Got Paddle? Go Fly!

There’s nothing quite like an early morning set of glassy waves. Last Saturday I paddled out with friends Pam and Al and my husband, Ed. The water from shore to haystack at Pacific City, OR was gin clear and glassy. We appreciated the lack of wind after a wind-blown/blown out session the night before.  Paddling out the Haystack was compelling enough to invite Pam for a paddle to within 10 yards of the world’s fourth largest sea stack or off-shore monolith in the world. It stands 327 feet above the sea – an ancient reminder of how this awesome area was created.

We were treated with hip-high glassy swells and no crowds at all. It was a day for grabbing the gusto of ocean fun and letting the fun fly! The SUP perspective was better than ever, giving a vantage point to notice shells on the sea floor below, loons and sea lions playing and the gray whale sounding again and again off the buoy side of Haystack Rock.

We got some up closer sightings of the whale, the size of a city bus, as it emerged from the rolling waves and with a loud swoosh,when we hiked to the tip of Cape Kiwanda.  It’s a gray whale making one of the most remarkable migrations in the natural world, a scene which can be observed each winter along the Northwest coast. Each winter, more than 20,000 gray whales can be observed along the Northwest coast as they make their way south on part of their incredible 12,000 mile annual round trip migration from the northern waters off Alaska and the Arctic Sea to their winter breeding grounds of Baja California off Mexico. 

The entire area seemed idyllic and I am sure a great part what we enjoy today – and hope to for generations to come – stems from the efforts of groups like the Surfrider Foundation and their recent Ban the Bags initiative.  Activism for our oceans is diverse and on-going.

What’s your favorite water-spot to fuel your sense of wonder. How has your SUP Perspective changed the way you think or act around your favorite waters?

SUP from Key West to Maine

Friends Mike Simpson and Will Rich have undertaken a major challenge that eventually brought them to Maine. Will and Mike departed Key West, Florida on March 1, 2011 The two succeeded to SUP (Stand Up and Paddleboard) up the east coast from Key West, Fla., to Portland, Maine. Their goal is to raise awareness and money for the Wounded Warrior Project, a national nonprofit organization that aids injured military personnel, and Stand Up for a Clean Ocean, an organization based in North Carolina dedicated to removing trash and debris from our marine ecosystems.

We live on, and love, the ocean, and she obviously plays an integral part in this adventure. We have chosen to combine our efforts with a great group of people who work hard ( and have fun at the same time ) to educate others about the well-being of our marine eco-systems on which we so closely depend. SUP Clean-up, a world-wide organization based in North Carolina, couldn’t be a better fit for what we’re trying to do. Being close to the ocean means so much more than using her for recreation and sustenance . It’s a symbiotic relationship. The sea gives us so much and we MUST care for her better in return

“Stand Up for Those Who Stood Up” is a powerful focus for their effort.  “We’re both standup paddle boarders with a deep respect for the sacrifices our military men and women make every day for our freedom and security,” said Will Rich. “We’re proud to be standing up for those who stood up for us.”

Will and Mike invite us to visit their blog home page to click on links to their selected causes to learn about ways we can help.  We can all do something as simple as picking up trash wherever we SUP – bring along an extra bag (not plastic) to put it in. That’s what Will and Mike did along their way.  They realize that there are the big steps (like paddling from Key West to Maine) and the little steps (like showing a kid the safe/clean way to pick up trash they might find along a shoreline.  It’s all in the Elder SUP collection of stories and actions – got any to share?

Here’s a great video by Anne Gassett – thanks so much for sharing this inspirational peek at Mike and Will as they move from North Carolina to Virginia in their meaningful quest



Race for the River: Deschutes, Central Oregon

A community celebration at Riverbend Park (Bend, OR)  on August 13 will include feature music performances, local vendors and a beer garden including a special craft brew from Deschutes Brewery.

Help us spread the word about this unique event that celebrates and supports the Deschutes River!

Since 1996, the Deschutes River Conservancy  has worked to restore streamflow and improve water quality in the Deschutes Basin. Over the past 15 years, DRC projects have restored more that 116 million gallons of water per day, back to our local rivers & streams. Take a look at this excellent video featuring restoration of Wychus Creek.

The Deschutes River has been the lifeblood of Central Oregon for thousands of years.  Naturally, the river means different things for different people.  It can mean water for wheat and water for drinking.  It can be where salmon spawn and where nets are cast.  It can be a place to simply reflect.  We may look at it differently, but we love it equally.  And so we’re equally affected by the problems facing the river today.  The Deschutes River Conservancy was formed to restore streamflow and improve water quality in the Deschutes Basin, through the close collaboration of everyone who cares about it – farmers, recreational enthusiasts, ranchers, conservationists, tribal communities and, we hope, you.

