Sunday, September 30, 2012

Flying Trapeze - Full Moon Swing

Dave's birthday party was on the evening of a Full Moon so I experienced an unusual trapeze tradition last night. Swinging in the nude!

After the moon rose over the nearby hill and the shyer partiers departed, over 10 of us took turns swinging free. After 11pm, the nakedness migrated over to the trampoline and zip-line. There are no pictures of all this, of course, but here are two from before and after. (Group shot with party costumes and one with the full moon shining down on the trapeze platform after midnight.)

Before the clothes came off, Tori also recorded my Warm Up Swing out of safety lines.

The Warm Up Swing is an essential swing to learn if a flyer wants to attempt the harder tricks. This basic swing technique seems so simple, but it is very tough to get the timing and body positions correct. It's taken a couple months, but I have finally achieved a decent Seven Position at the back-end of my swing. It's a long way from the first time I tried the Warm Up Swing out of safety lines where I kept hitting my butt against the board.

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Flying Trapeze - Friends & Family Show

I only started Flying Trapeze back in May, but I had my first chance to perform in a show on Saturday for my father and a group of friends who came to watch. The costume colors for the night were Turquoise, Black and Silver. For the pre-show, Tony Steele played guitar, juggled, and preformed some magic with his assistant, Becca, before climbing up to the platform to show off several of his signature trapeze tricks.

There were three troupes performing in the show, one for each catcher. I was in Wayne's Troupe with Kristen, Janet, Lisa, Jill and Kenny. I was nervous before the show, but our dress rehearsal Friday night had eased most of my worries. I went first in the rotation since I was the rookie and still in safety lines for my two release tricks. For my swing-out, I did a Warm-Up Swing out of lines which Tori described as my best one yet. Taking turns with the others, Wayne caught my Birdie before I finished with a Backend Planche to the net.

Kenny had practiced his Hocks Salto many times in the past week, but he was not able to pull it off for the show. The Hocks Salto is a Hocks Off with an added Back Somersault off the bar. The four picture sequence below shows his collision with Wayne who came out of it with a few cuts around his mouth and chin, but survived.

Mark's Troupe, The Flying Cupcakes, was second and he made a grand entrance as several of the girls removed his animal-print robe before he climbed up the rope to the catch bar. The flyers in his troupe were Betty, Celeste, Michelle, Nick and Chris. Janet joined them to do a double-swing with Betty.

Chris' Troupe went last and was the biggest with Rhiannon, Emily, Susan, Sharyn, Cindy, Gina, Erica and Mark. Erica and Mark both preformed a one-handed salute on their swing-out and Rhiannon and Emily did a double swing as well.

After the show, most of us went out to dinner at Pho Saigon Express to celebrate. It was a great night and Darin did a amazing job taking all of these photos.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Suzie & Joe's Wedding - Minneapolis & Wisconsin Northwoods

I have never traveled out-of-state for a wedding before, but this year I did it twice. This second wedding for Suzie and Joe was held up in the Northwoods of Wisconsin. I asked Tori to join me on the trip, but since she booked late she had to catch a separate flight from the one I took to Minneapolis with Dave and Tiffany. While we were all sharing a condo in Wisconsin, Dave and Tiffany stayed the first night with relatives nearby while Tori and I had a room at the Radisson Plaza Hotel in downtown Minneapolis. It was a great location, close to Nicollet Mall and the Light Rail Train Station. After checking in at 4pm, we crisscrossed back and forth across the mall on the Skyway System (covered walkways that connect most of the second floors in the Downtown buildings) before catching the train down to view the picturesque waterfall at Minnehaha Park.

