Thursday, December 31, 2009

Happy New Year

Happy New Year!

When is it appropriate to offer a wish of “Happy New Year”? It is still 2009 as I write, so it is not yet the New Year. But it is New Year’s Eve. Must I wait until midnight to post a “Happy New Year?” Or may I post a premature greeting, knowing that in a few hours it will be 2010 and that many may not see and read this post until tomorrow or even later in the New Year, and that for them, it will truly be the new year?

For the record, this photo was taken a year ago.

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

My Favorite Virginia Beach Outfitters

For the past several years my wife and I have been vacationing the week after Christmas in Virginia Beach. Every annual VB vacation has included a stop at Wild River Outfitters, one of my favorite multi-sport outdoor provisioners. With a wide selection of paddling gear as well as clothing, footwear, camping and climbing gear, as well as a regular clearance rack and table, it is difficult to walk out of WRO without buying something. In past years I have purchased hiking boots, trail shoes and clothing, all on sale. I have also purchased maps and guide books related to the local area. This time I bought a pair of shorts on clearance sale and a new pair of yak grips for my kayak paddle.
WRO opened for business in 1976 and moved to its current location in 1990. Employing about twenty mostly part-time staff, only three were working the day I dropped by, all camera shy and unwilling to comment for this post. Unfortunately owner Lillie Gilbert was not on site and I regret I did not have the opportunity to meet her in person after corresponding with her via e-mail.

Lillie is an avid and experienced paddler, author and active environmentalist in addition to owning WRO. She has authored at least three guide books about local water, co-authored a book of local tales, and was instrumental in establishing a 28 mile Scenic Waterway that enables paddling from Lynnhaven Inlet to the North Carolina-Virginia line, a paddle that takes one through the heart of Virginia Beach.

WRO offers plenty of parking (photo top right) and a great selection of kayaks (just some of which appear in the photo bottom right). Its staff is knowledgeable, but so is its clientele. Last year while looking at some kayak fishing gear I struck up a conversation with another customer about kayak fishing. He taught me more in five minutes, with hands on explanations, than I could have picked up reading several pages in a book.

I place WRO in the same league as a couple other independent outfitters specializing in or focusing on kayaking while also supporting other sports like camping, backpacking and climbing. The next time you are in Virginia Beach, drop in and tell them you learned about them from Summit to Shore.

Monday, December 28, 2009

Myrrhlyn’s Summit to Shore Day

For a few hours Vicki and I liberated Myrrhlyn from Bayside Kennels, where we have been boarding him since Saturday morning. Our first stop was nearby Mount Trashmore, where Myrrhlyn bagged his first summit (photo top left). With an elevation of 60 feet, Mount Trashmore is perhaps one of the highest natural points in Virginia Beach, offering a commanding view of parkland, the Interstate, and nearby office parks and housing developments.

After descending from Mount Trashmore we drove southeast to our second stop, Back Bay National Wildlife Refuge, where Myrrhlyn experienced (I am not sure “enjoyed” would be the right word) his second kayaking trip (photo top right). We paddled only forty minutes and about a mile, and Myrrhlyn eventually found his way out of Vicki’s sit-on-top and into the water. With a little help he eventually climbed back into Vicki’s kayak. We then paddled back to the put in and called it a day.

After his summit to shore day, Myrrhlyn seemed relieved when we dropped him back off at the Kennel, as if he preferred to be in a warm and cozy kennel rather than climbing reclaimed landfills and swimming in cold brackish water.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

The Moderator Responds: Part 5

I submitted five interview style questions to the Reverend Bruce Reyes-Chow, Moderator of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) General Assembly. It was his idea. I spread his responses out over five posts to avoid one really long post. This is the fifth and last of those posts and his responses.

More than any Moderator of the General Assembly before him, Bruce tapped the power of the internet, especially facebook and twitter, as well as podcasts, to communicate with the church prior to and after his election as Moderator. I think his strategy has in part opened up channels of communication in the church and changed for the near future how candidates for moderator and those elected Moderator will seek to get their message out. I thank Bruce for his willingness to answer questions and responding in a timely manner.

