Columbia River Inn: Home Base for Adventure

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Nestled in an azure bay of the Columbia River

When the sign says “Best Western Plus” along the Oregon side of the Columbia River we have learned THAT’S where to stay in the Columbia Gorge Scenic area. We’ve shared many stories about Hood River Inn about 20 miles east of the  Best Western Plus Columbia River Inn. This trip we decided to soak up the culture, history, hiking, biking, paddling, wine or beer sampling and fishing by staying in Cascade Locks at the base of the incredible “Bridge of the Gods.”

Cascade Locks, Oregon, is located in the middle of the Columbia Gorge National Scenic Area, approximately 40 minutes east of Portland International Airport and 20 minutes west of the windsurfing Mecca of Hood River.

On the drive to the Columbia River Inn we passed many scenic waterfalls available from the road or by short hikes. In fact we were surprised to learn how the beauty and diversity of hikes had survived what had been a tough fire season in 2017. Oregonians love their wilderness and are at work restoring trails and natural areas. We learned about so many hiking options which would be amazing in the Fall. William Sullivan’s book, 100 Hikes in Oregon is a great reference – also his website. Some hikes to explore are Gillette Lake, Trout Creek and Snag Creek, all putting you in the footprints of adventurers on the Pacific Crest Trail. Summer volunteers are at many trailheads, if you visit in Fall or Winter, you can check out ReadySetGorge.com for up to date information.

As paddlers, our focus is usually on planning our down wind paddles and fun on the Columbia River. Once we settled in to our spacious river view room at the Columbia River Inn and looked out at the Bridge of the Gods we got curious about what this area was all about. Over the next few days we were much better visitors after spending a few hours at the Columbia Gorge Interpretive Museum (Stevenson, WA). Armed with an appreciation of the history and people who carved out amazing lives and industries we toasted their grit over local wines. The Columbia River Gorge wine region is known as “a world of wine in 40 miles.” bw-6

Recreational options nearby include world-class white water rafting, mountain biking, sail and kite boarding, and year round skiing on the slopes of Mt. Hood. Cascade Locks even has their own historic sternwheeler, the Columbia Gorge, departing daily from the nearby Marine Park for tours of the river.

bw-4We loved planning our day on the sheltered patio just outside of the pool area at the Columbia River Inn. Over coffee in the morning or a local wine in the evening (beer for me) we never tired of the view.

A warm, to-order breakfast that’s included with the room is always a bonus. We loved heading next-door to the Bridgeside Restaurant for local favorites prepared our way. I love crispy hashbrowns. All it took was a request and the golden brown goodness was all mine to enjoy with eggs my way and tasty sausage. There are choices for all tastes, including juice and beverage. Best of all, locals love to eat there, too. We met through hikers off the Pacific Crest Trail as well as other travelers.bs-1

It’s time to look forward to Fall and Winter is this wonderland. Enjoy your trip.

 

Jane McKee: Living Legend – Loving the Racing Life

A few days ago I was following some of Jane McKee’s recent adventures and channel crossings when I noticed Sean Sweet mentioned her as a “Living legend.”  I imagine Jane is simply doing what her heart and soul inspires her to – while having a ton of fun. I wondered, and asked Jane, “Who are some other living legends who have influenced or inspired you lately?” jane-gnarly

Jane replied with this fascinating summary from an inspiring waterwoman, “I just love being on the water. And I love racing! Racing forces me to be a better version of myself, not just physically, but mentally. There is something about pushing your body beyond its comfort level that helps you better able to deal with difficult situations in other parts of your life.

Racing has a meditative effect. When you are out there for hours, you sort through all kinds of things. Sometimes emotional pain is worse than physical pain so I know if I can go out and be on the water, in any capacity, my worries will sort out. It’s like they say, salt water heals. So paddling has a much deeper meaning for me.

nappy.jpgSome people that have inspired me would be my friend Nappy Napolean, who still paddles well into his seventies. He just loves to paddle! And he is such a great  ambassador for the sport. I think the fountain of youth is to keep moving, and he  is a classic example of what you can do.

