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Sooo ... we got our picture in the paper on Monday for floating down the river on a rooftop this weekend. Here's the News-Miner article (minus picture, but I have some of my own, under the cut).

All in all, it's a nice write-up, though I am amused that the article refers to us as a "tribute to FEMA" when it's kind of ... the opposite.

(On a completely unrelated-to-FEMA side note, in that same local-interest news roundup, if you scroll down past the boat race stuff to the item on the Emmy nomination -- I know that guy. Ben Grossmann -- his name's misspelled in the article -- was a friend of mine in college. He was one of those people who you meet and think "This guy's going places" ... so I'm not surprised to see his work's been nominated for a visual f/x Emmy. Still cool though. I know somebody who's nominated for an Emmy award! EEEE! Go Ben! Okay, this has been your fangirl moment.)

Anyway, back to the boat ...

The Red Green River Regatta is an annual bit of collective "too much time on our hands", a Fairbanks event based upon the Red Green Show that exemplifies the show's spirit of do-it-yourselfism -- namely, all boats in the Regatta must be homemade and must include duct tape as part of their construction materials. The winners are chosen based upon creativity rather than actual speed.

We assembled the roof ... er, boat ... upstream of the race start and then floated down, so that we didn't have to deal with crowds.

The hapless crew consisted of me, Orion, Colin & wife (ground crew) Crystal, Colin's brother-in-law Brad, Gregg and Thadd. (Not listed in the order shown, since I don't think I have a picture that shows all of us together.)

The boat looked unexpectedly convincing from onshore.

Some of the competition at the race start.

The view from the roof.

Of all the boats out there, these guys really blew me away. I just can't believe that they both conceived and built a floating ball of inner tubes with a guy in it. They ended up taking third place (we got second).

People LOVED us. We were definitely a crowd favorite. It was fun to watch the spectators along the race route try to figure it out as we came floating into view, and then read our sign and start cheering and waving and giving us thumbs-up signs as they "got" it. Lots of people snapped pictures; some heckled us a little, while others shouted that they were going to take pictures of us and send it to Bush. *laughs* Go Fairbanks people! All in all, everyone was very supportive and we didn't get tackled by crazed rednecks, although a couple of people reacted a bit ... oddly. But most either thought we were funny or profound, or both.

The racecourse ends at Pioneer Park, formerly Alaskaland (which happens to be where I got married, six years ago). It was a madhouse and we decided to float the roof on down the river to the University Avenue boat launch, where we could disassemble it and stow it on the trailer in relative peace. Orion went off with Colin's wife Crystal to get the trailer, and the rest of us pushed off for a leisurely float down to University Ave.

That was where everything started to go wrong.

We were done in by boat wakes. People speed up and down the river on motorboats, paying very little attention to swimmers, canoeists or crazy folks on floating rooftops. Not everyone in a motorboat is like that -- many of them were very polite and slowed down for other folks using the river. Unfortunately there does seem to be a direct correlation between the size of the boat and the tendency of the person driving it to be an asshole. During the Regatta itself, the other boaters on the river were being very polite (probably due largely to all the Coast Guard patrols wandering around ticketing reckless boaters) but once away from the Regatta area, we found ourselves taking on water from one wave after another. And so we got scuttled.

Luckily we didn't get 100% scuttled because we (well, mostly Gregg) were watching the level of water in the canoes and getting increasingly concerned about it. Actually, we found a nice sandy place to pull off at one point and checked the level of water in the canoes, decided that since we only had about a mile to go, we could make it. Pulling back out onto the river, we were promptly hit with two jetboat wakes in rapid succession. That did it for any last vestiges of buoyancy that we still possessed. At Gregg's cry of "We have to get ashore NOW, guys!" we paddled for the shore with all the desperation that comes of not wanting to haul half a ton of waterlogged lumber off the bottom of a river. Just a few dozen yards downstream of our nice sandy landing place, we came ashore in a marsh, jumped off the foundering boat and promptly sank to our knees in water-covered, shoe-stealing, ice-cold mud. We then proceeded to bail two filled canoes with bare hands and a 16-oz Coca-Cola cup, taking turns climbing under the roof and wallowing in nearly waist-deep water and mud to do this. Eventually Colin flagged down a couple of passing kayakers to ask if they had a kayak pump -- which they did, and wonderful people that they were, allowed us to borrow it. This made short work of the remaining water. However, by this point we'd been on the water for nearly four hours (since launching that morning); were wet, muddy, tired and hungry; and suffered from boat-related post-traumatic stress disorder every time a motorboat came in sight. So we aimed for the Boatel, a riverside bar just downstream of our current location that has a boat launch, and dragged our soggy carcasses out onshore.

