Thursday, January 26, 2006

Kayaker Wrestles Large Sailfish

Just off the coast of Jacksonville, Fla., a man was caught on tape catching a huge sailfish in his tiny little inflatable kayak! You have to see the video linked below to believe it. The fish has this massive spike nose thing like a swordfish. Not the prey of choice for most inflatable kayak captains I'm sure!

local6.com - News - Kayaker Wrestles Large Sailfish

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Tuesday, January 24, 2006

Red River Paddling Near Quartz Mountain Resort

Big Bill from the top-notch site: http://www.okcoutdoornetwork.org stops by and drops us a comment from time-to-time. Typically, he comes with the wisdom.

If you missed it in the comments section, He tips us toward some great paddling on the North Fork of the Red River near Quartz mountain resort.

Thanks, Bill!

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Saturday, January 21, 2006

Our Visit to Lone Wolf Oklahoma

P1180159
P1180159,
originally uploaded by FreeWine.

This week Dylan, Dianne and I made an unexpected trip to the Lawton, Oklahoma area due to a death in the family. I hate funerals and when I was younger I avoided them at all cost. As I get older, I have decided that the time my son gets to spend with his extended family is too short to ignore these types of gatherings.

They are pretty busy these days at the Fort Sill burial grounds, so we had trouble finding a room in nearby Altus. Lawton would have placed us a bit too far from where my family lives, so we got a room at Quartz Mountain Resort in nearby Lone Wolf, Oklahoma.

Quartz Mountain Resort

In addition to being one of the finest lodges in the State, it is also home to the Oklahoma Summer Arts Institute (OSAI).

As a former OSAI student, I have fond memories of the park and its strange and unfamiliar landscape. The original lodge burned down a decade or so ago, so the lodge, restaurant, pool house, etc. are all much newer than the other state lodges. I'm glad we decided to stay here, we really enjoyed the immaculate room, great view, hiking trails and fancy restaurant on site. I only wish that we had brought our kayaks.

In addition to paddling the lake just outside of our room, we passed some apparently unoutfitted yet very interesting looking paddling waters near Apache, Oklahoma and Hinton, Oklahoma. If you know anything about paddling this part of Oklahoma, drop me a line. We are looking for sparkling waters winding through red rock bluffs more than whitewater adventures. I saw a few promising creeks though the car window as we sped home!

Wichita Mountains Wildlife Refuge

A fun thing to do while traveling near Altus or Fort Sill is to visit the Wichita Mountains Wildlife Refuge. The park is located near Medicine Park, Oklahoma and there are many interesting sites and activities to enjoy. While we were passing through we visited a prairie dog town, the Holy City, saw many buffalo and drove to the top of Mount Scott (2464 feet). The view from the top of Mt. Scott is quite cool, my photos don't do it justice, but the light was kind of crappy due to all of the smoke in the sky.

As usual, you can see more pics from our trips by visiting our Flickr Photo Stream at: http://www.flickr.com/photos/freewine/

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Monday, January 16, 2006

Extreme Snowboarding for the Talentless and Unathletic

After two weeks with no kayaking tales to post I am forced to confess that, despite record warm temperatures in Oklahoma, Dianne and I have not paddled a stroke. We have fallen helplessly under the spell of Snowboarding.

Lacking the funds or time off for a real ski resort vacation, Dianne and I rented the amazing X-Box extreme snowboarding game SSX 3. On Day Three of the rental from Blockbuster, we called and told them that we needed to keep it!

Xbox Game Review

This is without a doubt one of the best video games I have ever played on any platform! You WILL feel like you are rushing down snowy mountains at breakneck speed, jumping ramps and doing the most insane over-the-top tricks imaginable.

Although it offers multiplayer mode, our family likes to take turns playing on single player mode and then backseat drive when it isn't your turn. We play most video games in this manner, it allows us to work as a team and share knowledge as we acquire it. It also means we have the whole TV screen devoted to the action. One of the great things about SSX 3 for XBox is that watching a friend or loved one play SSX 3 is more entertaining than most TV programming available at our house.

The Family That Slays Together, Stays Together.

Most of the games we enjoy are fairly violent. I have no problems with my young son playing violent video games. I believe that child's play has always been inherently violent for fairly good biological and ethical reasons. However, SSX 3 is not violent or obscene at all. Quite a refreshing surprise!

Another surprise is: the game soundtrack really rocks! A cool sounding DJ plays a diverse selection of language-cleaned Hip-Hop, Rock and Alternative songs that were mostly new to me. I have since purchased many of the songs from iTunes. A few of my favorite SSX 3 songs are Play It Loud by MxPx, a unique remix of Rockstar by N.E.R.D. (listen to a sample here at Amazon.com) and Clockwork by Autopilot Off.

Amped 2 - No Comparison

We enjoyed playing SSX 3 so much, we rented Microsoft's competing freestyle snowboarding game, Amped, it also features a very cool game soundtrack. Sadly, I cannot recommend Amped 2 for Xbox, maybe they got it right in Amped 3...I don't know.