By participating in the fun float events and the SUP race events (even if you are slow and meandering in your “racing” style) you can have a great day on the water while supporting the cause for healthier waters.

Why SUP and Paddling Matters: Mother Ocean’s Youngest Ones

Kialoa has sponsored a “Live Like You Paddle” scholarship for about 8 years now.  One of this year’s winners was Gabriel Chun Fook age 14.  He explains what values he has gained through participation in outrigger canoe paddling. It is meaningful that the company that sponsors this thoughtful young man has built their company on traditions that are ageless and seamlessly tied to the ocean and waters.

While this blog seeks stories from ElDER SUPers, our inspiration and energy is geared to provide young people, like the high school paddlers pictured here, with a community connected by awareness and activism toward healthy waters. What better way to inspire than than to support teamwork and sports solidly tied to tradition and the water.

The Na Kama Kai Youth Challenge, presented by Turtle Bay Resort, is a stand up paddle contest for the youth, 16 years and younger that is hosted by the Waterman League.

Na Kama Kai’s mission is to empower youth by creating, conducting and supporting ocean-based programs, specifically targeting ocean awareness & safety in order to increase the capacity of youth in the community through cultural & environmental education.

Duane DeSoto the founder & president was born and raised on the west side of Oahu. His love for the ocean and appreciation of the waterman lifestyle has nurtured his dream of giving back to his community. This dream came to fruition with the establishment of Nā Kama Kai. Duaneʻs passion for the ocean continues to sustain his lifestyle and allows him to engage in nurturing the community through Nā Kama Kaiʻs youth programs.

We invite Elder SUPers involved in the work of the Waterman League and Na Kama Kai to share their stories and ideas with us. Who knows, those stories might become part of our indie film project.


Captain Sawdust

Early in my career as a standup paddler I was waiting for the regular Friday afternoon group to come paddle our stretch of the Deschutes River that streams through the middle of our Old Mill District. I am not a car-person so all I can say about the car that drove up was that it was small and cute (I know, I Know). What really caught my eye was the most beautiful standup board made of many colors and types of wood strips all honed to a delicate shape and polished to perfection. My first thought was to worry about that beautiful board possibly meeting a river rock at the launch site.

The guy who made the board, Bob Jumper, came walking up to the group with his trademark grin. He set the board on the grass and introduced himself, ‘Hi, I’m Captain Sawdust.” The name was not so common, and neither is the guy.  In time I learned that he simply loves the woodworking and crafting works of art that are meant to be used.  When asked about the possibility of a rock scratching his SUP board he simply explained that it was meant to be used, and scratches could easily be sanded off and re-finished. Great attitude!

He’s continuously creating new boards and works with his son – next-generation heritage for sure.  Sawdust doesn’t race, but he’s always ready to volunteer. He’s on the water – river or ocean – as much as he can be.  As an “Elder SUP” he’s a story in the works. Got story? Talk to us!

SUP Perspective

This blog is meant to become a collection of shared stories and powerful actions generated by those who have reached “the age of influence.” That is just another way of saying, ‘We have been hanging around this planet long enough to have grandchildren, social security, achy joints, more than a handful of decades and maybe a pretty big network of influence.”

What’s the SUP Perspective?  It’s the view from above. Literally, for ocean, bay, lake and river loving “elders” it is the view we get when we hop on our standup paddle boards and see our watery world from a new vantage point. That high level view has always been a much clearer view of the world – whether we talking politics, religion, education, or the environment.  In the world of SUP the views is more often literal.

Yet, using SUP Perspective as a metaphor around awareness of the threats and injuries our global waters have sustained over the decades I started to consider a means for making a difference. Our family of ocean/lake/river loving “elders” can create momentum for and awareness of the plight of our world’s waters.   Are you a dedicated lover of nature? Has the ocean always reigned as the epitome example of our “big blue marble” planet?  Does a charging river, a glacial lake, a tropical bay or meandering tributary hold meaning or value to you? Do you have the time and energy to add small changes and big attitudes to a cause driven by stories, pictures and heritage – not money? Have you spent some time balanced and paddling on your favorite waters on your SUP board?

While this blog project is not limited to the silver haired adventurers, at age 62 I am solidly in that group. At this age I find that there is more time to make a difference. Looking toward the planet we might bequeath to the youngest generation it seems we’d better build awareness and future through our stories and influence. Search the category menu on the right – there should be something for everyone. if you don’t see what you’d like, just let us know.  This quest for a healthier water-life for our planet belongs to all of us. Please join the conversation via e-mail, by commenting on this blog and by joining our Facebook group.

An indie documentary could result from our collective stories, actions, adventures and insights.  Funding is in the works. If that aspect of this endeavor sparks your imagination, please let us know.