17. October 2012 16:52
I enjoy reading the normal scuba diving magazines as much as the next guy, but I recently set out to find something more. I wanted a publication that explored cave diving, wreck penetration, and other aspects of technical diving. At first I found Advanced Diver Magazine (www.advanceddivermagazine.com) and it looked like exactly what I wanted, but it turned out to be out of print. Well, there's some good to go along with that: they've actually gone "green" so all their content is available online. For free. They nolonger follow a typical "publication" format; instead posting individual contributions as they come. If you are into any aspect of technical diving, I highly recommend checking it out. There are both traditional articles as well as some great videos.
Next, I came across another free online publication at www.techdivingmag.com. I had setout looking for a paper publication that I could pack around with me, but this may actually be better. I am trying to embrace the technology. Tech Diving Mag "publishes" a quarterly online magazine as a PDF that you can download. Now, I am not big on reading stuff on a computer screen as a substitute for paper, but in this case, I was able to copy the PDF into my iTunes library and synch it into the iBook app on my iPad. Perfect. I had already been transfering to the dark side e-subscriptions with Backpacker and Islands magazines. This PDF to iBook system doesn't automatically get my new issue to me, but it is close now that I "Liked" Tech Diving Magazine on Facebook.
If you haven't tried it yet, I recommend giving e-subscriptions to any sort of digital reader a chance. I was skeptical at first too. In reality it is quite nice. True e-subscriptions through iTunes or reader apps like Zinio just show up on your iPad, they are searchable so you can quickly find an article that you remember reading, and they automatically save your place. Plus they can be read from anywhere without needing an internet connection.
The PDF to iBook (or other PDF reader app) solution takes a slight amount of work, but carries with it a monster advantage: FREE-ness!!! Now I am hungry to find more free publications that I can get to my iPad. To be continued...
9. October 2012 16:00
Our family recently joined Boise's City of Trees Orienteering Club (CTOC) and participated in an orienteering meet at Bogus Basin Ski Area. To jump to the end of the story, we should have done this a long time ago.
There were four courses set up to accomodate a variety of skill levels. We began on the beginner course (the kids had never used a map or compass and my wife had only the 15 minute lesson from the night before). The beginner course was perfect for just that, beginners. The distances were short and the landmarks were plentiful. Many of the controls were within sight of each other once you figured out the right direction to go. After the first two controls, the kids were able to do it on their own and lead us around.
There was time left so we tested our skills on the intermediate course. The terrain was certainly more challenging. The navigation required more thought as well. Everyone did great though.
I heard the advanced course was particularly difficult. Appearantly those double black diamond ski runs are easier to negotiate with the help of a chair lift and some skis.
You can find more about CTOC here: http://ctoc-boise.blogspot.com. They also have links to a number of other orienteering clubs in other areas. So, whether you are an expert navigator or a complete novice, I highly recommend getting together with your local club for a great adventure!
27. September 2012 15:01
I added an Imagine Rapidfire to my stand up paddleboard quiver (if two boards can constitue a quiver). My original board is an inflatable board with a permanent fin on the back. It was a great starter board and does well on the lake, but wasn't great on the river which was my original target. So, as I told my wife, I needed a Rapidfire.
The Rapidfire is made out of molded plastic like a
whitewater kayak so it is super tough. It is also shaped a lot like a big kayak so it looks like it belongs in the river. I had high hopes the first time I took it out; and, I must say that it surpased my expectations. The thing is very stable and has the weight and shape to punch through rapids that sent me swimming with the inflatable board. Class III's are easily within my reach (an I am not a great paddler by any measure).
In my opinion, the Rapidfire would also make a great entry level board because it is so incredibly stable.
There are only a couple drawbacks to the Rapidfire and the plusses outweigh them by so much that I feel a little silly bringing them up. One is the weight: this thing is almost 50 pounds. That may not sound heavy but the awkward carrying shape makes it a bit of a burden if you are walking very far. I typically rig up a carry strap if I am going more than couple hundred yards. The only other issue I have is with the molded standing areas: don't get me wrong they make it much easier to stay on the board when a big wave kills your momentum - the drawback is they hold that cold water in little pools around your feet. I know, I am a whiner.
So, all in all, I'd give this board a 9.9/10 for anybody who wants to move into whitewater SUP. I look forward to trying out some more of Imagine's great looking boards including their high performance whitewater board: the Spitfire.
