So I finally did it. I bought a kite. No, this is no ordinary kite. This is a Quadrifoil Q2004 four meter power kite. For the math impaired, that's about 12 feet and it basically forms a giant wing (imagine a rectangle that has a seam at the back and pockets in the front that catch air). I've been wanting one of these things since I first flew Sean's last fall. It was probably the most fun I've had in a very very long time. I squealed like a little kid. So I finally took the plunge and picked out one for myself.
In addition to the four meter kite, I have other necessary supplies to consider. There are the four 75 foot long lines that come off this kite, two being 300 pound test and the brake lines being 150 pound test strength. Why such \"overkill\", you ask? Well, while my first jaunt was a bit like Charlie Brown, this isn't the same kind of kite you flew as a kid. Attached to the end of these lines are the handles that allow me to steer this monster in the sky. I have a harness as well, but have to finish rigging the straps that allow me to use it. I will do that soon, trust me. But I'm getting ahead of myself.
As it was my first weekend \"on my own,\" I decided to venture out and commune with nature on the beach and perhaps test out the new kite. The wind was only about seven miles per hour and I figured I could handle this.
As you might imagine, flying a kite like this is quite a workout. The first part of the workout involved carrying this crap all from the apartment to the beach. I only had a few blocks to walk and packed light. I had a bottle of water, my driver's license, $20 in cash, my cell phone, the kite, and the book that tells me how to rig it up and fly it and pack it away. No problem.
The next step was to setup the lines. The kite had to be partially buried in the sand to keep it from taking off on its own. I then had to attach each line and unwind it out from kite to handle (those also being buried in the sand). I had to work relatively quickly as one can't guarantee that all these items are going the stay buried in the sand. So my first step was to kneel in the sand and fasten the line and then sprint to the other end as quickly as possible. This went on for about 16 passes all told. It was like a relay race - a very sandy relay race. The ironic foreshadowing is that I lamented the amount of sand I was kicking up into my shoes at the time. Boy, did I not know what I faced ahead.
Well, the wind was kinda lame at first. And I had no kite buddy to help me get it started. So it took me a bit to get this going. After a few failed attempts I finally got the foil airborne. I'm doing pretty well, only being tugged a little here and there as the kite twists through the power zones in its figure eight pattern. But all of a sudden it took on a mind of its own. This, in and of itself, would not have been so bad. But I was not alone on this quiet section of Norfolk beach. About 20 feet from me, a couple was enjoying a romantic walk along the surf. Well, that's how it started at least. All of a sudden, over the gentle rush of the crashing waves and the distant cry of seagulls, all they could hear is, \"LOOKOUTLOOKOUTLOOKOUTLOOKOUTLOOKOUTLOOKOUT! Crap! Lookout!\". Wham! The kite basically did a bombing run over them and crashed right at there feet with a resounding slam. The woman screamed like she had been shot. The next words out of my mouth were, \"SorrysorrysorrysorryOhmygodIamSOsorry. Are you okay?\". They assured me they were fine and would not sue me (the man was actually laughing). Thus, I sheepishly dragged my kite back to try again.
I was starting to get the hang of it after a while. The lines wanted to twist, but I think I know how to fix that in the future. Everything was a-okay for a while. I was squealing a little and grinning like a cheshire as this thing pulled me down the sand with my feet resisting in the sand. This kite flying thing wasn't so hard. Well, suddenly a gust of wind came up and shifted direction. This took me from facing the kite on my feet to having the kite rocket off to my right and take me with it. The aviary bastard picked me off my feet and then just as quickly slammed me into the sand on my right hip and the back of my head (my bruises tell the tale). My favorite wool hat flew off. The line winders that were in my back pocket dug into the sand and ripped my back pocket clean off. This caused my grocery list and the book on kite flying to scatter like tumbleweed before floating into the ocean. And it hadn't even begun to get interesting. The wind was still going steady which meant that I was going steadily down the beach on my head and eventually my back with my legs in the air. Spatial skills were waning as it was hard to decipher up from down while on my back and not actually facing the kite. And I was still moving down the sand. I managed to spin around and face the kite while pulling the brake lines enough to get the beast to sink.
It fluttered to the ground and I sat up enough to see what has become of me and my very expensive new toy. Thankfully, it did not land in the ocean or the fence line. Just 30 yards or so in front of an old man on a bike who had stopped to watch the show. My chest was heaving and I realized I was about 10 pounds heavier due to the sand. My shirt was full of sand, my bra was full of sand, all my pockets were full of sand, my shoes were full of sand. My teeth were full of sand. It was great! I crawled over to the kite and then back to retrieve my winders. This was about when I realized all my paperwork was headed for the bridge-tunnel. Thankfully, I wasn't headed for the bridge-tunnel.
The old man walked over to check it out and hoped to get another show, I think. But I explained that the current condition of me, my wardrobe and the kite lines was probably going to necessitate my going home soon. I sat and untangled line for a bit and then packed up for home. The old man complimented my patience in packing the kite and cleaning up the lines. I just smiled. When I got home, I met my mom at the house so we could go to the store. But first I had to shake my pants out and my shirt and my ... well, at that point it just involved disrobing, shaking like a chinchilla and then redressing.
It was one of the neatest experiences, but I think next time I'm going to need an assistant to keep the kite or me from getting away.