Weekend R&R: Hood River Inn

hrrr22It’s mid-November and we headed to Hood River, Oregon. We came with plans for fishing but the timing was not on our side. The salmon run was about over and the steelhead were not quite running. It was pretty cool for down wind runs on our standup boards in the Columbia. But a weekend – winter or fall – at the Best Western Plus Hood River Inn in Hood River was just the ticket for some much needed R&R. We came for the views, the room, the food and some amazing local hikes (think waterfalls).

We arrived late afternoon on Friday. Yes, there was music in the bar (beautiful blues) and (what a bonus) buy one amazing entree in the Riverside dining room and get one half off. Such perks are just the tip of the “bonus” iceberg at the Hood River Inn.  One of our favorites is the collection of art, featuring the beauty and spirit of the area, gracing every hall throughout the property. We always take the time to stroll the spacious hallways from wing to wing, noticing each unique painting and photo. Nothing gets you in the Pacific Northwest mood like these plentiful images. hrrrspe

Even though we could have enjoyed being on the river in Hood River’s only waterfront dining room, it was winter-dark at 6:00. We decided to sit in the bar with its “Friday Night Fun” energy and ambiance. Food, as always, perfect. We were in the mood for a great hamburger and were not disappointed.  From fresh and local seafood to exquisitely prepared pasta, choices abound.

Morning dawned sunny and stellar so we grabbed a riverside table for the (included) freshly prepared breakfast. Check out the menu for all the choices. We chose the shaved prime rib and bacon hash with eggs – yes, it was over-the-moon fantastic. We wanted a stick-to-our-ribs breakfast because the day was perfect for some waterfall hiking.

hrrrdc

Dry Creek Falls

There are plenty of hikes that are ideal for the crisp days of Fall and Winter in the Hood River area. Our decision about which hike to do was not easy. We stopped at the reception desk and Hood River Inn staff chatted, full of information from their own experiences. They offered a colorful map with eight different waterfall hikes detailed and mapped.

One hike is the easy to moderate 5 mile out-and-back hike begins below the Bridge of the Gods — spanning the Columbia River off I-84 — and runs along the Pacific Crest Trail for a little more than two miles before reaching a dirt road that leads to Dry Creek Falls. Colors are best in mid- to late October. Even in late November the woods and mossy greens are delightful.

This is your invitation to visit Hood River in the Fall and Winter. It’s an experience to savor.

 

Winter Glassy Surf: Brookings, OR

brsunsetTuesday night’s sunset over the surf break in Brookings, OR was breath-taking. The waves were chest high to just overhead and glassy good.  In this light all looks idyllic. Can we finally hit the water and SUP surf, paddle up river and explore?

Talking to rangers at the beach and a few other locals we learned, “Increased pathogen and fecal bacteria levels in ocean waters can come from shore and inland sources such as storm water runoff.”

edpic

Surfer at dusk, enjoying the first sunny day in a long time. (Photo by Ed Shasek)

In short, we can surf – but maybe we should wait a few more days for some clearing of the water to take place. It’s not easy to watch these waves roll in, but in the daylight the obvious amount of river run-off has turned each wave a brown muddy color. Water and various bacteria issues are common world-wide. Caution, a hot shower after a dip in the seas affected by run-off, make all the difference.

We were on Maui and Oahu a few times after winter rains flooded rivers driving golf course and farm run-off into the sea. Warning signs at the beaches were very clear – DO NOT GO INTO THE WATER. Both bacteria and other (think shark) risk occur while the water is murky.

As we drove up the coast from Brookings, past Gold Beach to Port Orford we passed numerous rivers and creeks, all coursing their way to sea. The beaches are carved with picturesque pools and sandbars from the fresh water sculpting. But the browns of these waters contrast sharply with the clean green-blue of the bays away from the rivers. Ore-South-South-Coast

For that reason we decided to do our crabbing off the working dock at Port Orford. Good decision! It was informational, fun to talk with the local crabbers and staff on the dock.

Seals played and the male crabs eluded us – but we grabbed our share of fun.

So, no surfing for a day or so. Thinking water should clear considerably by Thursday – and the waves are predicted to be chest to head high, our favorite. Winds, calm. Even better!

brcrabfoot brcrabgirls brcrabsubset brcrab1

Here Comes the Sun: SUP Trip Fun

IMG_4695After four days of dark day cloudiness (exciting storm-watch fun days)  the sun set on the Pacific last night switching on golden beauty.

This shot of a 100 ft tall haystack off Harris Beach State Park provided an incredible burst of orange sunburst through a wave-worn notch at its base.

