Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Visiting Wisconsin

photo by Mike Ruffino

I'd never been to Wisconsin before. 
Michael Angelo Ruffino and I were rowing a gondola 
on the St. Croix river - which separates Minnesota and Wisconsin today. 

We veered away from the Minnesota shore, 
and in short time were making land in the eastern side of the river. 

Here you see photographic evidence of my "brief" visit to the land of Cheese. 
Left foot: meet Wisconsin. Wisconsin: meet my left foot.

Sunday, October 16, 2016

Night Train

At the threshold of midnight,
on the waters of Newport,
I witnessed the power of Jakob Easton.

We'd just finished an hour of tandem training - getting ready for the
Distance Tandem event.

Jakob had already put in a full night of rowing with passengers,
then we made our rounds in tandem, and I said
"so, do you wanna take her for a spin and do some sprint training?"

I know Jakob is fast and powerful.
He took the bronze last year with little to no preparation.
But sitting on the trasto of the Phoenix,
and watching him go to town with the oar,
well, it was humbling, and a little scary.

He kept transmitting more and more power through that oar.
In short order the gondola was plowing through the water
like a navy destroyer
(and secretly inside, I decided that I wouldn't be competing this year in the solo sprint event).

Wednesday, October 12, 2016

Hunter Steps it Up!

I spent some time on the water today with gondolier Hunter Mitchell.
Like many Southern California gondoliers, Hunter is an avid surfer.
Surfers have a natural sense of balance on the boat,
and a clear understanding of the dynamics of a flat-bottomed hull moving through the water.
They also tend to prefer to row barefoot.
Today we covered solo sprint training,
and I got a front row seat as this long tall surfer stepped it up,
and explored new levels of speed on the water.



Tuesday, October 11, 2016

Parker and Mike

The tandem team of Parker Harrison and Mike Ruffino took to the water
today to train for the tandem distance event at the US Gondola Nationals
in Stillwater, Minnesota.

Parker and Mike row for and represent the Gondola Company of Newport.
I've rowed against this duo a couple times,
and I expect they'll do well this year.

Sunday, October 9, 2016


The race isn't won on race day.
It isn't won between the starting gun and the finish line.
The race is won in the days and weeks and months of preparation and training.

Whether it's a gondola race, a boxing match, or even a court trial,
the race isn't won on race day.

Wednesday, October 5, 2016


On his left forearm, Mike Ruffino has "Strength".

On the right, "Honor".

Tuesday, October 4, 2016

Piccola Bandiera

photo by Kierlyn Densham

During my last visit to La Serenissima I bought
several flags of varying sizes.

Just when I thought I'd picked up all the Venetian bandiere that I needed,
I spotted these little birthday cake-sized flags and I had to grab a handful.

They weren't very expensive (and the quality matched the price),
but I'm so glad I bought them.

Monday, October 3, 2016

Umbrella in the Sun

Here's a first-person view from the back of the Pupparin "Contessa"
in Newport, showing that umbrellas aren't just for rain.

These days in southern California, we'd love to see some precipitation,
but all we've got is that pesky sunshine - and a summer-like heat.

Sunday, October 2, 2016

Gondola Supermercado

A while back I was at the grocery store with my 16-year-old daughter.
We went to the area where all the shopping carts are kept,
She saw one of those race-car shopping carts and got that grin on her face.
You know, the "let's have some fun" grin.

Amazingly, she managed to cram herself into the little driver's seat area,
and we were off and running - actually running - through the store.
We'd learned earlier (back when my kids were the proper size),
that if you move fast enough, and don't knock anyone over,
you can get away with a lot of crazy antics
 with a shopping cart in the supermarket.

Speaking of crazy antics with shopping carts, take a look at this!

I'm not really sure where it is, but someone has come up with
something even better than a race-car themed shopping cart.
Oh sure, it probably wasn't designed by a member of the Tramontin family,
but hey, it's a gondola shopping cart!
Even better, it looks like the driver stands in the cart
and pushes with a pole.

Here's a link to the page where this one of a kind cart was first discovered: