My Trusty Stable

***Prijon Calabria: rivers. ***Prijon Barracuda: flatwater speed paddles. ***Valley Avocet RM: playboat, roller. ***Valley Nordkapp RM: expedition, big H2O. ***Valley Nordkapp HM Classic Kevlar: open water, straight ahead in chop. ***Valley Aquanaut LV sectional: carbon Kevlar 3-piece. *** Valley Argonaut: sectional fiberglass 3-piece. *** Valley Nordkapp sectional fiberglass 3-piece. ***Bic Yakka 80 (two): fun traveler. ***Hydra Aquanuat SOT: tandem.


Totally Vegging Out to Elecric Light Orchestra

After a truly full and exhausting day today (see post earlier), I am so full I could bust, and I am sitting here in my red chair--skivvies and t-shirt-- listening to ELO's Out Of The Blue. What a full and rich sound, long before digital enhancement. This LP--and that is how I originally owned it, on a giant, pull-open album jacket with photos inside and out--is beautiful. A space opera. The last album before ELO imploded with plodding, drum-machined filler for the rest of their career. This is the magnum opus for ELO, a band too tame for hair metal retro radio stations, and too esoteric for retro pop stations. Throw a spindle on your copy.
Tomorrow, a 30 minute run along the south Fox River with iPod while Cath sleeps, then shower up, and we bike to Mike and Vic's riverside home for breakfast. Thank you!

Za Za's Trattoria St. Charles, IL with Zena and Bruce

Enjoyed a wonderful day with paddler Bruce and his artist wife Zena in Geneva and St. Charles. They brought us a super artistic glass "wind, earth, water" Kanji glass plate, now prominently displayed on our mantle. Zena is a budding Chihuly in glasswork. While Zena and Cathy munched Graham's and Col. Fabyan's Popcorn on Third Street, Bruce helped me test paddle a sweet sectional at Ryan's Geneva Kayak. After the Nordkapp found its way into my conversion van, we tracked down the ladies at the condo, and boogied to Fine Line Art studio off Crane Road in St. Charles to watch live Raku artists at work. We then, famished, hit Za Za's Trattoria (St. Charles) for a sumptious meal: crabcakes, heaping hot pasta, scallops, shrimp, whitefish, sausage, halibut--between our four starving patrons, I think we had a little of everything on the menu. Small and understated outside, but table linens and first class service inside. We had a window seat, no less! Downed the cocktails and beer, and then home to crash out. Thanks a million for spending a long and lovely springtime day with us, Bruce and Zena. Your driving down means much to us. Our friends. Forever.
Second time at Za Za's today, it's still a great place!

Citizen Kane for Polenta Cakes and Ribs

Catching up on all things River North with Dave and Alexia. Located under/in the old Geneva Theater building, this great photo from Katherine of Chicago shows it well. Fine food and spirits with super neighbors and friends. Oh, and decorating tips that seem right on the mark---eggplant it is for the accent structural element. Dave and Aexia--you both ROCK!

Now, a run by the Fox River and testing boats and paddling with Bruce and shopping with Zena. Weather: stunning!


Reminds me of New England

Second Street in St. Charles, looking up the hill, has old homes and a stately view that reminds me of my native New England. I think that is what I appreciate about the Fox Valley cities the most--unique angles, plenty of hillside homes, historic and different, that truly reflect a land other than Chicago and the midwest.


This Is Warren

Guinness and I spoke about this video this weekend while paddling. It is one of our favorites. It is highly intense, at Deception Pass in Washington, and it is a beautifully edited view of Warrem Williamson paddling his Valley Anas Acuta with Greenland twig. He makes it look completely easy. He uses the blade like a butterknife, churning butter. He controls the water; the water does not control him. Absolutely breath-taking.


Happy Memorial Day 2009

I rode mountain bikes with my son on a singletrack trail near our home. It was sweaty fun, and that was after doing yard work all day long. Wife getting Thara Thai takeout now, yummy! I will paddle, even if briefly, tomorrow just like this little fellow on my sunroom table.


