Greetings fellow paddlers. Welcome to The Life. This is the first in a series of updates by a paddler for paddlers. I’ll try to be as accurate and fair as possible but I don’t pretend to be a journalist so things may sway towards fiction. Aren’t all paddlers slightly delusional anyway? Like George Bush, I got into this thing without an exit strategy. And it ain’t like I’m writing about BALCO here, unless someone has a tip that Tao is a client of steroid doc Victor Conte (On second thought don’t tell me–I don’t want to go to jail for not revealing my sources on a whitewater-roids scandal). So let’s get right into some notes from the past month or so.
Swedish paddler Renata Chlumska (left) recently completed her circumnavigation of the United States. A remarkable feat considering she had to battle through tragedy to complete her mission. She first planned the trip with her husband Goran Kropp, who died in a climbing accident near their home in Seattle, Washington before the expedition began. Then, during her journey, her brother passed away back home in Sweden. She had to take a brief sabbatical from her trip to attend his funeral before completing her journey.
Consider this: Chlumska has now done what few Americans ever have: seen every coast of the United States. Most Americans won’t even leave the general vicinity of their neighborhoods this year. According to some survey I found on the web, less than a quarter of U.S. citizens even own a passport (about 21 percent). Maybe that’s why we’ve developed all these colloquial languages like Cajun Creole and Spanglish. Here’s to moonshine and funny looking kinfolk.
Speaking of travel, Tyler Bradt and Seth Warren are nearly a year into one of the coolest gigs in any sport, The Oil and Water Project. They’re driving from Alaska to Chile in a Japanese fire truck converted to run on vegetable oil. I don’t care how many paddling news outlets overplay this bit. This is how we end America’s addiction to foreign oil. Of course we’ll still be fighting greenhouse gasses and landfills full of rubber tires and the like. But who’s counting.
Hey you can’t help but be a little jealous of two kayak bums, traveling North and South America, avoiding gas bills and paddling every river imaginable. Unfortunately, some people don’t know how to contain their jealous feelings. Bradt and Warren were recently busted somewhere in Arizona for steeling discarded fry grease from a Denny’s. No kidding. My question is what was the Denny’s owner going to use the oil for? Maybe he uses discarded fry grease to lube his money counter and keep the hinges on his kitchen doors moving smoothly. I’ve got one word for this dude and it’s spelled S-C-R-O-O-G-E. That’s almost as bad as the Steamboat Springs, Colo. district attorney wasting tax payer’s money by prosecuting a couple of Rainbow Family hippies for stealing rotten vegetables out of a garbage can. Is it just me or, as a country, are we a bored people?
While the whitewater industry may not be reaping the benefits, the corporate world loves to use kayaking imagery in advertisements. Oppenheimer Funds, an investment firm for people with actual money, has been running a television advertisement featuring kayakers navigating a cool-looking gorge. I have to admit, it’s some of the best whitewater footage of any commercial I’ve seen. The boaters are updated too, sporting Sweet Helmets and paddling modern kayaks (Liquidlogic and Pyranha, I believe).
The problem? If investors knew how kayakers actually lived, they might be less inclined to throw their money into a stock option. I was a little disappointed the commercial didn’t show reality. If it had, viewers would have seen a bunch of crusty boaters piling into their rusted out suburban stinking of mildew and whiskey while tying their boats on top of a homemade rack with climbing rope. I wonder if the models were paid in mutual funds?
By the way, after some intensive research to find out whom these boaters were I came up with nada. Please comment below if you know who they are. In the meantime, here’s a link to the ad: https://www.oppenheimerfunds.com/images/mpg/kayak.mpeg
The Weekly Gripes:
Competitive canoeists need to get a grip. I’m serious. Is there a more discombobulated group of athletes out there? How are we supposed to keep track of the winners of all these national and world championships? Dr. Aqua has received multiple press releases from the National Canoe and Kayak Championships the Sprint Canoe Nationals, the Outrigger World Championships, the Dragon Boat world championships, the Open Boat freestyle worlds and the Canoe Slalom worlds. Sort of reminds me of professional football, a sport that has seen more leagues go defunct than Chile’s has seen restaurant spin-offs (Applebee’s anyone). You’ve got the World League of American Football, the Arena League, the USFL, the American Arena League, the XFL and the NFL to name a few. Just like canoeing only with money.
Air. Ok, I think I’ve had enough of freestyle kayakers talking about catching big air. In the movie One World, young gun Marlow Long is interviewed on camera and in his best bro accent says, “We’re going to go catch lots of big air.” He’s talking about the Hairy Lemon on the White Nile. If freestyle wants to grow, they need to only refer to air when it’s truly air. The footage following Long’s monologue shows a bunch of kayakers surfing the Lemon. They get like four inches off the water. Dude, I could fall off my office chair and catch more air than that.
Dr. Aqua has two suggestions. First, only talk about air on waves where you actually catch air, like Hawaii Sur Lyon in France, the Dries of the New in West Virginia or Bus Eater in Canada. In skiing, you can trip and catch more air than you can on a wave. “Oops, I just ate it over that rise and caught like 20 feet of air.”
Second, let’s rename the air blunt. Switch out air with different synonyms of big. “Dude, that was a bulbous blunt,” or “Dude, that was a gigantic blunt,” or “Dude, that was a robust blunt.” We could even coin our own terms like “Man, dude, that blunt was gigantor.” You get what I’m saying? That way we won’t insult the intelligence of snowboarders, skaters and mountain bikers—a demographic kayaking is trying to attract—who actually catch big air.
Football note of the Week
I know many of you paddlers out there are actually closet football fans, so we may or may not end each column by recommending two games you should tune in on the radio when you’re driving out to paddle every weekend (one from college and one from the pros) and what will happen in each.
Ohio State vs. Michigan—Bar none, game of the year. Don’t miss it November 18th. This yearly rivalry is the national championship game in this messed-up BCS system. Note to the NCAA: Please start a playoff. I’m going with Ohio State, 35-15.
November 19th, Denver hosts San Diego. A premiere showdown in the NFL’s premiere division. These AFC West teams will surprise people in the playoffs. Especially since the national media is in love with Indianapolis, New England and the Britney-K-Fed-esque drama of the NFC East. Do I really have to reference TO and the Cowboys?
Denver 21, San Diego 13
See you next week boaters. May the water always be high where you are……..