I plan to be in Minneapolis and blog from the General Assembly meeting next July, which means I also look forward to seeing and hearing Bruce bring down the opening Gavel and moderating the election of the next moderator.

The last question I submitted to Bruce was . . .

. . . when denominations seem to be diminishing in influence and for many are becoming increasingly irrelevant, why should anyone care about the future of Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.)?

To which Bruce responded . . .

I think post-50's denominational is right on, but I am still not sure that
denominations can be whole-heartedly dismissed. In a world where individualism
reigns, I think denominations can stand against this by reminding folks that the
body of Christ is larger than any one person or congregation. So we can still
care, but care so much we change.

Bruce Reyes-Chow,
Twitter: @breyeschow
209.910.4BRC (4272)
AIM/YIM: brucereyeschow
“Peace it does not mean to
be in a place where there is no noise, trouble or hard work. It means to be in
the midst of those things and still be calm in your heart.”

Theologically, I agree wholeheartedly with Bruce that the body of Christ is larger than any one congregation. We find evidence in the New Testament of a connectional church with Christian communities sharing correspondence, sending out and receiving visitors, taking up offerings to help struggling communities, and supporting Paul. There is no such thing as a solitary Christian. Nevertheless, Denominations are a relatively recent phenomena in the Church, born with the Reformation. If the church is about to experience or is already experiencing a new reformation, who knows how our current understanding of denominations will change with that reformation.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Oratorio Society of Queens 2009 Annual Holiday Concert

The Blizzard of 2009 did not deter the Oratorio Society of Queens. Their full rehearsal on Saturday afternoon started before the snow and was over before much of the white stuff had fallen. By the time of Sunday afternoon’s Annual Holiday Concert (photo right), most of the roads had been cleared. Still, even though it was a sold out house at the Queensborough Performing Arts Center at Queensborough Community College in Bayside, NY, there were blocks of empty seats in the auditorium, and it was not until moments before curtain call that the guest Soprano Geraldine McMillian, her flight and train detained by the winter weather, arrived. Those who made it to the concert had their hearts warmed by the Society, singing from the heart since 1927.

This is my wife’s third season with the Oratorio Society of Queens, which rehearses (with the exception of its final full rehearsal) at North Church Queens, where I serve as Designated Pastor. Singing First Soprano, this was also her third Annual Holiday Concert.

Accompanied by the Orchestral Arts Ensemble of Queens and Conducted by Artistic Director David Close, the afternoon program began with selections of Handel’s Messiah (Part 1). After an intermission, the program continued with Sleigh Ride, Ma’oz Tsur, Ocho Kandelikas, Al Hanissim, Angel’s Carol, I Saw Three Ships, Pueri Concinite, Go Tell It!, A Christmas Cradle Song, O Holy Night, and O Come, All Ye Faithful. Guest Artist Cantor Jerry Korobow added guitar accompaniment and vocals to the Hanukah selections. As in previous years, once the printed program was concluded, an encore of the Handel’s Hallelujah Chorus wowed the crowd.

Of the three soloists, Soprano Geraldine McMillian, Tenor John Easterlin (who from where I was sitting looked like Kyle MacLachlan), and Bass-Baritone Vaughn Fritts, I was most impressed by the performance of John Easterlin and the gown of Geraldine McMillian.

The Moderator Responds: Part 4

The Reverend Bruce Reyes-Chow, Moderator of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) General Assembly, offered to answer up to five interview style questions of anyone who asked. I asked five. Here is the third question and response. I asked Bruce . . .

. . . what do you envision for yourself and the Presbyterian Church ten years from now?

Bruce responded …

“The Presbyterian Church? I would be surprised in the PC(USA) were NOT around in 10 years, though I am not tied to the institution being around for the
institution's sake. With that said, I believe there will always be a
Presbyterian presence regardless of what we call it. A denomination that lives
out the belief that we best discern the mind of Christ and will of God together
is what I hope will be drawing people in as one manifestation of the Body of
Christ in the world is what I hope we will continue to be in the world. I hope
we have made the changes in our polity, structure and culture to be adaptable
and we have begin to embrace a multitude of manifestations of the Presbyterian
Church through the country.”