28. August 2012 17:19
We just got back from our end-of-summer trip to the Oregon Coast. The whole family (including the dog) went and I'd have to say this was one of the best vacations we've been on.
This time we took the 5th wheel trailer instead of staying in a hotel. I had only pulled the trailer a few times so the 12-hour drive had me a little worried. In the end, everything went smoothly and there was nothing to worry about except getting passed by multiple mini vans on the freeway.
We ended up staying at the Oceanside RV Park just outside Charleston, OR. Everybody was very friendly and we virtually had the beach to ourselves. It wasn't really camping since everybody was fairly close together and there were full hookups to supply water, electricity, and even cable TV if you wanted it. The place even had wireless internet so you could still get in some Partypoker if you wanted something much closer to Vegas than the penny ante game around the corner. I kept praying for some rain so I could play more but we got nothing but sunshine.
There is great crabbing off the rocks right in front of the beach. A three day license was only $11.50 and Oceanside provided free traps and bait. If you haven't tried crabbing, you need to. The kids love it and the adults feel like kids. Pulling the pot up is like Christmas every 10 minutes.
We also made the short 2 mile drive around the cape to Sunset Bay. That place is a must. We took a couple SUP boards and a small raft out into the bay and paddled along with a pair of harbor seals. The seals popped up all around us as we made our way out the main part of the bay and around to a secluded beach bordered by monster rocks and a couple sea caves. What a great day!
13. December 2011 11:07
I just love it when some smart person comes with a entirely new and unique way for me to hurt myself. Zapata Racing has created the absolute coolest personal water craft (PWC) accessory ever. Some are calling it the "Dolphin", Zapata calls it the "FlyBoard." You strap this board to your feet then use the jet from your PWC to push you through the water and into the air. The FlyBoard is going to run you around $7000, plus you will need a 100+ horse power PWC to power the whole thing. The guy in the video has some sort of customized jet board thingy - he speaks some language that I don't understand so I don't know if he talks about his craft in the video. He does use a standard jet ski some and that is what they point to on their web site. Check it out:
5. December 2011 11:37
Ever since I read Diving into Darkness, I have been intrigued by Dave Shaw's "proving grounds" in South Africa: Komati Springs. Komati Springs is a flooded mine that consists of a central pit that provides open water conditions down to about 160 feet. The pit also connects to a multilevel cave system that has been explored to a little over 600 feet - some of this exploration is touched on in Diving into Darkness. Don Shirley (Dave's mentor and eventual dive buddy) still offers technical diving courses, including cave, at the mine.
If you are like me and you live too far away for a quick trip to South Africa, here's a video I found of a couple diving in Komati Springs. The video is a little dark, but it still gets my heart pumping a little faster.
Check out Don's operation: http://www.technicaldivingafrica.co.za.
29. November 2011 11:25
Everybody should add the Rickshaw Run to their bucket list. It as close to a prepackaged "ordeal" as any ordeal hunter could want. Check it out: http://www.theadventurists.com/
3. November 2011 14:32
I have done a little windsurfing and have always wanted to try kite boarding. I was talking with a friend about signing up for kite lesson and he mentioned a Kitewing. I didn't know what it was but I was interested. He had seen a picture but didn't really know much more. I did some looking on line and found the manufacturer's site: http://www.kitewing.com/. It looks sort of like the sail off a sailboard except it is more hang-glider shaped. It looks like fun and it could be used with multiple different "rides." Here's one of the many YouTube videos: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7vmjf82Oq_Q&NR=1. Looks like another fun toy to spend some money on - just what I need.
26. October 2011 16:53
I have written before about the abandoned missile silo in Washington. Today I found this video of the dive: http://vimeo.com/18197984
-- definitely worth checking out!!!
10. October 2011 11:55
Thanks to http://www.idahohotsprings.com, my family paid a visit to Skinny Dipper Hot Spring near Banks, Idaho. The springs were awesome! There are multiple pools that were constructed by creating dams across a narrow ravine. The hot water is captured in a pool at the top where it enters a pipe. Cold water is also routed into a pipe at the base of a waterfall near the top of the ravine. There are valves near the various pools that allow you to control the temperature - AMAZING! The lowest pool (which is the first you come to) is easily big enough for a dozen people and plenty deep for a great soak. The hike is steep but short (less than a half mile) - very scenic and totally worth it. Basically, you park at mile marker 4 on highway 17 outside Banks then follow the trail and signs on up. For more detailed directions, I'll leave it to http://www.idahohotsprings.com.