John Pasmore's Occassional Blog

Outdoor

Bagged….

I’ve had some pretty not so great bags over the course of a variety of years. And some good ones. Lately I’ve been looking to find a one that could do double duty; work + outdoor would be ideal but is a long shot.

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Racing Clinic

Squeezed in an all-day Match Racing clinic out at Oak Cliff Sailing Center on Saturday (in a driving rain storm). Great info. The clinic was led by legendary sailor Dave Perry (Dave is actually seated in front of the computer in this picture and in videos below, NOT standing with red jacket).

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T.A.D. Delivers


I’m not really sure when gear became an addiction. I think it coincides with my interest in sailing (which also coincides with my marriage).  Sailing escalated the whole outdoor endeavor and after the near calamity of my Panama Sailing Adventure gear has become a more fixated fixation.

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Class Sailing

A North U (university) sailing seminar looks something like this picture. Less than riveting. Looks aside the time spent was solid. It’s hard to learn sailing in a classroom or by reading a book.

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Skiing New York @ Hunter Mountain

Hunter Mountain Ski Resort, New York, Catskills

Escaped to Hunter Mountain in upstate New York for a quick ski lesson. I need all the help I can get so a quick day trip to follow-up on whatever was learned the last time I skied. The drive from New York City was a solid two hours and more with traffic (got Zip Car back late thx to traffic).

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Fjällräven: Nolita Goes Outdoor

Fjällräven Downstairs

I’m a bit of a gear junkie so finding a new outdoor store in NYC was a Sunday highlight. The Fjällräven store was a little tricky to find. It’s downstairs and doesn’t yet have a sign. This Swedish classic is located 262 Mott Street between Prince and Houston, but again the important part is that it’s downstairs.

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Skiing Lake Minnewaska

View from the trail at Lake Minnewaska

Another weekend and another warrior get-away: Lake Minnewaska (again). Didn’t have to go too far — Minnewaska is about two hours north of NYC, and at least there was snow.  Rock and Snow on Main Street in New Paltz provided the skis, boots and poles for I think $17, and you can pick up virtually anything you need there for this trip or any trip really.

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Minnewaska Quick/Fast

There aren’t that many good day hikes within an hour from NYC. But, one of the best is Lake Minnewaska. It’s year-round option with hiking, rock climbing, ice climbing, cross country skiing and camping all nearby. And the trail to Lake Awosting is just a bonus.

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Going Down in Panama

Going down to Panama

My first international sailing adventure ended as pictured above. I was crewing. That was in 2003. Well before this unhappy ending I had a bad feeling. As our sail progressed from St Lucia deep in the Caribbean to Panama I felt there were too many factors starting to work against our success. And after two weeks of mishaps, I got off the boat in the San Blas Islands two days prior to this picture (and flew back from Por Venir Island (Youtube video of “airport” not mine). Learned a lot.

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the Office…

multitasking

I wouldn’t recommend not watching where you’re going. But it’s hard to get away from the office — especially with a start-up like Voyage.tv — or any start-up for that matter. But I try to find a balance even if tied to a Blackberry (and an IPhone).

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Out on Shields 30

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First time out this weekend on a Shields 30. Pretty exciting on a windy day. 4 boats (all Shields), 12 or so crew (one down for stitches after a boom/accident). Stepping on a boat you don’t know (especially for a race) is always a little nervy. You get about 10 minutes of instruction, given while you’re getting underway, over the noise of the wind,  and then you’re off.

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Devil’s Path 1, John Pasmore 0

Devil's Path Trail Marker

So went hiking up in the Catskills with the intention of camping with a buddy. After waking up at 5:30, and then driving 3 hours north we hit the trail a little late – 9:00ish on a chilly (50 degrees and falling) morning full of drizzle. Got a map and little advice from the Ranger Station and was onward and upward. Approximately an hour and a half into the woods my partner in this mini-adventure develops a not-so-mini 1.5 inch blister on his heel. Ouch. (Partial gear list to come as this was mostly a preparation/gear avoidable injury).

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Little fog…little rain

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Made it out to Oyster Bay, Long Island this weekend. Sailed (raced) a 1957 52 foot Rhodes (named Caper), more or less grinding on the jib and happy to have had the opportunity.

