Review: Prijon Excursion

The following is a review of the Prijon Excursion tandem kayak done by Matthew for the paddling.net site. The Excursion is a great boat that perhaps hasn’t gotten as much attention in the North American market as it should (Prijon is a German company, and their boats are quite popular with European paddlers.) It’s built of HTP, Prijon’s blow-molded plastic, making it extremely durable and ultimately recyclable. A Prijon Kodiak (a similar single kayak) was used by fellow Montanan Jon Turk to paddle from Japan to Alaska, one of the greatest paddling expeditions of all time. That’s one tough boat.

excursion.jpgWe’ve had our Prijon Excursion for about 7 years now and have paddled many, many miles in it: mountain lakes in Glacier Park, big rough water on Flathead Lake, long hot days on the Missouri river. It was our first kayak and took us from being total beginners to being seasoned paddlers. In many ways it is perfect; other kayaks may be prettier, or lighter, or a bit faster, but the Excursion makes us fall in love all over again whenever we slide into the cockpits. She’s tough as nails, holds an enormous amount of gear and when the water gets wild will get her occupants home in one piece.

the pairThis is a BIG boat, make no mistake… it’s 30 inches wide with lots of storage room both fore and aft. There’s the standard Prijon deck rigging and storage nets on the deck to hold stuff you need close at hand. The seats are pretty comfortable for several hours at a time, though because of the Excursion’s size, don’t expect a tight form-fitting cockpit (unless you are pretty big…) I’m 6’2 and 210 lbs and can get my thighs to make contact with the boat to provide some additional control, but really this is a boat that you are “in”, not one you “wear” like many touring singles.

Get it with the rudder. The Excursion is not a hard-tracking boat, and with two people paddling, the rudder really makes a huge difference, especially in dicey conditions like big following seas. On a related note, the Excursion handles much differently when paddled alone than as a tandem. It really wants to see some weight up front… I’ve paddled in the rear cockpit with many different size people along as “crew” and it seems happiest with a load of between 120-160 lbs.

chris21.jpgIn short, the Excursion is a stable, versatile platform for getting out on the water and exploring, be it on lakes, rivers or coastal waters. Double kayaks aren’t for everyone; paddling one takes practice and communication, give and take… a bit like marriage! If you have what it takes as a couple to master the delicate dance of tandem paddling, then the Excursion would be a great choice… it was for us.

Artistic flight patterns

For me, this video is an environmental statement closeted within an artistic piece. For others, perhaps it represents our economic vitality. I must be honest and admit that I was shocked at how many flights run every hour of every day in this country. Mostly the only air traffic we ever notice above us is headed for Seattle. I literally had no idea. How long can we sustain such enormous energy consumption and continue to pump out that many emissions into our atmosphere? I’ve read that a person can drive in a car cross country and back and not even come close to consuming one’s share of that much jet fuel. After two minutes it simply looks insane. And may you attend special attention to the Islands of Hawaii. They literally have no respite from air traffic 24 – 7. Paradise indeed. View this; be amazed.

video://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dPv8psZsvIU

Family history is in the cards

The things one can learn if you play your cards right. Over the Thanksgiving weekend my Mom and I sat down to a game of Cribbage; something we haven’t done in far too long. The dishes were all tidied up from our big dinner and someone was thinking about making a fire in the fireplace. We both were a bit hazy about all the various rules but after a few hands we had the hang of it again. There are a number of ways to peg and make points at the end of a hand and, for instance, I was unsure how to count a double run of three but now I know it is eight points because you do indeed count the pair.

As I shuffled the deck and we advanced into our game, my Mom at one point made about 14 points at once and subsequently told a story about her Grandfather Bean. My great Grandpa Bean, who was also known as “Dobbs”, had undergone an early form of cataract surgery late in his life which took place in Billings, MT around 1932. My Grandmother revealed to my Mom the significance of this surgery from which he needed a week to recover in the hospital.

cardsMom, who was about 10 at the time, relates that after Dobbs came home to their house to recuperate my Grandmother sat down to play cribbage with him one evening and the old man was nearly overwhelmed that he could actually see the cards clearly, having been too blind the previous week to even read the newspaper. For him, it was nothing short of a wonder. This was an operation that he had to save up for during the Great Depression. ( I would love to know how much the surgery cost them at that time.) Back then, the lens was not replaced with the plastic intraocular lens implant now used to protect the eye and replicate the crystalline lens. Dobbs wore eye patches much of the time until he was safely healed, staying with my Grandmother for more than two weeks until he could return home to the small town of Warren, Montana.

My Mom, who has also had this surgery on both her eyes, realizes that today this procedure is no big deal for most people. It is done in an out-patient clinic (what procedure isn’t done this way anymore short of bypass?) and it is relatively pain free. There are nearly 3 million of these surgeries performed in the United States alone, every year. Cataract removal has a very long history as there are references to it in ancient Sanskrit manuscripts from the 5th century BC.

