Winter Re-cap

26 03 2010

Winter has typically been my least favorite season because I’m a water girl, however this year our family has taken up some new outdoor sports to make the winter more enjoyable.  We dusted off the cross country skis once again and made it out a few times to Indian Lake and the Sakatah trail.  Wish I got to do it more often but it’s a still a hard activity to do with my little guys.  Out of all the Olympic sports, I think the cross country skiers/biathletes have to be in the best shape….their strength and endurance is out of this world.  Plus skiers are totally hot to watch <drool>.

I finally got back on the horse and tried downhill skiing again after my 1992 concussion incident.  I’m in love with it and so is Kallen (6)… looks like we’ll be getting a season pass for next year and hopefully get a few ski trips in to Lutsen and Colorado as well.   Bamboo sales are gonna have to pick up quite a bit for me to afford to outfit the family in ski and snowboarding gear.  I did get out snowboarding 3 times as well and even after all the bumps and bruises, I’m eager to get back on a board next winter.  Maybe next year I won’t have to use Kallen’s Clifford pillow to protect my rear end:

I spent some time with a Venture Snowboard rep at Canoecopia in Madison a few weeks ago and he’s pretty much sold me on one of their boards.  I like their minimalist design philosophy, they’re made in Colorado, a member of 1% for the Planet, and their facility is run by wind power – excellent!  He told me that 9 out of 10 snowboard/ski instructors he meets would prefer a Venture board if they could afford it.  I’m leaning towards the Storm or the Zephyr.  I haven’t even started looking at downhill ski’s but will need something in the 160 range.  I was trying to fit in one last run at the local hill last Friday but it closed up shop for the year.  I came <this> close to flying to Denver this weekend…but sigh, it was not to be.  I really, really, wanted to test out my new Mountain Hardwear ski pants:

My boys absolutely loved watching the winter Olympics so much that they are now inspired to grow up to be snowboarders, skiers or speed skaters.  Click here to watch a video of Kallen’s first time on a snowboard.  We even had an Olympic arts & crafts day coloring and making medals:

I figured out another outdoor activity that I can do with the boys….but I haven’t come up with a name for it yet (shoejoring?).  For Christmas I got a pair of Atlas snowshoes – Elektra 12 Series.  I had never owned a pair of snowshoes before and I was told by a number of outdoor authorities that these were the best of the best (plus I had to support my Pemba peeps).  So far they are wonderful and have worked good in our couple feet of snow we’ve had this winter.  Don’t be like me though and go and scratch up these beauties trekking through cattails.

New winter workout - snowshoes, rope, carabiners and a toboggan

Mush, mommy, mush!

Now that we are transitioning seasons I am looking forward to spring geocaching and morel mushroom hunting.  If you are not familiar with these activities check out these links:

Morel Mushroom Hunting

Geocaching

We’ve already been out geocaching several times since the temps already reached into the 60’s last week.  Our first one of the year took us out by the Rapidan bike trail.

I’m turning into such a gear freak it’s starting to get out of hand….did I tell you I also want a new road bike and a SUP (stand up paddle board) too for this summer?  Good thing I already have a wakeboard and a kayak because I plan on getting a lot of use out of them this summer.  Now I’ll have to figure out a way to schedule work around my play time:)





Winter Outdoor Retailer Wrap-Up

16 02 2010

Twice a year I exhibit at America’s largest outdoor sporting goods and apparel trade show in Salt Lake City.  This year’s winter show was held January 20-24.  I look forward to these trips for a number of reasons.  First, the obscene amounts of beer…second, connecting with absolutely awesome outdoor peeps, musicians, athletes and industry leaders…third, finding new retail accounts and business partnerships….and fourth, the obscene amounts of beer (ok, I know I already said that).

Thousands of outdoor gear heads flocking into the Salt Palace

This was the fourth Outdoor Retailer show that Naturally Bamboo has appeared at.  I really feel like after this show about 90% of people in this industry know who I am and what my company is all about.  In fact, Channel Signal, an outdoor new media company highlights Naturally Bamboo’s social media presence at the Winter Market Outdoor Retailer Show here.

