10 Reasons to SUP with a Dog

Chad Brockman and his surf-dog, Red in Arizona

Chad Brockman and his surf-dog, Red in Arizona

We’ve seen the “wow” videos of a dog standup surfing in one remarkable clip after another. Maybe your dog prefers an extra dog biscuit over an extra wave.  If your dog simply likes to fetch a tennis ball or run a trail with you, why would you go to the effort to engage the pup in SUP?

A great photo from a collection you’ll want to explore at Sup Dogs

1. You see the world in a different way by slowing down to the comfort speed for your dog.

2.  A big “woof” enhances a shriek of “cowabunga”

3.  NO one wants to be left in the car with a treat when the real treat is exploring a lake, the birds, the fish and the ducks

4.  Running up and down the board between the human’s legs is the best dog-joke ever. “Hee hee hee, 4-legged balance rocks.”

5. Getting creative with non-slip deck options is good for your mind

6. Getting your dog the best life jacket possible = priceless

7. Scooping poochie out of the surf, with tail wagging after a wipeout = team work!

8.  Wonder, mostly found in great quantity when SUP is shared with a kid – multiples with doggie exuberance. Did you ever wonder what your dog is thinking as the waves lap under the board and the paddle swirls rings among the ripples on a lake?

9.  Friends – you’ll discover plenty who want to stop, chat, take pictures and exclaim over your cool dog – and you can bask in the residual great karma.

10. Fun is so much more fun when shared with your best friend. OK – ready, go hand 20 with your best friend!

Sprocket goes Hawaiian during the Bend Paddle Challenge in 2011. Photo by Ed Shasek

Are You RED-y For Fall Paddling?

Flip flops and bikinis, shorts and suntans – summer paddling has a personality all its own. Late in the summer, we did an article on the awesome colors we experience while standup paddling. The summer focus was blue.  Now that the clouds across much of the globe are more gray and the temperature more chilly, paddling on our rivers, lakes and bays has morphed from a world of sun and blues to the brilliant reds, oranges, gold and grays of fall. While those in cooler climes tend to have a bad case of “tropical-envy” during the long dark months of winter, there is a treasure of color during our Fall season.

I usually try to capture some of these colors while paddling. Last weekend, local standup paddler Dennis Oliphant took some pictures while hiking along some of our favorite sections of the Deschutes River in Central Oregon. It’s much more common to see Dennis, owner of esteemed Sun Country Tours,  paddling rivers, rapids, surfing oceans, and down-winding lakes.  Dennis has been on and around the water both as a professional and as an athlete his entire life, but on this day he was on the shoreline.

The transition from summer to fall catches us by surprise, often with a cover of clouds banking across the usually cloudless skies of the high desert region. In the next three photos, the blue of summer is toned with the gray of impending fall. With a few frosty nights under our belts, we are now being treated to the flaming reds and golds that reflect on the water and make every paddle almost sensory overload. Dennis captured a series of photos that share the diverse personality of the Dillon Falls section of the Deschutes River south of Bend. Celebrate the energy of this season. Put on your booties (and your safety gear, brrrrrrrrr if you do fall in) and immerse yourself in the brief, but exquisite, gift of fall color. Don’t forget the camera.

Elk Lake in the Fall. Photo by Peter Simons (Bend, OR)

Dennis Oliphant captures the serene mood of glassy water.

Healy rapids near Bend, Oregon

Photo by Dennis Oliphant

Photo by Dennis Oliphant

Photo by Dennis Oliphant

License to Play!

Ahh, the day job. I have read all the books and make a true effort to worker smarter not harder. Some days are more difficult than others, especially when the exquisite days of summer SUP seem to be coming to an end far too quickly. While I subscribe to a philosophy of PL-ORK (play at work) the day’s lineup of responsibilities can overwhelm. Have you ever felt that way? (silly question)

Yesterday was one of those days. I have a complete re-write of my PA Pharmacy (day job) website on-going and the energy wasn’t translating so well. At an early morning break I came across a welcome e-mail from KIALOA paddles.They shared a new video that was hard to resist with this introduction, “Straddling the line between creativity and insanity, you are just as likely to hear a discussion on His Holiness the Dali Lama and the merits of Heavy Metal, as one on hydrodynamics and higher design when you visit the shops of  Gerry Lopez Surfboards and Dave Chun’s KIALOA Paddles.

I am so fortunate to live in Bend, OR where both of those uber-cool guys have their shops. Added to that is the occasional opportunity to experience a yoga class at Groove Yoga lead by Gerry Lopez. Maybe that proximity to the Dave-Gerry blend of creativity/insanity made me particularly susceptible to the philosophy of the video, maybe it was just a stellar day outdoors when my head was all mothballs and dust. Whatever the convergence of luck would have it, watching that video changed my day. Take a look for yourself.

