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 Post subject: Thankyou letter to the Gorge
PostPosted: Thu Sep 04, 2003 10:54 pm 
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Joined: Sun Dec 01, 2002 12:03 pm
Posts: 566
Location: St. Paul
I got out to the gorge for my 1st time ever for the last week of July. It was actually BETTER than advertised, if that’s possible.

Marc and I watched the web for weather before we left. We already had air reservations, so we were going no matter what, but nothing like a good weather report to stoke the stoke. The web said: 20-30 in the area around hood river for something like 5 days in a row from about 9 am to 6 pm. With 90 degree temps. Not ever having been to the Gorge, I figured this was just an internet sales ploy of some sort….usually the forecast changes from day to day, right?

We arrived on Wednesday noon to Portland, got our Thrifty extended white panel van (only $200 a week!) and headed straight out to Hood River….right into a 2 hour traffic jam. So the road leads nowhere but Hood River and the desert for like 50 miles at least with no exits, and there’s two lanes going about 10 miles an hour. Buzz kill. But at least the wind was kickin’, right? Nope. No wind. None. Finally the traffic cleared out: we saw what the problem was: or wait, no we didn’t; there was as far as we could see nothing to slow traffic, no construction, no crashes. Oh well, on our way….and look, Marc: those are whitecaps, right?

In Hood River finally, and stopped at a couple of places to check out rental equipment. Ended up at Windance Rentals, located at the far east end of town right off the freeway. It’s run by Gary and Nancy, who are the nicest, most accommodating, patient folks. Given that most of us don’t have Gorge gear, it’s pretty much a bargain to rent whatever you want on different days for only about $250/week. When we got there, apparently Gary was out sailing for the 1st time in a month or two, but Nancy checked the wind, set us up with 68, 78 and 89 liter boards, and 3.7, 4.1 and 4.5 sails. (It’s not THAT windy is it?). She recommended going to Celilo, about 20-30 minutes east, and when we got there, we knew why. Whooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo. The kinda wind that we only get here when it’s about 40 degrees out. After rigging up the 3.7 Ezzys on the smallest Riccis, we went out and were……..overpowered?! Not silly overpowered, but enough to wanna make sure you don’t get picked up and thrown 20 feet downwind off a 4-5’ breaking wave.

As we came in to tighten things down a bit, this guy comes over to say "Hi". Man! Friendly folks here! It turns out this guy was Gary form Windance, and he saw that we were "on his equipment", so he wanted to make sure we were set up ok. He had been out, and said "hey why don’t you try my rig out?" (Well this is not something that one hears offered very often in nukin’ conditions) Despite our objections, he insisted that he was done, and we should try the 68l Ricci with a 3.3 sail. (Ain’t that size a KIDS sail?) It was incredible to ride on something that small (my board is 104l, and my smallest sail is 4.1), but it was great. Unbelievably light. I’d like to say that I shredded and made all my jibes carving at full speed, but the truth is that I didn’t come very close to making even slow jibes. (Where exactly am supposed to put my feet? ) Still fun, and really easy to waterstart in the shadow of the breaking waves….apparently .4m does make a big difference when the gusts are breaking 40mph.

We tired fairly quickly and figured it would be good to save our body parts for the days ahead. We did leave at 6-7pm thinking it was SO GREAT that Gary went out of his way to help us out. And as it turned out everyone in the Gorge seems to be the same way: happy to be living there in the summer, and happy to share nature's bounty. The openness and friendliness were genuine everywhere. I have never seen so many FIT folks in one place at one time – even the guys who were 60 ears old looked like they could shred at anything they put their minds to.

Thanks to Randy and Tighe and Lakawa Chat, we located Tucker Park and camped there, about 10 minutes up the hill from Hood River. GOOD CALL! We camped next to a babbling brook with dry, warm, fantastic weather the whole week. Of course, we were only there between 9pm and 8am, but if you get skunked, it would be relaxing. I felt that there couldn’t be a nicer place in the Gorge for 20x the cost of staying there (a whole $12/night).