Monitors were placed all over the show displaying the Outdoor Retailer conversation. Can you spot me?

I have to give many thanks to my new friend Amy Jurries, from The Gearcaster, for taking the time to interview me during the show. I also got to meet Ryan Dionne from The Gear Junkie and he just recently posted a Q & A session that we did together regarding some drama surrounding bamboo processing.  Read the full story here. Ryan and I had a failed attempt at a Colorado/Minnesota beer exchange so I need to see him again soon so we can be re-united with Dale’s Pale Ale & Surly.

David Sweeney from Channel Signal and Ryan Dionne from Explore It/The Gear Junkie

Although getting some good publicity was awesome, the best part of the OR show was getting to meet many of my outdoor twitter friends in person.  Social media (facebook, twitter) has allowed me to make friends all over the world that probably wouldn’t have come into my life without it.  My 2 roomies (and dear girlfriends) @repgirl and @theclimbergirl and myself all came to know each other through twitter and now we will forever watch eachother’s backs.  The first night of the show we organized a tweet-up, which is an event that twitter friends meet in person.  Oh I hope I don’t forget anybody: @thegearcaster @theclimbergirl @maldaly @eliz_castro @highsteph @thegearjunkie @dvdsweeney @bradwerntz @bryankuhn @urbanwilderness @explore_it @jc_climbs @trevorclark @joytripproject @wude72 @krisversteegen.  Here’s some pics from the Salt Lake City tweet-up!

Amy Jurries @thegearcaster, Sara Lingafelter @theclimbergirl, me, and @bryankuhn from @pembaserves

Elizabeth Castro @eliz_castro, Sara, Steph Davis @highsteph, David Sweeney @dvdsweeney @channelsignal, and me

What I loved best about my trip was meeting these incredible athletes, business/social media geniuses and all around good-hearted individuals.  These are the kind of people that inspire me to push myself past my comfort zone and take risks.  I know I’ll never be a free solo climber/basejumper like Steph or climb Mt. Everest like Jamie Clarke, but after listening to their adventures, it sure does make me want to do more stuff outside.

Steph doing a free solo climb

Find out more about Steph through her blog and watch this amazing video of her outdoor lifestyle.

Sara and Jamie Clarke @jc_climbs (professional adventurer & Everest summiteer)

Jamie has created an social network connecting active people…join here. You can also follow Jamie’s bid to summit Mt. Everest once again in April 2010 at Expedition Hanes Brand.

Some other fantastic new/renewed friends that weren’t at the tweet-up but I spent time with during other parts of the show:  Chris Hiller from Truman, Minnesota @camperchris (he practically lives right in my backyard!), John Peacock @jpeacock from the Gear Junkie, John  Besmer @plntprpgnda,  @brockforeman (my Team Minnesota bowling buddy), @betsycurtin (my bowling rival), @outdoorretailer (Kenji, Mr. OR show director extraordinaire), @larrypluimer, @thepiton,  @canoelover (man with a heart of gold), @ibexwool, @writerlou,and @johnhorsnell.  I know I’m forgetting people and I’m so sorry if I have!

Me, @eliz_castro and @trevorclark

@bradwerntz (Pemba Serves), @canoelover (Darren from Rutabaga) and @theclimbergirl (Sara from Waypoint Outdoor) doing a social media panel

@wude72 (Travis) talking about how people like his tweets about his 3 year old wiping boogers on the wall

Watching the Vikings NFC Championship game with Kenji (OR Show Director) and Ryan Johnson (my OR sales rep)

Showing off the new Uberlite Dry Sack from Granite Gear (it looks like it's floating it's so light!). My pal Cheri insisted the GG dog pose with us.

Happy that I got to hang with an outstanding environmental organization @1percentFTP.   My girl Sara got to choose the winner for a Jackson Hole ski vacation during the 1 percent for the Planet CD release party.   My new favorite band @barefoottruth provided the musical entertainment.

