Friday, November 28, 2008

ben thankful


I have so much to be thankful for I don't even know where to start. I'm thankful to be alive on the face of this planet. I'm thankful for Sarah, my family, and all of my friends. I'm thankful for the roof over my head, the fact I have a job, and have plenty of food on the table (more on that later). I'm thankful for my sobriety (over 21 years). I'm thankful that I live in this country, and that in a world that has so little, that I have so much. I'm thankful that I'm healthy enough to do all the fun things we do. I'm thankful for this day and look forward to many more.

For many years I have gotten up early on Thanksgiving morning, put a Turkey on the smoker and then headed off to Patapsco for a mountain bike ride. We threw the smoker away this summer, and instead of heading off to Patapsco, Sarah and I bundled up and headed over to the boat. (We thought about going to Whitegrass to play in the snow, but couldn't justify it for a day.) It took a while to get the diesel to crank over in the cold weather and it looked doubtful that we were going to get to leave the dock. With a little warming from a space heater and some coaxing from John's battery charger, we got the sucker fired up. We had a short but glorious sail into Annapolis Harbor, back out across the bay, and then downwind back to the slip at John's. I wished we had more time for what will probably be the last sail of the season, but I had a 12 lb bird in the fridge that I had some plans for. Some is better than none.
As a side note, on the way over to the boat, WRNR played "Alice's Restaurant" and we didn't quite get to hear the end when we got to John's house. After sailing, we got back to the car and turned the radio, only to pick up Alice almost exactly where we left off......Awesome!!! Thank you Arlo and WRNR!
Without stopping at the dump to drop off garbage, I proceeded home and fixed a Thanksgiving dinner that couldn't be beat. Turkey, stuffing, sweet potatoes, and something new this year asparagus wrapped with prosciutto...... yum.

If anyone likes, I can send you 27 8x10 color glossy photographs with circles and arrows and a paragraph on the back of each one....

Monday, November 24, 2008

ben longtime gone

I rode my mountain bike at Patapsco yesterday. I have been a longtime gone. I can't remember the last time I rode my mountain bike. I think it might have been the 1st part of October. It hurt so good. It was cold (40 degrees) but with bluebird skies, it was a great day to be in the woods. I had not been on the bike for more than 5 minutes when I ran in to Theresa and Chris Richardson from the Bike Doctor in Waldorf. Theresa races pro for Cannondale . It got me thinking how cool it is that there are not many sports that pros and recreational participants can be on the same field of play at the same time. Not that I would want to, but I'm probably never going to be on the field at Ravens Stadium at the same time with Ray Lewis. At least when a pro biker blows by me, the only thing usually crushed is my ego ( they are so fast and I am so slow). If I ever met Ray, I've got the feeling lots of other things would end up getting crushed!
I love to sail and windsurf. I'm having a great time learning to surf and stand-up. Snowboarding is awesome, but I can't imagine life without the bikes. Whether it be Patapsco or Canaan. Moab Utah, Helen Georgia or Monterey California, the bike has taken me some really cool places. The friends I've made through bikes.......incredible.
I have been a longtime gone, but man, it felt good to be back.

Friday, November 7, 2008

ben on vacation

The only thing constant on the Outer Banks is change. The barrier island is always moving, builders are building, and mother nature wears it out and tears it down. If you don't like the weather, it will change. Sometimes it changes over a few days, sometimes over a few hours.

Earlier this week a strong low pressure system rolled up the coast bringing strong east winds. We awoke Tuesday morning with a pant load of wind only to find the water blown out of the sound. I rigged a 4.0 and walked out towards the sound. I reached the channel and hopped on the board. For about 20 seconds, I was in pure ecstasy as I flew across the water. A split second later I came to a grinding halt as my 8.5 inch fin found bottom. I swear I walked halfway to the mainland and never found deep enough water to sail. Long walk home. Mother nature wins again.
Later in the afternoon, I did get a session at the Canadian Hole. The wind was straight off shore and very gusty, but I was happy to get out.

Wednesday morning the winds had clocked around to the northwest as the front moved up the coast bringing heavy rain, strong winds and sound side flooding. We moved the cars across the street to higher grounds. The winds were blowing a steady 40 with gusts close to 60! I rigged my 3.7 sail, grabbed my little board, and proceeded to get a good ole fashioned ass whipping! What fun.

Thursday morning dawned windy, so we rigged early and headed out. The wind backed off throughout the morning and I just couldn't get my sail size dialed in. I was on the 4.5 when I should have been on the 5.0. I was on the 5.5 when I should have been on the 6.5 . I still had a lot of fun, but I think I spent as much time re-rigging sails as I did on the water.

We sailed a bit Friday morning, but the wind didn't last long and we headed off to the light house to check out the surf. The waves were not huge, but they had some juice to them, and I had to knee paddle the SUP to get through the shore break. Once out, I paddled down the beach to get away from the crowds at the jetty. I caught a few waves, got wiped out more than once, and generally had a pretty good time.

Saturday morning Sarah and I, and Mike and Christi checked out of the house and headed to the Hole where we were treated to one of the nicest days of the trip. Warm and sunny, 20 knots out of the south. Mike sailed for a few hours before heading back to Maryland. Sarah was on her Madd and a 5.0, and I was on my new Naish 95 AT and a 5.5 sail. I sailed well past sunset and had to de-rig in the dark. What a great day on the water.

Sunday, Sarah and I took the Sup's out in the ocean in front of our hotel. We paddled around with a school of dolphins for a while and I even managed to get a couple of nice rides. We had a killer Tuna Wrap from Cafe 12 and headed north to visit our friend Trip Forman at REAL and demo a couple different paddle boards. My personal Sup's are the 12' wood Laird from Surftech and the 11'6 Naish. The Jimmy Lewis 11' was the first board I ever paddled and I still think it is one of the best all around boards on the market. I got a chance to paddle the 10'6 All Around, the 10'8" and the 10' surf. All excellent boards, and we carry them in the store, but for the time being I'm going to stick with my bigger boards. As Trip said, "it is hard to go too big, but easy to go too small." It was great to see Trip, and he and is business partner Matt have built a fabulous store and kiteboard school on the water.

Monday we began our day with a couple of Apple Uglies at Orange Blossom and the checked out of the hotel. Iwindsurf was calling for it to blow and we hung out at the Hole for a while, but it never happened. Sarah and I drove south to Frisco and took the SUP's out a Izzy's. The waves were no more than ankle biters, but they were still rideable on the big floaty boards. Sarah caught a couple and was stoked. I was stoked too, it was awesome. It was time to go home and it was a great way to end our vacation. We had a couple stops to make on the way home including another stop at REAL to get some gear for the shop. It turns out on Tuesday, Jimmy Buffet was there to buy some gear and then went SUP at Izzy's that afternoon. It would have been really cool to run into him at the shop and even cooler to have run into him on the water. Oh well, I guess better to be a day early than a day late!

It was great playing in the unfrozen snow, and hopefully soon we will be getting to play in the frozen snow!


Monday, November 3, 2008


Two for two! We rolled into Avon Saturday afternoon and headed straight to the Lighthouse and caught a short SUP session. I was joined by Petra Kantz who was making it look easy on a Starboard 9'8. I caught a couple waves on East of Maui's rental Timpone. Good way to start the week. Sunday morning, I loaded up all the gear and headed back to the Lighthouse. This time I used my own Naish 11'6. SWEET!!!! With the exception of a quick food break, I was out for almost 4 hours. I was toast. I was joined by Mike D, Sarah, and Sarah's nephew Dan, who were all taking turns on the Timpone. Dinner =pizza, pasta, and Advil.