Thursday, April 15, 2010

Yeah, I'm still alive

Those of you who are reading this on facebook already know how the whole Sicily story ended. I have an epic post about the rest of the trip hanging out on my phone's notepad. Figured I'd save it for when I finally go through all the pics and post them. In the meantime, here's the best damn fiddle video on youtube (or so say the comments).

Friday, March 5, 2010

Day 4 - 75? Km from Catania

This morning we managed to get out of Letojanni where we've been stuck for a day and a half. Beautiful town, but being stranded was making us both a bit stir crazy. Paddled down the coast to Nizza where we met up with Antonello. 

Antonello brought us to his mother's place for a truly amazing lunch. Homemade wine, homemade sausage, pasta with zucchini and pistachio pesto, these amazing cauliflower fritters, octopus he caught himself... Just lovely. 

Our boats were definitely sitting lower in the water after lunch than before, but maybe that was the dinner Antonello's mother made us to take with. (And despite swearing we wouldn't be able to eat another bite today, we managed to put a pretty good dent in it after setting up camp.)
If all Sicilian mothers cook like Serena's and Antonello's, Sicilians are lucky indeed. :)     

The kindness and generosity of the people we've met has been truly astounding. No matter how beautiful the scenery is here (and it is beautiful), the people are even better.

After lunch, Antonello joined us for an hour of paddling. Conditions were lovely all day despite a forcast that promised rain. We rounded a point and made camp on the beach at a little town I don't know the name of, but it seems to be across from the toe of the boot. 

Chores and dinner over, I decided to take a walk into town. Walking through the dark of the deserted beach, all of the sudden I hear footsteps to the side of me. I shine my light. Nothing. I keep walking. Then hear them again. Then all of the sudden it feels like a cloud of butterflies is trying to grab my arm. I scream and turn around and rush back to camp. It felt like someone else was there. René thinks I am crazy, but I am sure it was a ghost. I think it may be a couple days before I take a dark walk down a beach alone again.

Tomorrow we'll get through the strait and head along the northern coast. It's been a slower journey than we'd planned, but I have faith we'll make it up.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Day two - 50 km from Catania

Our first morning was lovely, with an excellent cannoli send-off from Catania. The boat Giuseppe at Overline was kind enough to lend me was excellent, but I am too inexperienced a packer to get all my crap into it. Giancarlo was generous to offer me the use of his own boat, another Overline Aretusa, the same one René is paddling. I love it. Great boat. We got to tour the factory where they handmake them. Pictures will be posted on our team blog - - at some point.

The weather got a bit rough at the end of day one. My first big wave experience. Got worked a bit on the rough surf landing, but we made it in. This morning started out lovely, but we headed in earlier than planned because of some high winds. Looks like tomorrow is going to be very bad, so we may get stuck for a couple days. Too much getting stuck and it might get tricky to finish by April 1, but I'm more into staying safe than finishing on time, to be honest. We'll get a dawn start as soon as we can get out and haul ass to see if we can make up some time. In the meantime, we're in Sicily paddling. Life is pretty good.

Friday, February 26, 2010


(OK, that's an old pic, but I am too lazy to upload a pic right now.)

Sitting in René's kitchen watching the rain drizzle on the neighbors' ceramic rooftops. It's good to be back in Venice. Easy to forget what a beautiful city it is.

Today is all about last minute preparations, and there is much to keep us occupied. This afternoon my computer goes into a security deposit box, and I am already getting separation anxiety. After that, I will just be down to an iPhone - the inessentials of my life now relegated to various storage facilities. There is something incredibly purifying about reducing your life into what can fit into an expedition kayak. Tomorrow night we catch a train for Sicily.

0 days in, 900km to go.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

The Sicily Kayak Expedition blog

Three months in the planning. (Not enough)

Two or three team members. (Third undecided as yet.)

One month to circumnavigate one very large island.

Welcome to the Sicily Kayak Expedition.