Bought my $10 CD....get yours at: http://music.onepercentfortheplanet.org/ (features Jack Johnson, Mason Jennings, G. Love & more!)

Sara got to draw the winner of the ski trip...she did have my card in her hand and dropped it:(

Another highlight of the show was getting to know the crew from Keen.  I got invited to a private movie premier of “Nature Propelled”, an environmental documentary that you MUST see.  The movie was sponsored by Keen, Kavu and Clif Bar, stars Seth Warren, a former professional kayaker and features music by Barefoot Truth.

Will getting a lift from The Yoga Slackers

Did you notice that Will (singer/songwriter of Barefoot Truth) is wearing a Naturally Bamboo shirt?  He traded me his CD for a shirt….I was honored.  I’m happy to say we are still in touch and are working on Barefoot Truth/Naturally Bamboo partnerships.  This is what the shirt says:

Barefoot Truth performing during PrAna happy hour

Keen's Hybrid Life Booth

Keen made happy hour happier by having the lovely Miss Sara bartend (in a bamboo dress no less!)

Me & Sara dancing at the Teva party

My itty bitty booth

All right, I can’t think of anything else to say right now, except is it time for the summer show yet?





Santa Sprint

15 12 2009

This past Saturday both Kallen (6) and Noah (3) ran the Santa Sprint sponsored by the Mankato YMCA.  I didn’t plan on Noah running since he hadn’t shown an interest before, but he was gung ho that day!  It was a great morning to get the boys outside – 20 degrees and sunny.  There were 3 different age “heats”, and the trail was only marked for 1/8 mile.  The boys were so cute because they wanted to run together in each of their age categories, so they ended up running 1/4 mile.  Since they didn’t have an adult run, Jason and I ran on our own about 3 miles after the kids were done.  Our next family race event will be The Frigid 5k and Kid’s 2 mile run in February.

All lined up and ready to go. Kallen is on far right with the red bamboo beanie.

Noah had the biggest smile on his face crossing the finish line.

Kallen (on left) was a fast little dude.

Noah tried hanging with the 5 & 6 year olds but pooped out at the end.





My journey with Forbes

11 12 2009

For those of you who are not aware, Naturally Bamboo ended up being a runner-up in the 2009 Forbes.com “Boost Your Business” competition.  Although I did not win the $100,000 prize package, it sure was one hell of a ride.

It all began back in May when a public call for entrepreneurs in America to submit a 500 word summary of their business plan.  I received word in July that I made the 1st round cut.  Forbes judges selected 20 semi-finalists out of over 1500 submissions.   For the 2nd round, Forbes required that we make a 30 second “pitch” video that would be shown on Forbes.com throughout the month of September.  Forbes readers, family and friends were allowed to submit online votes to determine who would make the 3rd round cut to five finalists.  I was leading the pack until the last day of voting and then Green Soul Shoes shot to the top spot overnight.  Something must have happened to disqualify that company though since they ended up not making it to the final five….hmmm…Forbes never did reveal what the deal was.

I received a registered overnight letter on November 2nd from Forbes indicating that I made it to the 3rd and final round of the competition.  Whoo…hoo I was going to New York City!  I had less than 2 weeks to finalize my 20 page business plan, financial statements and prepare a 10 minute power point presentation.  Forbes paid for my flight and 3 nights at The Carlton hotel in NYC.  Jason came along with me and we had an awesome time checking out the city.  It was my 3rd time to New York and Jason’s first so I took him to Central Park, Times Square, Grand Central Station, etc.  We were extremely lucky the weather was beautiful (60 and sunny every day) so we could walk everywhere without relying on taxi’s or the subway.  I think we clocked an average of 13 miles each day walking.

The day before the formal presentation to the judges panel, I met with a professional presentation coach who flew in from Seattle.  I pretty much finished writing my notes to go along with the power point on my flight in the night before at midnight.  Needless to say, I hadn’t practiced my speech so the coach completely ripped me apart.  It was good though because it’s what I needed and then went back to the hotel room for an afternoon of editing and verbal practice.