The boat has been restored to what I would consider immaculate condition. You can take a look at the entire fleet of Classics at The Oak Cliff Yacht Club site. Sailing these restored gems puts a bit of art back in sailing (and there is already a good bit) — the lines look better, you work a little harder (or a lot), and there’s just not as much focus on electronics…or there wasn’t today.  And like turning the many (or any) screens we all have off, even for a few hours, is more of a relief than I remembered (and I like electronics!). No radar today, speed was down below and called out occasionally, but we were all just focused on the wind and its direction….toss in a little rain and a little fog and it was perfect. (Pictured above are Don standing, and Jeff working the Main, I’m on Jib and took the picture, we’re trailed by two other classics in today’s race — there are a couple of shots of Caper & some of the Classics up at Flickr)


Curtain Closing on Summer

CaptreeCombination of events have colluded in keeping me closer to the desk this summer than the beach. Have taken the time with the bum leg to overdose on gear (iPhone, iPhone Apps, GPS, solar, etc). Now just need to put them to use. My wife (often) wonders (aloud) why the dive equipment can’t be put in storage so I’m sure the parade of Amazon-ordered gear has only added fuel to that smoldering fire.

I have road tested the iNavx iPhone nav app in both a 400+ mile sailing trip from Ft Lauderdale, and weekly out on the Hudson — pretty impressive what you can do with a GPS-enabled iPhone. Hoping to do get a bit further off the grid though. At least for a few days.

Voyage.tv is still so early stage that I’m not so enamored with leaving the development to whoever is next in line. As with most start-ups there really is no next in line as everyone is fully embroiled and slightly overwhelmed in their own efforts. And vacations. We are a travel/experience video-enabled platform, so here’s to testing some product before the streets ice over.

Took the boy (2 years old) to the Beach to see the big waves today, but he slept through them. They were impressive — to me. We made it out to Captree – a place that conjurs foggy memories ( a growing category for me). But I grew up on Long Island and some of the less-known beaches like Gilgo and Tobay were more a mainstay than Jones Beach or Robert Moses. And Captree. Can’t say I would recommend it if you don’t share the nostalgia.

Rehabbing the leg for the Nike Human Race in October and anything else I can find time for. I the meanwhile will be at my desk.


Taking the Tayana

Sailing TayanaSomehow squeezed in a trip from Ft Lauderdale to Savannah Georgia on 52 foot Tayana. Got to test iPhone navigation app by INavx. The navigation charts downloaded to the phone so you don’t need a cell signal to navaigate, just the GPS.

And there is just so much to know, and Tayana Captain (friend) is a fantastic sailor. There’s so much to know on a boat and any time with someone who’s sailed probably 35,000+ miles is really like Gold.

INavx worked well — hard to keep an iPhone on deck in wet environment though Aquapack can help. Still need a bigger electronic chart on the computer and ideally the same as what’s on the iPhone. Again ideally you’d want to plot waypoints on the bigger screen of laptop and upload them to iPhone, but can do on phone with patience. In any case, good to have another chart on board (and GPS). Just took ASA 105 which is kind of a throwback Navigation class — lots of pencils and erasers….but it all helps…especially blue water…harbors too.

Trip was 400 miles — did 10 knots with the help of the Gulf Stream and was back at desk on Wednesday.


Kayak

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Small boats can be big risks. A Speck on the Sea kind of takes that to the nth degree with several interesting characters crossing the Atlantic in some highly suspect boats.

I’m not up for that. I am up for getting back in a small boat. Surprisingly (to some) the kayaking is pretty good in New York City. I’ve been heading over to Manhattan Kayak for several awhile, and even more idyllic are places close by like Cold Spring and Hudson Valley Outfitters.

Yeah, the New York City harbor is challenging especially if you head out to the Statue of Liberty where a couple of currents meet along with a pretty serious amount of boat traffic. It’s an adventure on a couple of levels. That was my thing, getting an adventure fix that the Hamptons doesn’t usually deliver when you can’t really get away.

Photo above is from Iceland – did a quick trip with Ultima Thule. Beautiful country, kind of strange trip as I did it solo. Between the sun never really setting and language…strange little trip but would do it again if I could…same way.


Mexico

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Will post more later. Even with all the grim economic news the world does not stop spinning. There are still beach hippies who couldn’t begin to tell you what the market has done or will do…good to see them. Diving later. Be at my desk on Monday. @ Esencia.


