Alone on the Shield: A Novel by Kirk Landers

“I hope you get drafted, I hope you go to Vietnam, I hope you get shot, and I hope you die there. Those words, spoken in the anger of youth, marked the end of the torrid 1960s college romance of Annette DuBose and Gabe Pender. She would marry a fellow antiwar activist and end up immigrating to Canada. He would fight in Vietnam and come home to build an American dream kind of life—a great career, a trophy wife, and a life of wealth and privilege. Forty years later, they have reconnected and discovered a shared passion: solo canoeing in Ontario’s raw Quetico wilderness. They decide to meet again to get caught up on old times, but not in a restaurant or coffee shop—they agree to meet on an island deep in the Quetico wilds. Though they try to control their expectations for the rendezvous, they both approach the island with a growing realization of the emotional void in their lives and wonder how different everything might have been if they had spent their lives together. They must overcome challenges just to reach the island, then encounter the greatest challenges of all—each other, and a weather event for the ages. Alone on the Shield is a story about the Vietnam war and the things that connect us. It is the story of aging Baby Boomers, of the rare kinds of people who paddle alone into the wilderness, and of the kind of adventure that comes only to the bold and the brave.”

Quetico Provincial Park: is a large wilderness park in Northwest Ontario Canada, known for its excellent canoeing and fishing. This 1,180,000-acre park shares its southern border with Minnesota’s Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness which is part of the larger Superior National Forest These large wilderness parks are often collectively referred to as the Boundary Waters or the Quetico Superior Country

Derecho Storm: A derecho is a widespread, long-lived, straight-line wind storm that is associated with a land-based, fast-moving group of severe thunderstorms. Derechos can cause hurricane-force winds, tornadoes, heavy rains, and flash floods.

My thoughts: I absolutely loved this book and I didn’t want it to end. Kirk Landers writing is wonderful, energetic and exciting. Yes, this book is about canoeing and wilderness. Two things I am passionate about but isn’t that why we read? If you have an afternoon or two I highly suggest picking this up to read. Sorry no spoilers here! Except I never want to experience a derecho storm while on the water, it would be catastrophic..

Cheers….

Alone on the Shield by Kirk Landers.
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The Yellow Submarine & Grilled Cheese

Five hours of sleep, a cup of coffee and an amazing wife who got up to take me over to Grippen Park in Endicott so I can kayak the Susquehanna this morning. Almost immediately I was greeted by an eager beaver. A few “Thwacks” of his tail and had disappeared. Burnt reds and oranges were on borrowed time while the yellows seemed to be clinging to the ropes of life waiting for Mother Nature’s knockout punch. The mirror like waters of the Susquehanna reflected the darkening skies to the west assuring there would be rain on my parade.

It was very quiet for the most part except for the chorus of my paddle. Along the way I spied several bald eagles, ducks, duck hunters, geese and quite a bit of fisherman as I glided towards the river walk in downtown Owego. Luck would be on my side today because almost immediately as I arrived under the highway bridge the skies opened up. With my gear packed into the kayak I lifted it up and over the rocks onto the river walk carrying it 100 yards to the street. Standing in the rain waiting for Julie to arrive a very kind woman offered me the shelter of her front porch.

Shortly after Julie would arrive and it was time for lunch. Several friends had recommended the Owego Kitchen on Lake Street, so off we went. It was warm and inviting with a great menu. Julie and I both ordered the french onion grilled cheese and I had the farmhouse chili as well. If you are ever in the area I strongly suggest a visit.

I paddled 13.60 miles in 3:05:24 with an average speed of 4.4 MPH.  When my alarm went off this morning I was seriously considering not going because of my lack of sleep. However I’m glad I chose wisely and took the opportunity.

Cheers!

GPS of my trip: https://connect.garmin.com/modern/activity/1427554364

Almost ready to go, Grippen Park Endicott, NY October 30th 2016. Image © Joe Geronimo
Almost ready to go, Grippen Park Endicott, NY October 30th 2016. Image © Joe Geronimo
Along the Susquehanna river Apalachin, NY October 30th 2016. Image © Joe Geronimo
Along the Susquehanna river Apalachin, NY October 30th 2016. Image © Joe Geronimo
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Along the Susquehanna river between Apalachin and Campville, NY October 30th 2016. Image © Joe Geronimo
Approaching Hiawatha Island I came across several fisherman October 30th 2016. Image © Joe Geronimo
Approaching Hiawatha Island I came across several fisherman October 30th 2016. Image © Joe Geronimo
Getting close to Owego, NY October 30th 2016. Image © Joe Geronimo
Getting close to Owego, NY October 30th 2016. Image © Joe Geronimo
Arriving in downtown Owego, NY October 30th 2016. Image © Joe Geronimo
Arriving in downtown Owego, NY October 30th 2016. Image © Joe Geronimo

Flying High on the Ti

This morning a friend and I launched our kayaks from Hiawatha Landing in Blodgett Mills, NY. Don’t blink because you’ll drive right by this very small town nestled a few miles south of Cortland. Heavy rains over the past two days rapidly brought the water levels up in the Tioughnioga river. The USGS stream gauge at Corltand, NY on October 20th was at 3 feet and this morning the gauge was up at 5 feet. The river was flowing fast turning a rather slow trip into a quick one. The weather was cool and slightly windy as we paddled through some nice riffles and dodging a few strainers along the way making this a really fun adventure. I noted quite a bit of color loss due to the storms the over the past few days but there was enough to gawk at. In theory this trip of 11 miles would take close to 4 hours under normal conditions, however today we flew completing it in 1:48.