For the next 4 days, the wind continued to blow from 7-8am to 6pm or so. The days were 3.7 / 4.0 / 4.5 - 5.5, 6.5. it could only have been better if it built in the increasing wind direction, but who is complaining. the amaxing thing about he Gorge is how different it can be only a mile or two between spots. One day we went to Doug's, found it dead (10mph?) and went 2-4 mi down to the other side of the river to 4.0 conditions. Wierd. By the last day, I was making all my jibes and carving up the smooth 4’ swells in Swell City having SO MUCH FUN in conditions that seemed just like surfing. And there was hardly anyone else out, because it was ONLY 6.0.

On my only "bad" day of sailing (just had the wrong stuff up, or the wrong stuff in me), I got tired out pretty quickly (2-3 hours) at the Event Center. Wind died, and so marc and I headed up towards the hatchery (you could see white caps there). I wisely was NOT inclined to get out there with the locals, because it was very rough. Somehow I didn't feel like being a landing pad for someone's post-loop fin. It was really cool to watch those guys at home in the 4.0 conditions doing loops, vulcans, really nice hero jibes, and a bunch of stuff that I can’t even describe. It SEEMED like nobody hardly ever fell, mostly because they even fall with style. Miss a trick, get he sail up clew first, stabilize the board with water up to your knees, and off you go……loop ……vulcan…..easy! I thnk you can actually learn by just watching (and hard to hurt yourself watching) and looking carefully.

It was a real treat to have such a great experience out there. before leaving, we were already planning on making it an annual thing. And it made getting through what seemed like a really slow summer very bearable. And, gosh! Fall winds are already coming in!


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Fri Sep 05, 2003 2:11 am 
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Joined: Tue Nov 26, 2002 2:42 pm
Posts: 960
Location: MN, USA, Earth
what a great story! i'm all stoked up to go there next year if possible. To bad I missed you guys out there. Like you said, some of my favorite days out there were on bigger gear cause you have the "best" spots all to yourself. On a big sail day it's as good as a good day on mille lacs (wave and wind) all day long sometimes.

Next year I'll need to get to the coast during the no wind spells that sometime hit during the summer (a few days at most). I hear you haven't really seen anything out there untill you make it out to the coast.

sail on!

PS, move this to stories or locations. Send it to windance for them to publish, you might get free rental out there next year hehe.

PPS, how'd ya like having NO bugs around you at night in the campsites. man is that nice.


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 Post subject: You got me thirsty again.
PostPosted: Fri Sep 05, 2003 9:30 am 
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Joined: Thu Nov 28, 2002 10:01 am
Posts: 658
Location: Forest Lake
Great positive story about this wonderland everyone should visit. I'd suggest you send it off to Windsurfing Magazine for publication consideration...it's a great motivator to all thinking about making the journey. I love your creation of the word "amaxing"...it rings true to the place..not sure if was an accidental typo or deliberate morphesus of amazing and maximized.

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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Fri Sep 05, 2003 5:16 pm 
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Joined: Sun Dec 01, 2002 12:03 pm
Posts: 566
Location: St. Paul
"amaxing": what a cool word, unfortunately it produced wholly by my subconcious (and I had to hunt in the text to find it!)

Maybe next year we can hook up with you guys. But even if we don't see anyone we know, we'll still end up running into new friends again and again. As we were leaving, I was kind of bummed that I didn't take the time to take pictures of the PEOPLE we met along the way...


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Fri Sep 05, 2003 5:16 pm 
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Joined: Tue Nov 26, 2002 2:42 pm
Posts: 960
Location: MN, USA, Earth
Hey Geo, I noticed from your profile that you are in to skateboarding. Did you check out the free park up by the Walmart? I bought a board and got my first taste for park riding there during the non-wind days.

http://www.downhaul.com/skate/

They've got some massive stuff there. I should be better next year. I did learn to drop into the mini-pool (about 2ft). 2 feet doesn't sound like much but when you have never done it before it feels like this high

http://www.downhaul.com/skate/030729/im ... 010073.jpg

I'll update my post for the Gorge in Locations and add some of the sailing sites and other fun stuff to do.


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