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THE CONNECTOR

A Newsletter By, About, and For Graduates
of William Allen High School's Class of 1983

Issue 13 - June 2002

Mark your calendar! The plans for our 20th year reunion have been pretty much finalized by the reunion committee. Here are the details.

Date : July 26, 2003
Time: To be announced
Place: The Masters at Shepherd Hills
Activity: Dinner and DJ (class member Jim Flamisch's company)

A newly refurbished bar in the Shepherd Hills complex called Krocks Pub holds at least 100 people. It will be open until 2 a.m. on the night of the reunion. This will provide an option for "night owls" to stay and socialize after the reunion is officially over.

A letter was sent out near the end of July to all classmates whose whereabouts are know. If you don't receive a letter, then the reunion committee doesn't know where you are. To remedy the situation, visit the contact information page on this site and submit your information. The committee would like to find as many people as possible, so that everyone gets a chance to come to the 20th year reunion.

A complete history of the 20th year reunion plans is maintained on our reunion planning page for anyone interested in keeping informed. (page removed Aug 2007)

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New Zealand Excitement - Part 2                                    by Paul Kulowitch

This is part 2 of Paul's kayaking adventures in New Zealand. Part 1 appeared in the December 2001 issue of The Connector.

July 30,  2001 -- Rangetaiki River (Geoff's Joy Section, optimum flow: branch at 11 o’clock across river from put-in is just touching the water), Grade 3-4, near continuous, excellent scenery

This was the start of my second New Zealand kayaking adventure. Once again, I paddled with Andy Rees from Bruce Webber Adventures, and once again, it was like being reunited with old friends. The rates hadn’t changed since February (about $80 US/day for all gear, shuttles, and personal guiding). The last trip consisted of two river runs on the Mohaka and Rangetaiki, which were mostly Grade 2-3, drop-pool, scenic runs. This trip was going to be a little more exciting. Two of Andy’s friends joined us:  another Andy and Ron.

Paul Kulowitch Kayaking in New ZealandToday, we ran the upper section of the Rangetaiki. It was nearly continuous Grade 3 paddling from start to finish with the whole run having kind of a rain forest/canyon feel to it. The whole run is about 15km, but it’s the series of drops at Geoff’s Joy that made my hair stand on end. It was also this rapid that convinced me that the Kiwi’s have a slightly different grading system. This five drop series looks every bit as intimidating and difficult as running fish ladder at Great Falls on the Potomac. The lead-in (called Fantail Falls) to Geoff’s Joy is actually more difficult than Geoff’s final drop because of the consequences of swimming through the lower rapids. Fantail is a series of 4 ledges, each being a 3-8 foot drop, with the third drop being the biggest and having substantial cross currents and a diagonal wave that are almost guaranteed to result in a tail loop (end-over-end backwards flip). All four drops are run right of center with your last chance eddy on river right, above Geoff’s Joy. Geoff’s Joy is about a 30-40 foot slide on river left into a huge pillow at the bottom. The move from the eddy is relatively easy: ferry to river left, drop next to the rock at the top with a 20 degree right angle on your boat, and brace and brace as you slam into it at the bottom.

Geoff’s Joy was definitely the toughest stretch of river I had ever run, and my run was a little more exciting than I had planned. I dropped through the first two ledges perfectly, then, as predicted, got squirted and flipped on the third, and then it got exciting (note: there’s about 80 feet and one ledge before the big slide down Geoff’s). As I tried to roll up, I realized that the poor outfitting of my borrowed Dagger Outlaw made the boat near impossible for me to roll. The boat had thigh braces that were too narrow and no hip pads, so when I tried to roll, I was only anchored to the boat at the knees and feet. After three failed attempts, I resided to give it one more go, then I’d have to punch out, so as not to go down the slide inverted. Fortunately, I caught some upward flow with my paddle and the extra lift let me get upright despite being unable to keep my behind down on the seat. That last second roll left just enough time to catch the last chance eddy on river right, so I could follow Andy down the final drop. The last drop down Geoff’s was a hoot! It looked very similar to the final slide on fish ladder except you have a vertical rock wall about a yard to your left as you descend and a pillow to crash into at the bottom. I should mention here that the final drop can be run on the right….but not by me. That line is about a 15-foot vertical drop into a hydraulic, followed by a large, but not extremely powerful looking, whirlpool that would drag you a big recess in the shoreline. The rest of the run was non-stop fun that wasn‘t real intimidating (except for my concern about rolling the kayak without hip pads). The day was perfect, and this was by far the best river I’ve ever paddled (it’s also Andy’s favorite of all the north island rivers, which says a lot coming from a New Zealand native that was paddling local slalom competitions back in the 70’s).

