Issue 79: Lincoln City Summer Festival

Rockin’ the Rokakku!

Well, the Not-So-New-Now Kite Van is at it again – off on another road trip to yet another Kite Fest. By the way, the “Not-So-New-Now” part of that sentence means I’m giving the van some credit for being a real workhorse at this point.
At the time I write this, I can look back and say that my 2006 Dodge Caravan has carried me on three or four Kite fest trips averaging 400 miles (as a guess), plus a 10,000 mile Kite Odyssey – all since the beginning of the Year 2011! I figured around 12K miles altogether. Not to bad for an old horse like her.

Anyway, the van and I are off again – this time to beautiful Lincoln City (L/C), right on the Pacific Coast down in the middle of Oregon. We’ve been there often enough over the years so there’s not much new for us there… The whole town is all made up of “old friends” – be they people, or buildings, or businesses, or institutions (the venerable Lincoln City Visitor’s and Conventions Bureau, for instance).

Anyway, that van already knows where to go to get money from an ATM, where to shop for hardware gizmos, how to get to the best condominiums in the area, where to buy good inexpensive gasoline (well – “relatively inexpensive,” anyhow), and where to get a decent cup of coffee and a good breakfast, lunch, or dinner. So, indeed – at times it seems as if I am merely along for the ride – someone to apply throttle or brake pressure or just turn the wheels as required.

It seem the van really knows the way, so I must be the “slave” and adjust components as requested and required. Otherwise, I am superfluous – and there are real people who would likely agree with that assessment, too!

And among other pleasures, there is the “delight” (said with some tongue-in-cheek occasionally) in congregating, parking, and flying at the “D” River Wayside. And eating at least one meal while we’re there at the Wildflower Grill on the way into town, and at Pier 101 – right on Highway 101 in the center of town, and perhaps a breakfast at the “Beach Dog” in Taft – which is now a part of Lincoln City too.

And, of course, saying “Hi” to a couple of our favorite ladies is always a real pleasure – they being Sandy Pfaff, the Director of the L/C VCB, and her able lieutenant, Maggie Conrad, who has been the VCB’s “point person” for all Kite Folks who attend the L/C kite-fest events. These folks function in the “Organizer” role, instead of that “head” person who normally ends up being someone from a “Kite Club” or maybe a major event sponsor.

And the real difference is: The L/C Visitor’s and Conventions Bureau just flat-out does it better, whatever “it” is – every Single time!

Ah well, so the van knows the way on its own, but this time, I have son Robert with me, and we have a “duty call” at Lake Vancouver just north of Portland to watch daughter Jessica row in the Northwest Regional Championships on Friday. Rob and I show up at the Regatta, but Jessica already has her “game face” on and is very busy doing “rowing stuff.”

We hang out for an hour or so, but these rowers seem to have it well in hand and we feel a bit like the proverbial “fifth wheel under their boat.” We wander a bit, but without the interaction with Jess, Rob and I felt a bit like uninvolved outsiders, and between us we decided to just bypass the hit-or-miss of it all and get ourselves off to the Kite Festival where we really belonged. So we bid our fond adieus and put it on the road again – bound for Lincoln City.

Surprisingly, even though it was a sunny Friday morning before what could actually be a really nice weekend, we made good time and the travel was easy.

So we made it into Lincoln City in time to watch the last of the so-called “Serious” kite fliers wrap up their gear and head for the barn for the night. Oh well… Then it was a short 5 mile jaunt down to the Worldmark Condominiums – our home away from home for the weekend. We’ve been there so often, it almost feels like they should give us a perpetual door-key.

Theresa was into the condominium well before we arrived, she got us all checked in, and we managed to relax a little with a glass of wine, eat something both palatable and substantial, and simply unwind a bit. Bedtime came early, and we were on our way to a refreshing rest before a busy day on the morrow.

Saturday morning comes with a glance at the weather on the Weather Channel. Harumph… It really looks sort of ho-hum, with neither good or bad weather in the offing.

Well, the NOAA weather people are running true to form again – neither over nor under committing. Basically, it looks like kind of a “blah” day over all… Mid-60s highs, and light and variable wind speeds! So I guess all we can do is get out and get in it and find out.

So I grab a bite and a coffee on our way back to “D” River, and we all stand around and yak and watch the weather – such as it is. And we all eventually finally reach the same conclusion. Low to moderate overcast. Barely enough to get some “light stuff” aloft and keep it there, and not much chance of any precip to speak of… Yup – we can make a Festival with this half-there NON-weather. Indeed, several of the “Big Kites” people have a few Suttons up already – ridin’ on very edge of the breeze, but waiting and anticipating “the shift” when the land breeze turns around and becomes the sea breeze instead.

