The Youngs and the Old

I could hardly believe my ears. I was inside a tent on the banks of the St. Croix River. The sun was just starting to come up. My younger daughter, Anna, snored on her side of the tent. My older daughter, Laney, slept in another tent with her girlfriend, Emily. From what seemed to be the other … Continue reading

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Car. Babe. Life: Beautiful

A while back my wife observed, We never have a car that’s fun. Admittedly these are two categories that don’t occupy the same precinct of my mind. Cars mostly I look at as trouble waiting to happen. Not long after my wife realized we had dragged through life with boring cars, a friend suffered a pair … Continue reading


A Pitch for Voyageurs

I teach an intro to coastal kayaking class each spring with my friend Michelle Forseth. Often enough our students tell us that this week they’re taking the class, and next week they’re going to Lake Superior to paddle the Apostles. Depending on the weather, that may or may not be the greatest idea in the world. … Continue reading

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The End, in Sight

Six years ago my daughter, Anna, started building a kayak. She had recently dropped out of high school. She was taking some college classes, volunteering at Planned Parenthood and running cross country to fill up the days. But because she is a cunning creature, she knew that a sure-fire way to get me firmly behind … Continue reading

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Time for Another Boat

You would think that at some point you get the joke, and yet… It’s time to build another boat. This time I have in mind a baidarka, set up around the swede form lines of the Epic 18x. The Epic boat is notoriously fast. (At least to the extent that a craft traveling at five to … Continue reading

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A Transportation Trade

Can’t help but wonder what the native, kayak-building people would have made of this deal. Recently a friend of mine had his 1993 Miata (two-seat convertible sports car for you non-gearheads) slightly smashed up when he was going a little too fast and the car ahead of him stopped a little too quickly. Result: dented … Continue reading

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A Floating Experiment

My friend, Michelle Forseth, and I teach a couple beginning sea kayaking classes each summer. A question that often arises is, What kind of kayak should I buy? Often enough this comes from a female, in her forties or fifties, who has not spent the past 20 years pumping iron. I’m guessing this kayak will mostly be … Continue reading

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Fatman Returns


I’ve got a Halloween tradition going — publishing a free serial novella featuring the exploits of Frogtown’s oddball investigator, Fatman. This year’s novella, Duke Is Dead, builds on Fatman Descends, a serial published last year beginning on Day of the Dead. In that story, Fatman discovers that light-rail construction has opened a portal to the underworld, where the vengeful dead … Continue reading

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Your kayak?

My wife points out that there are many things you can do with wood. Replace the kitchen counters, for instance. Build a tool bin for the porch. Replace the rotting back stairs. No denying any of that. To quote Andrew Marvell, there’s world enough and time for those things. Or maybe there’s not. I don’t … Continue reading

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Canvas, Reconsidered

It’s been years since I used canvas to skin one of my kayaks. Instead I’ve slipped into polyester, the venerable fabric of the leisure suit, which I then cover with varnish or paint. It’s light, it’s cheap, it works. But like almost everything, it has its drawbacks. It slackens a bit over time. And it’s … Continue reading

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