Sunday, November 1, 2009

Nov 1 makes it 4years meat in tow

The continued rainy weather and the 1st of a new month landing on a Sunday set up perfectly to get month 48 in the books. As they did last week, Dan, Kent and Pat met at Centennial beach. A few things differed from last week, though. Big Red, Pat's Mad River canoe made a rare appearance and JD showed up for a 2nd trip (always encouraging when someone is willing to participate again with the Duper boys). The biggest news of the day was the first time appearance of Rick....a Duper virgin as it were.

Sensing that there may be something "special" about to happen, Rick nervously asked if there was some sort of initiation or hazing. Any regular reader of this blog is well aware that there most certainly is an initiation that must be administered and that the details of such initiation must never be disclosed in this blog. Rick of course was no stranger to bizarre initiation rights having been part of the airline industry during the sex and drug hey day of the early '70's. Like all first timers who experience their maiden Duper trip, Rick appeared to enjoy everything about the trip, including the secretive right of passage. When asked how the initiation went, Rick exclaimed "it was not too bad, but my pants got a little wet!" That's what all first timers say, Rick.
Pictured: JD (appearing to be stating "you try that initiation BS on me again I'll shove this paddle where the sun don't shine"), 2 random shots of Kent, Pat and JD and finally Rick, checking to see if everything was ok after the Duper boys had "welcomed" him to the club.
Double click on any photo for a closer look.

Oct 2009 - month 47...the fright float

It has been a few months since the blog has been updated but rest assured, we have continued the streak throughout the summer. I lacked inspiration but will try to keep it updated as trips are taken.
Due to the rain that we got on approximately 20 of the 31 days in October, the last full weekend in October set up nicely for a little Halloween float. Kent, Pat, Dan and Mike put in at Centennial beach and paddled (if you can call it that) down to Ring road. We attracted quite a crowd as Pat and Dan struggled to put Kent's skirt on Dan's yak. Nothing like looking like you know what you are doing while a crowd watches. Once we figured out the square peg / round hole errors of our way, we donned the masks and headed down river. As always, the crowd was quite receptive to monsters yaking on the Duper.
Once out of town, the real beauty of having paddling pals to share some quality river time comes to life. As we sucked on our beers we shared stories and tales that can only truly be appreciated on the river. I swear at one point I thought Mike and Kent were going to pull over and do a Deliverance dance right on the shore. "Squeal like a pig, bro!" Talking of hot, searing meat while fondly looking at the beautiful fall foliage, Mike swore he was so relaxed that he would be able to sleep for a week if he were able to enjoy a little quality "alone" time, if you know what I mean!!
While Kent and Dan had completed month 47 earlier in the month, Pat needed this end of the month trip to continue his streak. I CAN validate that he was on the river and in a kayak, I can NOT confirm that Pat actually paddled at any point during the trip. Many times during the trip he leaned back as far as he could as if trying to put his head in Dan's lap, all along singing a song about getting an early morning beer buzz on.
We all acknowledge this probably was the best trip of the year.

Friday, May 8, 2009

Vermillion River Whitewater Rafting - Streak month 42

Date: 5/2/09. Vermillion River Gauge 5.25. Air Temp 65 and sunny. Dan, Kent and Cole.

Due to the recent rains, the initial plan was to hit the Shorewood rapids but as Dan and Kent sat around the smoker (practice run for the big rib cook-off Memorial Day weekend), the topic of rafting the Vermillion came up. A phone call or 2 and Dan and Kent and their sons were set to hit the rapids. One problem, though. What sounded like a good idea to Steven at 4:00 Saturday afternoon didn't sound so good at 7:00 AM Sunday. Despite his dad's "You can sleep anytime" advice, Steven passed on this most excellent adventure. He will learn on his own that life is short and you need to do as much living as possible when you have the opportunity.
The weather was great: a slight breeze and sunny skies. A perfect day for a float....oh yeah, we were rafting the rapids, not floatin' the Dupe. More than once the sub 50 degree water smacked us upside the head and took our breath's away. Not to mention the effect the frigid water had on the nether regions. All men are aware of the cold water, scared turtle, shrinkage syndrome. I wish I had only experienced shrinkage, at one point I swear I had a mangina!! Thankfully the warm sun and breeze eliminated this in short order and all in all we we all very comfortable.

Although not the Colorado nor even the Smoky Mountains (my only previous rafting experience), the Vermillion has some nice water action and is only 1.5 hours away. Many of the rapids were comparable to Seven Bridges or down town Naperville as far as the river action was concerned, but the length of the action was much longer than the 2 local spots. What really makes this trip is the Wildcat and the Narrows sections. These are described as legitimate class 3 rapids (on a 6 point scale). I would not take my recreational kayak on these sections.

As we approached the Wildcat (not sure we were aware that we were approaching the Wildcat) the 3 of us debated if we should go to the left or the right of the big boulder. I suggested left and Kent and Cole seemed to agree. As the raft plunged 90 degrees into the hole and Kent came flying forward off the back of the raft, we all realized that we were indeed at the Wildcat and that we had done the exact opposite of the recommended route, which was to stay to the right. I am not quite sure how we got out of the hole but when we did the boat was filled half way with water and Asian carp were jumping all around the raft. It was quite a sensory overload all within a few seconds. The going over the side of cliff feeling followed by the water closing in around you followed by these crazy 30 inch fish nearly jumping into the raft. We pulled off to the side to empty the raft and our bladders, as well as to have as snack break. As we relaxed we looked back upon the Wildcat and relived the 10 second adrenaline rush that we had just experienced.

