Sunday, July 28, 2013

Epilogue and Credits

Well, I'm back in Kentucky.  I spent a day in Delaware to recover (and get my luggage back), and then drove back to Lexington, bringing my daughter Molly with me--but that's another story.

It was an excellent adventure all around.  

Congrats to Ted Morris, Txema Carreto, and Mark Mustchin, first, second and third in Grand Master’s.  We all agreed that in the 2015 World’s, when we are all over 60, that there should be a new competition class (we modestly suggest “Legends”) for the over-60 crowd!

Many thanks are offered to:

Boris and Elizabeth.  Thanks for the use of your house, for your hospitality, for taking me to the doc to get my ear looked at, and for driving me to and from the airport.

Team Westie:  Jimmy, Rachael, Kate, Devon, Mat, Buey and Saba.  You guys rock!  I miss you all already.

The organizers of the 2013 Championships!  You guys did a fantastic job!  Too bad the weather wasn’t exactly perfect, but everything else was.

Rob and Jana, thanks for logistics support in LA!  Good luck in the World Master’s Games in Turin!

My BWA and PPCS boating buds, thanks for the encouragement.

Finally, and as always, to She Who Is Small But Mighty:  Thanks again for supporting me on this adventure.  All my love, forever.

Chapter 17 (July 21 still) …Not Me

Almost 17 hours after leaving Brisbane, I’m feet down at LAX.  The Trans-International Dateline Time Machine has been working—I have arrived one hour earlier than I left, something that never ceases to amuse me.  It was a long 2 flights, but it was comfortable enough to sleep, and I watched a bunch of fun movies.  (See “Seven Psycopaths”!)

I call She Who Is Small But Mighty and discover that I am…fourth in the world.  Groan.

I check into Facebook and discover that I missed third place by only 0.33 points.  Grrrr.  Wait.  Well, OK.  Fair enough, running over Mark probably sealed that, and truthfully I owed him third place after that little fiasco.

Rob picks me up at the airport, and I finally break out my inflatable roof racks, which I didn’t need in Australia since my boat fit inside the rental car, and we strap the boat to his car and head to his house, with only one heart attack moment on the way when the guy in the SUV pulled up beside us on the 405 and pointed frantically at the rack, and we realized that the boat was sort of loose up there, but I just yanked the straps tighter and we were good.

Home at Rob and Jana’s, and I unpack my wetsuit gear, bag up my boat and put it back in the rafters of his garage where it will live until my next visit to California, dry and pack my gear (I’m right up against my weight limit, so it is important to not carry excess water in my luggage in the form of wet gear), and shower.  We go out for a quick dinner, and then it is back to the airport where I just make my redeye flight back to Philly. 

I sleep OK on the plane (exit row seat again, yay!!) and arrive home at 6AM.  Of course, my bag doesn’t make it, though my paddle does.  US Airways will it home to Wilmington in the evening.
Exit seat.  Poor man's first class!

Chapter 16 (July 21) And Winner Is…

Up early and at heading to the beach at 6 AM for a 6:30 call.  Competition heats start at 7.  Grand Masters finals are up third, so the heat starts at 7:40, and we’re paddling out 5 minutes before the heat.

Because I’ve been paddling so well in IC boats, I’m going to paddle IC this morning.  Conditions sort of favor IC, since the waves are on the smallish side.  However, Jimmy’s IC boat won’t be available, because he’s paddling Master’s IC in the heat immediately before mine, and Buey is paddling the same boat in the heat after mine.  I’ve made arrangements to borrow a boat from Liam, one of the Aussies (Rachael will also be paddling this boat).  This is something of a gamble of course, but I’m going to go with it.

I’m bouncing around, ready to go, long before my heat starts.  I’m really looking forward to this.  I try Liam’s boat, and it fits ok.  Finally, it is our time to paddle out.  The first wave I catch, I notice how completely different this boat is from Jimmy’s!  It doesn’t turn the same way, not even close, and I flip at the end of the first ride.  No worries, I use Rachael’s technique and I almost flip my self through 360 degrees when I roll, just barely catching myself.  Back outside I go.

On the second and third waves, I begin to get the hang of this boat—I need to lean way forward to engage the rails to turn.  Good enough. 

Time to go for it.

Ummm…where are the good waves?

I grab some more rides but I’m not doing so much.

The 5 minute horn sounds.

