I just got home from a fun trip to Arcata. The Kinetic Sculpture race was on and my friends Michael and Chris were in it but not acing, taking it light. When I drove up the first day Saturday listening to the race on KHUM, arrived at the house for my Peon badge and headed for the Manila dunes, Dead Man’s Drop. The Peace Peddler, their rig, was parked at the exit as they skipped the sand. I walked in to watch the machines barrel down the steep slope and find them to no avail. I found an interesting piece of grass, tied it into a Turk’s head knot, hmm. After a few machines made it down I headed back to the rig past most of the huge mosquitoes. The wind helped keep them down, but so many people makes for a free lunch. I ran into Sean my old friend and scheduled a breakfast at 9:00. Michael, Chris and Landon showed up shortly pushing one of Landon’s bikes through the sand, Michael bearing a new beard since I last saw him, looks good. They headed for Eureka, me passing them on the bridge honking lightly, on to the finish line at Halverson Park. I parked at 2nd and L street one over from Michael’s truck, where he said it would be.
Inside the party was going on, as the Peace Peddlers cleared the gate with hurrahs and “This is what retirement is about!” from the announcer as Michael retired a couple weeks ago and loving it. After a while we headed home.
I took Landon and his bike back to McKinleyville then home for a fabulous asparagus prosciutto Parmesan stuffed chicken breast, garden broccoli and salad. Michael’s garden is amazing, all new raised beds with chips between and bountiful harvest. Such a good meal. I showed them the grass knot, it’s an invasive species, European sedge grass.
The next day is a full one. Sean and I went out for breakfast, I’ve known him nearly 35 years, good conversations of old friends. Time for me to work, I drive to the race, find Michael on bicycle at Halverson, the rig gone with Chris pilot to the starting ramp. Driving, I find a spot to park and walk quite a ways back to the line of sculptures waiting to go. I took pictures of all the machines waiting for the water on Michael’s camera, he’ll forward them, I hope he reduces them first. Michael called it on the rig in front of us, “It’s not stable”, sure enough they flipped into the bay, perhaps the “golden flipper” award if they were the first.
Chris takes the machine into the water, Splash!, and more than halfway as they switch to Michael to finish the water crossing. They passed a few machines, Jeno the former time keeper now in the race, “You are really fast on the water!”. April, Michael’s wife gets excellent movie footage of the start, between and water finish.
I leave my truck and take Michael’s as support vehicle. Tricky at first to learn it, OK, we’re off. Next stop Eureka Whole Foods with a free lunch for the pilots, we peons as customers make up for it but tasty. I meet April at the salad bar as we head out to the now here machine. We eat together, next stop the Park and Ride. I get there early, the local Ham club is parked next to my rig, I walk out. The time keeper needs the radio crew to get out here, I’ll let them know. Bounce comes along, a heavy machine with one guy, an offset wheel, he’s been in the race for years. Last year he got hurt at this crossing, down and up a short ravine and his pit crew is not here. Says I, “What’s that coming up the road?” to distract the willing time keeper as I help steer without pushing him up and over. “I know you’re the Bounce Gnome, what’s your name?”,  “Peter”, “I’m Dan”, and away he goes.
Shortly Peace Peddler arrives, next stop College of the Redwoods, it will take a while to get there.
Meanwhile, there is this grass growing, more of the same, tough, long and smooth. I pick a bunch of the thicker stuff then more as it’s taken over the whole swamp. As you pull it in small bunches the ends are lighter in color. I gather quite a bit.
A drive to CR and park, I start a basket I’ve studied on youtube, three and three middled at right angles, fold another piece in half, catch three, twist and catch the next three, twist, catch three, continuing square twisting tight around it. Do that twice or more, then twist each individual strand, separating them into rays. Find an open and nudge an odd additional piece in, temporarily knotted to not slip. Twist the weavers around a couple times to secure. Fold and add another piece as required and continue twisting around the spokes, then switch to a straight over under weave. Add more pieces around holding the last bit with the new. As the strands become secure to a decent base width, using a bodkin (my small Swiss card pen) to add lighter colored parts on either side of the rays and continuing the weave while binding the long rays together up to allow the basket sides to form with the continued weave. Enough, I wove the triple spokes to the side over and under, each one around, clipped to fit and finally through. I trimmed all the excess strands used while adding pieces.
I did all this while waiting for the guys to catch up, each station, something wonderful to do.
I finished my very first complete basket as we arrived back at the Crab park and headed home.
Mind this was an extraordinary effort on the guys to perform the whole second day course. Muscles twitching, heat and ice packs. Oh no, the machine has a front end problem as well. This year is all about fun, they call it a done deal. I gave the first kinetic basket to April.
Monday we took off, Michael repaired the sink faucets and drain as I worked on another larger basket about the size of a small soup bowl.
With a short visit to my old friend Debbi, it’s time to head for home. I stopped on the way at the park and ride exit and picked as much European sedge grass as I could in a short time, then again at the rock shop for some new sanding wheels for my sander. An uneventful trip home with the race on the radio as the riders made it in. A fine long weekend, with a memory for the soldiers that kept us free.

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