Tuesday, August 26, 2008


First time this Summer we had to spend a day holed up on an island because of the wind. Ron S and I went up to the Apostles for the weekend to check out some Islands. I hadn't been to Michigan Island yet, or the Northeast side of Stocton ... this wasn't the weekend to be on the lake, much less go exploring unknown bays. We had checked weather before we left and knew there would be small craft warnings, but the forecast could be wrong ... one just never knows for sure. Cold fronts usually bring strong winds, and wind shifts. This one was no exception. As soon as we passed Basswood Island towards Hermit we knew the lake would keep us entertained. The winds were from the South ... how much fetch could the lake have along the South Shore? The crossing from Hermit to Stocton proved to be the most interesting with 3 to 4 foot following seas. Perfect surfing waves! The Nordkapp has proven to be a solid performer in conditions, I never once felt anything but complete confidence throughout all of the crossings. After the great surfing waves we got into the reflection stuff that was bouncing off the rocks on Stocton, kind of gives you that washing machine effect. We ended up ducking into Quarry bay that night, hoping for better conditions the next day. The winds grew stronger ... waves grew bigger ... we decided to hang out at Quarry bay for the weekend, and do some hiking.

I paddled back solo on Sunday through some fun conditions. The crossing between Stocton and Hermit is pretty exposed to the Northwest, exactly were the the winds were coming from. Ron stayed up for a couple extra days to hit a couple more islands. Wish I could've stayed longer, but I've been burning up vacation time this year at an alarming rate!

Monday, August 18, 2008

The Gunflint Trail

Note to self: Never just head up to the North Shore on a Friday afternoon thinking you will find an open campsite ... you WILL end up some miles inland and hopefully get your tent set up before dark. The Gunflint, and the BWCA is a great alternative to the North Shore.

Monday, August 11, 2008

Great Taste of the Midwest

The Madison Homebrewers & Tasters Guild puts on a great event every year, the annual "Great Tastes of the Midwest" went off with out a hitch. 5,000 people showed up at Olin-Turville Park in Madison Wisconsin this last weekend, to taste some of the best beer in the Midwest. Dave, Chris, along with two more fellow beer aficionados and I met up with our Madison friends for the weekend to take part in the weekend festivities. Shuttle bus's from different points in Madison brought everyone together, and the gate opened at 1 pm Saturday afternoon. Within a 1/2 hour everyone was inside, and milling about the different tents and sampling well over 100 different brews. The real draw here I thought was the "Real Ale Tent", all cask conditioned in the centuries old traditions of the UK. Afterwards a stop at Jamerica, a great little Jamaican style diner on Madison's East side for a great end to the day. My favorite selection ... the Bells Two Hearted from the Cask Ale.

Monday, August 4, 2008

Two Harbors Weekend

The Two Harbors Kayak Festival has been an event I've made it to every years starting in 2003. In '04 I did the 18 mile race in 3hrs 42 min, so all though I am 4 years older, I still did the race it 3 hrs 26 min. It certainly isn't close to the top competition, but what the heck. I'm all right with it! Chris E and I did sort of a team effort by hanging together throughout the race, I think at times I was pushing him, and I know there were times he pushed me harder than I would've done alone. Now, speaking of the competition .. I get placed in the early 50's age group, these guys are some of the strongest paddlers that show for the race .. what the heck is with that! On another note, Gail Green from Living Adventures would have beaten her '04 time, but she stopped to do a rescue for a guy in a surfski. He started bonking and capsized, couldn't get back on. She had to stay with him for a while until he got his wits back about him ... she missed her old time of 2hrs 58 min by only 4 minutes. But if you know Gail .. that's her. Grant and Gail are two of the best ambassadors to kayaking we have here in the Midwest.
When I first started going to the festival in '03, I didn't know many people in this sport. It was a solo adventure for me. I'd show up, get a campsite at Burlington Bay, and just hang out, meet people, it was sort of my beginning in kayaking. In 5 short years I've met so many great people, now we cram as many tents as we can on 4 campsites!