Finally, a good wave!  I take off, and I’m getting a good ride.  Jimmy is standing in the water, getting Buey launched, and he’s waving at me to go left, but the wave closes out and I don’t make the section.  I’m going sideways towards the beach, and Jimmy is standing there, and Mark, one of my co-competitors is inside of me too, and…I freeze.  And rather than get control of the boat and surf around them, or pull out of the soup ,or simply flip, I plow right into Mark sideways.  Duh-OH!  Big Time Duh-OH!  Mark is OK, but I'm sure I’ve lost points for that little maneuver.  Sigh.

I scramble to head back outside, grab a few more sub-par waves, and then it’s over.

I get dressed, rinse off my gear and pack it, and start cheering on my friends in their heats, and then Elizabeth shows up at the beach to fetch me. 

I have to leave for the airport before the results are announced. 

Elizabeth drops me at Twin Waters and goes up to Coolum to fetch some stuff while I shower, finish packing, and grab my bag, my boat and my gear, and then it’s off to the airport.  We stop for burgers on the way (yum) and then we wrangle my stuff into the terminal and deliver my bag and boat to Air New Zealand.  By mid-afternoon I’m heading to Auckland.

Chapter 15 (July 20) Nope, not today

We meet at Maroochydore Beach, at the Maroochy Surf Club, for the finals.  Conditions are fairly small, and there is a lot of standing around while the organizers figure out what we are going to do.  They finally decide to postpone the finals until the next day.  This is sort of problematic for me, since I have to leave for the airport by 11 AM to fly home, but they assure me that we’ll start early and I should be fine. 

Jimmy and I spend some time doing an aikido clinic on the beach, which is really fun.  Then Rachael and James and I head off to Noosa to go look for koalas, as there is supposed to be one hanging out in a tree right be the car park.  (I’d met some rangers who were doing a koala survey when I’d been there on Thursday, and they’d told me which tree the Koala was in, but it was dark by the time I got back to the car park and I never saw it that day.)  We got there, and sure enough, there he was, way at the top of a gum (eucalyptus) tree.  We then went for a hike and saw an echidna right next to the path.  Pretty cute little guy!

We then headed back to Twin Waters through a driving rainstorm and then caught a shuttle bus to the big party, which was being held at the Mudjimba Surf Club, complete with dinner, some free drink coupons, and a DJ.  It was scheduled to run until midnight, but with finals taking place early the next morning, most people were gone by 9PM.  I left just afterwards, and as far as I could tell, only the English, the Aussies, and the Basques were still hanging out.

Koala, high in a tree, munching leaves

Tea Tree Bay

Cool tree

Echidna.  What a little cutie.

An Australian turkey.  I wonder what they taste like….

Waterfall of Mt. Coollum.  It rained hard just before this.

Chapter 14 (July 19) In which I play hooky

Today they are running the team finals.  It is pouring rain, and I’m going to stay home.  Elizabeth’s sister is taking the house over tonight, so I’m going to clean up the house, do laundry, and pack stuff up.  

I get the house cleaned, mopping floors, putting away dishes, vacuuming, etc., then head out for a quick free-surf.  Conditions aren’t great, kind of dumpy, but I paddle out and catch a few nice rides, then head back home, shower, clean and dry my gear, pack the car, and head to Twin Waters, where I am going to room with Mat for the next couple of nights.  He’s left the room open for me, so I drop my stuff and head to the Mooloolaba fish market area, where I splurge on a lovely dinner.  Then it’s back to the resort, where I crash out.  Call is for 7 AM tomorrow.

Chapter 13 (July 18) Semis and Noosa

Another early morning at Moffats.  They are going to finish the semis today, and all my teammates are in the semis.  I take my time getting to the beach, and basically hang around and cheer everyone on.   I do take some time for a work-related teleconference, which of course corresponds to a 1-hour break in the competition while we wait for the tide to change, so I don’t get to go free surf.  Kate and Rachael make it through to the finals in women’s HP, with Rachael also in the women’s IC final; Jimmy makes it through to the finals in Master’s IP and HC; and Buey is in the Junior’s HP and IC finals (there was no semi for these). 

We get done early, so I head up to Noosa to surf there.  This was the place that I surfed after a conference in 2007 and was hit in the head by a surfboard and knocked silly, and I was interested in going back.  I got there in the late afternoon and hiked my boat out to Tea Tree Bay.  I managed to leave the backband for my boat in the car, but no worries, because the waves were fairly small, but there were long nice rides in the evening sun.  I hiked back to the car as the sun set, drove home, made myself a big dinner, and crawled into bed.