We had a brief rain shower when we arrived in the park, but we discovered the Minnehaha Falls were dry with only a dirty brown pond full of fish at the bottom. I guess there is not enough water at the end of summer. Too bad. It would have been a pretty sight with the bridge crossing over the two-tiered falls. The park was full of huge grey squirrels and I saw my first chipmunk. We decided to skip a visit to the giant Mall of America and headed back Downtown where we got off at the Metrodome stop. Walking over to the Guthrie Theater, we checked out the architecture of its Endless Bridge sticking out towards the Mississippi River. Across the street was the Mill City Museum with its huge Gold Medal Flour grain elevators and ruins of old mills along the river. The nearby St. Anthony Falls powered the country's largest flour mills until the end of World War I. Walking across the Stone Arch Bridge, we could see the boat lock and the spillway that replaced the natural falls when they partially collapsed in 1869.

It started to rain again as we took the stairs down under the bridge for a twilight view of the river and the Minneapolis skyline. (Tori almost dropped her iPhone into the Mississippi while we waited for the sky to darken and the city lights to turn on.) We spotted several flocks of geese coming in for a landing on the river. Walking back towards our hotel, we were starving by the time we stopped for a delicious meal at "Taste of Thailand". Friday morning, we ordered room service from the Firelake restaurant downstairs before Dave and Tiffany arrived to pick us up in the rental car for the five hour drive to St. Germain. We soon crossed the border into Wisconsin and enjoyed the wonderful Mid-West scenery. Dramatic clouds drifting over endless fields of corn. At the halfway point, we stopped in Eau Claire where Suzie and Joe met at college. After checking out Dells Pond along the river, we went to Mogie's Pub for a quick drink. I had the Spotted Cow and tried the Spuds, a deep-fried potato snack filled with melted cheese. Yum!

After three more hours of driving we finally arrived in the Northwoods. Before going on to our rental condo at Black Bear Lodge on Little Saint Germain Lake, we stopped for groceries (crackers and 2 year aged cheddar) and beer. After beating Dave in a game of Roshambo (rock, paper, scissors) for the master bedroom, we checked out the lake and joined everybody for the get-together. There was a canoe full of beer and plenty of Wisconsin cheese. The venison salami and jerky was delicious! Dave and I played some Kan Jam with Suzie's brothers. It's a lot like Horse Shoes but you toss a Frisbee across the lawn into a plastic bucket instead. (Extra points if you can slip it through the narrow slot.)

It was pretty chilly in the Northwoods with a slight drizzle on Friday night so it was nice to have the sun come out on Saturday morning for the wedding day. After sleeping in for a bit, Tori and I took a canoe out on the lake for a nice paddle. Afterwards, we had a nice lunch with Louise, Doug, Dave and Tiffany at The Bear's Den. I hadn't overdosed on cheese yet, so I ordered the Buffalo Cheese Curds. Tori and and I relaxed out on the dock until it was time to get ready for the wedding. The rain clouds started to gather as we walked over to the ceremony and it started to sprinkle as we sat down. The Groom suggested moving the ceremony into the reception tent, but the Bride wished to stay at the beautiful spot under the trees by the lake and we all agreed. Just as Suzie started walking down the aisle, the sky opened up and a cold hard rained poured down.

Rain at a wedding is supposed to bring good luck. The Bride and Groom were protected by a huge umbrella but we forgot ours in our room so we were drenched and freezing by the end. The pastor helped out by speeding up the process. (Plus his pages started to stick together.) After the ceremony we hurried back to the condo where the blow dryers did a great job drying off our clothes before the reception started. Tori and I sat at the Devil's Tower table and an entire roasted pig was served. (Red Bull and Vodkas helped keep us warm.) We had a fun time dancing to "The Wise Guys" until my feet could not take it any more. The bouquet toss was hilarious because a blindfolded Suzie missed the single ladies entirely and hit the nearby group of men.

After Saturday's rain showers, Sunday was very sunny. Blayne rented a pontoon boat so we explored the lake with Carrie, Dave, Jess and Ken. We had a cooler of Wisconsin beer aboard and more cheese, sausages, and crackers to snack on. At the North end, we saw a bald eagle dive into the water close by and catch a fish. Very Cool! It carried it to the nearby shore and ate it in a tree. Back at The Bear's Den, we watched the Packers lose to the 49er's, but I won the half time pool and got my money back. Blayne ate an impressive sandwich, a thick steak resting between two small buns.