While the Wildcat may have been more wild, it was a very short experience. The Narrows consisted of 10 to 12 "waves" that provided a much more prolonged ride. At one point I found myself thrown onto my knees on the floor of the raft with my head between Cole's knees, dangerously close to "little" Cole, if you know what I mean! Again, the water rushed in and the boat was filled with water. As we regained our seats, the Asian carp again started jumping. One came right at Cole which inspired him to stand up and scream like a little school girl. At about the same time one jumped right at the boat and I had to deflect it with the back of my hand to keep it out of the raft. Another thrilling experience that I can not believe is so close to home.

We wrapped up this excellent little adventure with a trip to the Cajun connection for a nice lunch served by Captain Ron, who is quite a character. "Ever been to a restaurant?" he asked. "Yes" we replied...."No you haven't!!" he exclaimed with glee. I am sure we will make this trip again and a stop at the Cajun Connection will be part of the plans.

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Good Friday - month 41....another streak?

Date: 4/10/09, Gauge: 5.60 Air Temp: 48 and very windy.

Could another streak be born? While Pat and Dan completed consecutive month number 41 the previous weekend with an Arbor Ridge to Royce Rd run, Kent was still looking to continue his streak. What better day than Good Friday to take a float and reflect upon the impending joy that Easter Sunday will bring? Although the grand plans were set in place on Thursday for a flotilla of 4 to enjoy what could become another annual designated float day, these plans petered out and only Kent and Dan participated. While Jim's excuse was he needed to do tax returns (nice excuse for an accountant 5 days before the tax deadline), Pat's stumbling, mumbling bailout seemed to have a little less legitimacy.....did I hear a whip in the background?

The Good Friday trip was uneventful although as you can see from the picture, there is a serious construction project under way at 75th. Although we passed with no issues this time, this could present problems in the future. Rumor has it the construction is for a bike path underpass. How ironic is it that providing an improvement for one hobby can adversely affect (even if only temporary) another hobby?
A quick comment regarding months 39 and 40. Not documented here in the blog but Dan, Pat and Kent all made trips in both months. Perry P. joined Dan and Kent on one trip and Dan and Pat encounted an impassable pedestrian bridge at 63rd. A quick trespass onto Seven Bridges golf course and we were off again. When advised of this blockage, Kent seemed quite disappointed we did not risk our own health and safety to work as DNR employees and remove said obstacle. Is this same guy who as our April float was coming to an end said "You are wearing your water boots, aren't you?"so that he did not have to step into the water to get out of the yak.

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Months 36, 37 and 38.....4th annual New Years Day

I have been a little lax in my updating of the blog. Somewhat inspired by the New Year (although not a big fan of the New Year's resolution) I have updated my 2 other delinquent blogs so I felt obligated to get this one back on track. Please note that the consecutive kayaking streak is in no way affected by the author's lack of discipline to continue documentation of said streak via a monthly bog entry. If however, someone out there is monitoring the legitimacy of the streak, the pictures I have chosen to display within this entry are all time and date stamped as to when they were taken, therefore providing "proof." I know, who am I kidding? There are about 3 people that read this nonsense.
Take a look at picture 1, or has I like to refer to it as Big Foot's great adventure. The core Duper boys (Pat, Kent and I) made up the group to get number 36 in the books. Kent, equipped with hand warmers and brand new insulated, waterproof boots, thought he was all set for the coming months of winter kayaking. One problem, Big Foot. You need to actually be able to get your feet in your boat in order to paddle effectively. Kent's solution to not being able to get in his kayak on land was to slide down the hill and somehow miraculously get himself in the boat as he plummeted into the 33 degree water. After some convincing, he did not take this approach. With the assistance of Dan and Pat surrounding his boat with theirs, they managed to contort Kent's legs into his boat (nearly capsizing more than once). Kent's excruciating pain in his legs caused us to shorten the trip but #36 was in the books.
Picture 2 took place on our 2nd annual Santa trip a week before Christmas. Kent, sporting antlers, unfortunately poses for pictures better than he takes them and a good shot of Santa does not exist.
Pictures 3 and 4 are of Pat, Jim M. and Dan on the fourth annual New Year's day float. Notice how Jim is electing to also do the toboggan slide into the water technique contemplated by Kent above. Everyone successfully managed to stay dry and enjoy the float.
Here is one last tidbit to tie the delinquency of the blog entries with the toboggan slide entrance theme photographically captured above. At some point over the last 3 months (I should have written an entry!) Dan and Pat went to do the Arboretum run, despite Kent's previous warnings of a major portage. Knowing that only Kent would appreciate the insanity of it all, Dan left him the following voicemail to let him know we were out on the Duper: "It's cold, windy and raining.....KAYAAAAKKER!!!!"
The Arboretum was beautiful as always and the major construction portage at I-88 was gone so despite the weather all seemed good. Good, until we hit the portage. We both successfully climbed up the 3 foot bank and managed to stay dry. However, we had to get back in. Pat elected the "straddle the downed tree in the water" technique while Dan went the toboggan slide route. Pat anxiously anticipated Dan's complete submersion into the frigid Duper as he slid down the embankment. Dan held his breathe and began the descent. The front of the boat plunged deep under the water, causing Dan to instinctively put his hand down to steady himself, however, there was nothing to steady himself on and the paddle he was holding pulled his arm elbow deep into the water. Pissed pants and soggy arm aside, Dan completed what is now known as a "Kenterheide" (Kent inspired toboggan slide followed by a Muckerjheide partial dunk in the Duper).
We are into another frigid January weekend and we can only hope that sometime before 2/28 we will be able to get back out there. Here's to the upcoming 4th consecutive year, boys.