We all agree that today, it’s likely to be a while before that really happened.

And, the Sound Booth gets assembled and tested, the Pilot’s Meeting gets held, music CDs get collected, and the first few demo fliers get queued up and ready to roll… Then we’re underway, right at the crack of 10:00 AM – just like the schedule says. Okay – we’ve got a “live one,” people.

Down at the water’s edge, the usual coterie of sport-kite fliers are out practicing their “survival” moves. The quad-line junkies are tuned up and practicing their “ground gainers,” rather than their normal routings, and the dualie-pilots and=r mostly trying to figure a solid wind direction so they can start as far forward in the window as possible, giving themselves at least half of the demo-field to play in before they’re forced to do something drastic – like run 360s with their kites in tow. And somehow – it all works out in the end, and we all just accept that this’ll be something of a “yawner” for a while. Eventually, of course, the wind did switch around to come in off the water, though the temps never exceeded mid-60s and the low overcast thinned a bit, but never completely burned off. Oh well, no help for it, and its too late to worry about it now anyway.

“Names” come to mind… Al Washington is always willing to get out there and strut his stuff, and does a more than “creditable” job of it. John Barresi and the iQuad gang – both together, separately, and even some “in betweens” are in the mix. Penny Lingenfelter and her Revs flying to Lee Greenwood’s “God Bless the USA.” Gary MacEachern firing up a pair of his home-made dualies and flying to Grand Opera! And, Good Lord! Between iQuad and Island Quad in all of their possible configurations, the Rev people pretty much ruled the Demo Field.

Over on the “Big Inflatables” field, things were beginning to turn a wee bit with just a “smidge” more wind. Wind off the water at roughly 5 MPH, give or take.

Enough air movement up there to launch and hold a kite, but not much more…

Things would remain “dicey” pretty much throughout the day. Oh, we’d get maybe 5-10 minutes of sustainable flying winds, and then they’d drop back down to “marginal” again – and the heavier kites would begin floating back down. And about half the time, the wind would shift a little and maybe freshen a knot or two and drag everything back up again. But there were also the times when there were lulls between the lulls, and there was no saving the ripstop kissing the beach and then laying dormant again. Yes, there are days like that, and they are not particularly fun for kite pilots, either. Still, we were there, and it was a festival, and everyone gave their best, and we all “soldiered on through” somehow.

These are the times that weather forecasters like to call “light and variable” – and they are both.

I’m not sure that the weather forecasters would enjoy hearing what the Festival Kite Fliers had to say about the weather forecasters, however…

Finally, about noon, all the Demo Pilots had had enough. How about a short break, eh? Time for the Dave and Susie Gomberg “High Energy show – The Running Of the Bols.”

The concept is – take a mini-parachute – the kind with the hole in the top.

Hook the chute (“Bol” in French, apparently) to a few high energy kids.

Duplicate this so that you have 3-4 groups. Take the groups to the down-wind end of the field and stand them all in a line. Have Mr. G. “hype” them all up with good natured kidding, then shout “1… 2… 3… GO!” — and then channel all of that energy into a race to the other end of the field. Repeat endlessely!

This is good for about an hour, give or take – allowing all the Demo fliers to go get lunch from the Hot Dog Stand!

Then it seems to be time for Bol Runners and the rest of the crowd to get Lunch, which puts the Demo Fliers back out onto the field again. And so the day progressed according to pre-published schedule, availability of Demo pilots, and the prevailing wind conditions of the moment.

By now the wind has increased yet anther smidgeon, and here is a little less concern for the fliers’ abilities to keep the kite(s) airborne. During the afternoon, Penny Lingenfelter mounts one of her patented “Cecil B. De Mille” productions – literally Penny and whoever wants to get out there and “assist” – meaning those well-loved “children of ALL AGES!”

I do not remember whether it was Dr Seuss’ “Cat I The Hat” skit, or the “Tinker Belle / Peter Pan” skit, or one of Penny’s several other skits, but it does not really matter. Penny and the children perform, everyone fly kites, and parents and grandparents love the shows and snap photos with their point-and-shoot or cellphone cameras! And more demos again. Steve De Rooy does his marvelous Two-Revs-At-Once one-man display. And there was even the rumor that the “Rum Buddies” would perform (Four Revs, Two Pilots), but I am not certain that it actually occurred. And still more Demos.