Humility

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Sailing can be tough. And bad news generally makes better headlines (and pictures) so you see more of it. This post no exception. Pacific magazine, a favorite on-line stop, had a recent roundup of some of the blue water adventures this season that didn’t go as planned.

Like all of these types of articles these are cautionary stories that probably serve to keep armchair sailors rooted in their living rooms. Between business and the baby I’ve been pretty close to shore myself with one Philadelphia to New York sail this summer as a brief taste of open water.

In any case, love to see that there is so much adventure to be had, and sailors willing to risk their neck. Inspiration. It’s not all about email, iPhones and conference calls.


Bransons Billions vs The Atlantic

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Short story. I could say the Atlantic wins, but that would imply Branson loses. And sailing is complicated. He demonstrated the judgment that has helped him amass a fortune; sure you take risks, but you have to know when to fold. And with two of his adult children on board the boat I’m sure his risk aversion was only heightened.

Still, the thought that the Atlantic ocean can send a world-class yacht back to port is on one level amazing. That they lost a life raft and a sail can be said of many a long sailing trip — something always breaks. Chalk up one more of many for the Atlantic. Reassuring, for me, to know that adventure is still just as close as the beach.


Nike’s Genius Race

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Genius from a marketing perspective. Take a slow holiday or an end of summer Sunday in cities around the world and create an event that invites everyone to participate and what do you get? If you’re Nike you get a giant marketing success with the ‘Human Race’ even if there are some false starts here and there.

For disclosure I ran a 55 minute and 1 second time in New York. I could have been better, but easily could have done worse. That aside, Nike deserves lots of credit for having the guts to even attempt something on this scale. And congratulations for the sea of red shirts that showed up in New York (10,000+ runners).

Randall’s Island is maybe not the best venue for a race of this size. First off, moving 10,000 people plus spectators on and off the island was not easy or elegant to watch (or participate in). But we got there — and I would guess most New Yorkers have never been to Randall’s Island and so just getting there was a bit of an adventure. The line for the Nike arranged buses in Harlem snaked around 2 blocks taking up to 45 minutes to step off the street and onto a bus. I think everyone made it. Buses and ferries were still arriving at 6PM the official, yet missed, start time.

The takeaway was that we all had to go to the Nike store, we all participated in a Nike event, we all signed into a Nike site to check times (several times). In marketing jargon, we all ‘experienced’ the brand in an immersive event. In English, Nike hosted a fun and positive event and that rubs off on the brand. For one day, Nike added to quality life in New York City and they won.


Last Places

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Greenland. I am reading Gretel Ehrlich’s (pictured) book which takes place in Greenland, “This Cold Heaven.” The first book I remember reading about Greenland was Lawrence Millman’s “Last Places.” That was funny, and Millman is a character in of himself.

Ehrlich’s book is much different. It’s not funny. She wasn’t a tourist in Greenland or even so much a traveler, she was a person living there for whatever time she had there (7 years on and off). So more “of” Greenland than a tourist. I found the book at Housing Works Bookstore on Crosby in Soho, a place as special as some of the books you find there. I was skeptical of “This Cold Heaven” at first and even second glance, but after reading the jacket I was hooked. It’s a very good book.

Ehrlich weaves in so much more than her own experience including that of super-explorer Knud Rasmussen and painter Rockwell Kent. Rasmussen was half Dutch and half Inuit and his search for the history of the place and its people took him from Greenland to Alaska by dogsled in an epic three year journey. And that just scratches the surface of who he was a person and what he contributed.

Like Rasmussen, Ehrlich’s focus is on the people, the Inuit and of course the land itself. Surviving the arctic creates a people who are unique on our planet. Stories of starving hunters and successful hunts follow one another like good weather after bad.

There are old stories told to Rasmussen, stories that make up spiritual life on the Inuit as well as Ehrlich’s own stories. She shares her friendships and experiences with stark and at times startling honesty. There is a certain rugged freedom and a connection to the physical; the weather, the animals, eating, sleeping and staying alive and warm.

The constant is the distance between this civilized yet harsh place and civilization as in Denmark or most anywhere else. Not just physical distance, but the distance of a Last Place, a place where disharmony with elements such as the weather can swiftly bring tragedy as it always has. A place where some people find refuge in the cold, when the streetlights and paved roads of the Great Cities seem too foreign, too unnatural. And it’s a place, if we’re right about the Planet warming, that we’ll hear more and more about.