Without gale force winds and sideways rain we suddenly couldn’t wait to explore our beach. For the first time we took the short hike from our campsite down the trail to the nearby “marine gardens” area. There are no words for what we encountered. IMG_4677

The surf report says today andThursday could be just the conditions we have hoped for. With daytime highs at 60 degrees we are ready for an all day adventure with sand and/or waves underfoot.

grottoThe last stormy day did not disappoint. If you are in the Coos Bay area, be sure to fuel up with fish and chips at Fisherman’s Grotto. We ran into a Simpson local (his great grandfather was part of the original group to settle Charleston) full of stories. No matter who came in, conversation bubbled from table to table – and the fish ‘n chips were crisp and delicious.

shore-acres-state-parkOur next stop was Shore Acres Park where we hung onto the viewing rail a hundred feet above the raging sea smashing sky high wave bursts.  If the frigid wind didn’t chill us to the bone we would have stayed for hours.

IMG_4684Tide pools, rock formations, cliff views and trekking – this winter SUP trip is delivering beyond expectation.

IMG_4689

 

SUP Travel: Expect Wonder

road1If you have been following the “Great Oregon Winter SUP Road Trip” you know that an epic (in a negative way) three-day long band of intense rain and wind storms is hammering the coastline from Northern CA  north through the Oregon coast.  (Day 1 StoryDay 2 Story)

Actually, it’s not a problem. The RV sites we have found have been STELLAR.

road2Last night as the winds roared wild from the south,  gusting to 50 or more, we slept soundly at Harbor Vista Park (Lane County) outside of Florence. If you plan to go there you will be happy with any site, but for unobstructed ocean views – plan ahead and try to get #13 (secret awesome tip). Just a short walk from the site you’ll find a great hike to a wide area where the Siuslaw River joins the Pacific. Seals play and so will you.

road7Today we worked our way down to Harris Beach State Park in  Brookings. Along the way we saw a sign with flashing lights that said, “GUSTING WINDS next 27 miles” – what were we supposed to do? We drove on. Later we saw a sign that said “high water,” and a mile down the road we were pushing a pretty big bow wake with our truck and trailer.

We arrived at Harris Beach State Park and scored an awesome, ocean view site (bonus tip – A 18 can’t be reserved but try to get it). Right now we are being hammered by a powerful storm band, but again, we are loving the ocean view right from the couch where I’m typing. Within a 30 minute walk in any direction there are rocks and views we plan to absorb over the next week. road5

Our Naish Hokuas are still wrapped in their board bags, the surf is chaotic and huge. The rivers are pouring muddy fresh water into the sea, so surfing is not particularly inviting or safe. That said, the beaches in this area could not be more picture postcard perfect. As we drove through Bandon we took a shoreline detour and found a great beach walk in the Devil’s Kitchen area.  The sun came out, creating a monochromatic scene.

road4So, until the weather clears we will spend some time watching H2Mexico and The SUP Movie while the rain pelts us. But don’t worry. We are well fed and pretty happy. We had a yummy fish and chips at the warm and cheery Crazy Norweigan restaurant in Port Orford. As the evening evolves, a nice bottle of Beaujolais-Villages keeps me calm while the trailer wiggles from time to time.

But tomorrow – the BIG storm band is on its way. By noon the weather man predicts the worst of the storm will be upon us and winds will be blowing off the chart. Stay tuned.

 

 

Rainy Winter Coast Trip: Yippee!

Me and Ed at Hollywood, FL beach in summer 1965. Yup, 50 years together.

Me and Ed at Hollywood, FL beach in summer 1965. Yup, 50 years together.

During the 52 years we lived in South Florida there were norms. You didn’t go to the beach in the rain, you wore bathing suits to the beach, not raingear and fleece, and you didn’t go to the beach when it was cold (think less than 65 degrees) out. Now, after 14 years in Oregon we are packing up the trailer and heading to the Southern Oregon coast from Florence to Brookings.

I “get” the mascots chosen by Oregon State and University of Oregon now. The Ducks and the beavers. As I pack I make sure to have down and water repellant gear (Go Ducks). I have warm shoes, boots and my SUP paddle for exploring the rivers and bays (Go Beavers).

Naish ONE inside, some snacks and a camera! Ready to go Alpine SUPping

Naish ONE inside, some snacks and a camera! Ready to go

The crab trap and fishing gear is packed. We have our Naish ONE inflatables tucked into the truck and our Hokuas bagged and on the roof. KIALOA paddles for surfing and exploring are in their bags. We have a huge crab pot, a grill basket for fresh fish, GoPro and cameras. We have wetsuits and booties – OK, let’s GO!

kiawandastorm2A winter beach trip in Oregon may not promise balmy, sunny days – who cares? We expect wonder, awe, beauty and surprises. Stay tuned for “talk story” as these former Floridians get their gray-wet-winter coastal baptism.

Great Winter SUP Trip Great Winter Trip Day 2SUP Travel: Expect Wonder Rainy Days and Sunday: Cozy FoodHere Comes the SunWinter Glassy Surf: Brookings OregonStories from Under the Waves –SUP Adventures:  Nature Dictates –

SUP Fitness Training: Got Stoke?

candice-ex1Why do we do all of those push ups? Why do we push, pull and lunge through TRX workouts and hit the gym for strength, endurance and flexibility between sessions on the water? Is it to look like Candice Appleby, on the left, as she hits the surf for some weekend waves and fun?

