Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Thoughts for the New Year

"Be always at War with your vices,
at peace with your neighbors,
and let each New Year find you
a better person."
- Benjamin Franklin

As winter's cold and snow blanket the land... and dreams of paddling fade for another season... I look forward to slowing down and relaxing more at home. While I miss paddling... I think it is a good and fine thing to take stock of where one is in life and to count the many blessings of family and friends. Last year I posted my wishes and hopes for a new year... and this year is no exception. In fact, these are the same wishes from 2011 because I believe them to be timeless.

Mike's 10 Wishes and Hopes for 2012

Thank God for all your blessings
Spend more time with family and friends
Say "I love you" more often
Smile and laugh more
Love yourself and then love others
Build up, don't tear down
Give more of yourself and watch it returned tenfold
Appreciate, respect, and care for nature
Help others
Take life one stroke at a time ;-)

Happy New Year Durhamblogger readers... and may all experience great blessings in the New Year! - Mike, the Durhamblogger :-)

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Monday, December 26, 2011

Durhamblogger Top Five Posts of All Time!

Hi everyone! biggrin

Well... what end of the year blog post would not be complete... without a "top 3" or "top 5" or "top 10" list of something or another! eek

So... without further ado... here are the Durhamblogger "top 5" reader viewed posts of all time!

#1. Nov. 22, 2010 "Before Kerr Lake - An Interesting History Lesson!"

#2. Oct 13, 2010 "Installing Kayak Seat Cushions - An Easy Project"

#3. May 8, 2010 "A Great Morning Paddling the Eno River"

#4. May 5, 2010 "Installing Deck Rigging - A Quick and Easy Project!"

#5. Jul 25, 2010 "Sea Kayaking at Wrightsville Beach!"

Many thanks to all the readers of Durhamblogger! biggrin

I'm looking forward to many more paddling adventures... and blogging about them here at Durhamblogger... in the new year!

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Monday, December 5, 2011

Paddling and Cold Water Survival

Paddlers - please don't make the fatal mistake of thinking that since the outside air temperature is warm...than it's fine to go paddling! Winter season brings both inclement weather and dropping water temperatures. Note - if you fall into cold or icy waters... low water temperatures can kill quickly by causing a dangerous drop in your body's core temperature known as hypothermia - -even in moderate water temperatures. A recent US Coast Guard study found that in water temperatures under 59 F, 40% of cold water immersion victims drown... and over 90% of these folks were NOT wearing PFDs! Sobering and chilling statistics. I urge all paddlers to educate yourselves on the dangers of hypothermia by visiting my Cold Water Survival tab... and ALWAYS wear your PFD.

I NEVER compromise on safety when it comes to paddling... and since I don't own a dry suit... or can find folks who wish to accompany me out on cold water with even colder air temperatures... I stay firmly on dry land! During my paddling off season, I'll pour myself another cup of coffee... check out the latest issue of  my favorite paddling magazine.. and dream about paddling season resuming soon! Please don't take the risk of paddling in cold weather without the proper protection! Paddle safe out there!

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Sunday, November 27, 2011

Sunset of my Paddling Season

It is with mixed emotions that I am "forced" (due to inclement weather, cold water temperatures, and lack of a dry suit) to end my paddling for the season. Looking back, I saw my share of fun and exciting paddling adventures in 2011... and I have no doubt that 2012 will be even better! :-) I took the above photo from my truck as I crested the hill on Infinity Drive at sunset... and I think both the street name and beautiful sunset captures my emotions at the closing of another paddling season. But never fear... I will still be making posts to Durhamblogger... just not as frequently... and I will always reply to your comments! Paddling season will resume for me in late March... so maybe 3 months will not be such a long time to wait? So, to my Durhamblogger readers... I want to say "Thank you!" for reading, commenting, and sharing together my paddling adventures. And always remember to take life one stroke at a time! - Mike, - the Durhamblogger. biggrin

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Sunday, November 6, 2011

Operation Bumblebee and Topsail Island - A World War 2 History Lesson!

Howdy everyone! Recently, my weekends have left little time for kayaking adventures. Either Rachel and I are going on college open house tours with our youngest son... I'm busy with yard work... or Mother Nature has been uncooperative with damp, cold, and blustery weather!

This past weekend (Nov 5 - 6), with things so crazy, Rachel and I took off for a long weekend in Wilmington! We had a wonderful and relaxing time together... no worries about work or sticking to a schedule... we did what we wanted to - when we wanted to! There was no kayaking... again off shore wave and wind conditions were not favorable for paddling... but we had a great time exploring places and towns we had never visited.

In one of our "land adventures," we stopped at Topsail Island, and discovered "strange" concrete towers scattered around the island, especially near and in the town of Surf City.

I had no idea why these towers had been build on Topsail Island or what purpose they had once served? But upon my return home, I conducted a few Web searches (ain't the Internet something?), the mystery was solved!

