As I’ve noted before, I’ve got a new addiction – kites. Yeah, it’s rather amazing to think that I’m hooked on this wonderful sport (my mother doesn’t quite know how to tell her friends that her son, a grown man, is now playing with kites) but I’m having a blast with them. As this wonderful hobby can get quite expensive, I took a challenge made of me on one of the Kite Aerial Photography forums and decided to try and make my own. Some of my earliest attempts are already outlined on this blog. Anyway, I lucked out and found a very cheap flight to San Antonio, Texas, so that I could attend this year’s Kite Makers Retreat held at the Texas Tech University Extention Center in Junction.
While I’ve already ranted about my lost luggage (so I’ll spare those details here), I’ve just finished looking at the (few) photos I was able to take – my cameras didn’t arrive until Sunday afternoon, along with the rest of my luggage. Some (most) of them are posted below. As I’ve already mentioned, I arrived very late (early) after driving approximately 120 miles to Junction. I was so tired (it was 4 AM) that I checked into a local motel for a few hours so that I could get a bit of sleep before driving the last few miles to the retreat. I arrived sometime around noon on Friday (May 25th). At that point, I only had one kite (my Rev 1.5), and a few other items. Fortunately, there were already several people around as they were sitting on the kite field watching a few fliers. It was at that time that I met Bob, one of the esteemed instructors, who introduced me to “fighter kites” for the first time – small, highly maneauverable single-line kites. While they are very small and rather delicate, they can do rather amazing things (in the hands of an experienced fighter, that is). Bob gave me a few lessons on fighters and I had a great time.
The kite retreat didn’t officially begin until dinner that night so I spent the time looking around at some of the fighters on display and chatting with various people as they arrived. I also got a chance to fly my Rev but the wind conditions weren’t too favorable – as always, the winds died down the moment I began to fly. (So, what else is new?) That; however, lead to another great moment, another guy, Sid, had also brought one of his Revs but it was different than mine – it was even lighter. As a result, he gave me a few lessons and I spent quite a bit of time flying his Rev (I just bought a set of lighter spars yesterday so that my kite will now be able to fly in similar low-wind conditions too).
Friday night was devoted to making drums with Bob (oh, what fun) and just hanging out. There were so many different courses to choose from, on Saturday, that it was difficult to pick which one I wanted to attend. I ended up going to the crap [sic] making class (we really made “carp” windsocks but, due to a typo prior to the retreat, the class was inadvertently renamed). I spent the entire day (eight hours) making my carp – I learned how to applique, along with other fun kite making techniques. Fortunately, I was able to use someone else’s equipment as I didn’t have mine with me (it was lost with my luggage).
Late Saturday night featured “bait night” – as a Junction tenderfoot, I hadn’t a clue as to what that meant but quickly learned it was an outdoor gathering where everyone sits around and eats gross stuff (i.e., “bait”) like smoked oysters (yum), eel (yum), and God only knows what else ! Of course, we had a great time!
Sunday afternoon offered another set of classes – this time I took the banner class with Eddie – my finished 15 foot banner (the solid blue one) is pictured at the left. Of course, there were others who were far more experienced and made rather elaborate ones too – Eddie’s is the black one with the sun and Janet (one of our “crap” instructors) put one of her “craps” on her banner. As I am still a beginner – I just made a solid colored one. I plan on adding stars to mine, along with two other banners – solid red and solid white. How patriotic!
After my luggage arrived (Sunday afternoon), I finally had my equipment. I immediately started sewing my banner with my own machine and worked until dinner. One of the things I hadn’t yet experienced were the deer that were allegedly hiding just outside our view at all times. As I was whining about that, some of the kind folks at the retreat pointed out that a few million (or so) of them had decided to come out from the trees and had parked themselves on the kite field. As to be expected, I grabbed my camera and SLOWLY walked out onto the field (which is far bigger than it looks). The deer, of course, were extremely aware of me too and had no intention of letting me get too close. Just the same, I did manage to get a few pictures of them – if you look closely at the photo to the right (double click on it for a larger view), there appear to be about two dozen of them resting on the ground.
The retreat ended after lunch and we had to pack up. I returned to San Antonio that afternoon but was too tired to do much – I ended up taking a nap (until 8 PM, no less) and caught a late night movie. I knew I would have some free time the next day so I wasn’t rushed. One of the things I had planned to do while in San Antonio was to “remember the Alamo!” Obvioiusly, I remembered as attested by the following photo.
While the Alamo is rather small, it was quite scenic and I’m glad I went. The following is a photo of a veranda that I managed to get without any tourists walking through it (I was lucky).
So, after all of the wonderful experiences I had (except for the lost luggage), will I go again? I sure hope so! I met all kinds of wonderful people and had a terrific time. Can’t wait until next year!