Candice Appleby scores photo of the day and 2014 World Series & Grand Slam event Titles in Huntington

Candice Appleby scores photo of the day and 2014 World Series & Grand Slam event Titles in Huntington

The real answer is: We workout hard and get to the water at every opportunity so that we can get the same stoke Candice enjoys again, and again and again throughout all of our decades. And – whatever our abilities. It doesn’t take many weeks of following the posts elite waterwoman and champion shares to realize that she balances  grit, focus and a fierce competitive nature with an abundance of joy, aloha, sharing and all-encompassing love for being in and on the water. We go to the gym and train hard even when it is cold, windy, less-than-stellar conditions because we want to be ready for “those days.”

Fun wave, new Naish Hokua, cold water, Pacific City, Oregon stoke. First wave in my 66th year.

Fun wave, new Naish Hokua, cold water, Pacific City, Oregon stoke. First wave in my 66th year.

Whatever “those days” mean to you, be sure to reflect on them when they happen. Imprint a mental image and savor the moment. When you hit the gym and notice your abs are missing their 6-pack or the scale registers 10 lbs too many, go back to the real reason you are training. What’s YOUR stoke?

chuck-fun1

Photo Credit: Chuck Patterson from Facebook

Let’s end this article with a quote from the ultimate stoke-meister, Chuck Patterson. FOLLOW him on Facebook for daily energy and inspiration, “”The one having the most fun; always wins in the end”. Always begin and end your day with a smile and your sure to get one back in return.”

BOO and the 2014 Gorge Distance Race

Screenshot (69)On July 19, 2014 the Bend Oregon Outrigger Canoe Club (BOO) competed in the Gorge Distance Race hosted by Waterwalker at Stevenson Washington. The race was approximately 12 miles and is one of the most challenging races of the year. Check out the map for details.

The Columbia River Gorge is a canyon of the Columbia River in the Pacific Northwest and is well known for its extreme wind and fast waters.  In Bend, OR practice is held from March into the Fall in the relatively calm waters of the Deschutes River. Even though many members have experience in the open ocean and in the conditions of the Columbia River, the conditions in Stevenson, WA on July 19 were very challenging.

boo-huiCut to a pre-race huli – and the men’s open OC-6 team got a hasty and wet warmup. One of the more experienced of the BOO men’s team, John Von Gaertner was very pleased with how the team calmly got the canoe upright and back ready to paddle.

One thing he did mention was that the iako was set at 69 inches. In the wind and wave conditions it might have been better to set it out a bit further.  As it was, there was little extension of the iako past the hull so when they tried to stand on the end to counter-balance and right the canoe there was very little footing.  Some of the teams had added weight to the ama – which is allowed. That and other strategy decisions are part of what makes racing in challenging conditions so compelling.

SUP athlete and guest paddler, Glenn Haupt (Bend) explained, “We managed to right the canoe and get back in fairly easily. It was good experience for me to huli – and then get my mind back into thinking about paddling, timing, keeping up my power and focusing on my stroke.  It was my first time catching waves from anything larger than a SUP raceboard.

We would catch swells and bump our speed in the process – but from Seat 5 I felt in the middle of 2-3 troughs and swells, not feeling us catch the glide like I am used to. It was exhilarating and fun – and exhausting!”

Coming from Oregon you cross the Bridge of the Gods to get to the little town of Stevenson, site of the Gorge Outrigger race.  Here you will find one of the most beautiful views in the Pacific Northwest and definitely one of nature’s most challenging race courses.

With the wind and waves delivered last Saturday, the start was a very tricky time for a steersman and the crew.  Glenn had a bit to say about the experience, “As we made our final turn back into the wind, we encountered the largest swells yet….head on.  It was pretty gnarly trying to turn the canoe. I thought it would be easier since we were with the current at that turn – not so.  Several times I flew out of my seat only to be caught by the spray skirt which held me in tight.  The final leg was definitely the hardest. I gained a ton of respect for the skills and fitness that outrigger racing demands.”

BOO coach and stroke for the Gorge Race, Jason Tedrow,  was very pleased with how the crew performed in very challenging conditions. The crew was comprised of a mix of experienced and novice paddlers. Reflecting on decisions he had to make as far as stroke pace, power and strategy he had this to say, “Thinking back on what I might have done to create an overall faster boat and maybe a better experience for all might have been to slow the frequency of the stroke a bit. This might have given the less experienced paddlers more time to get their return and catch completed. That could also have improved our overall timing – and as a result improved our hull speed.”

The BOO Women’s team paddled the gnarly 12 miles in 1:51:15 – which is a long time to stay focused, tough and fast in big winds and waves. They scored a 4th place finish among 12 starting canoes – huge shout out for an amazing race!

Here are some photos from the 2012 and the 2013 race – view and enjoy.