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Carpenters of the Pacific Coast, Dumb Kayaking Adventure, Close Encounters With Raptors

Book Hoves Into View
I've been working on a book on carpenters of the Pacific coast for the better part of a year now, but puzzling over what the book will look like (in spite of a mass of material). Last week it, the form that is, materialized in my mind. Whammo! I could (can) see the pages. Lew has been telling me to go big with the graphics and I've started doing some preliminary layouts and do they look great! (The material is a graphic designer's dream to work with.)

Builder Sun Ray Kelley's temple, still under construction in the California hills, is 50' by 80', with yurt construction: inner steel compression ring, outer steel tension ring


The world has not seen these builders (to any extent), and their buildings are unique. One thing all these buildings have in common is the rare coordination of design, materials, construction (craftsmanship), and harmony with site.
The focus of the book will be the builders, but it will also be the story of my road trips shooting the photos. I'll bring the reader along with me, riding shotgun. Conversational. Other stuff I saw on my photo-shooting trips up north. A caboose turned into a cappuccino stand in Washington, a downhill skateboarder in Portland, a good-vibes back-to-the-50s breakfast place in Medford, an old blues nightclub in Vancouver, orcas seen from a ferry crossing the Georgia Straits, boats of all sizes and shapes and uses, etc. — these things will be threaded in with photos and interviews of the builders.


Kayakers Get Handled by Mother Nature

I took a kayak trip down a local creek with a friend last Sunday — not a smart thing to do, it turns out. For Marin County locals, it's Paper Mill Creek on the road between Fairfax and Olema, and we put in by the bridge where Kent Lake creek crosses the road. We left my truck about 5 miles downstream, just past the bridge west of Tocoloma. I'd run the creek by myself about 10 years ago, but the flow was a lot less than this Sunday. My friend Clark and I both have 12' Scrambler sit-on-top kayaks, so it's fairly easy to get off the kayak when necessary, and they don't fill up with water like regular kayaks).
Maybe I shouldn't have been such a smart-ass and said "Rock & roll!" when I pushed off into the current, because within 30 seconds I was upside down. There were some pretty rapid rapids to contend with, and we started getting dumped, moi quite a bit more often than Clark. I noted this ruefully because I've been in the water - canoes, kayaks, surfboards — all my life, and here I was losing it. Typically the rapids would spin the boat around sideways and the current would turn it upside down. That wasn't too bad, but the real danger, we soon learned, was a bunch of fallen trees completely across the creek in more than half a dozen places. A couple of times we didn't make the right decisions and ended up with the kayaks pressed sideways against trees. One time I got trapped behind the kayak and tree, and the power of the water wouldn't let me move. The only solution was to dive under the log and hope there were no snags to stop me from getting through to the other side. Not good.
We both ended up straddled across one big tree and had to work to get extricated. Clark was into enjoying the calm stretches, so we floated and watched dappled sunlight and birds high in the redwoods when we got into deeper, slower water. I kept watching Clark deftly glide around obstacles, guiding his boat gracefully, and I'd be climbing out of the water once more. A few miles into the trip I looked downstream to see him get dumped, and I hate to admit this, it just shows what a rotten person I am, but it raised my spirits a bit, misery loves ... etc.
The danger in all this, and the reason it was dumb, is that we underestimated the power of moving water. The creek didn't look that gnarly. We didn't realize what we were into until we pushed off. It's a powerful force and the danger is in getting pinned and trapped under water.
We were starting to get tired. I was ahead and came to the day's hairiest rapids. By then I'd started attacking the rapids, trying to set a course so the current wouldn't slam me into a snag or branch. I was surprised and exhilarated to get through. I decided I better watch for Clark and pulled into some still water and waited. And waited. I started to worry, realizing there was no way I could get back upstream to help him if he was in trouble. Pretty soon he came along and he'd broken one of the blades on his paddle. He'd also had a ranger (on the banks) tell him he was going to arrest us when he caught up with us at our takeout place. Jeez, there are so many people around these days telling you what you can't do. Well, Clark couldn't go on with half a paddle and, ahem — we might just be able to dodge the ranger if we bagged the rest of the trip then (we'd made about 2-1/2 miles), so we pulled the kayaks and hid them on the bank I hitchhiked (in wetsuit) to my truck, came back, we threw the kayaks on the roof and took off in the opposite direction, thereby avoiding getting tickets. Ain't it always fun to run away from cops? We had Bloody Marys at Peri's (old-time local) bar in Fairfax. In all. a good day.
Disclaimer: the above names, including mine, are fictitious. I would not break the law. Neither would Clark.
Attention kayakers & river runners: A couple of great publications:
1. Wave Length, from Gabriola Island, BC. Great magazine from people who love the water, and more kayaks (ads) than you ever imagined existed. Editor Alan Wilson says, about stroking out into the water: "No longer do the terrestrial rules apply…http://www.wavelengthmagazine.com/
2. NRS catalog: an awesome amount of equipment for kayakers and rafters, including inflatable whitewater catamarans and kayaks. http://www.nrsweb.com

Dipsea Race: Dumb & Dumber
I was training for the local annual Dipsea Race, 7 miles of uphill and downhill madness that takes place each June. I ran in a race on Super Bowl day and of course had to race another runner down a long hill, thereby screwing up my knee. and it is now, some 3 months later, too sore to run seriously. (Sad to say, but a fact of life that it takes a lot longer to get over injuries when you're 70.) So I'm getting back into the water, paddling and surfing. Maybe train for the Dipsea next year, but you know, in reality, I may quit the pedal-to-the-medal competitive running scene, and just enjoy running for the scenery and good feeling. Doesn't that sound sensible? Some inner voice has been telling me to do something sensible in the athletic realm, for a change.

Close Encounters With Raptors
In the course of a week, I had a bunch of encounters with hawks. First, I saw for the first time a pair of kites (white hawks) that have recently come to our neighborhood to make their hunting rounds. Then, a red-winged hawk snatched one of our chickens. A few days later I was staying in my friend Louie's cabin in the woods, walked in, and something shot by me and there was a clunk. It was a small peregrine falcon, somehow had got into the room, and it was stunned from hitting the window. I picked it up carefully, took it outside, admired its beauty and let it go. It was thrilling to see such perfection up close. Then a day or so later I was driving at dusk and there was a blur of wings and a hawk barely missed my truck windshield. Bird spirits were with me that week. I guess if I fasted in the desert for 3 days I could figure out what it all meant.

End of the Rains
California has been hammered with rain this winter. Creeks and waterfalls are pounding, lakes and reservoirs full to the brim. The ground is still sodden and when th sun comes out, there's an almost tropical humidity. Spring is starting to explode.