June 24, 2010
St Honore - Bears and Bugs

St Honore

St Honore is always a treat.

It is a small venue but a big deal in the modest community. The people are great and the organizers are wonderful. Seldom have I seen folks work so hard to make you feel welcome and appreciated.

Susie and I have been to this Canadian festival three times. Of course, no event is perfect. The point is to smile through the challenges and remember that we're fortunate to be able to do what we do

Here's a daily review of the adventure.

Wednesday: We leave the house at 2 a.m. Portland is 100 miles away and the flight is at six. The place is packed with summer travelers. We see John Barresi at PDX and get him into the priority line with us to save time. (There are some benefits to being a mega-frequent flier.) And while checking him in, we discover that our bags have been miss-tagged to the wrong destination. Glad to catch that mistake!

We go Portland - Vancouver; Vancouver - Toronto; and Toronto - Quebec City. Right behind us on the long-haul is a family with screaming and squirming children. No sleep!

The rest of IQuad are waiting in Toronto. But the last flight is delayed and we land in Quebec after eight. We have to get baggage, find the car, and by then it is getting dark. St. Honore is still three hours away. The highway is good but desolate and we are tired. So we decide to grab a hotel and head up early in the morning.

Bears

Thursday: Susie and I arrive at the flying field late morning. It is "Day Care Day" and throngs of small children are hovering around the airplanes.

Airplanes?? Yes, the festival is held at an active airport. The only hard rule is that we don't fly across the runway. But when the weekend comes, that tarmac will be closed to aircraft and perfect for buggies.

The festival logo is a giant bear and we've brought three big ones to fly. The fields are huge. But large cement block kite anchors have been placed every 100 feet in each direction. We appreciate the effort, but know this means we can't fly the gusty, up-and-down wind without snagging one.

Anchors

Italian Team Vulandra came the day before but their bags did not. They stand around dejectedly. So we pull out a blue Bear and try to put something in the sky. And as expected, it goes up-and -down... The flying is hard but we have the only show on the single-line field.

At the end of the afternoon, the wind shifts hard around. Our Bear rolls with the turbulence. The line catches a port-potty and tips it over. The kite then slams hard into the field fence which moments before had been up-wind. I'm in the biggest field I've ever seen and still managed to hit the fence! The bear limps back into the sky but is tragically wounded. One arm and one leg are in tatters. We bring him down and discover 40 feet of tears.

The potty was empty and we quietly lifted it back into place.

Bear Repair

Friday: We've spent the night in a lovely B&B with a garden overlooking the lake. It is quiet and serene. The owners speak little English. Neither do the Italians who share the place with us. The only problem is the one bathroom.

I've located a sewing machine and spend two hours in bear surgery. The nice thing about a 60 foot kite is that tucking in an inch or two doesn't show. There are new seams but from a distance, you can't see the patches. We're ready to fly!

Unfortunately, this is the obligatory no-wind day. It is hot. And the flesh-eating bugs are hungry.

Canadian bugs are a marvel of evolution. They have grown oblivious to deet. They crawl into your hair, inject you with Novocain so you can't feel them. And then they stick you with an anti-coagulant so you bleed more freely. Basically you don't feel a thing until you discover huge ugly, puss-filled welts on your scalp. Ugh.

Saturday: This is the big day. There are 10,000 people on the field and the wind is up.

Vulandra is happy. Their kites arrived late the day before. The team has 20 members at home in Farrara. They make collections of kites with a basic theme each year. In Canada, four members are on the field and launch a flying Symphony.

Symphony Symphony Symphony Symphony Symphony Symphony Symphony Symphony

IQuad draws Rev fliers to the adjacent field. At one point I see 20 pieces in the sky. That's a lot of four-line energy for an event with just a few kiters.

We launch four Bears -- three of our own and one borrowed from the organizers.

Anchors have been moved so we have room to fly. It is a good day. But it is also a long day with a night fly at the end.

We are asked to night fly Bears but there is no room with lights everywhere and little wind. Limited space, no inflation, hot lights and crowds -- followed by darkness. Bad formula. So instead we fly LED deltas which work great. As the music winds down, Susie says we should pack and beat the traffic out the one access road.

Good call. As we pull away, the rain starts.

Bears in the Air

Wet and Humid
Sunday: We huddle as the rain continues to fall.

Organizers call the airport tower to find out when the rain will end. Then they have a Sunday mass. Between the two, the weather improves.

We're concerned about damp fields and wet kites. So we pack our own gear and fly the festival Bear. Few people are there to see it, but we want to have a show up.

Finally, at the end of the day, we retire to tend our bug-wounds, take turns showering for dinner, and then enjoy a fine farewell party.

Monday: Susie and I have scheduled a rare bonus day in Quebec City. We drive down early to an exceptional hotel room overlooking the Old City.

Quebec is the only walled city in North America. It was established 400 years ago and grew into the center of French civilization in the Americas. The citadel was the scene of a number of battles between the French, English, and later the Americans. Ramparts stretch to the cliffs along the St Lawrence.

Susie and I enjoy a fine day wandering the narrow streets and dining at sidewalk cafes.

Q City Q City Q City

Tuesday: We head for the airport and home. Barresi has already posted to FaceBook that his flight the day before was delayed and that he was stuck in Vancouver. Sure enough, our flight is late too and our connections are trashed.

We're looking at an overnight delay like John, until a resourceful gate agent switches us from Air Canada over to United and routes us through Chicago. We have a six hour wait in the airport lounge, but get to Portland at midnight.

By two, we are home and hard asleep in our own beds. We need the rest. Orders and shipments are waiting in the morning.

Huge thanks to organizer Bridgitte Bussieres and chairman Lucien Villeneuve along with all the volunteers and supprters who made this a fine trip. Still scratching bug bites!

Bugs

Who is the most famous kiter in America? Ben Franklin? John Barresi? Scott Skinner? No way - no how! Right now, today, this week, no one is better known than 17 year-old Connor Doran from Bend, Oregon.

Tuesday night while we were flying home, Connor was stunning the judges on America's Got Talent. Even hard-to-please Piers Morgan called it "one of the most extraordinary things I've ever watched". And the Houston Chronicle reviewed the indoor flight as "best act of the night".

Earlier today, I read 20 pages of YouTube posts on the performance. Some got it; some didn't. Some liked it; some didn't. The point being, of course that they were all talking about it. Indoor kiting has reached the masses.

Conner will be flying this weekend in front of our D-River store as part of the Lincoln City Summer Kite Fest. Watch for him again on AGT as they move to the second tier competitions in Las Vegas.

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