AA A Real Donnybrook

6 August 2007
I was in Minneapolis the day the bridge went down, dropping Diane off at the airport. She needs to fly back to Portland to spend time with one of our dearest friends who is having a recurrence of breast cancer. While she’s gone I’m going to be racing at Brainerd, a track that used to be called DonnyBrooke after two Minnesota racers who were killed at Road America. Peyote competed at the first race at DonnyBrooke and was built in Minneapolis/St Paul, so it’s a real homecoming for Peyote. I hope it’s a good one.

We spent the night before at a motel close to the Minneapolis airport and Mall of America. I’m a fan of the free enterprise system, and a guy that’s driving around the country racing a crusty old car needs to hesitate before he tosses rocks. But YUCK. If there’s a temple to excess then MOA is probably it (maybe I need to visit Dubai before I decide on the winner).

It was really tough to see Diane go, even though it’s only five days. You’d think we’d be sick of each other, but spending so much time together makes me realize how much I enjoy her. We’re having a great trip together. Sam is grumpy too. But we dropped her off and headed to Brainerd, MN and BIR (Brainerd International Raceway). I got to Brainerd a couple of days early for the race so I dropped off Nero at the track and tried to find a nice place to stay on one of the many lakes. Unfortunately, none of them take dogs, so I was stuck with the Ramada. Too bad, there are some really nice places, but Sam goes where I go.

I checked into the motel, turned on the TV, and saw the earliest report on the bridge collapse. It had literally happened a few minutes before. Felt very surreal, I was just there. I don’t think I traveled over that bridge but certainly could have. I watched the coverage for quite a while, hoping for good news. I guess in many ways it was very good, that school bus full of kids could have been upside down in the river. But I feel very bad for the folks that are waiting for news that can only be sad.

I spent most of Wednesday paddling around Gull Lake. The very nice people at Quarterdeck Lodge let me use their beach to launch. I would have stayed there but no dogs. They were very apologetic, but they had an unfortunate incident with an allergic person and changed their policy. Understandable, but unfortunate. I saw the “villas” they offer. Nice. Would have been the perfect place to stay, I probably wouldn’t have camped in Nero just to enjoy the facilities for the little bit of time I had on race days. As it was I checked out of the Ramada a day early and stayed in Nero at the track–it’s nicer.

The Starboard 12’6″ proved it’s versatility once again, giving me a nice long paddle around the lake, then a great sail in the late afternoon. The wind was strong enough to wish for a harness. I’m probably going to have to pick one up if I get anywhere where windsurfing isn’t just something you see on TV. The Superfreak 8.0 sail is so good that I forget how good it is (if that makes sense). It just works, all the time.

Next: Racing at Brainerd

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