August 15, 2006

California - Animal Style

With time drawing to a close Zak and I decided to embrace america for all that it could be. We decided it was best to do a bit of last minute carbo loading to help with energy levels through the day. With such tiring tasks as a trip to Walmart (like the warehouse but only 75 times bigger), the bank and a surf session on barking dawg its important to ensure one looks after their bodies nuritional requirements.

My last week was a blast with Zak, Drew and Rich ensuring that we weren't sober each evening. A bunch of us got together over dinner (and a few beers) to re-cap the summer of 2006. Zak was voted in as president of the South Merced Tramping club due to his efforts over the past two years. I think his tally is as stands: 12 miles paddled of the potential 60, 15 hours hiking with a kayak and over 7000 ft in height gain. For the non-kayakers out there, the sum of all this is a lot of bad luck and two of the toughest days you could ever ask for.

I think I took out the 'time spent on arse in car' award after clocking 10 000kms in just over two months. Thank god for air con and cheap gas.

The group consensus was that we probably drunk too much but with only a week to go it seemed silly to break the trend so back to the Coloma club...

All in all great times were had, friends were made (or not as the case may be), new rivers were paddled and many new missions were planned for next season.

Cheer to the cheer.
p.s. as usual Zak has hooked me up with a couple of snap shots of life in california - animal style

August 6, 2006

cutl'y photos at play

Last week had team Kiwi thrown in the mix with this character Reg Lake. Two young punks and a living leg' made for a pretty funny week. Just don't let Reg drive the van on the sand bar again....... dodgy bugger

Zak (pictured above) also hooked me up with some photos he took while the boys were playing 'barking dawg' down in Coloma. Good flows and good folk made for some pretty funny times. Even a surf session by lights was had thanks to a buddy Greg who owns locally.

shuddering the rudder

Mr Brad Brewer looking for the sweet spot

Mike doing his best to wash the last of his poison oak off after hiking the Merced with us... good luck with that

the Super RAD with auto-blunt option fitted

Looking forward to getting back down here and away from the smoke up here on the Salmon. Sweet.

August 2, 2006

Fire Season

photo: Zac Shaw

Life in the Forks of Salmon is proving to be a little smokey. The end of July has seen the start of the fire season here in California. Last week a front moved over the area producing the most amazing cloud formations I have ever seen. This was followed by dry lighting storm which spells bad news with so many strikes in already volitile fire conditions. To make matters worse, we were also in the middle of a heat wave with temperatures reaching the mid-forties in the peak of the day and only dropping to the low thirites overnight. As a result six fire complexs are now going for gold in the Salmon river drainage reducing visibility to just 500m at times and forcing people out of their homes further up the valley.

This had made for some interesting times here at Otter Bar. We have had to abandon teaching on the Salmon and head down wind to the Klamoth river and hour away to teach in the smoke free air.

However, all is not lost. Steve Irwin would be jealous with the amount of wildlife we have had around lately. Black Bear, Golden and Bald Eagles, Gopher snakes and Otters have been seen on our river trips as well as run of the mill squirrels, toads and chimpmunks. All in all it makes for good times on the water for any kiwi's in the area.

My time here in the States is starting to wind up with only two weeks to go before I head back out to eNZed. I'm not looking forward to going back to the cold New Zealand weather. Of course the flip sdie of all the crap weather means that we are likey to have lots of high water paddling in spring. Bring on another summer in the south island....