Showing posts from 2010
Labor Day weekend found us first at Gunlock reservoir, making certain and alleviating fears about our boat’s ability to float, go, and stop. It was also our first experience in launching and retrieving a vessel, an activity better suited to the non-populated ramp of Gunlock instead of Wahweap at Lake Powell. All went well and returned home to pack provisions for the rest of the weekend floating above Glen Canyon.

Putting in at Powell was a breeze and it wasn’t long before we found ourselves at Crossing of the Fathers just past sunset where we found an empty little cove to drop anchor and fall asleep to the mist of light that fell from the Milky Way and other heavenly bodies.

First light Sunday found us still moored where we dropped anchor, despite fears of drifting. After breakfast we made our way back to Wahweap to pick up another kid. Navigating our way to Dangling Rope I did what most new captains do, racked the prop on a rock outcropping that I was traveling too fast to see.

Later in…

Labyrinth Canyon Attempt

The plan was simple enough: kayak from Antelope to Labyrinth Bay the first day, 32 miles. Second day, explore Labyrinth Canyon. Third day, paddle back to Antelope. The plan was naive to so many things including Labor Day lake traffic and record low water levels.

Our expedition consisted of four paddlers, my son Chris, then 15 years-old, my daughter Addie, then eleven, my spouse Mindy and I. Our little armada had three crafts, roto-molded boats from Ocean Kayaks; my 17' Cabo, Mindy's 15' Prowler and the kids' Malibu Two XL, a 13' tandem. The Cabo and Prowler ported our gear and supplies for the three-day tour.

We put in at the boat ramp at Antelope and paddled around the point east through the traffic of the marina and navigated the notorious channel that separates Antelope Island from the rest of Arizona.

The channel was at perpetual rush-hour with in- and out-bound traffic of every boat imaginable chopping up conditions that rival ocean kayaking with swells tall …

fear the reaper

I’ve looked the reaper in the face more times than anyone would ever want to. Too many risks perhaps, especially upon a bullet bike. Saw him again three weeks ago when my companion and I were returning from camping, riding our Valkyrie Interstate on Utah’s Highway 12. Just south of Escalante the rear tire was punctured while we cruised at sixty miles per hour.

There’s a method involved in saving your life in such a precarious situation; stay off the brakes, pull the power off the back wheel with the clutch and coast her to a stop. The tire lost its bead and twisted on the rim before I could bring our loaded mount to halt, bucking us to a shoulder that didn’t exist, giving way instead to a drop of hundreds of feet into a steep canyon. We came to a stop inches short of killing ourselves.

And that was enough. I just bought the Valkyrie, a bike I’ve always wanted, looking forward to thousands of miles two-up with Mindy, something I’ve always wanted to do. But these desires were trumped that…

Château du Haut-Kœnigsbourg

We spotted it out at least thirty miles as we headed down the A35 to our stop for the night in Colmar. A few days previous when we checked in to our hotel in Strasbourg we found a brochure for this edifice, the Château du Haut-Kœnigsbourg, but wrote it off at the time since we had yet to entertain the idea of renting a car.

The sight of it high above the valley floor teased us along and without a map or GPS somehow I knew it was Haut-Kœnigsbourg. Our nifty C3 finally came upon a roadside sign confirming it, and though it was late in the afternoon, we took the exit. This would prove adventurous, something we've always needed to do more of regardless of the destination, taking more exits that is, not knowing where they'd lead us or what lay beyond. This became practice for us for the rest of our journey.

A two-lane brought us to the town of Kintzheim where it enters a town square. Follow the signs to the chateau and in less than a minute you're climbing the Vosges mountains…


Metz is to Europe what the Oakland Raiders are to the NFL, only the city was swapped between France and Germany two more times. The capital of the Lorraine lost its French host in 1870 when Napoléon III surrendered to Kaiser Wilhelm I, Metz went to Germany. World War I found Metz back in France in 1918 only to have Hitler re-annex the city in 1940. Shorter-lived than the Los Angeles Raiders though,  Metz was liberated again by Allied troops in 1944 where she now has become the new must-see in France's art museum line-up.

End of football simile.

A short drive from Nancy delivered us via premature parking to an underground shopping center parking lot. I made a wrong turn which turned into another hike. But, who can complain walking around a city like this? Not us.

We popped to the surface at Galerie Lafayette, a large shopping center adjacent to the Promenade de l'Esplanade, a park full of sculptures of what appeared to be lactating bitches. I don't know how else to explai…


The car was reserved through Alamo. The girl assisting us with the contract appeared to think us to be out of our minds for lugging our adventure's burden on our backs and renting a car to go from there to Rome.

We don't think twice about road trips under starry skies above. Five hundred miles a day is a picnic. We drive to Vegas for an evening and return. In an area as culturally concentrated as Europe, especially the Benelux region, one might assume everyone to be road bound exploring all the Continent has to offer. Not entirely, rarely it seems. Language and at one time currency were boundaries enough to keep curiosities sequestered to homelands. And perhaps a prejudice or two. Not that our car rental girl had or expressed any in her amusement of our trek.

If I recall we had five days to go and at round twenty five bucks a day this seemed like a deal, until one adds on fees, taxes, border-crossing fees and insurance for us risky Americans. Added up pretty quickly. All told…


Our TGV wove through threatening cumulus clusters and according to the ground it looked like rain, an ample amount, but one couldn't tell by our windows to the world of eastern France. Nothing sticks, it seems, at one hundred seventy miles per hour. You're lucky if the colors of the French countryside adhere to your optic nerves.

Strasbourg was upon us long before our feet were ready to mount another unknown direction. As we approached the city it was completely unfamiliar, looking more like Raleigh, North Carolina than Disney's magical Alsatian hamlet. Factory outlet stores, franchised retail venues and auto malls. They've learned much from the West, maybe too much.

It was raining when we pulled into Gare de Strasbourg and for the first time I regretted not taking my mother-in-law's advice of packing a little collapsible umbrella. Progress thwarted the regret though since the entire facade of the train station had been enclosed in a glass dome and the Place de …