“Me? Hmmm . . . . 50 too early to retire? I
hope to still be involved in a local congregation, visiting my kids in college
and playing the role I am supposed to play in the movement/s of the church."

I too think the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) and the Reformed Tradition has good news to offer the world, but the world does not always want good news. Celtic Christianity also had good news but still more or less died out, being absorbed by Roman Christianity. Yet the contributions of Celtic Christianity live on and have only recently being rediscovered and found worthwhile, with something to say to our world. Perhaps someday, maybe long after its demise, the theological contributions of the Reformed Tradition and the Presbyterian Church will resurface to once again offer the world a vision worth embracing.

Monday, December 21, 2009

The Blizzard of 2009

That is what it is being called, "The Blizzard of 2009". Here in the New York metropolitan area we received more snow in this single eighteen hour storm than all of last winter. With the wind blowing the snow around it was hard to get a reliable measurement of the snowfall’s depth. Nevertheless I measured between ten and twelve inches in our back yard (photo top right). That may not seem much by West Virginia mountain standards but around here it is a lot.

North Church Queens made the decision soon after 7:00 AM to cancel worship. Our winter weather cancellation policy is that if two of the following three people decide and agree to cancel, the service will be cancelled. The three people are the worship leader (in this case me, or a guest preacher if I am away), the Clerk of Session, and the Moderator of the Board of Deacons. Cancelling if two of the above three agree almost insures that a decision can be reached, even if one of the three people cannot be reached.

Considering that I live over twelve miles away from North Church, I did not mind not having to drive on the wintery roads yesterday, even though the snow had stopped and the wind had died down. There were still plenty of slick spots and many of the side streets were barely passable so, even though my Sermon was prepared, I was happy to stay off the roads.

The Ridgewood Presbyterian Church, where my wife serves as Pastor, did have worship. Since we live just around the corner from the church there was no question about the worship leader and preacher being able to make it. Eleven hearty souls also made it and so at 10:00 AM we worshipped together and I was able to worship with the Ridgewood Presbyterian Church and hear my wife preach for the first time in a long time.

The Blizzard of 2009 was our dog Myrrhlyn’s first snow fall. He was scared for about the first 15 seconds but quickly came to love it. He frolicked in the drifts, dug through the snow to make sure the dirt and sidewalk were still there, and attempted to catch and eat falling snowflakes (photo bottom right). Now, after the storm, he is enjoying finding and crunching on chunks of ice.

The Moderator Responds: Part 3

The third question I submitted to the Reverend Bruce Reyes-Chow, Moderator of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) General Assembly, after his invitation to submit up to five interview style questions, was . . .

. . . thinking back to the time you decided to stand for nomination as Moderator, what, between then and now, would you do differently, if you could? Bruce replied . . .

"There are certainly questions I would ask about the mechanisms of being a
two-year moderator that I simply did not know about then that could have avoided
some travel confusions, etc. I might also have spread out my travel in a way
that would not have been so hard on my family and local church during particular
times of the year."
O.K. Bruce, I’ll take the bait. What are some of those questions? What sort of travel confusions have you experienced?

Saturday, December 19, 2009

The Moderator Responds: Part 2

Responding to an open invitation from the Reverend Bruce Reyes-Chow, Moderator of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) General Assembly, I submitted to Bruce and posted on this blog five interview style questions for Bruce’s considered response. He has since responded and I am spreading out his answers over several posts.

The second question I put to Moderator of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) Generl Assembly, the Reverend Bruce Reyes-Chow, was . . .

. . . what has most disappointed you about serving as Moderator of the General Assembly?

"Not much has disappointed me as well. I guess a realization that could be seen as a disappointment concerns the capacity that we might have to make transitions needed to meet the needs of a changing culture and worldview. I am not talking about social/moral issues but about a culture of constant movement. Left, right or middle, we are so set in our ways when it comes to worship styles and structures, institutional structures and other things that I am not sure we have can really become as adaptable that we need to be. "

In his response I think Bruce identifies one of the most difficult problems in the church, and many other institutions: change. It seems that large institutions, from denominations to countries to corporations, often place change agents in leadership positions only to refuse to make the changes the leader calls for.