Enjoyed a fabulous paddle with Guinness on Clinton Lake

We were on the water by 0715, and paddled until 10:30 AM. The highlight was seeing two American Bald Eagles very close; literally right underneath their branch. The water was placid, and the weather was 80F. Yahoo boaters arrived just as we were done with the workout and exiting the water. A fine day.

Kokatat PFD

Meeting Guinness from Bloomington-Normal today to paddle and enjoy my new PFD. Never been wet. Never yet soiled. Pristine red. Like using a new bar of soap--with DIAL clearly etched in its soft sides--hate to get it wet. Same feeling with PFD. Maybe I'll just toss it overboard straight up to get over that feeling.


Ceiling at Noodles & Co. Geneva Commons

Pasta Fresca with Feta Cheese and Braissed Beef, Ciabatta roll and a diet Coke. Yummy!


Toys for a Sunny Day on my Kitchen Table

Woody wagon. Retirement. Kayaking. Freedom. Independence. Sunny. Bright. Forward looking. "Stick it to Da Man". Outdoors. Scenic. Highways and Byways. Mosquitos. Drive-In Movies. These are words that come to my mind when I look at this salt and pepper shaker set on my kitchen table.

Mount Saint Mary Park, St. Charles

Jesus is on the cross way up high on a hilltop. He whispers, "Luke. Luke"

Luke, way down in the valley, hears Jesus faintly, and drops his hammer and runs toward the hill. "I'm coming to you, Jesus"
Jesus: "Luke."
Luke runs in the heat, and then climbs toward the hilltop. He falls and scrapes his knees and palms raw. He is drained with sweat as he makes it to the hilltop.
Jesus: "Luke. Luke."
Luke: "I'm here, Jesus. I'm at your feet," he says, bloody and tired.
Jesus: "Luke. (pauses) I can see your house from here."

Sea Kayaks on the Fox River from Geneva Kayak

During my time on the Fox River yesterday, I happened across about 10 kayakers on the Fox, all launching from the back of Geneva Kayak for the introductory class. Ryan, owner, was taking the new kayakers through the trials and tribulations of being in a 22 inch wide boat on a moving river with nothing more than a stick of plastic for a paddle. I can see from the paddle strokes which ones are more experienced than others. It brought me back to the first few times I was in a kayak: the tippiness of it all. The feeling that one could roll over at any moment. I wish I had an introductory class to teach me about high and low braces, the proper forward stroke, specialty strokes like the sweep, the bow and stern rudders, et cetera. I may not have been a swimmer as often had I taken a class; I certainly did learn wet exits on my own. Geneva Kayak was not yet open at the time, but I have subsequently bought two of my kayaks from Ryan. A great resource in Geneva, IL.


Ran along Fox River south of Geneva

Got a great start to my day, 0645 ran down by Island Park and the river, sun coming up. Here is a shot looking back toward the Herrington Hotel by SteelyDan online, an innovative biker who took his bike (looks to be a folding bike based on one of the shadows in the photos), Metra'ed it out to northwest suburbs, biked 40 miles through some fabulous towns (particularly Elgin, St Charles, Geneva and Batavia) and took a diferent Metra line back to Chicago. Nice photos, SteelyDan.
I am obligated to write an article for my local newspaper, due this week and I have little written. Spent last night catching up with my NJ brother by phone (super always!), this afternoon I have a high school graduation in tiny St. Joseph, IL to attend. Then it's sprinkler change day in my entire building tomorrow. ugh!


Fox River north of St. Charles May 2009

Okay, fooled you. I am sitting here, getting nothing done at the library, jonesing for a paddle like this one from two weeks ago with my pal Bruce on the Fox. You can see a smidgeon of his orange Valley sea kayak at lower right. Here we are headed upstream with some fetching St. Charles homes in the background. I am in my blue over white 3-piece Argonaut, and we are still feeling groovy. The total paddle was only 11 mles that day, but it felt like more, being the first real trip of the season, and of course, fighting the heavy flow from Elgin for the first half of the trip. Reflections on a nice day, much like today. Oh hell. I'm outta here!