I was the first presenter of the five and met all six of the Forbes judges at 8am the next morning.  Here’s me and Forbes Entrepreneur’s Editor, Brett Nelson, inside the studio:

I was given 10 minutes to make my presentation and then it opened up to a 10 minute question and answer session to the judges.  I must say I wasn’t quite as nervous as I thought I would be….guess all the practicing actually helped calmed my nerves.  Here is the link to my presentation:
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Outside of Forbes.com headquarters on 5th Avenue

Outside of Forbes.com headquarters on 5th Avenue

I left New York with a really good feeling that positive things were happening for Naturally Bamboo.  I knew though that it was going to take a ton of work over the next month or so to market this competition and get all the votes I could.  I could tell by watching all of the finalist’s presentations that the judges liked Ksplice the best so I knew that the only way for me to stay in this thing was to pull out a first place ranking with the online votes.  I believe I have the best network of family, friends and business colleagues that a girl could ask for, because without all of you I would have never made it as far as I did.  I held the 1st place ranking the last 2 weeks of the competition and then overnight, my dream slipped out of my hands.  Literally overnight, Ksplice jumped from the 4th position to 1st and I knew it was all over.

People ask me what does the runner-up get out of all of this?  Definitely I gained some great brand exposure and increased sales.  I also got in an investor presentation practice run if I ever end up on the show “Shark Tank”.  Hopefully someone with the right connections will notice how cool of a story we have going on and that Naturally Bamboo will grow into something really awesome.

2009 has been quite the trying year, as it has for many small businesses, but somehow we still survived it.  I have found out who my true  supporters are and I am so deeply moved about how many of you there are out there!  I look ahead to 2010 as a year of learning, change and growth.  Life will always have it’s challenges….it’s all about how you view them….setbacks?  Or something that will make you stronger in the long run?  I’ve chosen the latter.  Cheers to a New Year!





Playing catch up…..

12 11 2009

I apologize it has been a while since my last post, but between the Forbes competition, daily biz tasks, shuffling kids around and playing outside it’s been a busy Fall!  We have had such incredibly beautiful weather for November that the kayaks are still waiting in the garage for their last paddle of the year.

We spent Labor Day weekend camping out with Jason’s brother & family up in Elk River.  They just bought a lot right on the river that they plan to build on in the future so we decided to kayak 2 days on the Elk River to check out the area.

kallenelkriverpaddling

Kallen going solo for the first time

In addition to the usual hiking, geocaching, camping and kayaking that we normally do around here, for some unknown reason I have decided to become a runner.  It seems like every year I try and take up the sport but eventually pitter out after a few weeks.  Shortly after my birthday in August someone or something lit a fire under my ass to give running another shot, and I’m happy to say I’m still at it.  I met my goal this Fall of running in a 5k (actually done 2 so far) and my new goal is to run a 10k in the Spring.

Our first “official” race was the 2 mile Jaguar Jog through Rasmussen Woods here in Mankato.  It was a gorgeous morning, spent time with family & friends, and we raised over $1500 for Kallen’s elementary school.  The turnout was pretty good for a first year event and included over 50 Jefferson students, parents and teachers.

kallenbrendanjog

Kallen (on right) placed 5th overall and his best buddy Brendan took 1st   (they are some fast 1st graders!).  Looks like we got some future track stars on our hands….

jaguarjogfam

Although there were a bunch of kiddies in front of us, Jason was 2nd adult finisher (even after pushing Noah in the jogging stroller), sister Jenny was 3rd and I was fourth (I’m blaming the old dog).

maggiemedal

Even Maggie got a medal

ninja

Feeling like a ninja after taking 4th place at the Carter Kern fundraiser 5k

Jason, Jenny (sister) and myself ran the Halloween 5k in St.Peter and it was a blast.  Over 830 crazy people in costumes made for some good people watching.  The best costume I saw was a lady dressed as the Hamburger Helper glove.  Think her costume weighed more than she did and she amazingly ran the entire distance .  Jason did awesome for his first 5k – placed 95th with a time of 24:21.  I came in 291/830 with a time of 28:30 and Jenny did well coming in 20 seconds behind me (I lost her someone after the ghost mile 1 marker).  Can’t wait to do it again next year and I think Kallen will be ready to run this one as well….

halloweenrun

Me and Jason were the Black Eyed Peas

This past weekend Jason and I went camping for the last time (I think) until Spring.  Just did a quick one-nighter to Big Woods State Park near Northfield.  We hiked almost all of the trails and got some good one on one bonding time with the dogs.

bigagnes1

I am pondering how we are both fitting into J's normally one-person Boundary Waters tent

bigagnes2

Snug as a bug, but we did both fit! Reminded me of back in college when we both would squeeze into a twin bed.

tecate

Mexican beer camping style

My mom took the boys for the weekend and she was worried about us hiking during deer hunting opener.  So, I wore an orange shirt to make her feel better….

medogshikingbw

Ok, time for bed…I’m on week 3 of a 6 week boot camp and 5:30am comes way too early.





First Family BWCA trip

31 08 2009

Well after 20+ years of Jason going on guy only Boundary Waters Canoe trips, he finally let me go this past week.  He said I wasn’t ready until now – perhaps he is right since I think I have grown into a stronger person this past year.

He chose our entry point as Hog Creek, about 11 miles off the Sawbill trail.  On our drive to Sawbill Canoe Outfitters to pick up our canoe, we spotted a mama and baby moose right alongside the road.  Right then I knew that this was going to be an awesome trip.  Some other critters we hung out with on the trip included:  loons, eagles, snapping turtles, painted turtles, bats, frogs, and minks. Here’s the beginning of our adventure:
canoeoncar

Our paddle down Hog Creek took about an hour and a half through drizzly rain & temp’s in the mid-50’s.  Not ideal paddling weather, but the boys did just great – no complaining!  The creek was very narrow, with some spots only as wide as the canoe, with an extreme amount of windy turns.  Sure did sharpen my steering skills!  Hog Creek flows into Perent Lake, which is where we set up camp.  Of course the first 5 camp sites we paddle to were taken, so we ended up at one clear across the other side of the lake.  Even though our site was small, we enjoyed it very much.  It had a excellent landing area that served as our playground for the next 3 days.

First time portaging a canoe all by myself!

First time portaging a canoe all by myself!

For some reason the gods were looking down upon us and made it stop raining just long enough for us to set up the tent and tarp.  After that it poured for the rest of the afternoon and evening.  Me & the boys hung out in the tent the first night eating ramen noodles and fry bread that J made for us.  We passed the time by reading books and putting together some puzzles.

View of camp from the lake

View of camp from the lake

The next few days were just incredible.  We were able to run around in swim suits most of the time because we had glorious, sunny, warm weather.  Perent Lake has several islands that we paddled to and explored.  We hiked trails, gathered wood, climbed rocks, hunted for blueberries, and did a bit of swimming.  We found the holy grail of blueberry bushes and picked as many as we needed for the next morning’s blueberry pancake breakfast:

Noah's sweatshirt being used as our "blueberry bucket"

Noah's sweatshirt being used as our "blueberry bucket"

There wasn’t enough room in our 3 person canoe to bring in firewood, so we hiked around some remote parts of the lake to scavenge for dead, dry logs to make our campfires.  The boys really got into helping out with this chore and we nicknamed them the “little beavers”.

Taking a break from unloading wood from the canoe.  Typical boys using sticks as swords - Hi-ya!

Taking a break unloading wood from the canoe. Typical boys using sticks as swords - Hi-ya!

We tried our luck at fishing, and of course mom got skunked.  My dear little Kallen, however, was the fish master!  He caught some rather nice fish (minus the walleye the snapping turtle ate off the stringer) including a 20 inch walleye and a 30 inch northern!  Dad was so proud of him:)

Kallen so giddy after catching his first walleye!

