Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Gondola En-Route to Kanas City

photos by Matthew Schenk

Today was the day to load up the "Rosa" and send her north to Kansas City.
Actually, tomorrow was supposed to be the day for that but the folks who I hired to transport her asked me this morning if we could move it up by a day.
I made a call to my manager in Texas, and he said it was possible. I have to hand it to him, he was in the middle of another project and had "all his ducks in a row" for the load to take place on Wednesday, but he made it happen anyway.

For some time our Irving, Texas operation was in the capable hands of Chris Harrison, but this year Chris will return to school in pursuit of a Master's Degree.
One of our star gondoliers in Newport Beach stepped up to take over the operation a few months ago. Matthew Schenk moved out to Irving and has been routinely amazing us with his drive and dedication there.

My sincere thanks go out to Matt and his "can-do" attitude.

So this afternoon the Rosa was hauled out on her trailer, strapped down, and then the whole thing was loaded onto a large flat-bed known as Landoll trailer for transport to and from Kansas City.
Loading the gondola-on-trailer onto the long deck of the Landoll.

Normally we like to haul the boat on her trailer like normal folk, but with a tight schedule and a long distance to travel this time, we chose the Landoll route.
Strapped down and ready to roll.

Tomorrow Elisa and I are back on a plane to Kansas City, where we'll prepare for the expedition, attend a media luncheon, scrape the bottom of the gondola till she's smooth, visit with some friends and then it's off down the "Muddy Mo" on Friday morning.

Saturday, September 5, 2009

Kansas City Expedition


Irving Gondolier to Row a Popcorn-filled Gondola on the Missouri River
To Raise Awareness of the Start of Boy Scouts Popcorn Sales

Irving, Texas (Sept. 1, 2009) – In the spirit of exploration, The Irving Convention and Visitors Bureau and Gondola Adventures have teamed up to support the Boy Scouts of America (BSA), Heart of America Council (HOAC) with a gondola row along the Missouri River on Friday, September 11. The gondola expedition is designed to raise awareness as the Boy Scouts start “Show and Sell,” the annual popcorn sales campaign, on Saturday, September 12 throughout the Kansas City area. Irving chose to support the HOAC because the BSA and National Scouting Museum are based in Irving, and Gondola Adventures operates gondola tours along the Mandalay Canal in Irving’s Las Colinas.

The Lewis and Clark Expedition arrived at Kaw Point in June 1804 exploring the Missouri River and what is now Kansas City. With that same sense of adventure, Irving gondolier and Eagle Scout Greg Mohr will start a gondola row departing from Kaw Point at 10:00 a.m. on Friday, Sept. 11, in a Venetian-designed, popcorn-filled gondola named “Rosa” and travel the same route as Lewis and Clark down the Missouri River. Local Boy Scouts will be on hand to assist as the gondola departs. The gondola weighs approximately 1,500 pounds and is 32-feet long. It will travel a route along the river towards downtown Kansas City and pass in front of Riverfront Park. The expedition will cover approximately 20-30 miles at an average speed of six mph. According to the Friends of Kaw Point and the Gondola Society of America, this is the FIRST gondola to depart Kaw Point and row that portion of the Missouri River. (www.lewisandclarkwyco.org/KAWPOINT.HTM) (http://www.gondola.com/)

From Sept. 12 through Oct. 24, Scouts across the Kansas City area will venture into the fun and excitement of popcorn sales. During this period, the average unit will sell $6,100 worth of popcorn. Top popcorn seller for 2008, Michael Anderson of Troop 1367, sold $6,628, and the top selling unit Pack 4016 sold $33,128. Gross sales for 2008 were $2.8 million, with a goal for 2009 of $3.0 million.

The HOAC serves approximately 1,200 packs, troops, crews, teams and posts throughout Kansas City and the 19-county service areas. With more than 17,300 registered youth members and participants, this accounts for approximately 25% of the total youth available. The many programs keep the Scouts active by providing educational programs to build character, to train in the responsibilities of participating citizenship, and to develop personal fitness. (http://www.hoac-bsa.org/)

Located between Dallas and Fort Worth, Irving, Texas serves as the national headquarters for the Boy Scouts of America and the adjacent National Scouting Museum. The museum is a tribute to the rich history of Scouting, with hands-on learning experiences and a historical collection that traces the Scouting movement from its beginnings. Irving offers discounts for Scouts and their families at local hotels and attractions. For more information on Irving, Texas, visit http://www.irvingtexas.com/

Monday, February 2, 2009

Overview and Schedule


The gondola scouting expedition is designed to raise awareness of The Boy Scouts of America (BSA)—the Capitol Area Council, and the annual Report to State.

The expedition is hosted by Irving, Texas Convention and Visitors Bureau. BSA is based in Irving and Gondola Adventures, Inc. operates gondolas along the Irving Mandalay canals in Las Colinas.

The expedition takes place one day before the Report to State - each year Scouts from all over Texas travel to the state capitol of Austin, where Boy Scout delegates give a report to the state Governor, on the floor of the House of Representatives, outlining the activities of the various units.