Friday, December 18, 2009

The Moderator Responds, Part 1

Responding to an open invitation from the Reverend Bruce Reyes-Chow, Moderator of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) General Assembly, I submitted to Bruce and posted on this blog five interview style questions for Bruce’s considered response. He has since responded and I will be posting his answers over the next few days. Thanks Bruce!

Here is my first question and Bruce’s unedited response.

. . . what has been your biggest surprise or greatest learning as Moderator of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) General Assembly?

"I have been surprised by very little. I think this is a great testament to how
we have understood ourselves to be and how "you" have raised me to understand
being Presbyterian. In many ways we knowing who we are is not the problem that
we are dealing with, it is who we will become that is causing so much tension
because we do not agree on that. The greatest learning however has been how much
folks have been willing to engage in conversations about the future of the
church, and not in ways that are about self-preservation and survival, but with
a deep desire to understand what God may have in store for us. I have learned so
much about people's commitment to listen for and respond to God. Truly amazing."

After reading Bruce's response, I wonder “Who will we become?” If God is the potter and we are the clay then we have no claim to shaping and forming our own future. God will make us into what God will make us into. On the other hand, do we not have some responsibility to choose which way we will follow, whether we will follow the way of life or the way of death? We have claimed the knowledge of good and evil and cannot give it back. Now that we have it we must exercise it. Perhaps what we will become is a synthesis of God’s perfect will and our imperfect will.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Getting a Handel on the Holidays

Do you think that when George Frideric Handel’s Messiah premiered in 1742 that he could have imagined attending a performance of it would become, for millions, a Christmas tradition?

Last night I attended, for the second year in a row, The Oratorio Society of New York’s performance of Handel’s Messiah, the complete work, at Carnegie Hall. My wife Vicki (photo top right), whose college major was Vocal Music, is one of the Society’s approximately 200 members, singing first soprano. This is her second season with the society and the second year she has sung in its presentation of Messiah.

The Oratorio Society of New York was founded in 1873 and has performed Messiah at Carnegie Hall every year since its opening in 1891 with the exception of 1960. Last night was its 200th complete performance. The performance was conducted by Kent Tritle. Susanna Phillips sang Soprano. Sara Sturdivant sang Mezzo-soprano. The Tenor was Paul Appleby and Stephen Hegedus sang Bass-baritone.

As the photo at bottom right might suggest, I was seated in the nose bleed section, the balcony third row back from the banister. I was seated so high and so close to the banister that I felt like I needed to be tied in to an anchor. At least I was seated near the center rather than off to the side, like last year.

I am no music critic and my wife has all the musical talent in the family, but I think this year’s performance was better than last year’s. When I told my wife that I could not really hear 200 voices and that the performance sounded as if just a few voices were singing, she said that was good. She also overheard Conductor Kent Tritle remark afterwards that he thought this was the best performance in his fifth season as Music Director of the Society.

This coming Sunday I will be attending a performance of the Oratorio Society of Queens. Their program will include the first part of Messiah (the Christmas part) and the "Hallelujah" chorus but not the complete Messiah.

Monday, December 14, 2009

Get the Stink Out

I rarely review or endorse outdoor sports related products, but when I run across something unique related to climbing, backpacking or kayaking that actually does what the manufacture claims it will do, and that I have found useful, I want to tell other outdoor enthusiasts about it. Such is the case with McNett mirazyme Odor Eliminator.

I have used this product to remove the normal stink from neoprene booties, HydroSkin tops and bottoms, and nylon water shoes after a day of kayaking in salt water. I have also used it to remove (mostly) one of the most difficult to remove odors, cat urine, from cotton, nylon and neoprene. I have not found any other product that works as well when it comes to removing the smell of cat urine.

Modifying the manufacturer’s directions, I have used McNett mirazyme Odor Eliminator in a top loading washer. I used the warm water setting and allowed the offending items to go partially through the wash cycle. Halfway through the wash cycle I paused it by lifting the lid of the washer and let the offending items soak overnight in the washer. The next morning I closed the lid, the items finished washing in the mirazyme solution, and then, not following the directions, I allowed them to go through the rinse cycle.