Kallen so giddy after catching his first walleye!

I love this shirt..courtesy of Baby Blend Tees (and organic cotton of course)!

I love this shirt..courtesy of Baby Blend Tees (and organic cotton of course)!

You may be wondering what we packed for food, so here’s what we brought:  pancake mix, eggs pre-cracked in a nalgene, bacon, turkey slices, block cheese, tortillas (no sliced bread cuz it gets smashed), PB, Cliff bars, beef jerky, dry lentil soup, ramen noodles, fry bread from my friends at Cache Lake, mini candy bars, fruit snacks,and crackers.  We did leave one supper open for fish – which thankfully we did have.

Boys enjoying breakfast

Boys enjoying breakfast

You normally don’t portage ice into the BWCA, so you are pretty much stuck with warm drinks.  We used those little crystal light powdered drink packets to mix with (filtered) water in nalgene bottles to make juice for the kids.  What really worked good for adult beverages was bringing along those liter sized boxes of wine.  Once you are done with them all you have is the plastic cap for garbage since your can burn the cardboard box.

Hmmm....this picture must have been taken after polishing off the box of wine.

Hmmm....this picture must have been taken after polishing off the box of wine.

At our campsite we had a little hike to get back to the latrine, to err…relieve ourselves.  Every time I took the boys back to the potty, we would pass this little “landmark” and the boys would scream – “look, there’s the red mushroom again”!

redmushroom

Here’s some family pics of us at our little landing site:

canoefamily2

familyBWCA

This is one of my favorites because it shows how happy my boys are out on the water:

canoeboys

Our paddle out on Sunday was peaceful even though going upstream through Hog Creek was bit tougher.  That’s ok – I just got an extra bicep workout, that’s all!  It was sunny and about 65 degrees, but it definitely felt much hotter.  Me and J didn’t put on sunscreen and our noses and cheeks paid the price.  I felt so good after reaching our entry point and was thankful of time our family spent together.  Things went so smoothly – I think this was our best family trip ever.

Once we returned back to Sawbill to drop off our canoe, there was nothing better in the world than drinking a cold soda.  It was sure hard to choose between a that and a cold beer – but the Diet Coke won this time around:)

Thanks Sawbill - hope to see you next year!

Thanks Sawbill - hope to see you next year!

Who knew you could make a "green" roof on a dog house?  Ingenious!

Who knew you could make a "green" roof on a dog house? Ingenious!

I finally understand how important these canoe trips are to Jason.  We intend to make this an annual family tradition. It brings a certain calmness over you and does make you realize the truly important things in life.





Two Harbors Kayak Festival

11 08 2009

Last summer when we bought our first kayak – I decided that I was going to enter a kayak race someday.  That day was my 34th birthday this past weekend (well actually the day after due to weather postponement, but anyway….).

My little family (Jason, Kallen – 6, Noah – 3 & dogs Maggie – 9 and Odie – 11 weeks) made the trek to Two Harbors, MN for the 12th Annual Two Harbors Kayak Festival.  Two Harbors sits right on the Lake Superior shoreline about 20 miles north of Duluth.  If the north shore didn’t have such damn crazy weather, I’d live there in a heartbeat.

We set up camp Friday night at the Burlington Bay Campground, cooked up some burgers on our new Brunton duo  range/grill, and had a fire for about 10 minutes before the rain set in.  My boys were not yet sleepy so we all zipped into our mummy bags and pretended we were caterpillars crawling around the tent.

The weather on Saturday was not exactly ideal for a kayak race – 58 degrees, 10-15 mph east wind, light to moderate rain.  Are you kidding me?  Last time I checked it was August, right?  So the race was rescheduled for 9:30am on Sunday.  We were in and out of the festival all day – this event is not just about the racing, it’s a jam packed weekend of fun!  In addition to the 18 mile marathon race, the 5 mile Betty’s Pie race, and the tandem sprint race, activities included kayak and SUP (stand up paddle board) demos, individual and family kayak tours, kid’s kayak race, kid’s climbing wall (no they didn’t let me participate), vendor tents, beginner and advanced clinics, pancake breakfast and on-site meals.

