Monday, April 30, 2012

Grant in the St. Cloud Times!

Check out this article that was published in the St. Cloud Times on April 30!

With river as their playground, kayakers roll, ride
by Ann Wessel
The first time Grant Schnell traversed the rapids, the Mississippi River spit him out.
His kayak took on water. He capsized. He swam to shore.
“I learned a lesson about preparation,” Schnell, 28, a recreational therapist at St. Cloud Children’s Home, said of his first experience in the spot just downstream from the Sauk Rapids bridge. “I ended up swimming right down through the center of the wave train, and it was kind of a scary experience. That led me to get educated.”
Today, Schnell is among the so-called playboaters who return to the rapids for fun. When the water is running high enough — at least 10,000 cubic feet per second — as many as 10 people might congregate at the playspot to try spins, front and back surfing, bow and stern stalls and cartwheels in short, blunt-nosed kayaks built for the sport. Recreational kayakers paddle with the current. Playboaters, aka freestyle whitewater kayakers, find one spot and stay there.
“I like to come out and enjoy the power of water,” Schnell said late Thursday afternoon as he took a short break. “With higher water, this becomes much more big and pushy.”

Grant Schnell, St. Stephen, plays in the rapids of the Mississippi River in his sport kayak Thursday, April 26. / Jason Wachter, jwachter@stcloudtimes.com
With seven years’ practice — he started by learning how to do rolls in a swimming pool — Schnell made surfing the spot where greenwater slides over rock and turns to froth – a wave hole — look effortless. His rolls seemed crisp. His bow stalls — a sort of handstand in a kayak, which puts the boat perpendicular to the water while it balances on its nose — looked like something from a dolphin show.
The technical aspects of the sport in which the turn of a hip can capsize a boater were what intrigued Rick Rassier when he saw freestyle whitewater kayaking three years ago at the Kettle River Paddle Festival near Sandstone.
“It looked like so much fun,” said Rassier, 52, the motivational speaker behind St. Cloud-based Teamwork Motivation Training who teaches physical education to Foley elementary students part time. It also was something Rassier could do with the bone spur in his right arm that forced him to give up his one-man volleyball team presentations.
“If you’re sloppy, if you’re not thinking about what you’re doing out there – boom,” Rassier said later by telephone. “It’s amazing how fast something like that can happen. If you’re not edging at the right angle, that water will flip you over before you know what happened.”
Last week, Rassier got on the water every chance he got. Conditions usually are right for only a month, although last year’s high water extended the season by three months. On Thursday, the flow measured about 12,000 cfs. It usually peaks close to 20,000 cfs.
Rassier was on the water about 30 minutes before Schnell appeared.
While the experienced might seek more challenging waters, Rassier said two features — the wave hole about 20 feet from shore and a standing wave farther out – make the spot ideal for beginners.
Perhaps most appealing: It’s close to home. And the equipment fits in the back of a truck. Rassier said a boat, paddle, drysuit and helmet can be had for about $500 used to $3,000 new. Schnell listed education and safety among the other necessary components — adding that no one should paddle alone.
The two had the spot to themselves Thursday. A mallard flew over the water as Rassier put in just off Sixth Avenue North. Across the river, trees blossomed pink in green backyards. Maples, cottonwoods and willows were starting to leaf out along the shore. Freight trains rolled past.
But Schnell and Rassier remained intent on the river. In addition to reading the water around them, they watched for hazards such as floating logs.
“The thing is, you’ve got to know your limits,” Rassier said.
On Thursday, he bobbed about in the wave hole, spinning, surfing and attempting cartwheels — a bow stall followed by a stern stall.
Rassier, who has tried playboating in Wisconsin and Tennessee, said he hoped to try the sport in Colorado and in Canada. Schnell tends to stay closer to home, and moves on to sports such as biking and climbing when the water level drops.
“I just like being on the water and the camaraderie that comes along with it,” Schnell said.

