May 25
Reindeer in Michigan

Just before we left for Grand Haven, Al Sparling called. "Don't forget your rain gear", he said.

"Reindeer??" I replied, because I like to annoy Al that way.

"No -- not reindeer -- rain GEAR! They are forecasting storms, heavy winds, lightening, and a possible tornado!! We're gonna get soaked out there! And the kites will get wet and they'll be too heavy to get back on the plane and we probably won't get to fly anyway!! I've been checking the forecast every hour and it doesn't look good. And why would you want to bring reindeer to a kite festival??"

Al is so easy to annoy....

Cat Stack

Wind Blasts

And of course, Al was right. We did in fact have rain, wind, lighting, and just about everything else. Conditions ranged from bright sun with no wind, to 35 mph blasts and wet splotches falling from the sky the size of acorns. And then it would just stop and the sun would come out and everyone would struggle to launch anything into a windless sky.

Saturday with the festival just starting, our concern was watching the banners bent sideways and the sand starting to blow across the beach.

On our first foray onto the field, we launched a giant Teddy. Then the wind began to move like the second hand on a watch. In less than a minute we had a 180 shift, gusts over 30, and a major mess. With safety uncertain, we elected to pull the bear in and then bury all our gear under tarps. Another storm was just minutes away.

Bearly Under Control Under Control Under Wraps

Wrestling a big bear in heavy winds is no fun. Thanks to Al, Ben Coleman, James Hoving, Chad Macy and Darryl Waters for adding some weight to the line.

Grand Haven and the Mackinaw Festival is one of the great events of the American Midwest. There are wonderful demos by fliers like Chicago Fire, Sam and Ann Ritter, Lee and Sue Sedgewick, the Windjammers, the Gordon Boys, Ray Bethell, and Lam Hoac. There are specialty events like the fighter kite competition and a fantastic indoor fly. There is open flying and programs for kids. Factory reps from Revolution, Go Fly, Prism, and of course GKPI are on hand to demonstrate products. And we big kite fliers get our very own big kite field.

Big Show

Sunday afternoon, we watched huge dark clouds move over with alarming speed. And then suddenly, it was perfect. We emptied the bags and put three large kites on each anchor. It was two hours of ideal flying. Then with more clouds approaching, we pulled everything down and dragged it off the beach. Five minutes later, lightening was crashing and the field was a lake.

Before I close this Update, I have one more story.

On our trip in Friday, one of the five bags didn't make the small flight from Chicago to Grand Rapids. United promised I'd have it that afternoon, but bad weather and delays kept pushing back delivery. By evening, I was getting cranky.

Vacation House

Grand Rapids announced the bag would come to me after the last flight of the day -- at midnight. I asked if they expected me to stay up all night waiting. They offered to leave the bag on the porch.

Mackinaw Kites puts the Gombergs, Sedgewicks, Ritters and Sparling in a cozy vacation home on a bluff overlooking the beach. The problem was that the driveway for the house was on an ally and the street address was below us by the garage.

Sure enough, On Saturday morning my fifty-pound bag was on the porch. It had arrived at 3 a.m. on a dark rainy night. And I can only imagine what the delivery guy thought when he saw what he was in for....

It is Wednesday now and I'm off to Wildwood in the morning. Seems like I just got home. Heck -- I did just get home!!

In the next few weeks, I'll be in New Jersey; Ocean Shore, Washington; Boulder, Colorado; Jamestown, North Dakota; and then the June Festival here in Lincoln City. Oregon. Odds are good I'll see you out there somewhere!

Triple Pillow

Triple Pillows: We're putting one of our best pieces of laundry on sale for Update readers.

Pillows are 12 feet long (including the tube) and come in black and white with red, orange, yellow, green, blue, or purple. The list price is $30. But we want you to load-up! So how about we mark them down 20% for one ($24) or 25% ($22.50) if you buy three or more. This offer is only good until my birthday. And since you don't know when that is, you best hurry and order now!

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