I have also used the dip method and the spray bottle method with great success. The only problem with the dip method is that the items drip all over the place and take a long time to dry.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Bowne Park Blessing

Through a series of connections and about only three degrees of separation I was invited to offer a “Blessing” at the Bowne Park Civic Association 2009 “Holiday Gathering.” Bowne Park is both a park and the neighborhood around the park located north of downtown Flushing in the New York City borough of Queens. The park is not far from North Church Queens, which sits on the edge of the neighborhood.

From the flyer announcing the event I knew we would be lighting a menorah and a tree, that we would be singing holiday songs, and that some elected officials would be present. I did not know that it would be cold and raining.

A dozen or two folk gathered around the announced 3:00 PM starting time in spite of the cold steady rain. The Rabbi (left in the photo right) explained the menorah and led us in a couple songs related to lighting it. I offered the following blessing. We then enjoyed some Dunkin Donuts munchkins, coffee and hot chocolate and after brief conversations headed to warmer and drier environs, like home.

God of all people,
we, of many faiths and traditions, have gathered here,
men and women of numerous nationalities and ethnicities,
to help bring light and warmth to our neighborhood of Bowne Park,
to our Borough of Queens,
and to our great metropolis, New York City,
and to witness to the glue of common humanity that binds us together,
the need and desire to set aside times and seasons as holidays,
and places for common assembly and use by all.

Regardless of whether we personally celebrate
Aid, Hanukkah, Yuletide, Christmas, or Kwanza,
unite us around the shared themes of
and celebration.

May the lights of menorahs and trees and all holiday decorations
not only remind us that light always dispels the night,
but also that
hope conquers despair,
love overpowers hate,
tolerance is preferable to prejudice,
and freedom is superior to oppression.

Bless us and our great nation not only this day and during this holiday season,
but in all the seasons of the year.


Thursday, December 10, 2009

Philosophical Seasonal Humor

Sitting on my desk, next to my laptop, is the Plato and a Platypus Walk Into A Bar . . . Daily Calendar. Based on the book by the same name, each day a joke or humorous anecdote illustrates a philosophical idea or principle. I really had to laugh when I read today’s page, which is, perhaps, a sad commentary on the state of my sense of humor.

“The History of Philosophy: On this date in 381 BCE, Plato sees shadows on the wall of a cave and interprets them to mean six more weeks of winter.”

The above reminded me of an Easter joke I heard and do not know who to attribute it to. It goes something like this.

“Little William's Sunday School teacher asked him to explain Easter. Will responded that on Easter day Jesus comes out of a cave and if he sees his shadow we have six more weeks of Lent.”

And to make matters worse I offer this original Christmas humor.

“On Christmas Eve Santa comes down the chimney, and if, as he exits from the chimney into the living room, he sees his shadow cast by Rudolph’s shining nose glaring through the window, we will have two more weeks of Advent.”

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Questions Put To The Moderator

The Reverend Bruce Reyes-Chow, Moderator of the 219th General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), has offered to answer interview style questions of anyone who submits them. Considering that I am an Ordained Minister of the Word and Sacrament in the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) and was in attendance as an observer at the General Assembly in San Jose, CA when Bruce was elected, I have decided to submit the following questions and promise to publish here, unedited, his responses. So, Bruce, . . .

. . . what has been your biggest surprise or greatest learning as Moderator of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) General Assembly?

. . . what has most disappointed you about serving as Moderator of the General Assembly?

. . . thinking back to the time you decided to stand for nomination as Moderator, what, between then and now, would you do differently, if you could?

. . . what do you envision for yourself and the Presbyterian Church ten years from now?

. . . when denominations seem to be diminishing in influence and for many are becoming increasingly irrelevant, why should anyone care about the future of Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.)?

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Thank You, Bozeman and Missoula

Less than twenty-four hours after my last post, about Summit to Shore not receiving any visits from Montana and South Dakota, Google Analytics recorded two visitors to Summit to Shore from Montana. One visit was from Bozeman and the other from Missoula. Thank you, visitors from Missoula and Bozeman. I know nothing of your identity, but thank you nevertheless.