Chapter 12 Food!

In Portugal, I had something of a reputation as the food guy.  This time around, I ate most of my meals at home, having porridge, tea and fruit for brekkie and grilling stuff for dinner.  I usually brought some fruit and granola bars for lunch, but I did take some time to sample local lunch fair.

The Alex Surf Club offered us a coupon for a lovely grilled chicken burger, which was really good, and I also had their grilled  chicken wrap, which was enormous (half got saved for the next day’s lunch).

Everyone extolled the virtues of pie before I got to Oz.  I tried a beef, onion and mushroom pie in Coolum for lunch one day, which was OK, but at Moffats Beach I was directed by the locals to the little coffee shop next to the car park (I can’t remember the name, unfortunately, but is the closest place to the car park) for the pork, apple and cider pie.  Oh. My. God.  Just fantastic!!  I had one for lunch on two successive days.  I also had a breakfast pie, which had mince (ground beef), egg and cheese, with tomato sauce (ketchup), which was a tasty breakfast, in Mudjimba, near the Twin Waters resort. 

I tired a fish kebab sandwich in Coolum, which was really a big piece of deep-fried fish, topped with chopped mint and tabouli and tomatoes and onion with tartar sauce and wrapped in some flat bread of some sort.  Quite tasty, though grilled fish would have been nicer, I think.

Australian burgers with “the works” deserve special mention. Start with a burger, fairly thin but made with real ground beef, not one of those pre-formed beef patties like we often have in the States.  Add the usual lettuce and tomato and tomato sauce, but then include:  beet slices, and a fried egg, and bacon (like Canadian bacon) and a pineapple slice.  Really really good.  Messy, too, of course.  But lovely.

A pork, apple and cider pie.  To. Die. For.

Chapter 11 (July 17) Hanging out; playing tourist

Moffat Panorama

I take my time getting to the beach this morning.  I know that they have to bring the rest of the field to the finals, plus there is day needed for team finals, so I don’t have to be at the beach this morning except to watch and maybe do a free surf. 

There are the usual morning showers, but it is shaping up to be another fine day.  I see a really fantastic triple rainbow on the way—it goes red through violet then red through violet then red through violet once again.  I’ve never seen this before.  Of course, before I can find a place to stop and take a photo, it fades from view.

I arrive at the beach, and they will indeed be running the rest of the preliminaries and maybe some semi-finals.  I myself finally get to relax, take pictures, and just hang around with no worries that I’ll be called to compete.

I’m enjoying the warmth and the sunshine, and I wander out to do some photography, watch the competition and poke around in the tide pool.  Limpets and snails are the high intertidal benthic residents, with anemones and chitons appearing a bit lower, just like on the US west coast. There is a surprising lack of shore crabs of any kind.  It’s hard to tell what’s in the lower zones, though—there are clearly barnacles down there (we have barnacles in the high intertidal in the US), and various algae.  And of course there are small fish darting in the small pools.

As I’m poking about, an osprey (I didn’t know that they were found world-wide, unless this is a separate Australian species) flies overhead carrying a fish and lands in a nearby tree.  I go shoot some shots of him eating his lunch.

I get some nice shots from the rocks and from the top of the cliffs of people paddling, and eventually the competition gets called off in the early afternoon as conditions deteriorate.

I decide to drive back to Coolum via the mountains.  There is a road that runs along the escarpment that is supposed to offer spectacular views, with nice waterfalls along the way as well as dirt track through the rain forest that is supposed to be nice.  I head off to do that.

It is a lovely drive.  There are great views over the Glass House Mountains, to the south, and over the shore to the east.  Mapleton Falls is a short walk out a boardwalk from the car park, and the road through the forest is just lovely—don’t see another vehicle the whole drive, except, surprisingly, for a tour bus that passes me as I’m stopped for a look around.  The forest is so very different to what I’m used to—a mix of eucalypts and palms and things that look like some type of ficus.  The bird calls are really exotic, and of course, so are the birds.

I make it home, drop by the grocery store for some food and then past the library to connect to the internet.  I grill myself a steak for dinner, and then collapse into bed by 9.  Tomorrow we’ll be back at Moffat’s to finish up the semis, and then they’ll run team finals on Friday and the rest of the finals on Saturday.

Judges at work…
…from their perch (blue tent) atop the cliff.

And the things they were judging (Men's HP Quarter-finals):

The next heat gets ready.

Watching the action

Cutting back

Slow murder


Glass House Mountains