Tuesday, November 22, 2011

South East Tour

A couple of rafters approaching the Thing
Back in the south east, there is only one thing to do, well there is a couple things to do. Mainly hope for rain and when that doesn't happen enjoy the garrenties, the Green Race and Tallulah release.

My head was still spinning from three days of travel, returning to the States from Africa. I left West Virginia after Halloween with costume makeup still on my face, I had to get moving again. I swung through Kentucky for some White Lightning that would help fuel the next few weeks. First up was the Green Race, I have never taken the run lightly but I make the race into a joke. Last year I had a fun whistle in my mouth while launching off of Gorilla, this year I was trying to figure out how to one up myself. It was time for pyro techniques, roman caddles to be exact.

Chris Baer, with a Roman Candle attached to the back of the helmet, thanks again WRSI for protecting my head against all sorts of danger.
I came through Chefs, and eddied out to have a cohort place a roman candle in a sleeve on the back of my helmet. As the first round from the roman candle went off I knew I was back at home. The crowd grew loud, and I had an ever expanding smile on my face. I had explosives going off on the back of my head all while paddling towards Gorrila the crux of the entire race.
Chris Baer, getting my nose down on Gorilla
 My finish time was toward the back of the pack, but I had a smile knowing that I had more fun then most of the competitors combined... and that I was about to win the after party.

It was time to do a little planning for my next big adventure... Chile. I also had to plan the next weekends event Tallulah fest. I sat in the Henderson Ville library for three days of transferring video clips editing photos and checking on air plane tickets. After three days of sitting I was ecstatic for the weekend.

The South East runs are usually damn releases, and that means that all two hundred boaters put on the river together. Tallulah is a prime example, lots of officials, lots of lines, and lots of sketchy boaters. Tallulah also draws an amazing amount of friends, between Green Race and Tallulah I was able to see more then a hundred kayaking buddies. That amount of paddlers in a small place usually leads to after parties. Late evenings sipping on white lightning and speaking of different adventures, past and present.
Random kayaker getting intimate with the Thing
 Tallulah's white water is super high quality, who doesn't love sliding down a steep bedrock slide into a gigantic explosion called the "Thing".

The Tallulah river is dewatered for most of the year, there is a damn and hydro electric plant that divert the water from it's normal course. For a couple weekends in the spring and fall there are recreational releases. These releases will never replenish the ecological damage done by dewatering a delicate ecosystem. These releases do give us a chance to enjoy a spectacular valley and hopefully leave a long lasting impression that dewatering rivers, is not a sustainable energy option.  

These guys had a interesting craft, it was originally from Russia and was over twenty years old
Two days of paddling on Tallulah and the weekend was over, time to repack the bags and get ready for my next adventure... Chile.

Another adventure brought to you by Chris Baer.

Monday, November 7, 2011


 The less you have the easier it is to find joy? 

 I was recently invited on a trip to Africa, what else could I say, YES. Here is the catch it wasn't for paddling...

Traveling is always entertaining and being I wasn't dragging a boat with me, I was up for a mission. 30 minute drive in a car to the train station 12 hours on the train from Thermond WV to New York, a few more trains and shuttles and get to the airport for a 14 hour flight to arrive in South Africa, back on another plane for 2 hours and presto I'm in Mozambique.

The team slowly arrived and introductions where interesting the team had came from all walks of life. We did have one common goal, to build some houses for the truly less fortunate. Most of the families that we were to build for were "broken" in some way, a father had died a grandchild was added. There was a family that consisted of two elderly ladys that were raising there grandchildren, the parets long ago had died from aids. The aids epidemic really strikes hard here, there are few people between the ages of 20-40, they have all died. Now there children are being raised by neighbors and grandparents. The need for sustainable housing is huge. Our small team made the tiniest change in a community that is so stricken. Now I have a second opportunity to help... to spread the word to you. HELP, weither it is in your local comunity or world wide, we as "Americans" have it super well, as we are maching on capitals asking for more financial freedom we need to really open our eyes and relise we have it amazingly well. If you are not pissed off about greed at every level you are simply not paying attention. Go and help how ever you can.

A new home owner with two of the home builders holding her hands
This lady was smiling and singing and she lives in a collapsed hut,
Making dinner

Trista Matascastillo, our fearless leader

Dancing is embedded into the African culture
Really, my dad is dancing I had to get a pic to prove it
I never had seen my dad dance till Africa and I caught him dancing twice,
Norm Baer putting Hack Saw to re-bar
Norm Baer mixing more "Masa"

House construction getting close
The masons at our home sight

The old house on the right and our new creation almost complete on the left.
Part of the dedication was having the community touch the new house and give it god vibes

As we finished the emotional task of handing the homes over to there new owners my head started to spin with anticipation. Africa is not stark or barren, it is lush and beautiful. Our groups next destination was a whirlwind two day "safari", We drove from Mozambique through South Africa and made a loop through Swazi Land back up to Mozambique. The wild life and plant life was simply stunning.
Look close and you can see that they are landing on hippo's

mom still looking out for the "little one"

I think this giraffe was playing peak-a-boo

They are way bigger in real life, especially when they are 10 feet from the van


After the safari I figured it was due time for a little kayaking. I headed to a small river known as the Zambezi, It has this little water fall called Victoria Falls, and is home to some supper fun kayaking. I was greeted with 30 thousand cfs and a very fun loving group of paddlers.

The Zambezi gorge