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Leidy the Canoe Dog

We took Leidy on her first canoe ride!  We're hoping to have her join us on a trip to the BWCA this fall so we're breaking her in :)  She did a good job!

Trying to figure out what's going on with that paddle.
Checking out the view from the front.

Saturday, April 21, 2012

Random April - Our Pets and a Miranda Concert :)

Just a few random pictures from mid-April! Here's our kitty cat Everest napping :)   He's so cute!

And I forgot to take the usual monthly pics of Leidy so this will have to do for her 5 month photos ;)
On Friday, April 20th, Jake, Darrell, Suzette and I went to the Target Center to a Miranda Lambert concert! It was a good concert and we all had fun :) Grant and Cody stayed in St. Cloud and did some biking and movie-watching - sounded like they had fun too :)
Yay! Miranda :)

Sunday, April 15, 2012

The Dock is In!

Can you believe it's mid-April and we're putting the dock in??  It's been so nice out we couldn't hardly wait ;)  Last year it only went in on Memorial Day weekend!!

Leidy's first time swimming at the lake!  It took a little coaxing at first but then she was in and out most of the day until she was shivering!
After some landscaping, measuring, sawing, etc the new dock is in!  And see how the shore isn't a big bump from the ice pushing it up anymore?  Thanks to Jeff and his skid loader it's all level and ready for sand!  The new dock is really nice!  Yay for summer :)

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Atlantic City, New Jersey

After our Easter gathering in Philly, on Monday we made our way to Atlantic City, New Jersey for a couple days.

Me and Ella packed up ready to go!
We made a stop at Friendly's for some lunch and ICE CREAM!  Mmmm ... hehe
Grant is trying to eat all the ice cream
Made it! The view of the ocean from our hotel room.
Out for a stroll on the boardwalk. Did you know this city is what Monopoly is all named after?! I didn't know! But our hotel was at the corner of Park Place and Boardwalk :) Here's Grant, Dad, Me, Chris, and Ella.
Lots of shops and food along the boardwalk. Heather bought some taffy. It was good ;)
Going out to check out the water.
Here's us!
Grant out on a little peninsula
We walked all the way to one end to check out the new casino.  Dad and Grant just lounging and Chris in the background photographing.
Afterwards we found some food and then some of us gambled a little and then headed for bed.  No one won anything - it was mostly fun watching Mom go crazy when someone next to her won $5 ;)  The next morning we swam with Ella before heading back to Philly.
Back in Philly we got some Italian ice stuff and went for a walk at Playwicki Farm.  Family photo time!
Grant found a geo cache!
And we found a park to play in!  Ella loved this slide :)
Everyone loved the park - here's Mom and Grant
The next day we had to head home and stopped at the dairy before going to the airport.
We all had a really good time and look forward to the next trip!

Sunday, April 8, 2012

Philly for Easter!

The family all flew to Philadelphia to hang out for a long Easter weekend!  Heather, Chris and Ella stayed with Tatyana and Carmine while Grant and I stayed at Dad's apartment.  The first day we slept in, got the rental car (Grant had a little incident on the turnpike and got himself a ticket because he didn't have a pass ;) and then picked up the rest of the crew to go walk around Penny Pack Park.

Ella feeding the ducks and geese
Mom enjoying her walk
Smart-phoning?  Grant and Chris were trying to find a good geo-caching app ;)

Our second day in Philly was Easter!  (and my bday ;)  We celebrated at Tatyana and Carmine's.  There were multiple Easter egg hunts with Ella and Tatyana's granddaughter.
Ella sharing her goodies with me
Ella is two.  And so am I ;)
Tatyana with her daughter and granddaughter
The rest of the day we visited, ate food, visited, ate more food, sang happy birthday, ate more food.  Yeah, we ate a lot of food (that's the way it usually goes at Tatyana and Carmine's!) A few of us also snuck out for a walk in between the eating.  It was a fun day!

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