For dinner, Dave, Tiffany, Tori and I drove into the nearby town of Minocqua. It sits on a island in the middle of a large lake. Since it was a Sunday nigh,t it was pretty dead when we arrived but the Minocqua Brewing Company was still open. After all the heavy food I had been eating, I was tempted by the salad options, but Dave convinced me to stick with the local cuisine. We both ended up with the Beef and Brie and I didn't regret it. Back at Black Bear Lodge, it was the first cloudless night and we had a clear view of the bright stars above the lake. We joined everybody over at the fire-pit for a few hours telling stories and jokes until it was time to sleep.

The four of us woke up fairly early on Monday for our five hour drive back to Minneapolis. We hit the road around 7:30am, only stopping at the Nasonville Dairy to buy more cheese to take home. I bought 3 and 5 year aged cheddars as well as a third block of cheddar with chunks of Pepperoni inside. Dave kept raving about Culver's so we stopped at one near the Wisconsin border for lunch. I had the ButterBurger, some more cheese curds and their famous frozen custard. (Double Caramel Chocolate Peanut)

My first meal back home was a salad!

Tuesday, September 04, 2012

Labor Day Weekend - Wave House & BBQs

I have wanted to experience the FlowRider at the Wave House for the longest time so I was glad that Tori was willing to give it a go. Kenny and Jill met us at Belmont Park on Sunday where we booked an hour. As best as I can describe it, FlowRiding is a cross between wakeboarding, snowboarding and surfing where strong pumps force a thin sheet of water up a rubber slope. I went first with a body-board to get a feel for the strength of the flow before attempting to try it standing up.

In order to ride standing up, we had to set our weight on our back foot and steer the board with the front. We also had to keep our knees bent and shoulders square over the board to maintain proper balance. As beginners, holding the rope compensated for the lack of fins and helped keep us straight. Once we let go it was only a matter of seconds before the board would start to turn sideways and the force of water would kick it out from under us. Tori and Kenny had great balance, picking it up the first time but it took me a couple tries.

Even though I would have preferred to spend more time practicing on the FlowRider without the aid of a rope first, Kenny and I booked a second hour over on the FlowBarrel. The sheet of water is thicker on the FlowBarrel and shoots up a rubber wave to form a constant tube. While the surface of the FlowRider was bouncy like a trampoline, the FlowBarrel wasn't as forgiving. I rode the stand-up board twice, lasting at least 30 seconds each time, but I whacked the back of my head both times and smashed my shoulder. To give my aching noggin a break, I rode the body-board for the rest of the hour. It was fun to ride up and down the face of the wave and get deep in the tube.

What sucks about the FlowRider and FlowBarrel is that unless you have more experience, there is no easy way to get off the board without wiping out. The FlowBarrel sucks you over the falls into a deeper pit of water and holds you under for quite a ways along the side channel before it finally spits you out. I almost lost my shorts a couple times. It was nice that they had two hot tubs in front to relax in while waiting for our next turn. There were several excellent riders taking turns with us, giving tips and showing off their slick moves and aerials.

Sunday Night, I was still very sore from the Wave House (some serious whiplash) when we went to a BBQ at Lylah's mother's house, Maison Petite D'Agnes. Agnes and Ernie are great hosts and it was another sumptuous feast. I went back for seconds and thirds before sitting in front of the backyard fireplace with my lovely girlfriend. On Labor Day, we had another BBQ out at Trapeze High. I was still too beat up to fly, but I got to meet Tony Steele, the first trapeze artist to complete the "3 1/2 Back Somersaults to a Legs Catch" back in 1962, and watch him throw a "Half Turn Across" to Wayne.

Labor Day was also my first "Big Erection" when I helped erect the new Catcher's Rig. I will be able to train on it so I can learn to catch by the end of the year.

p.s. Tori and I also went to another BBQ at Federica's house on Friday night for three in one weekend!! We acted out a skit that Dan wrote and played some Taboo. The highlight was Federica accidentally falling into the pool while looking back to talk to us.