"At the end of World War II the Navy established the US Naval Ordnance Test Facilities at Topsail Island, North Carolina, for Operation Bumblebee, a top-secret, experimental project to develop and test ramjet missiles, which advanced the Nation's jet aircraft and missile programs."

"Topsail Island was the third of three widespread test sites established along the Atlantic seaboard in the closing years of World War II, and the first permanent ground for missile testing. The Topsail Island site, placed in operation in March 1947, incorporated rigid structures that were designed and built for specific uses related to the assembly, firing, monitoring and perfecting of experimental ramjet missiles. The buildings associated with this testing, the Assembly Building, Facility Control Tower and Observation Tower No. 2 possess exceptional importance because they are the only above ground resources remaining at these three sites where the Nation's burgeoning ramjet missile program grew from experimentation to maturity. The Assembly Building is a one-and-a-half-story masonry building and the Control Tower is a three-story reinforced concrete building. Observation Tower #2 is an unaltered example of the seven instrument towers erected on Topsail Island."

- Aviation: From Sand Dunes to Sonic Booms

Observation Tower #2 (Circa 1945)

One of seven observation / instrument towers that remain standing. This building has been modified with the installation of glass windows. Originally, it looked like the unaltered Observation Tower #2.

View looking from the Atlantic Ocean side.

Another observation / instrument tower. Note how this tower has been altered. Looks like the ground floor of the structure has been gutted, it may be missing a top story and crude windows have been chiseled out of the concrete .

And it would not be a beach setting without those humorous (and sometimes witty?) house signs that decorate these beach retreats?

Anyway, with me being a World War 2 history buff, I was really excited about the discovery of some war "history" on this island in North Carolina! Hopefully, on our next return trip, we can get in some paddling, as I also discovered some excellent looking marsh and tidal areas for kayaking!

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Sunday, October 23, 2011

Paddling at Lake Holt - A Tribute to Autumn

October 23, 2011 - Lake Holt, Butner, NC

Each autumn I plan a paddle adventure to Lake Holt to capture Fall's splendor in all it's majesty and colors! This year was no exception! On a mild, Sunday afternoon, I paddled the dead calm waters of Lake Holt and was able to witness nature's beauty! Here is Durhamblogger's tribute to autumn. Certainly, a picture is worth a thousand words? Enjoy!

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Monday, October 10, 2011

10,000 + Durhamblogger Visitors!

On February 18, 2010, Durhamblogger registered the 1,000th visitor. Just seven months since starting my blog, over 1,000 visitors from 23 countries had stopped by to visit. That, at the time, seemed a staggering number to me!

Fast forward to today. Visitors have surpassed 10,000 and are from 60 different countries! Folks from every continent, except Antarctica, have landed on a Durhamblogger page! Wow! Incredible!

I am humbled and grateful for all these wonderful visits... and look forward to welcoming more folks here in 2011!

Thank you!

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Sunday, October 9, 2011

Kayaks, Canoes, and Sailboats - Oh My!

October 7, 2011 - Beaver Dam Lake, Wake Forest, NC.

It had been a too long interval between paddles.... and I was "chomping at the bit"... or maybe "scratching at the paddle?... wink to get back on the water! Some of our friends from church... the same folks who I introduced to the wonderful sport of paddling in June - "Paddling - There's Always a First Time!" - were eager to test their water "wings" again too! So, we arranged to meet after work on Friday - at Beaver Dam Lake... for a late afternoon paddle and dinner by the lake! biggrin Unfortunately, at the last minute, Carol got tied up at work and was unable to join us. But, Gracie, Mary, my wife Rachel, and myself had a great time! I brought both my kayaks - the tandem Mainstream Escapade and Aquifusion Liberty 13, so there would be plenty of water craft to share! Late afternoon at Beaver Dam Lake saw temperatures in the low 70's, mostly sunny skies, light breeze, and low humidity - really nice paddling conditions!

Mary getting ready to "test the waters." Put in at the Beaver Dam Lake boat ramp.

Mary, occupying Rachel's customary front seat and showing that she had not forgotten my paddling instructions I gave her in June!

Well, look who has showed up now? Rachel and Gracie making their way down the boat ramp. Mary is either emphasizing that "you guys are next" or the one that got away was "this big!" eek

Rachel and Gracie in the tandem. Gracie looking very confident. I actually did not know how confident until....

... Gracie decided she would strike out on her own! eek

Gracie did a good job with solo paddling and with Rachel following close beside her in the Liberty 13, I was comfortable that Gracie would stay out of trouble. She did!

Spotted this nice sailboat. At times, there was a rather stiff breeze, so conditions were good for craft powered either by wind or hand.

The month of October can be "spooky!" I saw this canoe that had sprouted "legs" and was making it's way up the slope to the parking lot! Actually, it was a grandfather fishing with his granddaughter. I chatted with them for a few minutes.

The end of another beautiful afternoon of paddling, fellowship, and a relaxing dinner beside the lake! It don't get much better than this! biggrin

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