Mountain (Washington)

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We had talked about hiking (climbing?) New Hampshire’s Mt. Washington for years. Why so long? No good answer. But, in my experience, any trip that requires aligning more than one schedule is at risk for serious postponement. Talking finally turned to walking this past weekend. What is curious was the difficulty in getting info for what is a pretty popular trip in the Northeast that many, many people have tackled.

Here in New York City, neither Paragon Sports or EMS (Eastern Mountain Sports) had a map. Basic. Tent and Trails had one. Literally one. But it was of the entire Presidential range. I’d get one when I got there.

Best site for me was this Earthlink page. The other Google top-ranked pages are pretty good. The takeaway is basically that the weather can be seriously dangerous above the tree-line, and you should be in shape.

The where to stay, what to bring, which trail is best is somewhat of a Rubik’s Cube as each ties into the other. If you’re up for a 7 hour-ish drive from NYC, don’t let the weather warnings deter you (at least in August and assuming you’ve got some sense — the days before we got there the temperatures at the summit were in the 30’s — add wind and rain and you get the picture).

Bring: rain gear, warm clothes, some way to keep warm clothes dry while you’re not wearing them, and other requisite hiking materials (food, water, etc). That’s for summer, any other season (especially winter) gear up and maybe get a guide from EMS if you don’t have serious winter camping skills (can you build an igloo?).

Enjoy.


Diving Dutch Springs

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Dove Dutch Springs this weekend. The notoriously cold and often cloudy water are the main reasons it took me five years to finally give up the ghost of only diving warm water (not to mention the crowds).

The whole trip was Internet-enabled in that I met (through www.meetup.com) a diving group in New York, Ocean Blue Divers and after a couple NYC-based events, took the plunge with a short trip.

Really good experience. Great group of people and smart. Smart enough to engage Lifeguard Systems to do our Rescue Diver training for the weekend. Rescue Diver is generally the third stage in the big dive organizations development: Open Water Diver; Advanced Open Water, Rescue Diver, and them perhaps on to Dive Master or Instructor.

Lifeguard Systems has a few maverick ideas about safety that may not always be shared by the dive organizations where the primary goal seems at times just to get as many people under the water as possible. Very valuable, would definitely recommend looking at them if you’re exploring diving. They seem a bit more objective than your average dive shop which seems intent on selling you your next piece of gear.


Sailing, again.

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I only really noticed the gap in my sailing when I looked at my log. And with my son at little over a year-old, I know why I stayed closer to home. Still, it’s funny how a body of water, or water itself can actually exert some unseen magnetic force. Having read much Moitessier lately perhaps it’s just some idealized vision of some alternative vagabond life.

But actually being on the sea, even today for 20 miles in the Atlantic is both a gentle and firm reminder that it’s there, the Sea. Not far. But on a boat, you’re really at its mercy, and it commands respect. And sailing can be quite a test. For me…

And Moitessier on returning to England, “…but leaving from Plymouth and returning to Plymouth now seems like leaving from nowhere to go nowhere.” And he didn’t return, he sailed on. Alone. His wife and family to join later. By not going back he lost the race but what he kept was much more valuable. To him…

For me, sailing the 1200 or so miles to Panama from St. Lucia was in many ways a miserable trip. In more ways much more than that. I took about twenty minutes of video of just really nothing (a part of that is on this site, set to music by Max Richter’s, “Maria the Poet”); so just the wind and the waves; and I took the video to remember that part of the trip that took up the most time, but had no edges to distinguish one moment from the next. On most days all there was were the three of us rotating watch, trying to eat together and mostly nothing else.

And now sitting at this computer, one might think great, fine, read a book. But in reality all that time can be filled just thinking and looking. Or just looking. Each wave slightly different, the boat bouncing along pushed by the wind. Same sounds over and over. Sun rises and sets. Sail through the night. By the grace of God the boat doesn’t hit anything drifting below the surface, and worrying doesn’t do any good. And on and on…

That trip in particular without any satellite phone was very much hidden blessing in retrospect. Because rarely do we have that type of uninterrupted solitude. And probably most don’t want it. But it’s so rare…it’s a very special reintroduction to one’s self. For me…