I guess I should add a bit about Geoff, since he is rather legendary in the North Island. According to the New Zealand whitewater guide book, Geoff was a local that ran down this rapid in a rubber inner tube, was knocked unconscious during his beating in Fantail Falls, and was revived by his mates at the bottom of the final drop. As a reward for foolhardiness, the rapid was named after him, though no one seems to know his last name. Since then, any time some fool runs a crazy drop in an inner tube, people wonder if it’s Geoff.

July 31, 2001 -- Tongariro River (Access 10 Run, normal release of 16 cumecs), Grade 3+, mostly rock gardens, shallow, cold, excellent scenery

My second day was spent with just Andy and me paddling this beautiful, but icy river, renown for its world class trout fishing. The guide book lists the river as having 75+ rapids in this stretch, but it seemed like considerably less to me. The rapids were extremely technical, and many spots were too shallow to roll without dragging bottom for at least a short distance. Fortunately, I made it through the whole run without needing to roll in a shallow spot. While much of the run seemed on the easier side of Class III, I found it wasn’t the difficulty of the individual rapids that made this run hard, rather it was its technical intricacy that required unwavering concentration and constant maneuvering for long periods to avoid needing to perform a shallow water roll in bitter cold water. A few of the rapids were indeed Class III+ in difficulty, requiring one to carve an intricate path through drops and boulders that created potentially sticky hydraulics and waves as high as 3-6 feet. Most rapids went for about a 1/4 mile, followed by a small pool then another long rapid.

The water was a beautiful blue-green, but a little less clear than last time I saw it. Andy told me it was due to the recent rain and that it made the fishing better. That must have been true because the fishermen were out in force near the end of the run (where they can get access to the river). We made every effort to glide silently past the fishermen, being careful not to go through their fishing hole, but despite our efforts, one fishermen accused us of ruining his spot. I guess he hadn’t caught anything and needed someone to blame. Anyway, I know that there were fish there because earlier I saw a rainbow trout that was about 2 feet long leap out of the water just in front of my boat. A fish like that would be a trophy back in my home state of PA, but here, it takes a fish over 12 lbs. to be acknowledged as a  trophy. Still, it was a beauty in my eyes.

All in all, the day was great. The river is just gorgeous, and the only way to see it is by boat. I can imagine this being an even more amazing run in the summer, when the warm air can offset the icy water a little.

Aug 1, 2001 -- Mt. Manganui Beach

Andy and I had planned to paddle the Fuljames today, but we had to change our plans. Instead, we went to the beach to paddle in the surf. Andy brought two of his friends, Monk and Russell, along. I had previously paddled with Monk on my Aniwhenua Run (Rangetaiki River) in February. Both he and Russell were great fun, and they kept me laughing most of the day. The surf was smaller than last time with waves usually 3-5 feet high. These smaller waves were considerably easier to catch and ride than the 8-10 foot ones we were on in February. Even with smaller waves, it was great fun. Afterward, we stopped at a pub and shared a few more laughs over a beer. Another magnificent day.

August 2, 2001 -- Kaituna River (Okere Falls Run), Grade 5, cold, swift, turbulent water with a 2-meter weir and 7-meter falls

This run was going to be well beyond anything I’ve ever tried to paddle, but after watching me paddle for 3 days, Andy thought I could do it. The two most significant rapids are a two-meter boof into an eddy next to the weir and a boof into a large boil on river right, just below the 7-meter drop. On the ride there, I told him how I’d paddled it a few hundred times the night before and how I’d replayed those two critical boofs over and over in my mind. He asked me if I still wanted to do it, and I said sure, what’s the worst that could happen….maybe a good working at the weir or 30 seconds in the green room at the 7-meter falls. After all, I’d watched quite a few sledgers go over it, so how dangerous could it be? Thus, we embarked on our trip down the river. Despite my agreeing to run it, I was as nervous as could be. I was so anxious about the upcoming drops that I could barely paddle the Class III rapids leading to the weir. We took out just above the weir to scout and that’s when I decided that today wasn’t the day. I was far too stiff in the upper rapids to ever have any chance of running the two tough drops cleanly, so I opted to take the Class V walk out rather than the Class V beating. Andy reassured me that he thought my skills were adequate, but then he told me that it was ultimately what I thought and that I should trust my instincts. He went on to tell me that it’s often harder to admit that it isn’t the right time than to just continue because of what others might think and that he thought it a sign of maturity and humility. I’m not sure what I did was either, but I know it was right at the time. And so we embarked on a 1/4 mile drag up a steep hillside that was covered with dense vegetation that required us to make our own path up it. Fortunately, there was a field at the top that made the rest of the hike better. We tried to make the most of it by surfing our kayaks down the hills.

After returning to the van, we drove to the playhole at the end of the run. It was a world-class hole that was used by many of New Zealand’s top kayakers for off-season training. The hole is deep and friendly considering the tremendous power it generates. My goal in coming here was to finally learn how to throw cartwheels (with a little instruction from Andy). At first, I was too timid to put the boat on edge and really throw it down, but by the end of the day, my set-up and first end was solid, and, at one point, I managed to get 3 in a row. Not bad for a first day, thanks to some great instruction!

