Friday, May 13, 2011

Kites, air and water.

[This post mysteriously disappeared; luckily, Google had already cached it so I was able to recreate!]

As a kid, I loved kites, but didn't get much wind time. As an adult I thought kites were for kids. Moving to the Pacific Northwest, however, I learned that BIG kites are for BIG KIDS!

For the last few years, Scot and I have gone to kite festivals and watched amazing creations of fabric and design fly high. Blessed we are to have such greats like Gomberg nearby! (One year for Scot's birthday I called them to order the line laundry pandas; I talked to David himself! He was out of stock, but assured me he'd whip me up a set and get them out in time for the big day. I felt like a superstar!)

We've amassed a collection of kites, getting a little bigger each year. Last year's purchase was a medium sized sport multi line foil, an HQ Symphony 2.1. Not a powerkite, really, but more kite than most people ever fly for sure. (See the lovely Symphone line at HQ!) My first fly of it was in a stiff wind while visiting the International Kite Festival in Long Beach, WA. It was a thrill to realize this kitehad more than enough pull to stand me up from a seated position. It's flown with two wrist straps, and later on at a kite shop in Lincoln City the gentleman behind the counter heard me talking excitedly about it. Scot purchased something and for some reason, the owner handed me two padded wrist straps and said, "Yours. Free. You'll need them. That won't be your last kite."

We were considering a Peter Lynn show kite as the next step up, or a LARGE lifter.

Then, something happened. One of those events that connects the dots and... sets you down a path. A few months ago, a friend and I headed to the coast to help with the SOLV beach cleanup, and I brought along some kites to play with after the work was done. We sent up my orange Giant Ghost Delta with some line laundry (after once again shelving the lifter because of its wind pickyness); then I pulled out the Symphony.

What a blast that was. The fun lasted for quite a long time, until after one too many slams on the leading edge caused us to blow a seam! Despite the kite injury, we left the beach hours later with me happy as a clam because someone actually went kiting with me and had fun, and I could see he was stoked from the wind play as well.

Here's where it all comes together. We headed to the Pelican Pub in Lincoln City for dinner. We wait for a bit as they are busy, and then are shown the perfect table, the booth that's right in the center of their windows on the beach. Wouldn't you know, there's a guy riding the waves out there, but not a surfer. He's kitesurfing. We have the perfect view of him playing in the waves in front of us. I wistfully watched, thinking back to an afternoon I'd watched a guy with a big ass kite and a harness bouncing down the beach at Seaside, taking large, lofty, wind-lifted steps with the occasional long distance float thanks to his kite. Then I'd watched him with wistful want, and the same feeling washed over me again. As I'm deep in that mindset I hear...

"We should do that."

(That's one of the things I appreciate about this person; he'll make statements such as this, or "That needs to happen," and approach something from an angle totally different from mine. I'm all impetuous, impulsive and adventurous when it comes to humor, love, food, sex or fiscal matters, but suggest something even mildly athletic with a physical risk or challenge and I'm all like, "Let's catalogue the reasons that this isn't a good idea." We all have a good idea where that one came from.)

And doing it I am. We bought a trainerkite and have chased the wind a few times a week since. We've had great afternoons in a field or on the beach with a stiff 15, and stood out in the middle of fields trying to coax enough out of a 3 to keep the HQ Hydra 350 in the air... standing there like disappointed children with long faces when we can't. (But even on those afternoons we get enough to get a little flight in.)

(Amusingly, the image to the left is clearly not a "real" image. Anyone see why?)
There's something amazingly cool to stand just beyond the reach of the lines and see a big, filled arc of a kite hiss by, or standing at the bar and hear it cut through the wind, giving a pull to one side and seeing and feeling the kite turn. He's more into jumps and getting air, and I'm still trying to just keep my face out of the dirt with a dream of someday partnering my love of wind and water together for simple movement... I'll ponder tricks later. (Many great face plants I've done, thanks to a general lack of physical grace, a poor understanding of basics physics, and delayed reaction to kite pull; instead of dropping my butt to counter balance, I let it get the best of me and have a tendency to let go waaaay too late when its clear things are going south. (Hey, that tenacity comes in handy in other areas!) There's actually video of one that resulted in a huge bruise on my pelvis as beach sand is much harder than it looks, but thankfully that hasn't hit the airwaves. Yet.)

This path has a long laundry list of things to do; my next step is hooking the kiteup to a harness (already obtained this one) which will help distribute the weight to a lower center of gravity (fewer faceplants). I'm signing up to attend a wakeboard camp early this summer to get the hang of moving a board on water. Then will be some kiteboard training up in the Gorge and then... the purchase of my first big kite. Hopes to move through all this during the summer... that's going to be a challenge.

And in between, trying to lose as much weight as possible and improve upper body strength and stamina because I'm going to need it. And make sure the health insurance coverage stays in place. 

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