And over on the “Big Inflatables” field, Ed Paulsen of “Team Suspended Animation” was attempting the maiden flight of his new “Maxi Red Devil” kite. Ed has always been partial to the “Devil” kites of Los Hermanos (“The Brothers” in Spanish) from “The Brothers” Gonzales who live and build kites near Valencia Spain. So Ed had purchased a “Maxi” Red Devil kite through Dave Gomberg.

I know that Ed wanted a successful flight badly, but unfortunately there was simply not enough wind to pull that huge kite into the air. Oh, it attained a height of some 30-40 feet, but the flight could have gone a lot better.

But even though Ed might feel less than fully successful in his attempt, I have to point out that “Team Suspended Animation” put on a good show throughout the weekend. Congrats go out to Ed for his efforts. And the same is true of Barry and Susan Tislow’s Cody Kites, new from Rick Brown. They are a fine addition to the show, folks – both the Red Maxi and the Codys!

So, the flying eventually died down… and not only on the basis of flier tiredness or the clock-time schedule, either. As frequently happens, late afternoons often find the breezes tapering off to nothing. Time to bring it down, pack it up, and take it home. Grab a shower, git yer dude duds on, and we’ll all meet you at one of our favorite eateries – Pier 101 right there in downtown Lincoln City!

Now if you happen to like to eat well, and are either a terribly hungry kite flier or a teenager with a normal teenager “tapeworm,” Pier 101 is a pretty good bet for you – and that’s especially true on most weekends. I will say it once, then not mention it for another year: If you have the “hungries” for either Beef or Seafood, stopping in at Pier 101 on weekends is certainly worth your consideration. Reason #1 = Seafood. Yes, they do it – fresh – well-prepared – and plentiful. Reason # 2 = Beef. Most mortals cannot possibly eat a “normal” helping of the Roast Beef that Pier 101 serves on weekends.

It covers a dinner plate, and is at LEAST 1-1/2 inches thick! And Reason # 3 = Atmosphere. Nothin’ fancy here, folks. Just down-home old-time eaterie atmosphere, and good food, for reasonable prices. And, yup – ‘Nuff Said!

So we all went to Pier 101 – or did you miss that part? And, I was delighted to see some of the local Oregonians there too, including Debby Cooley, Ken Tuminnia, Diane Weber, Ronda Brewer, and Lindsey Johnson – and I may be wrong but I thought Judy Brown was there as well. These folks are some of the “big hands” helping out at the Kite Festival. Making kites for kids.

Passing out the AKA Arm-Bands. Monitoring the Parking Lot. Helping to set up and staff and tear down the information booth and the sound tent. Yup – all folks with hearts of gold who make sure all of the little administrative details are handled before they become problems. In addition – all pretty decent kite fliers too! It was fun to eat dinner with them that evening! A very special “Thank You” to all of the people in the AOK (Associated Oregon Kiters). And – Dinner at Pier 101 was fun too!

Sunday, I rose early and went to breakfast at the Wildflower Grill with the iQuad / Island Quad gang. As usual, the food was downright awesome! The I headed south again and got Rob rolling and then we checked out of the Condo.

I needed to get Rob back to Vancouver by 4:00 PM to meet daughter Jessica so Rob could hitch a ride to Seattle with her. No time to come back to the Condo later on, so check out NOW – which we did! We headed off the the “D” River wayside again, and got in there in time to grabbed a parking spot.

Sunday was a much better day – not saying that Saturday was all that bad…

But on Sunday, we got decent winds – maybe even a touch too much wind.

And I’d decided early on to pretty-much just lay low, since I had the drive to make back to the far side of Portland. Therefore, I wandered off instead to find a good cup of coffee, sat and watched the Demos, said “hi” to 20-30 people and chatted for a few minutes with several of them. In my mind, it was unclear whether I was winding up for the drive home, or winding down following an already very nice Kite Festival. In any case, I was just sort of “comfortable chilling,” which was not a bad thing to be doing.

Oh sure… the Festival went on as expected. Several friends were out there flying their kites. And I just kept a little “distance,” as a way to be ready to leave whenever Rob was ready. We finally left the D” River Wayside sometime reasonably close to noon – headed off to find Jessica.

Of course, we thought we had all of the time in the world – but once on the road, we received their phone call… The rowers had finished their regatta early, so when could we be there to drop Robert off so they could start their trek north again? Well, we were already on our way, but it would be a while…

So when are we on the road next? Two weeks… We’ll skip being out amongst the populace on the Independence Day weekend, and then catch the following weekend in Grayland instead. The Westport Windriders put on a very nice festival, so we’ll certainly be going to that one…

See you there?

Fair Winds and Good Friends –