Poor Orion, he missed all the fun.

EDIT: Oh, and here's somebody else's more comprehensive pictures of the event, as well. (Scroll all the way down to see us on our rooftop, along with their comments about us.) http://pics.livejournal.com/_earth_vs_soup_/gallery/0001eg7t



( 14 comments — Leave a comment )
Jul. 26th, 2006 01:28 pm (UTC)
Great boat, Layla! Who came in first? Was that a real Gremlin in that one picture?

Pittsburgh has an annual 'Anything that floats' race that always has amusing entries. Back in high school my friends and I talked about floating an old Volkswagon Beetle (they're rumored to float, at least, although finding one that hadn't rusted through would have been difficult) and entering, although we never actually did anything about it. They award a 'Titanic Award' to the team who's boat falls apart most spectacularly, which is a nice touch.
Jul. 26th, 2006 06:18 pm (UTC)
Layla was initially unwilling to ride on the boat, because one of the past achievements of our team was winning the 'Titanic II Award,' which is also given to the first and most entertaining boat to sink. (We sank so dramatically that a passing motorist was distracted, drove into oncoming traffic and had a head-on collision!) Also, I still have a pretty good scar from last year's boat. The river was so cold that I didn't notice the bleeding until someone pointed it out.

All in all, it was definitely an act of bravery for Layla to jump on a boat with her lunatic friends.
Jul. 28th, 2006 08:24 am (UTC)
*snort* Yes, I did indeed try to bail (so to speak) and generally boycott the boat-building process. The end result was so cool that I wished I'd been a little less gloom'n'doom throughout the building process, though.
Jul. 29th, 2006 06:36 am (UTC)
I completely understand the attempt to bail. Having been involved in many different manabus/humanplacebo joint ventures, I'd say it's typically the smartest move. :)

I'm rather sorry I missed the event though. If just to take pictures.
Jul. 29th, 2006 06:39 am (UTC)
If just to take pictures.

And to laugh! Don't forget the mocking potential. ;)

We wished you could've been there, but there's always many more ill-fated boat-building ventures to come, I'm sure. My co-workers keep asking me what the plan for next year is ...
Jul. 30th, 2006 01:53 am (UTC)
In your defense, you were completely justified. What we planned was insane, and instead of trying to make it sound safer, I talked about the injuries and disasters of the past. It's an odd sort of bravado, I guess, but not the kind that encourages sane people to join in.
Jul. 28th, 2006 08:25 am (UTC)
The winner was a floating car. I'm not honestly sure *which* floating car, because I saw at least two. That Gremlin was -- I think -- made out of cardboard. At least, that's what it looked like to me when we floated past. It was very convincing, however.

That's amusing that Fairbanks is not the only place where people are crazy enough to do something like this!
Jul. 26th, 2006 02:35 pm (UTC)
Second Place! WoOt! ^_^

Hilarious concept-- sorry to hear that you caught the brunt of the wakes.
You have entirely too much fun up there.
Jul. 28th, 2006 08:25 am (UTC)
ahaahaha! Thanks!
Jul. 26th, 2006 03:24 pm (UTC)
Holy Shit.
Second place? Screw that. YOu win, forever.

This is seriously seriously awesome. Whose idea was it in the first place?
Jul. 28th, 2006 08:26 am (UTC)
Re: Holy Shit.
LOL! Thanks!

Whose idea was it in the first place?

Not mine. I am not THAT creative.
Jul. 30th, 2006 01:50 am (UTC)
Re: Holy Shit.
manabus came up with the idea, but I think it might have been partially inspired by my idea to get sponsorship from a real-estate ageny and float a series of for-sale/sold housing boats. (Nice people with a nice house (SOLD!), poor people with a small house (SOLD!), crazy Alaska people with an outhouse (SOLD!) and finally a homeless guy in a extra-large cardboard box (SOLD!) )

Thadd's idea was way better, of course.
Jul. 26th, 2006 06:24 pm (UTC)
Oh, that is AWESOME.

I'm with Janer--WIN FOREVAR.
Jul. 28th, 2006 08:27 am (UTC)
Thanks! Well, we definitely got the best crowd reaction out of anybody! They loved us! (Aside from those who hated us, but there were only a couple of those.)
( 14 comments — Leave a comment )

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