When we started discussing circumnavigating Sicily by kayak some months ago, we envisioned it having its own fancy website or at least a pretty slick blog with the sponsors listed out nicely and lots of glossy pics and whatnot. Between then and now, I've spent copious amounts of time traveling back and forth from the Middle East and other locales, gone into rehab for a bum shoulder, redone my portfolio site, packed up my house and put it in storage, left a job, started looking for a new one, trained and went on an insane gear shopping spree that spanned multiple continents, customs confiscations and one international incident. Basically, anything and everything but creating the nice glitzy site this expedition deserves. So I'm afraid you will have to make do with this one. From here on out, this blog will be my personal record of our attempt to circumnavigate Sicily.

As I write this, I wait in a hotel at the airport for the luggage shipping service to get back in touch. I had a sudden realization that, just because the European rail service will allow a 125 pound woman to bring two 65 pound suitcases, a fully loaded gear bag with paddles, a backpack full of computer gear and a tent on board doesn't mean that it is a particularly bright idea for said woman to do so.

Tomorrow I leave for Venice to meet René, the other confirmed team member. We're guessing we will head down to Sicily on Friday or Saturday. I don't know how often I will be able to keep this updated, but I will try to do my best. As I am getting a late start, I'll have to fill in back stories as I go. If you're curious about anything, feel free to ask in the comments, and I will do my best to answer.

0 days in, 900km to go.
Yee ha.

Sunday, August 9, 2009

there is nothing so lost it can't be found: cycling to Hamlet's castle

I have of late, but wherefore I know not, lost all my mirth.

Due to a string of unfortunate events, I was feeling out of sorts a couple weeks ago. Rather than wallowing, I decided to cycle up the coast to Helsingor. For those that like that sort of thing, it's roughly about 46 km from Copenhagen and is rather a lovely ride. Just keep in view of the sea, and you'll arrive eventually.

Here are some of the things you'll see on the way:

Just outside Copenhagen, you come to a large earthworks remnant of the old defense system. It is remarkably similar to the one inside Copenhagen, only somewhat less attractive and full of hippies due to the campground that exists on the right. It also possesses a rather unattractive beach. This beach is also full of hippies. In other words, if you like hippies, this is probably your dream spot.

If you can resist the lure of the drum circle, you are rewarded by views like this.

There are a lot of very nice marinas along the way, which are perfect for providing some shelter from Denmark's omnipresent rain.

There are cafes by the sea.

And a really beautiful cemetery if you are tall enough to see it.

Did I mention the really nice marinas?

And lots and lots of wildflowers

But the journey is worth it, just for this place I found at one of the marinas

And here's why

I have often wondered why, being on an island and an island with lots of fishermen, it is so difficult to find good seafood here. Where does it all go? Apparently, the answer is the north coast.

In any case, after a whole lot more scenery, you will come to Helsingor.

A city that has made its reputation on having a castle that was the model for the castle in Hamlet is unlikely to let you forget it. Ophelia gone wild graces the train station next to a Hamlet who, is it just me or does he look a little light in the loafers in this statue? (Not that there is anything wrong with gay Hamlet. Well, other than those bloomers which seem to be a bit overdoing things.)

It's quite a cute little town

And, of course, there's the castle

It has a moat

And looks, unsurprisingly, very castle-y

It has the ability to blow things up, which might come in handy as there are rather a lot of tourists around when the cruise ships come in.

It has a nice view

It has naked gods

And did I mention?

Though perhaps my favorite bit of statuary was the zombie nymphs that you can see on the walk to town.

If you're particularly enterprising, you can bike home. If not, you can always hop a train back to Copenhagen with your bike from Helsingor station. If you do go the train route, you will be rewarded with more advice for the proper care and treatment of your schnauzer.

Seriously, can anyone explain to me why the trains are so obsessed with schnauzers? Are rampant hordes of commuters trying to board with yapping schnauzers that must be accommodated and shushed at every opportunity?

In any case, these and other important questions so occupied me on the journey home that I failed to notice that my mirth wasn't lost after all. I'd only just misplaced it for a while.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Love, love, love

The work of Frank Plant. Awesome stuff.