In yesterday’s original post I wrote that I had never been to Montana or South Dakota. My wife later reminded me that we had indeed flown into Billings, Montana, the state’s largest city, several years ago. We arrived in the morning and left that evening. Now that my memory has been jump started I remember the day being sunny and mild and our visit pleasant.

Missoula is the second largest city in Montana and the state’s largest media market. A bing search revealed what looks to be an outstanding outfitters in Missoula, Traili Head, Missoula MT! Check it out. There is at least one Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) Congregation in Missoula, fpc missoula, with a pretty neat website. If I ever make it to Missoula, I will be sure to visit both.

Bozeman is the state’s fifth largest city. It is two hours north of Yellowstone and home of the H20 Kayak School and Barrel Mountaineering. Bozeman. like Missoula, hosts at least one Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) Congregation, First Presbyterian Church, which has its own 10 acre wilderness camp! I think I am ready to visit Bozeman in the flesh.

In the meantime, I am still waiting for the first visitor to Summit to Shore from South Dakota and hope they will leave a comment.

Monday, December 7, 2009

Hello Montana and South Dakota, Is Anybody There?

Less than a month away from its first anniversary, Summit to Shore has logged visitors from 52 countries but only forty-eight states. To date not a single person has logged on from or within Montana or South Dakota. What Gives?

Since no one from Montana has visited Summit to Shore, I decided to visit some sites in Montana. A Bing search returned the official state site, and after a few hot links I discovered that Montana Governor Brian Schweitzer has been very busy releasing “Flag Proclamations.” A google search returned a list of sites primarily related to outdoor recreation, especially fly fishing. A blogcatalog search returned a blog related to Montana Real Estate and one devoted to Hannah Montana.

Likewise, a bing search for South Dakota also returned the official state site. Glancing at the official site I did not see a single mention of Governor Mike Rounds making any proclamations about flags but I did learn that South Dakota is changing the types of documents required to get or renew a driver’s license. A google search returned official and unofficial tourism sites. Blogcatalog returned mostly political opinion blogs.

The truth is I have never personally visited either South Dakota or Montana, though I would like to visit both. Montana offers some excellent mountaineering and there is some outstanding rock climbing in the Black Hills of South Dakota. I could also kayak on one or more of the many lakes of South Dakota and enjoy white water boating in Montana.

OK South Dakota and Montana, I visited web sites and blogs in and about your states. Won’t someone there please visit Summit to Shore and leave a comment?

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Empire State of Mind

I first learned about this Jay-Z and Alicia Keys music video, Empire State of Mind, yesterday, from fellow water blogger Messing About In Sailboats.

I am not a big fan of Rap or Hip-Hop, which explains why I was not aware of this song and had not seen this video earlier, but now that I have heard and seen it, I really like it.

I like this video because it is about my adopted home town, New York City. I like that I hear no profanity in it. I like that I recognize many of the scenes. I like that it starts in black and white and then, like the Wizard of Oz, transitions to color. As my wife says, “New York City is so colorful that it can be filmed in black and white because the vibrant life of the city adds its own color.”


Saturday, December 5, 2009

Advent 2009 (For Presbyterians in New York City)

In the first year of President Barak Obama's first term, when David Patterson was Governor of New York State and Michael Bloomberg was Mayor of New York City, during the second moderatorial year of Presbyterian Church (U.S.A) General Assembly Moderator the Reverend Bruce Reyes-Chow, the word of God came to . . .
(Luke 3:1-2)

Friday, December 4, 2009

Marcus and Biff to Tierra Del Fuego

You might say that Marcus Demuth (photo top right) paddles to the beat of a different drummer. He first slid his torso into the cockpit of a kayak and took his first kayaking lesson in 2003. Most people, six years later, would be content to have progressed to serious paddling, but not Marcus. In the past six years he has circumnavigated via kayak The Falklands and Ireland. Now he and paddling companion Biff Wruszek (photo second from top) will soon be heading to the tip of South America where, as the Around Tierra Del Fuego 2010 Sea Kayak Expedition, they will attempt to circumnavigate Isla Grande Tierra del Fuego, estimated to be a 1,000 to 1,300 mile trip, the exact distance depending on how Marcus measures.