On February 6th, a Gondola Adventures Inc. team will row a gondola along Ladybird Lake in support of BSA. The purpose of the gondola row is to raise awareness of the Boy Scouts, and to acknowledge Irving, Texas as the headquarters for Boy Scouts of America.


The expedition team will depart from the Austin Rowing Club dock adjacent to the Four Seasons Hotel at 10am am on Friday, February 6th. Boy Scouts from the Capitol Area Council will be there to send the team off.

The gondola will travel to the Tom Miller Dam, turn, and row the length of Ladybird Lake. Turning again at Lakeshore Park, the team will then return to their starting point, having rowed the lenght of the lake twice.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

the OKC Gondola Expedition Cause - Boy Scouts of America

Our expedition down the Hudson River in October of '07 was done in tribute to the "Fallen Heroes of 9/11". I can think of very few causes as worthy as the FDNY, NYPD and other real-life heroes who gave all on that fateful day.

While contemplating expeditions in other geographic areas, I had considered some possible causes, but never the Boy Scouts. The folks at Tucker and Associates contacted me with the idea of doing expeditions in locations in and around Texas. When I found out that we would be rowing to honor the Boy Scouts of America, I practically jumped in the air.

You see, scouting has played a major role in my family for generations. My grandfather was the Scoutmaster of my dad's troop, and my dad was the Scoutmaster of the troop that my brother, my cousin and I, and many of our friends grew up in. I am an Eagle Scout. I'd love to take full credit for it, but it was my father who really got behind me and pushed for the last five yards or so. I was carrying the ball, but he, and many others were pushing me into the end-zone. I saved three lives before the age of 18 because of the first-aid training I'd learned in scouts (sure, two of those rescues were performed on scouts, during scout trips, but that's another story). Scouting taught me to plan, prepare, and most of all, to "go for it". If anything I've done in my life is labeled a success - I feel that it's only fair to point towards God, my parents, and scouting.

So it is with great honor that we row with the scout logo on our gondola. Scouting has made a difference in the lives of so many young men. Whenever I get the chance, I encourage parents of "energetic boys" to get them in a troop. It certainly helped this "energetic boy". God only knows the trouble I might have gotten into had it not been for Troop 658 at the Rolling Hills Covenant Church in Rolling Hills Estates, California.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Past Expeditions

While I'm sure that Venetians explored in centuries past, and at least a few times they probably did it by gondola, the most recent incarnation of "expedition rowing by gondola" can be credited to Vittorio Orio. Starting in 1994, Vittorio is responsible for a dozen expeditions in and around Italy. One of his most notable exploits was the crossing of the English Channel in 2001 with Enzo Liszka rowing in front. I became a fan of Vittorio after that row and endeavored not only to meet the man, but to some day row with him in a similar manner. I met Vittorio in 2006 while in Venice, and with the translation help form Nereo Zane, we began to plan an expedition here in the US. Hudson River Expedition 2007 On a clear, crisp morning in late September of last year, I shook hands with Vittorio once again - this time in Albany, New York. As I supervised the unloading of a Venetian gondola from the back of a moving van, I also met Enzo Liszka and Bepi Suste for the first time. These two gentlemen had flown out with Vittorio to take part in a history-making adventure. Later that night, we were joined by gondola operator John Kerschbaum from Minnesota, and Chris Harrison, who is my senior gondolier in Irving, Texas. On October 1st, we embarked on a six day, 150 mile row from the state capitol of Albany, down the Hudson River to Ground Zero in Manhattan. The expedition was a tribute-row in honor of the "fallen heroes of 9-11", and we received amazing support from the everyday working heroes at FDNY and NYPD, along with hospitable folks in many cities and towns all along the river. Publicity was expertly provided by the Irving Convention and Visitors Bureau in Irving, Texas. After the rowing was complete, the gondola was hauled out on her trailer and towed behind an FDNY truck in the Columbus Day Parade down 5th Avenue. Houston Gondola Expedition
With the support of the Irving Convention and Visitors Bureau in Irving, Texas, I planned a one-day expedition in the city of Houston, Texas. After extensive research, I chose the Buffalo Bayou, an historic waterway that winds all the way up into the downtown area of the city.
I spoke with a number of locals who all said the same thing: "the bayou doesn't really move, maybe a half a knot, but watch out when it rains!" When my rowing partner, Chris Harrison and I left our hotel on the morning of the row, it was raining, and had been raining all night. Our trip down this "slow moving bayou" was an exciting, high-speed ride which brought us to our turnaround point well ahead of schedule. Once we'd turned around, we not only faced a current, but an unexpected wind shift as well. It was a challenging row that took us twice as long as was expected. We worked hard, learned a lot about ourselves and about rowing, and arrived successfully at our designated destination. The Houston Gondola Expedition was held to honor the Boy Scouts of America. We met with a number of Scouts, many of them Eagles, at the starting point of our row. The day after the expedition, the gondola was brought on-trailer into the Reliant Arena and displayed at the Sam Houston Area Council scouting convention.

OKC Gondola Expedition
Report pending