Jane seemed to excel in so many disciplines throughout 2018. I wondered why she loves each of them each and asked for a hierarchy of how each might serve to cross train the over age 50 water athlete.

Jane shared this: I had a really good OC1 season this year. I never came in less than third place overall in our winter series, including the M2M, Molokai to Oahu one man relay with partner Alan Goo-Frasier, and Olukai races.

jane-sailI came in 8th out of 24 in the Molo solo and won two M2M races on the one man this summer. I also participate in the Hawaiian Sailing Canoe Racing series with Team Hui Nalu. We sail the entire main Hawaiian Island chain over the course of the summer. I have been canoe sailing for 18 years and it is just amazing. I raced the Napali one man race and the Napali Challenge 6 man race recently.

I just completed my first M2O SUP race with team mates Jen Fuller and Kristin Thomas. We had a blast and won our division!

I had decided last year to not race with a club anymore for 6 man. I have been paddling 6 man for 26 years and realized that summer offers a whole new world of opportunities for fun racing in all venues that I had been missing out on.

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Photo Credit: M Pauole

It is interesting, that since I have been paddling SUP, my OC1 paddling has improved. SUP provides the strength training and OC1 my cardio and speed, they really compliment each other. I say padding a SUP is like Crossfit on a board!

I cannot even contemplate such a full schedule of events – especially across one sweet summer. Jane seems to be hopping from event to event, I asked her to describe her in-between training routine. To what does she attribute your success?

This response came easily to Jane: I think my success is attributed to the love of racing and paddling. I love the excitement of racing, getting ready, the nerves at the start line and the knowledge that it ain’t over till it’s over! I won some of my races last year by a hair, literally down to the second, so knowing that will push you to the end.

As far as training, I try to split the workouts between SUP and OC1. I find I can only do SUP about 2-3X a week so have to hop on my OC1 to rotate muscle groups so I don’t get over use injuries. I am a huge proponent of massage therapy, I go on an average of once a week.

Okay, you made it this far in the article and now comes the “STORY!” Enjoy it!

Jand McKee and the 2018 M2O

100SO! I had been escorting people for the M2O for a few years, Armie Armstrong from NZ, Annabel Anderson, and a Brazilian Prone paddler last year. I have crossed the Kaiwi channel more than 50 times between OC1, 6man and sailing canoe, but never on a SUP.  Kristin Thomas and Jen Fuller from California were my Facebook friends and I knew they were good paddlers, so I threw it out to them to do a team together.

They were keen, so we were all set to race! We decided to call ourselves Team C&H (California and Hawaii, get it?) They came a few days before the race and we did a few downwinders, and that is all the practice the got before the channel. I was really proud of how they did especially because it turned out to be one of the toughest channels in a decade. A dumping tide made it sticky, crazy disorganized swell, everyone said it was hard.  I have a lot of respect for the athletes that do M2O solo. 100-award

I think the best part of the race was coming away with some wonderful new friends! I had always heard such great things about Jen and Kristin and now I have a whole new group of amazing women athletes as gal pals! We laugh that we will be doing this race together until we are 100.

 

Cali Paddler: If You Paddle You Get It

The thing that caught my eye and got me very interested in Cali Paddler was a challenge posted on Facebook. It was the “Trash Pickup Challenge” for World Ocean Day. But it’s a habit we can enjoy every day. From the website, “For every mile we paddlers enjoy, let’s commit to one piece of trash. Do #cpcleanup in a photo post on social media of your mileage and equivalent trash haul (from the water or beach after) and watch how your actions will inspire others.” Our actions can inspire others. This simple truth resonates in an essay by Greg Gagnon

I was struck Greg’s question of “How a single bottle cap can alter the future” got to the heart of both the problem and the solution in a few short paragraphs in his essay. Simple and profound “After a while, a gentleman walked up to me and asked why I was picking up plastic bottle caps. You are no doubt shaking your head, saying to yourself ‘really dude?,’ and I felt that way too. I told him, “they don’t belong on our beaches or in our oceans. Animals eat them, they don’t biodegrade, and it’s just plain nasty.
The gentleman said to me, “what’s the point? It won’t matter if you pick it up, because down the beach there are far more people dropping them, who could care less about it anyway.”