I love to be out on the water most anytime but Autumn by far is my favorite. I hope to be able to keep at it until at least mid-late November. Hopefully Mother Nature will oblige!

Check my GPS of the trip: https://connect.garmin.com/modern/activity/1417726350

Getting ready to start our journey at Hiawatha Landing in Blodgett Mills, NY October 23rd 2016. Image © Joe Geronimo
Getting ready to start our journey at Hiawatha Landing in Blodgett Mills, NY October 23rd 2016. Image © Joe Geronimo
Warren and I near Messengerville, NY October 23rd 2016. Image © Joe Geronimo
Warren and I near Messengerville, NY October 23rd 2016. Image © Joe Geronimo

 

Warren & I near Messengerville, NY October 23rd 2016. Image © Joe Geronimo
Warren & I near Messengerville, NY October 23rd 2016. Image © Joe Geronimo
Warren on the Tioughnioga river October 23rd 2016. Image © Joe Geronimo
Warren on the Tioughnioga river October 23rd 2016. Image © Joe Geronimo
Flying high on the Ti near Marathon, NY October 23rd 2016. Image © Joe Geronimo
Flying high on the Ti near Marathon, NY October 23rd 2016. Image © Joe Geronimo
Myself at the take out Marathon, NY October 23rd 2016.
Myself at the take out Marathon, NY October 23rd 2016.
Warren loading our boats for the trip back to my car, October 23rd 2016 Marathon, NY. Image © Joe Geronimo
Warren loading our boats for the trip back to my car, October 23rd 2016 Marathon, NY. Image © Joe Geronimo

Long Run & the Forks XV

It’s the first day of Spring and today’s long run called for 12 miles. My workout was to consist of picking up the pace for the last 15 minutes and adding in some hills. As luck would have it today was also the 43rd annual Forks XV road race and that course I thought would be a perfect fit for part of my long run.

I began with a 3 mile warmup prior to the race. I would then run the 9.3 mile Forks course to complete my mileage. I made every effort to stay true to my workout and not get dragged into the excitement of “Race Day”. The weather was perfect with the temperature hovering around 40 degrees. I felt comfortable, strong and confident and was able to maintain coherent conversation for most of the run. Around mile 7 of the race course I stopped for about 30-40 seconds for water which I thought was odd because I rarely ever drink on a course less than a half marathon.

I finished the day with 12.32 miles with a time of 1:29:21. The time it took to complete the Forks XV course was 108:19 which is 2 seconds off from my PR of the course in 2014. To say I am happy in an understatement.

Cheers!

Along the Forks XV course March 20th 2016. Photo by: Sarah Brienze
Along the Forks XV course March 20th 2016. Photo by: Sarah Brienze

 

Photo of the Week:

Ohio Bicentennial Barn Holmes County. ©Joe Geronimo 2012.
Ohio Bicentennial Barn Holmes County. Kodak Ektachrome 100 ©Joe Geronimo 2012.

This weeks “Photo of the Week” is of the Holmes County “Bicentennial” barn near Holmesville, Ohio. I photographed this barn in 2012 while traveling. Ohio Celebrated it’s Bicentennial 1803-2003 and artist Scott Hagan completed his five-year mission of painting the Bicentennial logo on at least one barn in each of the 88 counties in 2002.

Syracuse Half Marathon

Joe Geronimo crossing the finish line in the Syracuse half marathon Sunday March 22nd 2015.
Joe Geronimo crossing the finish line at the Syracuse half marathon Sunday March 22nd 2015.