When all was said and done, I had another fantastic day. That would not have been true had I crashed and burned on the run. After all, the river will still be there next time I get to New Zealand.

 Aug 11, 2001 -- Penrith Whitewater Stadium

After my New Zealand trip, I had to go to Sydney for work, so I thought I'd put a side trip in to the Olympic Stadium. The stadium was impressive. Continuous grade 3 paddling that was a hoot for playing but a tough run. Unfortunately, I had another poorly outfitted boat that was tough to roll and severely limited my playing. It even forced my only swim of last year as I went through 4 failed attempts and 3 drops before taking a rough swim. The course did have drawbacks. The man-made course has an oval shape and the sidewalls are inclined at about 30 degrees. This made climbing out during my swim nearly impossible as the sides were slick with algae. Additionally, the eddies are very unnatural. The upstream current along the smooth sides is almost as swift as the downstream current, and many of the eddies were rather narrow, making it tough to set for a controlled exit as the eddy current is trying to ram you into the man-made barricade upstream. Still, I had lots of fun and wish I had something like it near my house. Many of the paddlers there were outstanding playboaters, but in talking to some, I realized that most had never paddled a WW river. It was fun, but it didn't come close to the fun and beauty of paddling in New Zealand.

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Since High School     See e-mail addresses of classmates

It's a girl! John Ashbrook, his wife Mona, and their son Justin have a new addition to their family! Audrey Ashbrook was born on Thursday, April 25, 2002, at 6:17 p.m. The numbers are 6 lbs., 4 oz., 19 inches. She was pink, with a peanut head, short black hair, and her mother's nez retrousse. She came after five and-a-half hours of labor. John went to work on Thursday morning and got the phone call from Mona shortly before 1:00 p.m. Mona and sister Priya were leaving Justin with the Haynes, their neighbors, and were headed to the hospital. John got to the hospital by car from the East Side of Manhattan, which normally would take longer than the drive from their house, only to find that they had not yet arrived. They were stuck in traffic, of course, but John didn't know that for sure. The moments before she arrived made John far more anxious than any other moments during the labor and birth. John was pacing the halls, just like in the movies. The labor was surprising to John -- not to mention Mona -- because it was very different than Justin's -- a bit longer, and with contractions that never really became regular. Audrey was considerate even before the birth, choosing a convenient time of day to be born. After five to ten minutes of crying, she became silent, very alert, and at peace with the world around her. The doctor and nurse left them alone in the room, and Mona, Audrey and John, to varying degrees, enjoyed a half hour of relief, recovery, serenity, and bliss.

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Names on our Contact Page                   by the Editor, Annette Blanar

I started The Connector in 1995 as a way for people from our class to keep in touch between reunions. Over the years, the number of graduates finding the web site has steadily increased, although a lot more people remain to be found. If you think The Connector is a good idea and like to read the issues, you have a tri-fold mission to ensure its success.

1. Submit your contact information and keep it current. You can list your e-mail address on this site and / or submit it to the reunion committee. (do it here and now)

2. Keep the contributions coming -- autobiographies, articles, photos, updates, etc. There is no such thing as too many contributions. (more ideas for contributions)

3. Tell other class of 1983 graduates about the site. Spreading the word helps get more people involved.

As of this issue, you can e-mail the following people from the Class of 1983 contact page on this site. If you are listed, please check to make sure your information is still valid. If you aren't listed, well...re-read #1 above.

Adams, Tammy
Ashbrook, John
Barz, Wayne
Bernecker, Michele
Blanar, Annette
Bower, Kelly
Connelly, Beth
Cope, Carol
Dawson, John
Finkelstein, Sharon
Flamisch, Jim
Gackenbach, John
Gawlik, Darren
German, Debra
Helwig, Andrea
Korpics, Kathy
Kulowitch, Paul
Lawless, Danielle
Mapstone, Diane
McClelland, Tom
Metts, Jeff
Michael, Christopher
Mould, Steve
Muehlhof, E. Wade
Murdock, Suzanne
Naus, Debra
Prager, Brett
Rapoport, Jed
Richmond, Ed
Rosenfeld, Robin
Roth, Gayle
Roth, Grant (Tim)
Ruddell, Jennifer
Sander, Charles
Schneider, Frieda
Scholler, Tina
Sher, Jennifer
Sicher, Charles
Smith, Michael
Stefanik, John
Sunnygard, Melissa
Tomasko, Ronald
Wiesner, Heidi
Wilson, Mark
Winter, David
Zipf, Janice

Jones, Dan - moved during our sophomore year

Hansson, Einar - Class of 1983 Swedish exchange student

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A
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