to $3212.11.

You know what? I can buy a pretty nice kayak for that kind of money and go surfing wherever I like. Who needs hi-speed anyway? I'm just glad I'm not trying to run a small business because, thanks to the dinos at the wheel in this country, there are no roads, information or otherwise I could travel on that would help me succeed.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Blogger Brain Activity

Just when I was pretty sure than my blogging activity was a brainless activity and a total diversionary dillusion, I'm shown to be wrong. Clare, an ex Canadian police officer living in Arctic Bay on the northeast corner of Baffin Island, writes a marvelous blog on northern events in his part of the world. He showed us the way recently, suggesting that blogging does, in fact, use a part of our brain during production! Will wonders, ever cease?

The chart shown above is a map of my brain actually writing this blog according to a service called 'Typealyzer'. It turns out, not only am I using my brain to write this stuff, but I'm a 'Doer' as well. In spite of some criticisms I had in the past, I can actually do things! This site has been a really big boost now I'm facing these darkening days' descent into the desperate doings called winter...

Friday, November 21, 2008

It's Been Chilly...

Instead of taking the kayak to a new location to paddle today, I decided to walk the route. Sounds strange, but being a cold (-6°C) day with yet another bone jarring wind, walking along the river bank seemed a better option. I cold easily retreat to the car if I felt I was getting too numb to go on.

It turns out that beavers have been very active along this section, only minutes from town. In the photo you can see the tree beside their well-worn path has been nearly chewed through.

The ponds along the river have started to freeze over. No wonder the beavers are putting away their winter's food. Once the lake is covered over, the beavers food source is harder to get.

My boats are put away, well... sort of put away. When it began snowing the other day, I more or less threw them into the shed until I can make better arrangements for the winter to come. This way, if I want to suddenly dash out, they're handy. I still have the rack on the car, so I can be off in a few minutes.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Oh My!

We all know we're not supposed to lust after various items, but, oh my, we do, don't we? Just have a look at this new... aaah... sexy Greenland style kayak from Tahe, a company in Estonia. Here's what they have to say about the kayak...

The Tahe Marine Greenland was born when centuries of established kayak culture met up with the creative capabilities of modern technology. This kayak is a direct descendant of the traditional canoe inspired kayaks of Greenland, ancient boats that reached Central Europe as early as the 17th century. Our modern reincarnation uses the same classic low volume hull with a V-shaped bottom. Although this requires a level of proficiency, at the same time it delivers unmatched speed and performance on both calm waters and in the face of breaking waves. The Greenland’s cockpit space for your feet was carefully engineered, keeping in mind the characteristics and needs of the human body on long journeys. On trips that last several days the true wonders of this tradition inspired kayak clearly manifest themselves – speed, lightness and one very relaxed paddler.

The profile image clearly shows off the skeg and the low volume features of the boat. I haven't contacted them, but if you can't keep yourself from that 'look, don't touch' part of lusting for stuff, then here in North America, Camilluskayak in New York might be able to satisfy your urges...

Monday, November 17, 2008

Just Imagine!

Six figure income! Even in these tough economic times that's serious loot. You could have any kayak in the world, paddle anywhere you want, take anyone you want with you... I'm ready to click on the picture and start some serious blogging.

Being a serious business oriented person, I decided to look behind the picture first to see exactly what else might be involved. Sadly, that's where things began to unravel. The first name that came up that I recognized was Howard Stern's. Okay, not my favourite, but who else was there? Natalie Dylan. Who is she, I wondered? That's when things totally collapsed. I wouldn't be getting the bucks.

You see Natalie is running a blog with Howard to auction off her virginity. That's where the big money is. Ya gotta be a virgin. My problem is my virginity would probably be questioned by any possible client. Maybe if I took out the part about being a father in my profile statement... Naaa... accepting the money would be a form of sponsorship and I really don't feel comfortable going there. Oh well.

Friday, November 14, 2008

I Know, I Know...

Justine paddled around the south island of New Zealand, one of three women to do so a year ago, but so did Barry Shaw. And I know Justine is on an American tour to promote her new DVD which includes footage of the trip, but so is Barry.

What I bet you don't know is that Barry is much more famous. For example, towns around the world are rushing to change their names to include Barry somewhere, somehow... The above shows one such example, a town in Ontario. I expect to see New Barry or Ft LauderBarry, perhaps even LondonBarry and so on quite soon. And why not?

I've yet to visit a Justineville or Justine Bay, but maybe they're out there, waiting for me... and Barry. OK, Justine too.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

What Does It Mean?

