Wednesday, September 26, 2007

OBX Pilgrimage

Pretty much every year that I've been in grad school (don't ask me to count), the VIMS Sail and Paddle Club has done a fall trip to the Outer Banks, organized by me. We stay at a funky little campground in Rodanthe that caters to surfers and other lowlifes (like graduate students). This year we had our biggest trip ever, with 8 people (one year it was just me and my friend Keith).

It wasn't very windy, but since most of the people were newbies to windsurfing, that was no big deal. The weather was beautiful, and it was heavenly to glide over the Pamlico sound, looking down through the clear water at a mosaic of sand and seagrass. After s'mores on Saturday night the moon was so bright that I went for a nocturnal windsurfing session. WOW, what a neat feeling. (Don't worry mom, it was safe because of the shallow water, the lights on shore, and the complete lack of boats.)

Despite the idyllic beauty of the calm weather, myself and fellow wind-addict Sam Lake (a kiteboarder) were jonesing for more wind so we could get our adrenaline fix. It finally kicked in from the North while we driving home on Highway 12 across Pea Island National Wildlife Refuge. Of course we stopped at a pullout, ran out across the dunes, and frantically rigged up to shred in the ocean. I used my 6.9 sail and 114 liter board, and Sam used his 13 m kite.

Both of us were dialed, but Sam couldn't stay upwind because of the alongshore current, and he had to do "the walk" 3 or 4 times. Ha ha. The ocean was beautiful, tropical colors. At one point some small cownose rays swam by just under the surface in front of me, their graham-cracker colored backs contrasting sharply with the deep azure below them. Awesome.

I made it in and out of the surf zone without incident until the very last time I returned to shore, when I found myself in vanishing water in front of a rearing chunk of shorebreak that worked me pretty good. (See diagram) Next time I want to be just BEHIND the big wave instead of in front of it.

Monday, September 17, 2007

Saving the Environment?

Good grief. I got THIS in the mail today:

I swear, environmental organizations are some of the worst offenders when it comes to bulky paper mailings. Now I have to donate my life's savings to the environmental cause just to undo the damage inflicted by their overstuffed solicitation letter.

PS- To those of you who will be receiving Christmas cards from me on this free gift stationary, sorry for ruining the suprise.

Friday, September 7, 2007

Supernatural Experiences

Repetitive daily routines, clich├ęd popular culture, and confining man-made landscapes can make you feel anxious and trapped.

Fortunately, it is possible to break out of this mundane mire. Sometimes all it takes is a NATURAL experience, like going for a walk outside. Tuning in to the deeper rhythms of nature can help you transcend the petty stuff. However, if the world is really getting you down, it might take something stronger to rise above it; what I’m calling a SUPERNATURAL experience.

A supernatural experience is a natural experience, but with an extra edge of excitement and freedom. It requires not only a mental transcendence of the mundane, but a physical escape, as well. It involves defying assumed physical boundaries and doing something rare or seemingly impossible, like climbing to the top of a tree or scuba diving to the bottom of a lake.

Creative folks have found many routes to supernatural experiences. The video below shows how a guy named Frank in suburban Illinois escapes a dreary winter day with the magic of (what else?) windsurfing! The soundtrack is one of my favorite tunes by White Zombie; Electric Head, Part 1.