How productive was I going to be looking out of my office window and fighting with the task at hand? I took the message from the film as “license to play.”

Not 45 minutes later I was at Groove Yoga sweating through exactly the class I needed. With my trusty Amundson surfboard on the roof rack, class was followed by a short drive down to Lava Camp and the river launch spot just upstream from Benham Falls. Ahhh, breathing in that crisp air while applying massive amounts of sunscreen was just what I needed. I took off upstream planning to go about 4 or 5 miles before turning around for a down-current ride back.

The gods of wind had to be chuckling, throwing gusts right into my face during the up-current paddle. “Are you kidding?”

No problem, it was an unexpected play session smack in the middle of the work day. Music in my ears consisted of a playlist created by my 10-year-old granddaughter, and it kept me smiling. About 90 minutes into the paddle I hit the 4 1/2 mile mark (GPS and mileage by Nike+). A quick turn and I was soaring back downstream. The easier paddle back allowed lots more time to let the endorphins and the views kick in.

Did I hit the office with enthusiasm later that afternoon? You bet! The day allowed me just a couple of hours of work but it was productive – or maybe my mindset imagined it so. In any event, nothing was lost by the hours of escape from routine and some sweet river diversion. Thanks to Dave Chun and Gerry Lopez for the inspiration and license to play.

Big Winds Connecting Generations

Steve Gates of Big Winds in Hood River Oregon has a philosophy that resonates with Elder SUP, ” I am inspired by everyone who is trying to make our planet a better place for everybody.”

Connecting with the younger generation and providing them with skills and a community focused on those values is about the best way to insure a “better planet for everybody.”  Steve Gates enthusiastically shared his commitment to Team Big Winds in a recent phone conversation. There was no denying how cool he thinks the kids are and how impressed he is with their dedication to acquiring skills for their sport.

Team Big Winds showed up in force in early July at the Willamette SUP Cup in Lake Oswego, Oregon. The eighteen member team made up almost a third of the entire fleet! The challenging course had a nice variety of tight turns, long straights, current, breeze, showers and sunshine. Something for everyone!

Team BW placed 4 in the top ten in the men’s Elite, with Ben Grodner in 5th, MacRae Wylde in 6th, Rob Dies in 9th and Steve Gates in 10th (Steve is there in the center of the picture at left). Ford Huntington won the Rec Class in his first ever SUP race. Fiona Wylde just edged out teammate Alyson Fromm (a mere 5 seconds!) as the girls went 1-2 in the Women’s Elite. And, Team BW coach Steve Gates won the Men’s 50+ Class.

It was great fun for the whole team, with many participating in their first SUP race!

Now the training continues in preparation for the Columbia Gorge Paddle Challenge, August 18 and 19, when Team Big Winds will try to defend its home turf as the best racers from all over world descend on Hood River for the spectacular paddling conditions of the Columbia Gorge.

I am both excited and a bit intimidated about participating in my first Paddle Challenge in Columbia Gorge. When my daughter and son-in-law eagerly made reservations to come watch me “swim with the sturgeon” my tummy did a flip flop. Seriously?

I am counting on a training run with Karen Wrenn and advice along with some great equipment from Steve and Big Winds to be a big part of my enjoying the event.  Steve has an extensive background in water sports, with over 30 years of windsurfing, kiting and SUPing. As he inquired about my skills, experience and goals for the race (safely completing it) he reinforced the need to have the right equipment. I am really looking forward to using the Naish 12’6″ Glide that is 30 inches wide (stable and easier to ride at my level).   It’s great to recognize the enormous spirit of sharing and support around the sport of standup paddling, and among the team at Big Winds.

SUP Paradise

Writing, creating, developing marketing strategies and such in my “day job” often sends me to the river all foggy-brained.  Recently I made a playlist for a friend heading to the Yukon River Paddle Quest (go Pam and Karen, both age 50 and doing great in the race today). The drive from Oregon to the race was long enough to beg a special road-trip playlist. With that playlist on my iPod I headed to the water on an overcast, windy day a bit cooler than “summer” should be.  The goal, 5 smooth miles in the aerobic zone.

Elder SUP paddling with Coldplay musicReally, how long does it take for the “should be doings” to drop away and the rhythm of paddle strokes, breathing and savoring the energy on the river to take hold. Not long. Rounding a large rock covered with a gaggle of curious geese, iIdid a nice tail turn across the Healy Rapids. Scuffling water swooshed over my standup board, barefeet would have smiled if they could! Whipping into the current and soaring the final mile or so back to the car Coldplay came on with “Paradise.”  The lyrics maybe didn’t fit as much as the pure tones – ahh, my mind took the time to savor the experience.