The other day I talked about how some bloggers begin to slow down and then stop posting altogether. There are lots of reasons, perhaps as many as there are bloggers. Closer to home is another slightly worrisome fact: I haven't paddled this year as often as I did last year...

For fun, I've kept a record of each kayak outing I've done during the past few years on my Palm Zire PDA. The picture above shows the database screen on my PDA. It's open at record #51. That's the last outing of over an hour's paddle that I've been on this year. Yes, YEAR! A year ago, I was well over 100 outings by this date... What's happened?

I began paddling in January much like in 2007. I then headed south, but didn't paddle nearly as much as I stayed with my sister and her husband who was in poor health. I lost as many as 30 paddling days right there, but don't regret that for a second. The same thing occurred in September when I returned to Georgia. Again perhaps as many as 20 paddling days missed. During the summer, in spite of traveling to Nova Scotia, New Brunswick and Maine, poor weather seem to keep me off the water more than usual.

It's easy to make excuses for not paddling. I'm going to have to work more on making excuses for NOT paddling if I'm to regain the higher number of outings I've achieved in previous years!

Saturday, November 8, 2008

Far, Far Away

I took this photo a few days ago, the same evening sunset view seen in the previous posting. Weather moving along the New England coast pushed into our area as the sun was setting and provided us with the beautiful display. To me the picture has a 'Chinese' look about it for some reason. Perhaps it's the colour or maybe the bridge with its multi-stilted legs. I'm not sure, but something about it says "Far, far away..." to me.

I suppose most people who become regular bloggers assume they will continue writing and posting forever. Why not? It's fun, it's a past-time and there's often feed-back which leads to other interesting and varied experiences. Still, for one reason or another, blogs go missing and disappear. I recall a wonderful blog from Iceland which then moved to Vancouver Island. It was full of wonderful photos, far, far away shots with great colours and textures. It's gone, perhaps for good. Too bad.

Another well known blogger wrote of great adventures on dicey seas, around rock-bound coasts in a variety of settings around the world. Like many, I was hooked, following the kayak's wake as each adventure unfolded. It too now appears to be missing, gobbled up in some far away cyber world. People move on to other challenges and opportunities, I suppose, leaving us readers to wonder.

A little known fact about Google however, is that we have the ability to dig into their data-banks and retrieve virtually everything ever posted to the web. I have recently indulged in a bit of nostalgia and re-read pages from these two missing blogs. They may be missing, but they live on in the timeless depths of the Google universe far, far away...

Friday, November 7, 2008

What a Day!

Some days are just meant for paddling and nothing else... First you drive down leafy roads to the put-in...

... then you paddle calm waters, under brilliant skies...

... and the heavens burst into colour to celebrate the drive home. Does it get better than that?

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Totally Unrelated

Of course everyone knows we live in a new world from now on. The election of Obama as president of the United States sends all sorts of ripples through the universe which could change everything should the Fates decide on that course.

The first poling station to report in was Dixville Notch in New Hampshire. There is a magnificent hotel called 'The Balsams' in the Notch, which can be seen in the picture above. Taking the road past the hotel and along the little lake is always a treat, especially when one reaches the top of the notch itself. Here the road literally takes an edge. At one instant one is going up and suddenly one is headed down. There's no road I know of with quite the same sudden transition.

Totally unrelated is the next photo taken during my daily paddle this afternoon. For some reason we've been granted a reprieve from the on-coming winter. Temperatures for the next few days are expected to be in the high teens (°C). Today was warm, sunny and calm on the lake. I practiced my canted forward stroke. It really gets the boat moving compared to my usual cruising stroke. I found I could maintain it for nearly a mile before slipping back into cruising mode. It's times like this I could use a GPS to record the difference in speed through the water. It seems like there is at least a kilometer or more per hour increase with the canted stroke...

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

The Normal Way of Things

While cycling the other day I came across this fairly large spotted salamander, one of two species commonly found in my neck of the woods. This fellow was attempting to cross a busy gravel road and had nearly got to the far side when I peddled up to him (her?). This was remarkable given large trucks had been careening up and down the road much of the day carrying gravel somewhere. The little guy (gal?) was dusty from her (his?) adventure, but otherwise in good shape. How he (she?) had managed to avoid the wide truck tires baffles me, but I decided to assist her (his?) by lifting him (her?) to the side of the road out of harm's way.

Can you imagine paddling along somewhere we should never be, way over our heads in rough seas, when suddenly a hand reaches down, lifts our boat up and puts us down in calmer waters, safe and sound? We'd totally freak out, I'm sure. My salamander friend seemed to be made of tougher stuff. Without even a nod in my direction, she (he?) scampered into the grass towards damper ground as though getting a hand from a human when crossing busy roads was the normal way of things.