Playing SSX 3 is like being a brave, athletic, creative, living-on-the-edge pro snowboard master. You pick up the skills quickly and naturally with little learning curve or boring tutorials.

Playing Amped 2 is probably more like what would actually happen if I tried to ride a snowboard. I can assure that me on a snowboard is something that would be more fun to watch than participate in...at least watching would provide some laughs! The game is hard to learn with loads of annoying and frustrating tutorials and the snow just kind of feels less real. The tricks appear more real, but who wants real? This is entertainment, not a scientific simulation!

Dianne and I are not avid gamers, preferring to take our freetime under blue skies rather than blue screens, but when you can't make a campfire due to the burn ban...who wants to camp? Snowboarding is a sport requiring more cash and coordination than I am ever likely to have. However, two weeks on virtual slopes via Xbox was right up my alley and easily affordable.

You can find the SSX games in other game console formats, if Xbox isn't your flavor.

What Does All Of This Have to Do With Kayaking?

Honestly, not very much. However it could be considered preparation for taking on the hot new winter sport: Snow Boating! You can see a snow boating video in the downloads section of the Ty Warp site, warning: audio is not in English. It really looks fun!

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Happy Martin Luther King Jr Day!

In my mind, the best way to celebrate the Martin Luther King Jr Day is to repeat his words and consider their meaning. Here are some of the things he said and how they touched me. I'd love to hear how this blog's readers feel his words. Drop me a comment!

We will stop communism by letting the world know that democracy is a better government than any other government and by making justice a reality for all of God's children. - Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.
Dr. King's famous speeches and powerful indictments of poverty, the war and the military-industrial complex seem amazingly fresh and on target today. I think that if Dr. King were alive today, he would view our current national state as a mixed bag of blessings and disappointments.

One thing that would give Dr. King hope: the generosity of everyday Americans who raised some $2.3 billion to help victims on the Gulf Coast following Hurricane Katrina. He recognized the power of service to strengthen communities and achieve common goals. By his words and his example, Dr. King challenged individuals to take action and lift up their neighbors and communities. That is one thing that all of the blogs I post to address...community based action to strengthen the resources of our Oklahoma communities.

One thing that I think would give the good doctor pause, is the ever widening income gap. In the America of 1960, the top 20% of the wealthiest U.S. citizens enjoyed 30 times the wealth of the bottom 20%. Just four decades later, the gap has grown to 75 times.

More children are growing up poor in America than in any other industrial nation. Millions of workers are making less money in real dollars than they did 20 years ago. Working Americans are working on average more hours than ever before. Forty-five million Americans, 8 of 10 who have jobs, have no health insurance. To me, this does not indicate wise stewardship of our most vital national resource...our people.

We must rapidly begin the shift from a thing-oriented society to a person-oriented society. When machines and computers, profit motives and property rights, are considered more important than people, the giant triplets of racism, extreme materialism, and militarism are incapable of being conquered. - Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.
Dr. King spoke these words at Riverside Church in 1967, a year before he was assassinated. I don't think Americans listen clearly enough to that prophetic message.

A Loving Focus valuing People - A Most Christian Concept

Dr. King had much Christian wisdom to offer not just about civil rights, but also about economic equality and war. He spoke out many times against a hawkish Latin American policy which favored the elite, and general foreign policy which supported cruel dictators. Despite being a minister, he also stood up for the tradition of Church and State separation.

The church must be reminded that it is not the master or the servant of the state, but rather the conscience of the state. It must be the guide and the critic of the state, and never its tool. - Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

I think that most folks will agree that we are still feeling the impact today of the seemingly patriotic, yet clearly unchristian choices made in those turbulent times. The only disagreements would be what choices and who made them!

I am glad we take time each January to celebrate the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. ..that was one smart preacher! Technorati Tags:

Thursday, January 05, 2006

National Parks Protection Squandered

Since Dianne and I celebrated ten years of our love at Padre Island, we have been captivated by the wonderful beauty of this island paradise that you can drive to from Oklahoma. We were both pretty upset to read that it is being sacrificed for short term oil profits like so many things we cre about these days.
Bush-Cheney have been prevented by Congress from drilling in the Alaska National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR); but they have recently opened Padre Island National Seashore to oil exploration by the Corpus Christi, Tx. based BNP Petroleum Co. Simply put, the drilling should never have happened. Since it's founding as a National Seashore 1962, 8 Presidents have played by the rules and obeyed the mission given to The National Park Service: No Development - No Oil & Gas Wells - The Sierra Club

The total amout of natural gas which lies under Padre Island National Seashore is equivalent to that which is consumed by Americans in less than a single day. 70 percent of the profits will go to offshore investors in Japan, Australia, and Canada....whereas tourism to Padre contributes $39 million annually to the local economy.

It does not have to be this way, you can help by signing the Online Padre Island Protection Petition or read more about the issue here:
Padre Island Pollution Politics.

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