Cape Falcon Kayak summer update 2012

I have a confession to make,  last week was the first time I've been in a kayak in months.   As someone who's built their reputation as a designer on being a fierce and avid paddler,  I share this information with a guilty concience.   The truth is,  I've lived and breathed kayaking for the last fifteen years and lately my other interests have pushed the paddle aside.   Mostly it's my passion for every aspect of local food that is eating up my hours right now,  and that's a good thing,  because there aren't many things more important than supporting the shift from a petrochemical intensive food economy (fertilizer, pesticide, gasoline),  to something we can actually sustain.   The silver lining of that dark cloud is that you don't need to be an environmentalist to enjoy food that explodes with flavor.   It's an easy issue to support.

field points shot at 50yds

One competitor for my free time these days is this wicked contraption,  a sixty-pound draw fiberglass compound bow.  
I've been a rifle hunter for six years now and while I enjoy the opportunity to participate as closely as possible in the cycle of life and death in pursuit of wild game,  I don't enjoy the 4 day elk hunting season where every redneck with a rifle goes out maurading through the woods.   It doesn't matter how much time you spend learning the animal because with that much pressure,  everything changes on opening day.   It's not hunting,  it's a lottery.  

broadheads shot at 50yds

  Bow hunting on the other hand is a lifestyle.    It means spending all your free time shooting arrows and creeping around in the woods, learning animals and their habits more closely than you ever thought possible.   All of that practice might boil down to a three second opportunity where you must draw, aim, and release a single arrow,  that MUST hit an area the size of a softball.   The focus and discipline required has all sorts of ancilliary benefits.  Waking up every morning and walking down to a dew covered field, relaxing every part of my body,  setting up the target,  pulling an arrow from the quiver,  always aware of the razor tip,  drawing back with perfect posture and exhaling lighly to steady the sight as I drop into an timeless space and try to trip the release without thinking about it.   Twang!  shhooop,  Thunk.    It's so much more than just hunting practice,   it's a wonderful meditation,  but it's also a commitment that I'm taking very seriously.  
I've even gone so far as to build a life size elk target which destroys any arrow outside the 12 inch kill zone.   That's $15 per mistake,  it's my way of forcing myself not to release on shaky shots.

Our farm is growing like crazy right now,  and anyone who has ever had a garden knows that even a little bit of agriculture takes a lot of work.   Luckily I'm not responsible for the growing,  but as the resident carpenter, plumber, electrician,  I'm kept plenty busy.   Aside from growing vegetables for our 65 person CSA and the farmers market,  we also process our own ducks and chickens for personal consumption.  It's a messy task,  but just like the hunting I prefer to be part of the cycle.   

The freshly killed chicken in this solar oven is called a Freedom Ranger,   it's a french meat chicken that takes longer to grow but is much heathier than the creepy mutant cornish-cross,  which even when given free range simply lies on the ground and gets disgustingly obese.  The Freedom ranger on the other hand wanders around like a normal chicken,  nibbling grass and bugs and living what seems to be a happy life.    

After adding herbs from the garden we slow cooked this chicken for 2 1/2 hours in the solar oven.   The vapor tight oven seals in moisture and the result is out of this world flavor.    The taste of the Freedom chicken is so much better than a cornish-cross.

Having just turned the corner into August,  everything is in full bloom right now.   It's not easy to grow tomatoes on the Oregon Coast,  but with early starts,  greenhouses, and an expert farmer,  our first tomatoes are ripening nicely.    These heirloom tomatoes are sweet and juicy in a way that store bought hybrids can't touch.    Add a little goat cheese and balsamic vinegar.

Ginger is the farmer,  I'm the builder,  and for years now we've mused that what we need is a chef!   This winter I started dating Lee (center of photo),  and managed to lure her out to our farm with promises of farm raised duck and produce picked that day.   As a passionate local-vore,  she simply couldn't resist,  and when a space opened up at the farmers market,  she was ready to cook!   Mixing her formidible culinary talents with fresh food from the market itself,  Lee showcases local farms with a different menu every week. 
Simple yet creative,  Lee has the gift to "see"  flavors in her head and no matter how eclectic the ingredients appear,  the result is always the same,  you put it in your mouth and the first impression is "wow,  this works!"    I made the signs and the table.

A week later I was overhearing people rave about her booth at the coffee shop.   If you've eaten Lee's food that wouldn't surprise you but what happened next surprised all of us.   The charming country inn down the road which is also an exclusive top-rated restaurant was slated to close this August because both owners were moving on to new opportunities.   In an amazingly generous gesture,  they decided to offer it to Lee instead if she could keep up with the bills.   Incredible.

On August 24th Lee will re-open the restaurant as Dinner, at the Nehalem River Inn.  A farm-to-table restaurant that combines the standards of fine dining with a casual atmosphere,  with a foundation of the freshest possible grass-fed meats and organic local produce.   

I have every faith in her talent and we're all excited to explore the synergies of our local farms and her restaurant.   To that effect I'm throwing my full weight behind her with a Cape Falcon remodel this winter.   Hardwood floors,  thick slab,  live edge furniture and tables,  edison bulbs,  the new aesthetic will be one of heft, and substance, with as many items as possible made from local and salvage sources,  finely finished of course.   She'll be closing during the month of January and when she reopens you can expect to enjoy a this unique space while eating food that doesn't need my superlatives to validate it.   In the meantime,  I encourage you to come visit the coast and experience her cooking,  maybe stay a night or two at the Inn.   

Here's a peek at her last farmers market menu,  just to make you salivate.

On the kayak building front,  I'm still doing what I do well,  teaching people to build the very best skin-on-frame kayaks,  during week long classes where you get so much more than just a kayak.   You get to experience the magic of this place and experience the reality of what it takes to grow your own food and make a life off-the-grid.   It's a lot of work,  but it's a blessing,  and I'm passionate about sharing this journey.   For my part I get to meet so many amazing people that I would otherwise never come into contact with,  it really is a privilege.

From a purely artistic point of view,  even after all these years I find the aesthetic of the entire process to be as compelling as ever.   The whole build is art in motion,  and you get a kayak at the end of it.  

On the mornings I can muster it,  I enjoy rowing out at 5am and trolling for salmon in the guide boat.  There aren't many of these fish around,  but every ten trips or so,  the line will go crazy and the reel will start to sing,  and I get to come home with one of these amazing creatures in the icebox.  

Occasionally I can even con someone else into taking the oars.   On this day we passed by another fisherman in a rowboat who leaned out and shouted,  "well that's the best lookin outboard motor I've ever seen!"  I agree.

Thanks to my friends Laura and Kerry,  I did manage to make it out in a sea kayak the other day,  on an rare calm Pacific ocean day.   We explored caves,  and pocket beaches where I found the kayaker-built buoy-man sculpture at the top of this update!   I got to watch two F1's in the hands of experienced kayakers,  doing so well what it was designed to do.    Paddling is in my blood so I don't forsee any permanent dip in my enthusiasm for one of the easiest and cheapest ways to experience so much beauty and thrill.  

...of course no trip would be complete these days without some connection to food.   I feel so fortunate to combine my two passions in a single trip.   We cooked this black rockfish with chili paste and cilantro,  and then made fish tacos with plenty of fresh ingredients from the farm.   Perfect.   


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Bonus Photo,  another in a series I'm calling,  'things close to Gingers face'   enjoy.