Monday, July 27, 2009

Sombrero de la noche en casa de Ladd

Grey rolls off the ocean reducing visibility to a quarter mile. I take a bearing and turn back to the group. A couple of them look a little worried but relax as we continue the class and paddle towards the take out in turns.

The light the thick fog has filtered is perfect. The marsh's deep greens and browns coming into their own. The white of gulls popping out as they find places to sit out the limited visibility. A young one finds something dead to snack on. The breeze that brought the fog also bringing the smell of salt.

This is a good day and with David and Kelly in town, the evening will be as enjoyable.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Lest we forget...we kayak

The boats are organized on the beach. The coffee is wearing off and the sun is swiftly baking me. The bottle of water gets sucked down faster than expected and it is only 8:30.

I haven't been in Marion since I was fourteen (though I would swear swinging through to check out this launch site years ago with Carl) and applying to Tabor. It is still the little harbor town I remember. A breeze blows ocean coolness at me. The sand radiates a suprising amount of heat.

Clients start appearing...their smiles and enthusiasm blow through the cobwebs and the energy starts to build. A gear shifts or a switch is thrown (I have no idea which best fits my internal process) and suddenly I am ready to go. This will be fun.

...I wish Karma hadn't stolen my sunglasses.

Karma stole my shades

A brief conversation with myself minutes before Karma stole my shades.

"I'm cool!"
"No you're not."
"Of course I am."
"No you're not."
"I don't get any cooler than this!"
"Boy that's a problem, look at the picture."
"What picture....oh"

Monday, July 13, 2009

Aquidneck Island Paddle

On July 11th I began a day long journey around Aquidneck Island. The second or third annual Lucy's Hearth/Aquidneck Land Trust fund raiser was the occasion. It's a relay format where 5 person teams take turns paddling prone paddle boards,SUP,or kayak. The distance is 38 miles and the route is Third Beach Middletown around the Island clockwise returning to Third Beach. I chose to solo the distance on a stand up paddleboard with land support and a plan for dear friends to meet me in their boat.
My day began at 5:10 am the weather was perfect! I started paddling in the moonlight with a pink sky to the east. The sea was flat as I rounded Sachuest Point. I headed West into the moonlight. It was like a sidewalk guiding my way to Brenton Point. Being a couple miles offshore of Second Beach Middletown gave me a different perspective of a very familiar area. West towards Tuckermans Reef with the Breakers "cottage" on the horizon. At this point,about one mile off of First Beach Newport an amazing event occurred. The nose of my board was lit by moonlight while the tail was in the light of sunrise. Had to be one of the most awesome 45 seconds of my life.
Still heading west towards my first stop, I had to negotiate MANY reefs and rock out croppings with little swell washing over them. One minute it would be flat sea,the next a 4 foot wall of white water. No worries! I made it to Brenton Point 10 minutes ahead of schedule. My Mother and Father(Hank and Marion)were right on time with water and more food. For the record, I consumed 190 grams of protein during my day on the water plus more at the end.I was on the beach for 10 minutes before I headed north up the East Passage towards the Newport(Pell) Bridge.
I stopped at Rose Island Lighthouse because I always wanted to go there. Really cool Island. I suggest if you happen to be near it,land and explore.
Heres were it became challenging. WIND,CURRENT,and overall massive amounts of MOTION were trying to bring me down. For about the next three hours I was very focused to the say the least. My next rendezvous was Bend Boat Basin Portsmouth. It should have been about a 2 hour paddle. It took me 3.5 hrs. Again my amazing support crew was there with water and food. I woofed down two peanut butter and bacon sandwiches filled the CamelPack with H2O and headed North East towards the Mount Hope Bay Bridge. My water support crew met me near the Mount Hope Bay lighthouse off of Hog Island at the South end of Bristol Harbor. Bill and Parker Richmond in WAHOO Were a sight for sore eyes. Parker wanted to paddle so he jumped on the board and paddled about two miles for me. Although he paddled more like four because of the wind and side shore swell. It was very difficult for him to keep a straight heading. Weaving and bobbing in wind and swell, Parker was a trooper!
Heading South again I entered the Sakonnet Basin at Common Fence Point Portsmouth.This was the beginning of the end. The 4 knot current and 25-30 Knot head wind were in play. For the next 2 hours it took me about eight paddle strokes to move forward past one mooring bouy. So thats what I did, I used mooring bouys as my goal. I'd pass a bouy and head to the next. I did that for two hours and traveled at best one mile.I had to eddy hop around current under the Sakonnet bridge like it was class two white water. There was no relief from the wind and current. No matter how close I got to shore I couldn't escape it. Still heading South I began to realize, this is imposable in these conditions. I had a wave of contentment over come me as I saw My parents in the distance and Bill and Parker right near me in their boat. I looked at Bill and said'" I'm good. Can I get in your boat now?" My father made his way down on to some dock at Stone Bridge,Island Park Portsmouth and I told him I was going to call it and get in the boat, take a boat ride back to Third Beach Middletown.
I wasn't dissapointed at all. I still had a ton of energy! I can compare it to climbing a 14,000 foot mountain. You've prepared,left at the correct time, brought the necessary gear and get turned back from the summit with 800 feet to go. My total milage was 30.9 miles 7 miles short of the loop. It wasn't short of my goal though. My goal was to start on July 11,2009 and have fun paddling around Aquidneck Island. Mission Accomplished! Mike

