Last week I went kiteboarding four days in a row, and I can now state with absolute confidence that I am a kiteboarder. I did make a second attempt at windsurfing, but after following that weak-sauce swim lesson with the best kiteboarding session of my life, my mind is now pretty much made up.

While my skills at windsurfing continue to go nowhere, my kiteboarding is absolutely on fire. The other night I rode for two hours, completely lit up on my nine meter Omega, and I kept it together the entire time. And when I say I was lit up, I mean it. These were conditions that even a week ago would have had me at their mercy, dragging my battered and boardless self into the Hood River Bridge. I had my kite completely depowered and my bar all the way out, and even with that I still had to edge upwind like crazy to keep the power out of the kite. Before I knew it I was up to the White Salmon Bridge, wondering for the first time ever how I was going to find my way back downwind.

On Sunday it was nuking, and Bea let me borrow her six meter Boxer SLE for the afternoon. Despite being underpowered I was doing great on the smaller and unfamiliar kite, and Bea eventually left me alone to find some cleaner air upwind. It wasn’t long until everything fell apart. There is a huge hole right in front of the Delta where the wind is super light, and I had already teased it a number of times that day. Finally the hole got the best of me, and I hit it in a lull and dropped the kite.

Lacking enough wind to get back up, the kite flipped and rolled a couple times, and once that happened a relaunch was out of the question. I wrapped up my lines so I could grab the kite, and cradling my board began the slow swim back to land. After all my gear was safely ashore, Bea and I spent the next hour untangling my kite lines.

While walking back to the Marina we described this particular session as consisting of “swimming and untangling lines, punctuated with the occasional fit of kiting.” Surprisingly enough, we both considered it a good session. No gear was lost, no gear (and no one) was broken, and even though I had quite an adventure with Bea’s kite, it was still in one piece and I didn’t owe her a new one.

I do owe her a beer for helping me with that rat’s nest of lines, though.

Speaking of beer, my first batch has been done for quite awhile now, and boy is it tasty! It consists of a can of Cooper’s Brewmaster Selection Wheat Beer hopped malt extract, and three pounds of Breiss Bavarian Weizen dry malt extract. Pretty straightforward, which is what you want for your first brew, and I must say I’m very happy with the results. It definitely tastes better than a number of microbrews I’ve tried (Flying Dog, I’m looking in your direction), but I can already tell that there’s room for improvement. This batch doesn’t quite have the body that I want in a beer, and I’ve since learned that I can likely accomplish that by using more whole ingredients.

Thus, my second batch of beer is already nearing the end of its primary fermentation. In response to Jon’s indignation when I mentioned that I didn’t add any hops to my first batch, I’m currently making the Pike India Pale Ale from the North American Clone Brews book. This recipe was certainly a doozy to tackle as one’s Second Beer Ever, requiring five pounds of five different kinds of grains, three kinds of hops, and no less than four hours on the stove.

I cooked the wort last Friday after getting back from kiteboarding, starting at 8:30 and finishing around 1:00 in the morning. Fermentation seems to have completely mellowed out by now, so in the next couple days I’ll rack the beer into the carboy to pull it off all the sediment in the primary fermenter. The weather in Hood River has been flunky and rainy this week, which allows for a lot of time brewing beer, but not so much time on the water.