Wondering the streets of London in a fog as thick as pea soup, in the distance I can hear the tolling of Big Ben echoing throughout, I’m groggy and appear to be lost. I pull myself together only to realize that it’s not Big Ben I hear but my iPhone telling me its 4:00AM and time to get up and get dressed I have the Syracuse half marathon to run. The weather report for Sunday March 22nd in Syracuse, New York is bleak. Cold, Wind and snow. Nonetheless I’m excited and make my way to pick up a few friends. Once on Interstate 81 headed north is where the fun begins. Wind is whipping, snow is blowing and yes race fans we have whiteout conditions. Seventy five miles later we arrive in Syracuse under what appears to be brightening skies and no snow. It’s cold, very cold and I question myself only briefly. The race begins and ends at Syracuse’s Oncenter right in downtown. A very large conference center with plenty of room for the 2,773 runners, of which women outnumber the men two to one. Here is where we met up with about forty other runners from the Binghamton area “Triple Cities Runners Club” and “Broome County Triathlon Club” creating the party like atmosphere. In a nutshell it felt rather like a large social event rather than a race making you forget about the cold for a while. The race start was delayed from 0800 to 0815 due to weather conditions, as volunteers had been out salting the course to make sure there wasn’t any ice. 0815 the race begins and runners move through the start like a herd of cattle. Once across the starting line we were able to break out a bit. The sun begins warming our faces but the wind is still reminding us that winter is making its final grasp. This is my first race in 2015 and my first race since New York City marathon in November 2014. I’ve also been plagued with some lower body issues for quite sometime now. My goal today was to run this race, not get hurt and just have fun. Around mile one is where the largest hill on the course is gaining gaining 120 feet of elevation in about a mile. The rest of the course through the city is rolling with lots of turns to keep it interesting. In all honesty I have to say “I Love This Course!”. I’m on the backside of the course or about mile 6, my calf is feeling good so I decide to pick up my pace quite a bit for several miles. Feeling no pain in the calf, approaching mile 10 I back off the pace and feel my calf start to complain. I’m worried a bit, my mind races and I’m thinking to myself  I only have 3 miles left. I can do this I tell myself and 3.1 miles later I crossed the finish line at 1:52:20, far from my best half marathon time but I was excited and proud. Hey its all about the shorts! The post race pancake breakfast back at the Oncenter was awesome. They had pancakes, bacon and sausage which was absolutely delicious. Byrne Dairy chocolate milk, coffee, water, fruit, bagels and so forth. Definitely a nice spread. After breakfast and some stretching I changed clothes and ten of us made our way over to Alto Cinco, a Mexican resteraunt in downtown for more food and a few adult beverages. This adventure was a riot to say the least. The food was great, the beer amazing but the laughs were out of control. Finally around 3:30PM we are on our way home, tired but proud. Today wasn’t about racing, today was about running, camaraderie and friendship. I’m very fortunate to be surrounded by an amazing group of people and I will cherish that. Cheers! http://broomecountytriathlonclub.com http://triplecitiesrunnersclub.org

#ThrowbackThursday

A typical dreary afternoon on Monday October 23rd, 2006 here in the Southern Tier. Josh Blay and I were out and about looking for something of interest, something cool to photograph. It’s now late afternoon and we had given up, threading our way east along route 17C from Waverly. We were talking about who knows what, and not really paying much attention to our surroundings. Suddenly my eyes became as big as saucers and with a few expletives we were witnessing a low flying helicopter above the Tri-Cities Airport in Endicott.  With our new found excitement Josh and I are now rapidly approaching the airport to get a closer look. A screeching of the brakes, doors flying open, camera gear spilling all over and upon closer inspection we excitedly discover this piece of magnificent machinery is the new Lockheed Martin VH-71 Kestrel “V standing for VIP” (US101 Marine One) Presidential helicopter prototype doing what I’ll call Touch N Go’s…

Hands trembling with excitement as I fumble for a new roll of film, finally my camera’s motor drive begins to hum like the rotors of the VH71, I was elated. I couldn’t believe how lucky we were to photograph such an amazing subject despite the dismal weather conditions. Shortly after our excitement had settled Josh and I figured we should promptly leave before someone really takes notice of us and throws us out.

The VH-71 Kestrel program was canceled in 2009 and recently the United States has entered into contract for 23 new Presidential helicopters. The new, initial contract awarded to the American defense contractor Sikorsky, is valued at $1.24 billion. Under the terms of the new contract, the U.S. military will take delivery of two prototype helicopters—based on the Sikorsky S-92 medium helicopter–in 2016. Another 21 fully capable helicopters will follow.

Lockheed Martin VH-71 Kestrel seen here at Tri-Cities Airport in Endicott, NY on October 23rd 2006. Image © Joe Geronimo Canon EOS 3 Fuji Press 800
Lockheed Martin VH-71 Kestrel seen here at Tri-Cities Airport in Endicott, NY on October 23rd 2006.
Image © Joe Geronimo, Canon EOS 3, Fuji Press 800

From Wikipedia:

The Lockheed Martin VH-71 Kestrel is a variant of the AgustaWestland AW101 (formerly EH101) built to replace the United States Marine Corps‘ Marine One U.S. Presidential transport fleet. It was developed and built by theLockheed Martin–led “US101 Team” of Lockheed Martin Systems Integration – Owego (LMSI), AgustaWestlandand Bell Helicopter.

In February 2009, President Barack Obama asked Secretary of Defense Robert Gates about placing the project on hold or canceling it because of its high cost: over $13 billion for the planned 28 helicopters. In June 2009, the U.S. Navy terminated the contract after spending about $4.4 billion and taking delivery of nine VH-71s. The helicopters were then sold to Canada for $164 million for use as spare parts for its fleet of AgustaWestland CH-149 Cormorantsearch-and-rescue helicopters.