So, we left the boat in Carrabelle and made the last leg of the trip back to Pensacola in some non-descript Ford Festiva-like rental car. And, poor car, if my best recollection of it was some model that could only aspire to the level of a Ford Festiva. I mean, perhaps they’re not that bad.
Okay, it seems they are that bad. But, it couldn’t have been a Festiva, because Mitch would have looked like this in it:
But, we did get a rental from the Apalachicola airport/car-rental/coin-operated laundry mat, and the guy who brought it to us turned out to be not only the airplane mechanic but also a pilot, the air traffic controller and a rental car extraordinaire. They really know how to double up in ole’ Apalach. But, the drive back was long and lackluster. We were leaving the boat behind. With no answers. No timeline. No clue as to what was even wrong, how long it was going to take to get her fixed or (worse) how much it was going to cost.
So, Phillip and I did what we do best: found solace in the wind. We got a great kiting session in that week while waiting for word on the boat. And, you might be thinking … kiting?? Awww, in a wispy, wheat field with a rainbow kite?
All father and son-like? How sweet!
No, not Hallmark kiting. Really? We’re talking kite-boarding. Some real bad ass stuff. If you’ve never heard of it, seen it or been introduced to this fine sport, this is what I’m talking about:
Kite-boarding. Here’s a video to give you a real flavor: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=a3cGHmCslxs.
It’s kind of awesome. Phillip’s been doing it for years and (while I’m completely impartial and unbiased – Phillip who??), he’s pretty freaking amazing at it.
No, that is not photo-shopped. He’s just that good. Neither is this:
That is totally me. Big, long lesbian shorts and all. Okay, it’s not, but I hope it will be, soon (minus the WNBA outfit). Phillip’s been teaching me, and I’ve got about 4-5 lessons under my belt. Kiting is definitely not a hobby for the impatient. The learning curve is steep and it takes a while to get any good at it (if you ever get good at all). Plus, it’s hard to line up the weather, the wind and the opportunity to drop everything and run to the beach for a session. It’s a perfect past-time for total beach bums, and we’re just not quite there … yet.
But, let me tell you a little bit about it because you’re going to hear plenty about it on this blog and I don’t want you conjuring that Hallmark image again. As Phillip explained it to me, kiting is a lot like wake-boarding, except you’re both riding the board behind the boat and driving the boat at the same time. The kite is your power, which means flying the kite is the most important part. Even when you’re getting smacked in the face with waves, you’re being dragged across the ground, you’ve lost your board, your shades, your dignity and all hope, you must still, at all times, fly the kite. And cursing the kite for not doing what you want it to do is also a futile endeavor. It is always operator error. YOU are in control of the kite.
So, harnessing the wind. The kite is flown in what is called the “wind window”:
Think of it as a big bowl over your head, cut in half. The wind is to your back, and the top of the bowl, right above your head is “noon” with the edges of the wind window to your left (9 o’clock) and your right (3 o’clock). These are the areas where the wind essentially blows across the kite and it doesn’t have any real power. But, once you fly the kite down into the bowl the kite’s going to have enough power to pull you to Cuba. This is known as the “power zone”:
Once you’ve mastered the art of flying, you can then hop in the water, strap a board to your feet (while the kite’s at noon) and then fly it into the power zone (preferably around 10:00 or 2:00) to pull yourself up onto a plane and take off. Sounds simple, right? Trust me, it’s not. The “water start” (getting up on the board) is usually the hardest part to learn and takes many lessons to master. But, then that’s just cruising along the water. There’s a whole world of hops, jumps, tricks and flips to master after that. For a preview, here’s the one-and-only Jeremie Tronet showing us all what we will never be able to do on a kite-board:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=c03DUkKXJuE. And yes, ladies, he’s a total French hottie – Google him and enjoy.
But, Phillip (in particular) and I are definitely avid kiters and love to get out any time the wind blows. We certainly won’t be getting any kite endorsements soon, but we can hold our own:
Some rudimentary footage of Phillip surfing right into shore: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1bjxHCABD1M&feature=youtu.be