Loading board and paddle back at the car I was a thoroughly different person a mere 90 minutes later. Access to “walking on water” is available in almost any town where a river, lake, bay or ocean beckon. It’s paradise! Got paddle? Got a board – make your own paradise wherever you are.


Chip Booth: Standup Guy

Chip is not only the owner of StandupPaddle Bend, but he is one community minded all-round standup guy. He and his wife, Lainey, worked long and hard throughout this spring in order to deliver an awesome community event on June 16th, 2012. This was the second annual Bend Paddleboard Challenge – and a challenge it was. As with many local events, sponsorship is a tough aspect of delivering an amazing event. When one key sponsor was unable to p[participate, the Booth family reached deep in both time and financial support to make the event happen.

With the help of our favorite KIALOA paddles, all participants and many others enjoy an amazing luau lunch after the race from Kona Mix Plate. After a morning of sun, fun, paddling and racing it was a welcome way to refuel deliciously.  With vendors from Nayad SwimGym, Standup Paddle Magazine, Progressive Screen Printing and Bend Parks & Rec there was plenty to experience all day long.

For a full list of sponsors please go to the website.

In the water the competition was top-notch. The results carry all the details, but can’t capture the energy, smiles, camaraderie and energy. The MC, Al Paterson, did a great job of keeping all up to date with stories, details and race updates throughout the morning.

Difficult to capture, because of his very humble nature, is the degree of commitment that Chip Booth has for the recipients of this community-connecting fundraising event. So many locals have been working for years for the Bend Paddle Trail Alliance. No less dedicated are those who work for the Deschutes River Conservancy – and many are active for both important river initiatives. In this economy, it’s not so easy to reach deep into our own pockets for causes – even when we believe in them with a passion.  We’re all very busy, and investing weeks on end to a community event can be as challenging – as the long course in the Bend Paddleboard Challenge – maybe more. 

But Chip Booth stayed the course and we appreciate the opportunity to enjoy our favorite sport together with paddlers and spectators right in the heart of our home town. If you enjoy our wonderful Deschutes River recreation and sport environment on any sort of floating, fishing, hiking, or other way, take the time to explore the ways you can help Chip, and all the river-lovers in Central Oregon to make our river environment the best it can be.

Just as Chip is a great person-resource for our hometown, so is the beautiful Deschutes, Go out, play and enjoy!

Winds of (Standup Paddle) Fortune

Elder SUP paddle Bend OregonIt’s a long story (video – see below) but today was one of my last training days before next week’s 11-lap / 31-miler standup paddle in the Deschutes River following the route through the Old Mill District of Bend, OR. I bundled my iPhone in its waterproof case and logged into Nike+ GPS so that I would be certain to log my scheduled 6 mile course. I had left the house just after 7 am in order to miss the wind that had been whipping up white caps up and down the river all week.

Don’t get me wrong, sometimes the wind is my friend, like when my buddy Cristina Acosta and I use her hand-painted sarongs to glide down wind. But when going for mileage up and down a river, with a against some pretty hefty current, the wind is a totally different “friend.”

By the time I got ready to launch my SUP board the wind was more than 15 mph and increasing, but the flag on the stacks showed it was blowing behind me while I trekked up-current (Horray!)

So weirdly, the up current leg seemed really easy.  I got into a rhythm and a glide. The upstream turn at the rapids just past the Healy Bridge seemed to come up more quickly than usual, but it actually hadn’t been as fast as it seemed. Nike+ gave me my splits and I was a bit slower than usual. Mmmm?  The last rock on river right is my turn buoy, so I rounded it ready for the down stream leg #1. Wow! Wind in the face, but it had to be a faster leg since it was down current. Once I passed under the flags at mile 2.4 I wondered if I was going to make any headway. Tucking close to the bank trying to avoid the wind, head down and choked up on the paddle handle I started a fast and steady paddle pace. Exhilarating for sure. Elder SUP at healy bridge bend oregon

Rounding the buoy just before the spillway  Nike+ reported my pace and I had shaved 3 minutes off my last upstream mile – in spite of how the 25mph wind-in-the-face actually felt. This got me thinking. (Scary!)

Life, sometimes when we are in the flow it seems like all of our effort is driving us toward goals and successes. While paddling a rhythmic pace against a pretty strong current, the steady wind at my back made the journey delightful.  The chorus of wind ripples playing under my board as it glided up river was energizing and sweet. Reaching, planting the paddle, executing a smooth catch, stroke and return happened easily. Yet, there was a powerful current working its best against my forward movement. With its effects buried beneath the forward moving wind-powered surface of the river the paddle seemed almost effortless.

