Saturday, May 31, 2008

Klondike Ho!

Back in Haines in all its summer glory. Paddled to Taiyasanka harbor with Corngdog, rowed a midnight Devil's Elbow river trip with Liam and Sylvia and the CG gang and enjoyed many a french press/PBR with old friends, looking out at the huge raft of surf scoters on the sea, from the porch at Brutopia.
Matt Hawthorne and I are now rigging a trip for Alaska Mountain Guides. We're headed, with six clients from the UK, over the Chilkoot Trail from Skagway to Lake Bennett, then jumping in canoes and paddling nine days down the Yukon River to Dawson City. We'll be following the route of miners in the Klondike Gold Rush, except we'll have a shuttle van, Gore-tex, access to dental care, and about 1900 fewer pounds of gear.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Skirting the 59th Parallel, Around the Globe

The road trip is rolling down the Alaska Marine Highway, aboard the ferry Malaspina, en route from Juneau to Haines. This is the climatic end to a mad voyage that began a few days ago in Goteborg, Sweden, hanging out in the streets at 3 am , eating kabobs with my brother, Matt.
Now, traveling up the Lynn Canal, the longest fjord in North America, on a spectacular late-May Alaskan evening, enjoying the amenities of the Malaspina: incredible views, a nice shower, egg salad sandwiches and (incredibly) free wireless internet. From the back solarium deck, taking in the 360 degrees filled with memories of past adventures and future ones promised. So much snow on the peaks this year! But summer now bursting through with the long and sunny days.
Now we pass the famous Eldred Rock lighthouse, perched on a basalt plug in the middle of the fjord. It was here, perhaps exactly six years ago to the day, on a paddling trip from Juneau to Haines, where I climbed up the tower late one evening to watch a storm roll up the fjord from the south, and saw whales in every direction. I spent the night in one of the abandoned quarters and spooked myself with every creaky sound, in the morning flying north with a strong following sea, and smelling the breath of a huge bull sea lion for the first, and hopefully last time.

Sunday, May 18, 2008

Malmö , the heart of Skåne

After one last great bike to work on Bike to Work Day, I bid farewell to Stockholm one last time and drove 500km south with 28 kayaks on the trailer. Luckily, southern Sweden has no hills. I was headed back to Sweden's third largest city, Malmö for a two day kayak festival.
I stayed with my colleague, Malmö native Staffan Ahltin and his great family. After work on Saturday, Staffan gave me a proper tour of the old downtown, with a particular focus on churches and pubs. There was a great barbecue with all the other folks from the festival, another day of kayak antics, a now the Pointmobile is northbound once again....

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Swedish Things

Swedish McDonald's

Swedish car dealership

Swedish snack bar

Friday, May 09, 2008

Ah, Copenhagen

Studies consistently show that Denmark is home to the world's happiest people. After two days of exhaustive research I can offer an explanation: sunshine, bicycles, and beer.
I was to meet an outdoor gear product designer from a European chain of retailers called Stadium, their Denmark head of operations, managers from around the country, the coach of the Copenhagen kayak racing team, and a bunch of other water-loving folks for an all-day event in Copenhagen that would showcase the Point 65 line and teach some kayak skills and knowledge to Stadium employees.
But first, a few free hours to soak up Copenhagen on its finest day of 2008. I ditched the trailer, then the car, and set off to find a bicycle. Copenhagen is arguably the cycling capital of the world. To find out more about this culture, or if you just want to see well-composed shots of fashionable Danes on bikes, click here.
The free city bikes were nowhere to be found on such a gorgeous day, despite my searching through the Nyham district. Not to worry, a helpful woman on her own classy bike told me, just find a people's bike. I would know one if it was a) unlocked, and b) looking a bit neglected. Soon enough, I had a sweet ride of my own. If I misunderstood this system, I apologize to the owner of a black cruiser. You can find your bike two blocks off the canal on Nyham....
Soaking up the bohemian vibe of Christiana, the beautiful King's Garden park, and the alleys and street of downtown, I quickly tapped into some of the legendary happiness.
Soon, I met my contacts and we made our way to the kayak club, setting up tents for the night and having a planning session while debating the merits of Carlsberg vs. Tuborg.
The next day was even more beautiful than the last. Folks trickled in and we were all treated to a smorgasbord more befitting a wedding than a kayak demo.
Some on-land instruction followed and then some time for everyone to try out the boats. The Danish racing team, peparing to leave for a meet in Germany, joined us on the water and soon we were all involved in some really fun relay races with ever kind of kayak imaginable in the fray. At sunset, with satisfied grins, my colleague Staffan, the young Swedish expedition paddler John, and I crammed into the Pointmobile, bid farewell to our hosts, and drove off, crossing the bridge into Sweden and passing through the beautiful southern farmland on our way north to more events in Karlstad.

Tuesday, May 06, 2008

Further South

I drove to Norrköping for an event with Nomado, and then past beautiful fields of future vegetable oil at sunset, stumbling upon the sleepy seaside village of Christianople where I camped behind a big stone wall. The place reminded me of a campground in Findhorn, Scotland where Johnny and I stayed in 1998. I woke up early looking for rough seas in which to test the Whisky. Instead, I found a perfectly glassy Baltic. Paddled offshore to a wind farm slalom course.
Back in the car and on to an event in Karlskrona. Then another Vaxjö. Now staying with Blue Ribbon veteran (paddled entire Swedish coast) John in Helsingborg and catching the ferry to Denmark in the morning. Very excited to see Copenhagen by bicycle and kayak and connect with my people.

More from Örebro

tiny houses, a mushroom water tower, the ubiquitous Megamid, etc.

Saturday, May 03, 2008


The road trip has arrived in beautiful Örebro, Sweden. The brand new VW Caddy diesel is a gem and Fiona (GPS voice) guided the way with her usual dulcet firmness. I met Christer, my host and his wife Margaret at the hostel they'd arranged. There was a pack of thirty teens on the doorstep and I soon realized this was not the "cool French Canadian couple, two crazy Israelis, friendly nurses from Australia, one German cycle tourist" kind of hostel. More like the "history class from a high school in Stockholm" kind of hostel. I begged off as politely as I could and slept better than I have in weeks, in my tent, down by the river.
In the morning, everything found its place in the Pointmobile and the French press and muesli bowl were filled to brimming. Soon Christer arrived and we set up a demo in a great spot between river and wetlands. There is water everywhere in Sweden, it's really fantastic.
The demo was a success, and before we packed up I was able to paddle the brand-new Whisky 16 into the city- a fairy tale paddle past immaculate gardens bursting with tulips, stately homes, big willows with new leaves, under stone arch bridges. I ended up at the impressive Örebro Castle, dating from the 1200's. After wandering around like an idiot in my sprayskirt and lime green Crocs, it was time to paddle back for some rolling (exhale through nose to keep duck crap out) and packing. Christer took off, and I went for a short run in the wetlands and a shorter outdoor freezing shower. I went back to the castle and had a delightful sunset picnic of pickled herring, bread and a splash of wine, grinning like Samantha Brown on the Travel Channel. If I had a show it would be called "Let's Camp and Paddle and Picnic in Europe.

Vuja Day

Another diesel gets fancy graphics

And is sent out on the road.

Friday, May 02, 2008

May Day Scenes

Bonfire to ward off spirits, or usher out winter. I'm not exactly sure.

Socialist rallies in the streets

Recreation in the sunshine.

Fish eggs in a tube.