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Big Wheel Keeps on Turnin'

The fire chapter of the OSKA story finally comes to a close thanks to the efforts of Kathy Whalen!The Osprey Crew sends a huge thanks to Kathy for finding C&C Plastics in Woonsocket to recycle all the fire damaged kayaks that have been sitting in our garden for the last two years. At first we thought it would be easy to recycle the boats. After all, they are just high density polyethylene #2 which is recycled everyday. Unfortunately, every plastic company we contacted wanted to charge us a significant chunk of change to turn our melted boats into garden furniture, soda bottles, or other unimaginable plastic objects. So those old melties lay in the garden creating housing for mice, birds, and every bug you could think of. We were starting to get desperate and are ashamed to say we started to consider chopping them up and sending them to the landfill. Thank goodness that we met Kathy just in time. She got on the phone and relentlessly pursued the recycling mission and her efforts paid out big time when she spoke with Roger at C&C Plastics in Woonsocket. We are happy to report that over 30 kayaks were sent off to be turned into something shiny and new! As usual we turned a dirty job into a Tom Sawyer Party and had lots of laughs cutting up and loading boats onto Rogers trailer. 

Sam & Carl Ladd   

Monday, July 6, 2009

Conceptus Obscurus

My mind wanders and I start recalling Friday's drive. Heading into Crow Agency to find a thick fog in the valleys with the hills looking like islands on a gray ocean. The sun pushing enough light through occasional gaps in the thick clouds to cast odd shadows and help blur the line between earth and sky. I thought the Beartooths had topped my scale of beautiful but there was this one last sight.

By Kearney (Nebraska) I had been so thoroughly educated on the definitions of plane/plain that I decide exploring the upper register of my speedometer might be a good idea. I find several other vehicles to play a multi-hundred mile game of "Magnet". By Lincoln...the red, white and blue strobes in my mirrors indicate that I might just have won so I pull over to see what prize the official has for me.

I hit the Mass border around 10 am several days later. The Berkshires welcome me with green, forested mountains and humidity like you read about. The storms to hit later are following me from New York. Grey drizzle welcomes me into Boston.

Over the course of the trip it was stunning to learn that I had been mistaken that left lanes were for passing. They are an opportunity for people to be able to thoroughly investigate their surroundings as they travel and have those following them do the same. I also found out that service area parking lots aren't for parking but are places for children to learn to walk, play tag and ensure drivers experience roller coaster like thrills at 5 miles per hour.

More importantly, I confirmed that I love road trips.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009


She was looking haggard as she walked up the side of the highway towards me. Normally I wouldn't have thought of picking up hitchhikers but she looked at me as if to say "Please help, this isn't fun.". 2 young ones followed her doggedly.

After briefly looking around to see who was about her head dipped as she started tucking into a lush clump of grass. A proud young cowboy on his likewise proud looking horse had seen what she was up to and moved in to shoe her on. She glared at them in irritation and turned back to eating.

The horse looked at her as if she should have known better. For her part, the cow glared back and stood fast until the cowboy's boot swung out and gave her a kick in the side. She moved on with the rest of the cattle drive.

A big thanks should go to Montana Whitewater for not calling me back. As much as I would have loved to have had a whitewater lesson, their lack of interest allowed me the immense pleasure in driving the Beartooth Pass towards Cooke City and then swinging around through Wyoming desert. I loved my time on the road today more than you can imagine. Enjoy the brief video of the top of the pass.