Holy kayaks batman!

Holy kayaks batman!

Kallen and Dad taking sea kayak out for a spin

Kallen and Dad taking a sea kayak out for a spin

Here we go!

Here we go!

Hey mom and dad, am I holding the paddle the right way?

Hey mom and dad, am I holding the paddle the right way?

I finally got to demo a SUP board and man was I excited.  It was tons of fun but a bit harder than I expected.  I think I was overly cautious because I didn’t want to fall into the frigid Lake Superior.  If I had been on any other body of water I would have let go a bit more and not minded getting wet.  I did myself proud by not falling off the board (thank you YOGA for teaching me balance).  I am in the midst of negotiations on bringing home a board in the near future….

hold her steady now girl!

hold her steady now girl!

Hee, hee, now comes the funny part…For those of you who know Jason, you know he is a competitor who likes to do things “right” on the first try.  He doesn’t do anything that makes him look “silly” because he needs to project an aura of Mr. Cool…..For those who don’t know him, he’s an engineer (think logical, methodical, no surprises).  So of course when he took a tumble of the SUP board and went for a swim – I couldn’t help but laugh….hysterically.

After the swim, I think he stayed on his knees the rest of the time just to be "safe"

After the swim, I think he stayed on his knees the rest of the time just to be "safe"

Hmm….hopefully after I bring my board home I can get him back on the horse.

The rest of our Saturday was spent geocaching.  The first hunt of the day was on top of the Silver Creek tunnel.  Only Jason and Kallen did some serious bouldering to make it to the top of the cliff – I know I could have done it, but someone had to stay behind with Noah.  The second hunt took us to Gooseberry Falls State Park to find another critter collector card for the boys.  I see geocaching as becoming a big part of our family outdoor time together and I encourage all of you with children to get involved.  I would be happy to share my insight:)

Hiking on the Gitchee Gami trail

I don’t know if it was because I really did turn a year older this day or if Noah ate too many pancakes for breakfast…..but this boy is getting heavy!  He is pushing 40 pounds and I don’t know how many more miles I can log with this bugger on my back.

We found the cache!

We found the cache!

This is what a typical MN state park cache box looks like

This is what a typical MN state park cache box looks like

Mom helping boys look though trinkets and critter cards to take home

Mom helping boys look though trinkets and critter cards to take home

RACE TIME!

I had to be at the registration tent by 8:15am Sunday for a mandatory racers meeting – review water conditions, buoy markers, etc.  The change in weather from the day before was unbelievable…..warm, calm, little wind, an absolute perfect day for my first race.  There was some early morning fog but it did burn off a bit later.

My class (5 mile) getting lined up

My class (5 mile) getting lined up

Off to a foggy start

Off to a foggy start

View of festival from my kayak

View of festival from my kayak

I am guessing that there were about 30 racers in my class and many of them had raced before.  Most of the boats were sea kayaks between 16-19 feet and my Perception was a mere 12 footer.  You typically use a sea kayak (long and narrow) for large bodies of water and mine is used for recreational river paddling (shorter and wider for stability).  I really thought about renting a sea kayak for the race but wanted to see how I could do in my own.  Next year I will rent a sea kayak just to even the playing field a bit and see if my time is any better.

The official results are still not yet posted, but I think I completed the race in 1 hour, 29 minutes.  I gave it my all and stayed with a pack for the entire race.  I thought some of them might peter out at the end and I could pass them, but the wind picked up and waves started slowing me down. In the end, there were a lot of boats that crossed the finish line ahead of me and a few behind me – I am just happy with myself for getting out there and trying something new. Can’t wait to see what adventures lie ahead……

All smiles at completion of race

All smiles at completion of race