Issue 75: Lincoln City Fall Festival

Noah visits Lincoln City… or Lordy, LORDY – Didn’t it RAIN!!!

Yes, it’s actually all true (well, most of it anyway)… But let me start at the beginning, just like I usually do.

We had a bit of difficulty to start with… I’d made arrangements to pick up Scott Weider at the Portland Airport and get him to Lincoln City for their Fall Kite Festival this year. Nothing new there, and we always coordinate well. To tell you the truth we both enjoy each other’s company. Unusual this year however, was that Scotty was coming in from Hanoi, Vietnam rather than somewhere on the East Coast, which is his normal pattern. Moreover, we’d do the AKA Convention immediately following Lincoln City too – “two birds with one stone” so to speak.

And I’d also been talking with Ben D’Antonio of Revolution Kites, and I offered him the same deal. He could join us – I’d drive, we’d all three go to Lincoln City in my van, hang out together, and go right to the AKS Convention from there, have a swell time again, and I’d drop them both off at the Portland Airport to catch their flights home – three guys, one vehicle, all going the same places together. So we all agreed that it’d work out just fine.

Then Scott actually gets to Hanoi, and within a couple of days, gets his wallet lifted. Well, so how in the heck do I help him all the way over there? As it turns out – not very well at all, in spite of any efforts I could muster. The best that could be done was ensure he could survive once he returned state-side. So that’s what happened! I finally got hold of him at Portland Airport on October 8th, put a new wallet and some cash in his hand, dragged him off home for a stint in the Hot tub, some decent (American) chow, and a short “nap” before we picked Ben D’Antonio up at the airport, fed all of us, and then we all lit out for Lincoln City.

We had very good accommodations assigned at the Ocean Terrace Condominiums, and fortunately, they are pretty darned nice too. So we made it there without trouble, and deposited Scotty next door with Island Quad, the “Invited” team for the Lincoln City Fall Kite Festival, leaving Ben and I together in another unit. Scotty was filling in for Brad Bixby, who could not fly with Island Quad due to a torn Rotator Cuff. Anyway, it was all good… And those folks from Island Quad would definitely “earn their stripes” this weekend, too. So after a good night’s sleep and a fine breakfast with Sonja at The Beach Dog Restaurant, we were off to the “D” River Wayside State Park and the Fall Kite Festival… Well, “almost” a festival, anyway…

Every now and then, we happen to mention that it rains a bit in the Pacific Northwest occasionally… Actually, it rains more than occasionally for major portions of the year – making a Fall Kite Festival up there in the Pacific Northwest something of a “chancy” proposition. Well, since Lincoln City had been quite lucky over the years, it turns out that 2010 was the year of the PAY-BACK, and the reason that those words are capitalized is that we got our “pay-back” with a vengeance this year!

If you’ve not met the marvelous Maggie Conrad of the Lincoln City Visitors and Conventions Bureau, you have missed meeting one of the all-time superb individuals on the face of this earth! If you’re going to organize a kite festival for your town and don’t know how – Maggie Conrad can certainly tell you. She organizes EVERYTHING, including all of the flier invitations, amenities, and accommodations. So when we arrived at the “D” River Wayside, there was Maggie with her crew, setting up tents, putting up banners, providing sound-tent and registration tent electrical power and tables and chairs, and of the other facilities – right down to gratis Starbucks Coffee for the fliers! WOW!!!

But the one thing Maggie CANNOT control is the physical environment. And it was raining when we arrived – not badly yet, but it truly was raining. And I suspect that the “weather gods” were just teasing us anyway, meaning they were holding off until everyone arrived, surveyed the place, and decided to “fly anyway,” and then began putting kites into the air. THEN the “weather gods” would let go with goodly supplies of rain and wind in noticeable quantities. So that’s exactly what happened, of course. Everyone got all of their kites and gear spread out on the beach and ready to go – and the weather worsened.

So Island Quad looked at the weather, decided that they’d been “paid to fly” and they had come all this way from British Colombia, and by GOD, they were GOING to FLY! So they DID!!! And… the weather worsened further. No drizzle now, it was downright “raining.” Well, nearly everyone else quickly adopted a “let’s just wait and see” posture – but not Island Quad, and not Ben D’Antonio from Revolution Kites either. So while the Single-Line folks and the “Dualie” people were standing around watching – those “quad-heads” took to the beach.

Now, I am painting this like there were no SLK and Dualie people out there, but that is not precisely true. There certainly were a few of them flying – including Barbara Meyer, President of the American Kitefliers Association (AKA) – but I have to say that these folks were certainly not the majority of the pilots out there. THAT honor belonged to the Quad-line “junkies” in general – and Island Quad and Revolution in particular. Five “notable” people – Terry Wiggill, Mario Di Lucca, Willow Robin, and Scott Weider (as the one Island Quad “substitute”) – and Ben D’Antonio! And fly they DID too! Yes, there were others that joined them. I saw Lisa Willoughby and Spence Watson out there among them, and several other folks whose names escape me at the moment… All told, there were probably a dozen Rev pilots or more out there in that slop…

Now Maggie, bless her soul, had kind of foreseen this mess brewing, and had found an “indoor” place to fly. Many of the less hardy people (or less “foolish” – depending on your viewpoint) decided to pack it in and go fly indoors. Which meant that about half the kiting population of the “D” River Wayside abandoned the public display on the beach within maybe a half hour. And – since electrical equipment doesn’t do so well in rainstorms, Bob Wendt and the sound equipment were among the early departures… So, with fully half the attendees over at the indoor venue, and the remaining outdoor fliers soaked to the skin, and the “audience” – what there was left of it – huddled in behind their fogged up automobile windshields, it made no sense to perpetuate this madness.