As we both sat at the table mulling over our new hand of cards, my Mom’s brow furrowed to reflect the fact it was my crib, I pictured Grandpa Dobbs, who died long before I ever became a thought. I wondered how he might marvel at his now, elderly grand daughter sitting across from me playing the same excellent game of Cribbage on a Thanksgiving weekend. I think he would have been pleased at being remembered and to know my Mom was doing fine. I think he probably would have whipped me at Cribbage big time. Further, I believe he would have appreciated how times have changed – some things for the better.

[tags]Cribbage,cards,Thanksgiving,cataract surgery,ancestors,family[/tags]

Funny Scamp ads

Scamp in BCThis parent is posting in search of a Scamp trailer and has made a convincing case to sell or purchase off of Craig’s list: are there any cheap, at-loose-ends, available Scamps who will hear his plea?

“I would like to rent or purchase a Scamp Trailer. Looking for the small, economy version. We can’t really afford to travel much, and are too inept and pathetic to tent camp. Do you have one you’re willing to part with? I’m thinking it might be the only way our son will get to see beyond Monticello. Please hurry, he’s growing fast.”

And another, which literally had us in tears (laughing). This guy is good. See the damage here.

“This little fiberglass shell camper is 6’x10′ with a window A/C unit. It has an electrical hook up, lights, sink, fridge, two beds and cabinets. I bought this little jewel from a friend many years ago. I have been refurbishing it from the bottom to the top for years (I am slow but I do good work). My big wife spent the night in it once, so I know it’s structurally sound. My dog and I have spent many wonderful nights in this camper (when the wife kicked us out for farting in the house). A friend of mine backed it in to a tree (he said there was no alcohol involved) and did some repairable damage (we all have friends like that). It still needs some work, but its worth it. It comes with a guarantee that you will have fun in it or I’ll take it back at no charge (to me). The only reason I am selling it is because another friend sold me a big RV so I could look like a rich yuppie and the big wife won’t let me keep both.”

Tanka for sea Stones ( One deep breath)

Great cliffs once rose here

plunging steeply seaward, now

fragments of giants

I muse on our origins

cradling time in my hands.

A story of stones

My Aunt once asked us what on earth we could possibly do at the beach that is so darn interesting because we return to the ocean year after year. Oh my, she really doesn’t get it. So, we replied that we mostly hike and explore the tide pools.  However, one of our favorite activities is looking for unique stones or pebbles as we walk along the shore. Anymore, we return them to their resting place on the sand, but our house is accented with quite a few very small and colorful rocks throughout the rooms. This week’s challenge from One Deep Breath simply followed right down my stony path.

[tags]tanka,ocean,stones,rocks,sea[/tags]

Fancy a good film?

I am taking a wee bit of a blogging break this weekend but here are a couple of good flicks which we have enjoyed recently. The first suggestion is Possession (2002) for those of you who would like a different kind of Gwyneth Paltrow movie. It involves a romantic mystery of the very literary persuasion, as two English Lit scholars try to piece together a clandestine relationship between two Victorian era poets using their sketchy correspondences and hidden verse. Poetic intrigue abounds as the scenes shift from present day England back in time, but the transitions are interesting and smooth, with an unexpected twist at the end.

We just watched My Best Friend, 2007, a French film with subtitles. It stars Daniel Auteuil. This man’s business partner challenges him to come up with a best friend in 10 days or lose a bet which would cost François an antique vase he just purchased for an enormous price at an auction. Will he be able to find that person? A few rays of light are shed into François’ socially inept existence during his frantic search for a best friend. How do you make friends? You either have it or you don’t, a taxi driver suggests. Is that his final answer?

Montana: fact or fiction?

plants1.jpgDisclaimer: It is for you to decide whether or not to believe some of what follows.

*Fort Peck Reservoir has more shoreline than the state of California.

*Montana has the largest migratory elk herd in the nation.

*If you live here long enough you will experience standing in the rain on one side of the street while the other side remains completely dry.

*The shortest river in the world, the Roe, is in Montana.

*No state has as many different species of mammals as Montana.

*At the Rocky Mountain Front Eagle Migration Area west of Great Falls more golden eagles have been seen in a single day than anywhere else in the country.

*North of Missoula is the largest population of nesting common loons in the western United States.

* In 1916 Jennette Rankin was elected to the House of Representatives as a Republican from Montana, becoming the first female member of Congress. This was before the Nineteenth Amendment was ratified in 1920.

*Montana is the only state with a triple divide allowing water to flow into the Pacific, Atlantic, and Hudson Bay. This phenomenon occurs at Triple Divide Peak in Glacier National Park.

*My cousin Jodi has the largest collection of Russian nesting dolls (Matryoshka) in the state. Yes, Scobey is still in the state of Montana although I’ve heard that North Dakota is trying to annex the township for the fact that Shu’s Chinese Kitchen is located on the edge of town.

*Residents of Butte Montana are referred to as “Butties” (Oh please, pronounced beauties).

*Montana law requires all pick up trucks must be outfitted with a gun rack and Playboy mudflaps.