Geneva Illinois Library

I will be camped out, at least until mid-afternoon tomorrow, at the calm Geneva, IL library preparing a guest editorial that I must write for a local newspaper. I enjoy secluded spaces that allow me to relax and stretch out. It will be difficult, though, if the sun breaks out. My running shoes are calling my name.


The Traveling Ropp's Nursery in Mahomet, IL

Bought a pink rose bush as a thank-you, with a custom made card from my wife, for Coleman Electric of Mansfield, Illinois. Helped us start our whole house generator today. The whirr of that engine is a feeling of peace. The nursery, just off the parking lot at our local IGA, is a sure sign of spring.


A Pretty Corner at The Herrington Hotel

Came upon this visage during a walk in my adopted hometown, Geneva, Illinois. Pear tree in bloom, a resurgance of life in a corner by a quaint hotel.


Egnarts at Jimmy John's!

Totally casual Sunday, wife shopping, son and I swing into Jimmy John's for a snack, and bam--egnarts and family! Wonderful to see, and so odd to see this vetted Washington, IL paddling friend--one week before his Dupage River Race--munching sandwiches with his beautiful family. Really a teensy world. Great to see you, egnarts. Thanks for tip about MidAmerica Race in June, but I will not be up that weekend. Good luck on the DuPage River Race!
Came home, ran in the park, and now sweaty enough to tackle the garage cleaning. Ciao!


Enjoyed a Fine Late Afternoon Paddle with Yanoer

Trading ONNO paddle for Mitchell Horizon GP, we explored the nuances of the different paddles in a 20 mph wind, and went into largest Clinton Lake coves. Enjoyable early summer fun.

I'm On the Top of the World Looking Down on Creation

Acrobatic superstar at Tommy Bartlett's Show in Wisconsin Dells. Nice view! Enjoyed summer 2008 with the family at the Dells and Wilderness on the Lake Condos. Wonderful memories. Here's my review of Tommy B Show 2008 rendition:


Lake Boating Saturday

Give me open water with a sandy pocket beach any day.


Krups Egg Cooker is Eggs-ellent!

Oh my, boys and girls. And I thought the Cuisinart cooker was the bomb. My new Krups egg cooker--with astoundingly high ratings on clear and easy to see, fast, spotless (the Cuisinart leaks terribly from a design flaw) and makes scruptious hard-boileds. Strongly recommended and only $27. Cool hand Luke and the boys would have loved this one.

Redbuds in Wheeler Park


The Corner by River Lane Pub

Sometimes small spaces can be eye-catching. I spotted this scene on my walk. Looks like a hidden European courtyard, right here in Geneva, IL.


Another historic SlipKnoT show, this time in Springfield, IL. Son and friend two rows off the rail in the "pit" while I sat in lower stands with binocs watching them as much as the show. Sweaty, writhing fun!


Slipknot 5/5 Springfield, IL

With openers Devil Driver and 3 Inches of Blood. See you there!


Kayaked with Bruce the St Charles IL north run.

Launched at 0745, back 1145, with one stop at a park in South Elgin. River fast, perhaps 2 miles per hour working against us upstream. The old axiom holds: 2/3 of time going upstream, 1/3 of time coming downstream
Wonderful springboard to the season, my first time kayaking the Fox River, and the first real outing in the 2002 Argonaut. Worked like a charm. Dry hatches dry, assembly easy, loads well.

Francesca's on the River Rear Wall

Spent about 4 hours on Saturday toolng all around Geneva and St. Charles on my bicycle. Stopped at the Blue Goose for hamburger cook-out, and took lots of photos, and enjoyed the 70F day.


Victoria's Birthday at CK

Spent a great night full of imbibing and fun for Victoria's birthday tonight at Geneva fixture, Citizen Kane. Mike is very loving to Vic, and they make a super looking and successful couple. Met some great people, and really enjoyed myself. And I placed my bet for Freisan Fire to win the Derby. Salute!

Morning Glow over top of State Street


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