Therefore, Maggie and the crew finally pulled the wet tents and banners and paraphernalia into the big trailer, and headed for the barn to try and dry this stuff out – leaving Island Quad, Revolution, and a few hardy souls out there on the beach…

Yeah, the outdoor folks lasted a while longer… Among other things, the tide came in, making for a very narrow beach.

And to add insult to injury, one of those big “sneaker” waves happened along, and before you know it, the fliers were knee deep – or butt deep, depending on where you happened to be standing – in sea-water. Well, what the heck… They were all wet anyway, so “Fly On, McDuff” as Will Shakespeare would have said.

And fly on they did, too… But eventually, a wee bit of common sense eased its way back in anyway, and even the hardy and foolish finally caved in and called it a day.

Me? Oh, I was there at “D” River Wayside all right. I gave thought to heading over to the Indoor, but my two compatriots – Scott Weider, the Island Quad “sub,” and Ben D’Antonio of Revolution – were still out there in that muck. About the only sane thing I did all day was to KEEP my cameras inside the car – mostly because I hate to go to the effort to clean and dry them when they’ve been rained-on and splashed with sea-spray. Mostly, I hung out on the beach, commiserated with the folks in the audience, and drank whatever coffee I could get my hands on. There was a bit of a story happening out there, and someone was going to have to write about it. I was just kinda glad to not have to “live” it, however… I figured one of the three of us needed to keep his wits about him, so it might just as well be me!

We eventually all ended up back at the Ocean Terrace Condominiums, attempting to dry things out. Apparently Island Quad had managed to soak nearly every stitch of kite or clothing they had with them, so drying things out was kinda difficult. Still, if you had dry clothes, you put them on and wore them to dinner that night.

As I remember, everyone headed for the buffet at the Chinook Winds Casino that evening. It is far and away the best “gathering place” – especially so since Maggie Conrad gives all of the fliers a coupon good for a free buffet at Chinook Winds as part of the “perks” of being invited. Everyone could dry out, fuel up, get warm and relax over there, and the nice people at the Casino buffet will let you “group” up together. Kitefliers like to congregate after a hard day on the beach, so it works out well.

I have no idea what it must have been like to sleep in that “sauna” that housed Island Quad. Trying to dry all those kites and all that fabric in those condo rooms must have been something else… Ben and I had no problems. Ben took care of his kites and clothes quickly and easily – techniques and habits borne out of long practice, I’m certain. I only had one oil-slick jacket to worry about, and it dried off pretty quickly.

Ben’s shoes were another matter, however, so one of the chores for Sunday was to find Ben another pair of shoes. Fortunately, Tanger Outlet Mall is handy in Lincoln City, so a half hour’s worth of wandering around the mall found Ben another pair of shoes. And breakfast at The Beach Dog was the same spectacular meal it was the day before too.

Yes, we made our presence known at “D” River Wayside again. Yes, Island Quad was out there flying, so Ben joined right in again. Me? I ran for more coffee, and just hung out like I usually do. There were even a few hardy spectator souls to speak with. Yes, it rained. And the weather also took a few breaks between showers too… Oh, not enough to get excited about – just “teaser” breaks. But nearly everyone stayed home and dried out. Finally, Island Quad just called it quits and packed up. Time for them to start the long trek to the Canadian border and home, and I didn’t envy them that long drive. Those who had not used their coupons at the Casino the previous night elected to use them on Sunday evening, so we hung around a while to be with our fellow kiters and paid the going rate for another go at the buffet.

Finally, it was time for us to hit the road too. We had about a three hour drive up the coast to Seaside, where there was another condo unit waiting for us.

But that part of our trip was the AKA Convention, and that one’s already a whole series of “Daily Updates” in Kitelife.

Did we regret going to the Lincoln City Fall Kite Festival this year? No, I don’t think so… I can’t see how anyone could “regret” it. True – it certainly was not all it could have been, but nobody involved with the festival – either organizer or participant – could have changed what happened even a little bit. If someone has a handle on how to control rain and wind, I am certain that there are interested parties who would be willing to help it occur, but without that capability… Indeed, Maggie having access to an Indoor venue made it much easier on a sizable portion of those kitefliers in attendance.

So we WILL return – yes, again and again! Lincoln City is still a spectacular place to fly, and there is not a city on the West Coast that accommodates kitefliers like they do. Yes, Maggie – we DO “Love You” and what you do, and we WILL return to Lincoln City! Yes – you can count on it!

Oh – By the way… You’re all invited to join us there next year. And especially which ever of you has the key to turn off the darned faucets! Yup – We’ll be waiting!

Fair Winds and Good Friends –