Marcus is both a racer and a an expedition paddler. He took first place in his class in the New York City Mayors Cup kayak race in 2009, 2007 and 2006. He recently circumnavigated the Falkland Islands after a failed attempt to paddle around Iceland the year before.

In was in 2007 that Marcus circumnavigated Ireland and also paddled in Australia. A year earlier he kayaked in Wales and Chili. In 2005 he stayed closer to his adopted home of New York City, travelling only as far as Canada for a good paddle. You can read about all of Marcus’s trips on his website.

Last Tuesday evening, inside the spacious Manhattan Kayak Company and in midst of over a hundred kayaks of all shapes and sizes, Marcus and Biff talked about their trip preparation and expectations, presenting a multi-media program about the geography, weather, flora and fauna of Tierra Del Fuego. They also talked about their preparation and planning and the route they plan to paddle, including the obstacles they hope to overcome.

Marcus, the experienced expedition paddler, did most of the talking while Biff, a marathon runner new to expedition paddling, handled the multi-media, a reflection of how their personalities seem to complement one another. Having met Marcus before, I experience him as a warm hearted passionate man. Tuesday evening being my first time to meet Biff, I experienced her as thoughtful, reflective, and introspective. Perhaps Marcus will be the heart and Biff will be the head of this expedition.

The Around Tierra Del Fuego 2010 Sea Kayak Expedition will be a fundraiser for the kayak program of the Achilles Track Club. Appropriately, Joe Traum, the Achilles Kayak Program Coordinator, was also present for the beginning of Marcus and Biff’s presentation and spoke briefly about the great work of Achilles.

The bon voyage presentation and party was fittingly hosted by Eric Stiller (photo third from top) and the Manhattan Kayak Company. It was at MKC and with Eric that Marcus took his first kayaking lesson, four hours of private instruction, back in 2003. Marcus now guides with MKC.

While Eric is himself an accomplished paddler and kayaking instructor he readily admits that when it comes to Marcus, "the student has surpassed the teacher."

I look forward to following Marcus and Biff's progress and to welcomming them back home after what I hope will be a safe and somewhat uneventful expedition.

With the kayaking resume Marcus already has under his paddle, I wonder what he might be planning as a follow up to Tierra Del Fuego. Perhaps he has heard that NASA has discovered water on the moon.

A few more photos from Tuesday evening's event can be viewed at my Picasa site.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Happy Holidays NOLS NYC

It is always a pleasure to reunite with other National Outdoor Leadership School Alums in New York City. In addition to catching up with the usual regulars like Tobey, Lori, Gint, Mac, Chris, Elizabeth, Kate, Cat, and Michael, I always enjoy meeting some people for the first or second time, like Kelly and Jonathan and others whose names now escape me. Last night we gathered at Destination Bar in the East Village for our second annual holiday party.

Have a Happy Hanukkah, Enlightening Winter Solstice, Merry Christmas, Kind Kwanza, and Happy New Year.

With appetizers provided by NOLS, we enjoyed two-for-one Happy Hour bar drinks until 8:00 PM and a Yankee Swap gift exchange. I came home with a really nice pair of green Campmor rain pants in my size and A 5x7 picture frame. I think I will use the frame for one of the 255 photos I shot at the party. After a little editing and deleing of the really bad photos, I uploaded 200 to Picasa, where you can see them for yourself.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

About December’s Header Photo

I shot this photo at the Gunks a little over a year ago, looking north along the east facing ledges of The Trapps, while resting on a ledge after leading the first pitch of Ribs. It was a warm, sunny day, and my first day of serious climbing in almost eight years. I do not know the identity of the climbers on the face.

Advent: Day 2

The Presbyterian Welcome blog, Psalms Modern, in a Special Project for Advent, asked contributors to think of the elements and experiences of church that mean the most to them personally and complete the sentence: “When… , I know that the kingdom of God is near.” I submitted a few responses. One of them is running today as the meditation for Advent: Day 2. Head over to Psalms Modern and take a look.