Doesn’t life do that for us – at times. Even when it’s an uphill battle something plays the role of “wind at our back” and that makes all the difference.

Similarly, when life is good – a down-wind cruise if we let it – a bit of unexpected “wind in our face” sets us back. Mentally or emotionally, what seems to be the driving force in things, what’s visible and obvious is not always so. Just like my struggle to keep the nose of my board into the wind and churning chop seemed to make that part of the journey slower, in reality the deeper down-river current provided a faster run.

Before I knew it my 6.22 miles was done – maybe it was the endorphins or the insights, but I left that training run fully charged!

Who’s “Saving the World” in 2012?

Just read a disturbing article that included a picture of a sad-faced beach-goer who had collected a huge black float that drifted ahead of the massive amount of tsunami debris. Disasters like that tsunami are horrific events generating devastating human and personal loss. The side effects ripple out in thousands of ways. Like many disasters and challenging events, there is also the opportunity to join together and create community and positive impact from them.

One example is the non-profit group Stopping Oregon’s Litter and Vandalism says it’ll be ready when that debris does wash up. The group already organizes two massive Oregon beach clean-ups every year. “We know that we can organize people to get out and help take care of the problem once it’s there,” said SOLV executive director Melisa McDonald. Peterson anticipates debris from the tsunami will continue to show up on our coast for about three to five years as it keeps circulating around the Pacific Ocean. Alone, the few things we might pick up in a river, lake, stream or ocean as we engage in our sport amount to a drop in a bucket – but there is amazing power in our collective efforts.

Jim Moriarity, CEO of the Surfrider Foundation, shared how Surfrider which is comprised of 250,000 supporters and 84 chapters across the U.S will Change the World in 2012 by protecting the coasts through engaged activism and by scaling effective ideas across a connected learning network. “A network becomes stronger, more valuable and more potent when it consistently learns from itself,” said Moriarity.

As 2012 opens we’d like to showcase and report on other water-efforts that you might be involved in. We can promote your websites, blogs and links so that more people can make a choice and make a difference – collectively.

Let us know if you are on Twitter so @eldersup can follow you.

Go beyond the re-usable bag – BEAT PLASTIC on our BEACHES

Back in the day, we all remember when. There were no plastic water bottles.  Plastic bags, packaging redundancy and seemingly indestructible containers were not the norm. So was it easier to be recycle-savvy?

Maybe it was.  There was another difference, too.  We were all outside more often a few decades ago. Kids got dirty, explored woods, trees, water, rocks, mountains, beetles, birds and everything in between.  We all were more connected to the natural world because we were in it – outside – without the media spin or editing of today’s “nature shows.”

Out of sight of the film crews, textbook exploration of beaches and outside of the resort or “Disney-fied” beach experience, millions of pounds of plastic )bottles, bags, shoes, packaging, and objects float in daily.  We know that. We do what we can do personally – but how do we expand our influence?

Taking on that task, Patagonia, Gerry Lopez and others use their communication skills and influence to share stories that inspire awareness and change.  Gerry has lent his voice to the Plastic Pollution Coalition’s mission to bring awareness to the growing problem of single-use plastics. We hope you’ll share this article to your friends, family and social networks.


Wherever you live there is probably a Surfrider Foundation group nearby.  With October comes Raptober and the “Rise Above Plastic” effort.  If plastic all over our beaches and waterways breaks your heart the way it does mine, join the effort today.

SUPers vs Plastic

If you follow standuppaddlemovie (awesome trailer here) on Facebook you have seen the powerful video they shared featuring Jenny Kalmbach.  Reading over her blog it was very cool to discover that she spent many of her early SUP days with Jack Gillen.  I was fortunate to meet Jack at my home here in Oregon, then paddle out to some crystal clear swells off shore from the  Honokohau Harbor for my first surfing – it had been 40 years since my last surfing in South Florida mush waves (WOW!).

It’s easy to get mesmerized by Jenny’s power and grace across some sweet little wave faces, but the message is clear. Because we have the SUP Perspective, we have an eagle-eye view of what’s going on in the world’s waters when it comes to the impact of plastics.

If you have participated in a cleanup or other event geared to reducing the use of plastic water bottles, bags or cleanup, please share a quick post or idea here. Note to Jenny: We’d love to share more, please contact us for a short interview. Note to standuppaddlemovie: How can we get your film to Central Oregon? We are a SUP mecca!