Monday, January 6, 2020

Just another Summer January

This time of year we never know what we'll get,
weather-wise, that is.

Today I was happy to be rowing in my summer uniform:
short sleeves, thin overshirt, and mesh deck shoes with no socks.
My sunglesses weren't dark enough, 

and I was still warm enough to sweat a little.

Just another summer day in January.
I just hope we'll have this kind of weather on Valentine's Day.

Friday, January 3, 2020

Back in 2019...

With all the craziness leading up to the last day of the year, 
and the requisite lazy recovery after, 
I neglected to post these images from December 29th here in Newport. 
Just another day - working a job that's way better than I deserve.

Gondolier Mike Bixler heads off with happy passengers 
on the gondola known as "Stella".

Rowing alongside Linda Isle, the lady in the gondola has no idea that she's about to be asked the biggest question ever by the man she loves.

She said "yes", of course.
And they lived happily ever after.

Wednesday, December 25, 2019

Merry Christmas from the Gondola Blog

It's been a great and eventful year.
I am thankful for the time I got to spend on the water and on land with all my friends in the gondola world - both in the U.S. and in Europe.

The above photo was shot on Christmas Eve as Eddie Rivera rowed past the Pearson's Port fish market, heading off for a relaxing cruise with his passengers.

I wish you all a great Christmas and look forward to spending time with as many of you as I can in the coming new year.

Monday, December 23, 2019

Rainy Day Sunset

It rained last night.
At the end of the last night of the Christmas Boat Parade, 

the gondoliers of Newport finished their cruises and tucked their boats in for the evening. 
And then, as if it had been politely waiting until we were finished, 
the rain came down.
Came down in buckets, it did.

This afternoon, Eddie and I pumped all that water out of the gondolas, 
as it continued to sprinkle on and off.

Veteran gondolier Alex Boullon escorted his passengers down the gangway and onto a gondola.
Excitedly they settled into the seat, bundled up in blankets, 

and prepared for the adventure ahead - an adventure that involved the umbrella they'd brought along just in case.

The sky above us was filled with rain clouds, but off to the west conditions were clear enough to bless us with radiant colors as the sun began to set.

As Alex pushed away from the dock, 
the rain began to fall with greater intensity.
The couple laughed as the gentleman popped open the umbrella, 
and their gondolier propelled them ahead towards the PCH bridge.

 Hard rain came down for a few minutes as the sun fell on a distant horizon.

 After spending a few extra minutes under the shelter of the bridge, 
the gondolier and his couple emerged to see even more beautiful vistas.

A pelican and a pair of ducks loitered near the shore.

 For reasons that only the pelican will ever know, he decided to take flight.
I silently thanked him for choosing to do so while I was actively shooting pictures.

Tuesday, December 17, 2019

December Serenity

There is a certain kind of serenity that often comes 
with the month of December.

No, it doesn't come in the madness of traffic-clogged roads.
It can't be found in the overcrowded shopping malls.
And while I love the Christmas Boat Parade, 
that's a spectacularly beautiful craziness of a whole different flavor.

December serenity is found on the waters of Newport, 
with the early-setting sun with fiery colors.
It's lit up by thousands of Christmas lights that stretch across rooflines,
and palm trees, and sailboats, and yes...even gondolas and fish markets.

I snapped these photos this week as gondolier Paul Imler cruised under the Pacific Coast Highway bridge and past Pearson's Port seafood market.

With the tide at a low level, and the three bent palm trees of Bayshores Beach in the distance, Paul rows leisurely towards the PCH bridge.

Sunsets come in many colors, but when they happen on the water, 
we colors below the horizon as well.  
Lately we've been blessed with some brilliant shades of purple.

December serenity - something I look forward to every year.

Friday, December 6, 2019

Texas Blue Light Special

photos by Kevan Burt

I took four passengers out for a cruise last night here in Irving, Texas.
Kevan - the location manager took some photos as the light was beginning to dim.  It was just dark enough for us to show off the cool blue lighting along the rail of the gondola.
The wind came out to play for a while but it was more than manageable.
We all had a great time.

Wednesday, December 4, 2019

Taking Off in Texas

My wife and I are visiting our operation in Texas this week.
There are lots of meetings, some boat repairs, 
and a little rowing on the agenda.

This evening, however, I had the pleasure of simply watching a gondolier and his happy passengers head out on the water for a relaxing cruise.

I credit management and staff out here 
for making the boat look so good - with cool indigo lights along the rail.
And gondolier Woody for making it all look easy.

Ciao from Irving, Texas!
- Greg

Monday, December 2, 2019

One Starts while the Other Finishes

photo by Cassandra Mohr

With nine separate race events this year at the U.S. Gondola Nationals, 
we had to take advantage of every minute of daylight, 
and in fact a few races went into the evening.

Here you see Michael Angelo Ruffino positioning his gondola "Lucia" in preparation for the start in the Distance Solo race.  
Meanwhile in the background a pupparin finishing in the background.

But there's more to the picture than that.
In the foreground is a gondolier who has competed in this event 
(the Distance Solo) for years.
He's won gold, silver, bronze in this event.

In 2017 Mike won the gold medal, 

but the next year he had to settle for bronze. 
This year he was on a mission. 
This is a sort of "calm before the storm" shot of him, 
because this year signore Ruffino took first place once again, 
and by a good margin.

Finishing behind Ruffino was myself and John Kerschbaum on the pupparin.
We hadn't planned on rowing that event together this year.

We just decided that day to race "for old time's sake"
since we've rowed as a tandem team many times in previous competitions.
We didn't win a medal in that time-trial race, 

but we had a wonderful time rowing that race together.

Thursday, November 21, 2019

Winter Cocoons in Minnesota

photos by John Kerschbaum

Another gondola season has come to a close in Stillwater, Minnesota.

John and his staff at Gondola Romantica hauled out the boats onto trailers and John parked them both on his property. 

After that the unique "Kerschbaum tenting process" began. 
He's got it down to quite a science now. 

First, the A-frame of lumber,

Gotta make sure it will hold as the snow loads up through winter.

then the plastic sheeting, and a whole lot of tethering with ropes.

After all that, John wraps clothesline cord around and around each boat.
This keeps the plastic from ballooning out when the winter winds try to blow open the sheeting - which puts stress on all the anchor points.

It's all about getting those precious gondolas wrapped up tight in their cocoons for winter.  
Bonus points if it’s all done before the first dusting of snow.