“I was struck thinking how two people could posses such different points of view. My point of view was one of hope, compassion, effort, and possibility. His view was who cares, why bother, save your energy because it won’t make a difference.”

How can we change the way the world treats plastic – and the Ocean – through connecting hope, compassion, effort and possibility?

Co-founder, Clarke Graves, filled in some more background, “At Cali Paddler, we feel that community is a solution to many things. And there are a LOT of paddlers out there. So, if we can build momentum as a whole to make it our everyday practice to be good stewards, that it will trickle on to other non-paddlers as well. We encourage paddlers to attend cleanup events, or host their own, help with petitions to reduce plastics and Styrofoam, and hold races and events accountable to be eco-friendly, that we can affect a lot of positive change. We also feel that it is our duty to shine a spotlight on those doing amazing things. And re-enforce their behavior with well-deserved public praise. For that reason we started our CP Spotlight program awhile back that does just that.

Sometimes making a difference seems daunting, but any effort, big or small is important, so we try to share every day tips, that don’t take a lot of effort but can go a long way, such as reusable coffee mugs, declining straws, carrying water bottles to name a few.

cali-1Cali Paddler takes their community building efforts further through their Paddle Pledge program. Clarke explains it like this, “When Cali Paddler launched in 2015 we established our Paddle Pledge. Where we take 5% of all proceeds (not just profits mind you) and donate quarterly to wonderful groups and non-profits that make a solid difference in our waterways, on our beaches, and with our wildlife.

Initially we had 4 amazing groups that customers would choose from. Then in 2016 we added a specific ‘Cause Product’ to benefit a certain non-profit. In 2017 we took our model to a new level, where now every quarter we switch to a new non-profit to donate to and promote. This lets us give exposure to more groups, and support regions. Since our launch, paddlers who have bought our products have supported groups like Keep Tahoe Blue, Clean Oceans International, H20 Trash Patrol, Ocean Discovery Institute, Cal State Parks, San Diego Coast Keeper, and the Marine Mammal Center.” cali2

Cali Paddler is full of E.P.I.C. paddlers (Every Paddler In California). Like one of their featured paddlers, Loraine Gruber, I did the Battle of the Paddle in 2013 at age 64 – and won my age group (no one else was in it LOL!!!!) I love the idea that everyone can be E.P.I.C and an ambassador. I asked Clarke to tell us more about E.P.I.C. individuals that have been real “stars” in your eyes.

Clarke replied, “Oh wow, what a fun question. When we first started, we made it a point to not neglect anyone in our paddle community. Too often we felt companies catered to the elite, or a certain demographic. And yet it was the every-day-paddler who really made us love this sport. We made it our mantra to ‘Be EPIC’ (Every Paddler in California)! We make it a point to shine a light on those who may not be the fastest, but enjoy the sport the most, and those who help teach and share their stoke in the community. There are plenty of companies out there that will cater to the top 1%, a certain age, or body type. But we aim to embrace inclusivity to the max. Because really, paddling is fun, healthy and a lifestyle, regardless of who you are…if you paddle, you get it. cali3

As to who some of our favorite individuals are, we hesitate to name individuals, but there are a few things that just really make us beam…
• People who smile when they paddle.
• Loan their craft to anyone interested in trying it out.
• Are willing to paddle anywhere, anytime, on any craft.
• and finally, those who cheer for the paddlers in front of them, and the ones behind them.

Community building across a state as large as California is a huge task. Social media is a tool that helps Cali Paddler. Their approach is a great example for any paddling organization hoping to connect “their” community.
Clarke shared some tips, “Social media is a big tool for us. We use it, along with our website, to share events, groups and news. Too often the little races or shops get overlooked, so we do what we can spread the word about them in our calendars, directories, and social media. We also try our best to tell the stories of paddlers in their own words, about their experiences and knowledge. We have had locals share their favorite paddle places, stories of overcoming fear, showcased people taking on huge paddle challenges, and written about safety issues so can all come home with a smile after a paddle. Our main hashtag is our slogan #ifyoupaddleyougetit.
I asked Clarke to tell me some more about Cali Padller’s trash pickup challenge #miles = #pieces of trash. He shared, “In honor of World Oceans Day, we launched what we call the CP Clean Up Challenge (#cpCleanUp). It is our goal to create a new normal for when we finished a paddle, to pick up trash. Many awesome paddlers already do this, but we figured we could put a little twist on it by suggesting paddlers pick-up one piece of trash for every mile they paddle. So, if you get 4 miles in, then before you leave the beach or dock after, you hunt down 4 pieces of trash. We then encourage people on social media to tag #cpCleanUp with a picture of their trash, and maybe their gps data. Others will see this effort, and hopefully take part as well, and it will become a badge of honor and a movement as we earn the miles we got to enjoy. Word on the street is we will be reaching out to folks too we see taking part and occasionally sending out a little something as a thank you.”

Throughout the year Cali Paddler hosts cleanups as well. In the past they have done a July 5th cleanup with various locations in the state. Last year they had 11 locations that they supported and promoted where teams, businesses and individuals adopted a beach to clean after the 4th of July celebrations. They provide their reusable Cali Paddler Blue Buckets (#cpBlueBucket) to these efforts and to anyone who wants to have cleanups on their on schedule and make a difference.

Want to get some cool products and give back 5% in the process? Even if you don’t live in California you might like the spring launched Golden Poppy Design t-shirt (California’s state flower) which is printed on a tri-blend of recycled plastic, organic cotton and acrylic. It is soft, sturdy and one of many products they offer with an eye on the environment. cali4
Clarke concludes his interview with, “We understand that our business model of being a lifestyle brand (clothing and hats) is based on consumerism, so we try and make efforts to introduce eco-friendly items whenever possible. Just like all our products, 5% of proceeds from sales of this goes to non-profits. Currently the Marine Mammal Center in Sausalito California!”
How cool if every state developed their own State-Paddler-community!

Enter a Race – For the Clinic, Friends and Fun

It was one of those summer days that dawns with bluebird sky and warms with sunshine, community and good friends on the water – it was the Bend Paddle Challenge. I hadn’t participated in many races in the past 5 years, but with an eye on the 2018 Columbia Gorge Paddle Challenge and my Starboard Freeride 12’2″ X 30 paddleboard I felt trained enough to race the 5 miles. Even though most of the racers had 12’6″ or 14′ boards, I was fine with my board choice – this was a chance to do a hard training paddle with an event wrapped around it.

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The event kicked off on Friday night with a clinic by KIALOA paddles ‘Elele, Brett Saguid, on the lawn by the river behind Tumalo Creek Kayak & Canoe.  The two things I learned at that clinic that were so valuable during (the grueling) five mile race were:

    1. When going into the wind keep your body lower and feather your paddle on the return. I knew this, but in the last mile when the wind funneled strong into my face going into the final buoy turn area it was a great reminder.
    2. Take your paddle out at your toes for best lift and efficiency. Again, I knew this but when fatigue suggests leaving the paddle in the water “just a little longer” between strokes it was a great reminder. I made that my mantra, and used it to keep a solid paddle rhythm. My little “I am TIRED” brain had a different bpc-2script – and the result was a lot more fun throughout the entire race.

The buoys were placed for maximum spectator engagement so we had 10 buoy turns in 5 miles. This was great for me too. Since I was the old lady at the back of the pack, as I was coming in to turns I got to watch the trains of faster paddlers zoom by, sharing shouts of encouragement – or just a smile if we were too breathless to shout. I even got to the share a buoy turn with the 1st place winner, Brett, as he lapped me on my mile 3 and his mile 4.

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Thanks for the support and stoke throughout the entire race, Eva Scherer (1st Place)

So, I came in third (and I came in a few paddlers from last). It wasn’t because of my age category, there were no age categories. I got third because there were only 5 women entered in the event. It’s always fun to podium and the bonus was the cool pint-glass as trophy from Sunriver Brewing. But it would also have been great to have more women participating. I can totally understand some anxiety before doing “A RACE.”

But a switch in mindset could make participation much more inviting to first timers. For one, the Bend Paddleboard Challenge had a 1 mile sprint race with great energy, lots of novice participants (and some speedy experienced racers). Then there was the 5 person relay with a beach start.

Every participant was on the same KIALOA 12’6″ inflatable board. Spills and thrills and laughs were the name of the game.  There were almost as many people in the relay event as the main 5 mile event. And that’s the biggest bonus at a community SUP race – getting to know new people and having an amazing good time.

Taking advantage of pre-race clinics and meeting novice and experienced paddlers on land (over a beer – thanks, Sunriver Brewing) all add up to the best of our sport.

This video shows the beautiful day, the start on our in-town Deschutes River. I am on blue board with blue shirt and blue hat – hanging in there with a grin.

 

Captain Liz Clark: Swell and Awakening

lc-1Last night (April 13, 2018) the Patagonia store in Bend, Oregon had another of many great events (shop local and talk story). It was kick-off night for the Gerry Lopez Big Wave Challenge at Mt Bachelor over the weekend. The BIG story was the stellar presentation by sailor, surfer, author – Liz Clark.

Listening to her stories about living life on a sailboat while traveling around the world (although there were many challenging and difficult times) gave me a flashback to the very first sailing adventure hubby Ed and I took – on our honeymoon in 1970.

Liz took on the Pacific Ocean and the world, then wrote her incredible book, SWELL.. We simply took on the amazing and unspoiled Abaco, Bahamas of the 70’s. On a chartered 25′ sloop we were adventurers – in our own minds- living off the land and sea, because we had no money to spare. It was all here in photos (and a journal) to re-live today after hearing Liz.

Liz was introduced by two of the team at Changing Tides Foundation. A powerhouse of talented and dedicated women, Changing Tides has many ways we can be “Better Together” when it comes for taking care of the Ocean. Through mentorship and outreach they are changing lives. My favorite was the become engaged with their mission starting immediately is the Plastic Swear Jar Challenge.

lc3Liz shared so many nuggets of genius and inspiration. Not the least, “Living from the heart makes everything possible.” Her message was not about herself or her incredible accomplishments. It was all about staying awake, being vulnerable and connected while living our own best life with purpose.

Yes, you can get her book and really dive in. (published by Patagonia Books)If you’re like me, her final words really hit home – “Take pride in what you do for Mother Earth – she needs you!”

 

Love Your Ocean – Treasure the Whales (and all the marine life)

judyIt is possible to standup paddle all the way from Maui to the Molokini “seems like a crater but isn’t” area off the coast, but the weather and your paddling buddy need to be spot on. So we were fortunate to get aboard the Pacific Whale Foundation’s boat, Voyager, for a snorkel trip with entertaining and so capable, Capt Doug Hunt. The day dawned sunny with barely a breeze. Whales were breaching and rolling, nursing their young and putting on a show all the way out. (Learn more here)

boatThe snorkeling was great in spite of hundreds of people in the water. Once eyes were aimed at the reef and the antics of the wide variety of tropicals it seemed like we had the area to ourselves. On board, we were served fresh fruit, breads, juices and coffee by highly experienced crew, all with degrees in some form of marine biology and environmental studies. They were personable and shared information in the most engaging manner. download

ornate-butterflyHuge mahalos to Emily, Karin, Mel, Liv, Jamie and Mariah!!! After our second dive at Turtle Arches (wow, even cooler diversity of tropical fish) we had the best cookout! Veg burgers, ballpark steaks (beef hotdogs) and grilled chicken – with sides … and there were cookies! Can’t get all that on a SUP!

The best part of the experience was the knowledge that more than 80% of our ticket price goes directly to the Pacific Whale Foundation, everything we purchased in the store and our membership dollars all support dedicated people serving the source of “every second breath we take” – the Ocean.

If you love watching the whales of Maui at play – or wish you had…. go ahead and learn more about the Pacific Whale Foundation>

 

Kindergarten: A Standup Beginning

Zane Schweitzer released his first book (yes, more to come in 2018) in November of 2017. In spite of a competition and travel schedule that fills most of 10 months of the year, he is actively adding one more “podium” to his quiver – that of being a speaker sharing the same energy and spirit that flies off the pages of his book, Beneath the Surface. (Available on Amazon )

IMG_0941 (2)kkiiiWhile on Maui this week I had the great pleasure to hear Zane and Kimberly Yap, Miss Hawaii Filipina 2017) speak at King Kamehameha III Elementary in Lahaina. From the first moments there the experience was full of great memories, the warmth of the Lahaina community and inspiration for all. While Zane was visiting the class that his own former kindergarten teacher has this year.

She was thrilled to share this story of Zane at age 5, “There was a student who cried each day at school, saying he didn’t want to be there. Finally, one day Zane told him that he was going to be here in school every day anyway, he might as well be happy about it. Another time that same boy forgot his sandwich for a school trip. We had made some extras, but when he got it he proclaimed that he didn’t want peanut butter and jelly. Again, Zane gave him this advice, ‘You for got your sandwich and now you have a sandwich. Be grateful that you have a sandwich.’ That’s the kind of boy Zane was, from the beginning. We are so proud that he has come back now to share inspiration with the students.”

As the entire school gathered on the playground, with their own chairs and so much respect and orderly behavior, Zane and Kim began to speak. For nearly an hour, students from kindergarten to grade 5 listened with rapt attention. The stories and questions around the themes of discovering personal heroes, valuing personal dreams, abilities and passion and reflecting with gratitude daily seemed to touch each student with a personal impression. kkiiiiiii

Kim was elegant, beautiful, articulate – and funny. She connected with the audience through her zesty, yet humble, approach to important life lessons. Zane shared some adventures encountered through surfing and other waterman experiences, but his main theme included the importance of every person doing their part to develop a personal “Blue Life.”

The health of the Ocean, our playground and the source of every second breath, is the responsibility of each of us. Respect for the Ocean, the land and each other was shared in a manner that invited each student to see themselves in the story. The impact Zane and Kim had on the students was evident when their time to speak was over. A huge ovation was followed by the students returning to class. But they did not stay in class.

Many students had brought their copy of Beneath the Surface  and wanted Zane to sign it. Others came with paper, notebooks, shoes and even their shirts to be signed by Zane and Kim. Their message had resonated in the hearts of these children.

I know that Zane will be visiting many schools and speaking to groups of young people around the world. He and Kim just recently returned from a humanitarian trip to the Philippines. Hosted by local Rotary Clubs, Zane and Kim became immersed in local culture while sharing their energy and spirit.

Our Ocean will be the healthier for the inspiration Zane will share as he spreads the message of ways we can all live a “Deep Blue Life.” (Check out the VIDEO by Starboard and Sustainable Surf here). At schools and events around the world, individual children will be the wiser for the advice woven into a powerful invitation to discover a personal mission and path, to look for mentors to inspire, and to find the ways that each child can inspire others – all while practicing gratitude daily.

It might sound like a tall order. I believe that today’s young people are seeking exactly the challenges and reinforcement that Zane has to offer.

If you would like to book Zane for a speaking engagement, use the CONTACT form on his website.

For more, see the Sustainable Surf Page