Sunday, June 30, 2024

On the evening of June 29, 2024, the town of Sunapee, NH, chose an innovative and eco-friendly way to celebrate the Independence of the United States by hosting a spectacular drone show instead of traditional fireworks. This decision, spearheaded by Keith Rodrigue, aimed to protect the pristine waters of the class 1 Lake Sunapee from contamination. The night sky transformed into a canvas of vibrant patriotic displays, with drones creating intricate animations of the American flag, stars, and other celebratory symbols. The breathtaking visual spectacle was accompanied by a harmonious musical backdrop, offering the community a mesmerizing and environmentally conscious tribute to Independence Day.

The crowd gathered in awe as the drones performed a synchronized dance, illuminating the night with vivid colors and intricate patterns. This modern celebration not only showcased technological prowess but also highlighted the town’s commitment to preserving its natural beauty. Families and friends enjoyed the festivities, marveling at the creativity and precision of the drone choreography. The event was a resounding success, leaving attendees with a renewed sense of patriotism and appreciation for innovative, sustainable celebrations.


"Everyone must do something. I believe I will go outdoors with family and friends" S. Priest

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Monday, April 8, 2024

The Thrill of Dragon Boat Racing

 During my volunteer work at the Sarasota Invitational Regatta (SIR) at Nathan Benderson Park, I encountered Rickard, a fellow US Army veteran, adorned with a cap bearing the Army insignia. Our shared background quickly led to a conversation about our interests in the SIR, during which Rickard introduced me to the exhilarating world of Dragon Boat racing—a sport I was about to dive into headfirst.

Compelled by my mantra 'Never say I wish I had...,' and despite my extensive background in various paddling sports, I realized I knew nothing about dragon boats. Eager to expand my horizons, I took Rickard up on his offer for a lesson just two days later, embarking on a journey into a new paddling style.

Below, you'll find a 30-second video showcasing a Dragon Boat practice session, expertly captured by NP Paddling Coach, Angela.

Notice there are two types of dragon boats here. One has 20 rowers sitting two to a seat, plus a steerer. The second type has ten rowers, two to a seat, steerer, and a drummer.

This video offers a glimpse into the dynamic world of dragon boat racing.

Can you spot OutdoorSteve in the light purple hat, red life jacket, and sitting on the far side of the closest boat, third-row seat in front of the steerer(be sure to click Full Screen)?

( I edited the below from Nicholas Anderson's, "Exploring the History, culture, and evolution behind this dynamic water sport.")

Dragon boat racing, an ancient Chinese tradition, has evolved into a global phenomenon. The sport originates from the heroic tale of Qu Yuan, integrating cultural significance with the thrill of competition. Today, dragon boats, recognized by their distinctive designs and dragon head adornments, symbolize power, honor, and fortune. Despite its ancient roots, dragon boating has seen a resurgence as a competitive sport and team-building activity, thanks in part to the efforts of the International Dragon Boat Federation (IDBF) established in 1991 to standardize the sport and foster international competition.
For many years, the sport was a leisurely pastime across the world, used primarily as a team-building exercise for various organizations. It has only been in recent years that national dragon boat federations that race have attempted to coordinate to standardize the sport.

Additionally, they are typically custom-built so that they can be properly fitted with the dragon’s head and other traditional details that adorn the hull. Because of these requirements, dragon boats are difficult to build, making them relatively expensive and difficult to find.

Dragon Boat’s main feature is the distinctive long, vibrantly painted rowboat, ceremoniously adorned with a large dragon’s head when in a race. This well-known iconography of the dragon in Chinese culture is associated with power, honor, and good fortune. These ornately carved wooden heads that sit prominently at the bow.

See the Dragon Head

Embarking on the dragon boat journey not only introduced me to a new realm of paddling but also deepened my appreciation for the sport's rich cultural heritage. As I continue to paddle and compete, I'm reminded of the community and camaraderie that dragon boating fosters, uniting paddlers from diverse backgrounds and ages in pursuit of speed, teamwork, and tradition.

Nathan Benderson Park (NBP)


1. From Ancient Tradition to Modern Sport: The Thrill of Dragon Boat Racing – The Science Survey  From Ancient Tradition to Modern Sport: The Thrill of Dragon Boat Racing

2. NBP Paddling Program

3.      Exploring the history, culture, and evolution behind this dynamic water sport. Nicholas Anderson, Staff Reporter • March 12, 2024


Thank you to Rickard Jensen and Angela Long for their tutoring and encouragement.

"Everyone must do something. I believe I will go outdoors with family and friends" S. Priest

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Friday, March 1, 2024

Reflections on the Water: Rowing Solo at the Sarasota Invitational Regatta Olympic Trial Course

Nathan Benderson Park

The George Alexandru Sarasota Invitational Regatta (SIR), February 23-25, 2024, features three days of youth and masters rowing at Nathan Benderson Park in Sarasota, FL. It is the site of the 2021 U.S. Olympic Team Trials, the 2018 World Rowing Masters, and the 2017 World Rowing Championships.

The SIR is organized by the Sarasota County Rowing Club (SCRC), of which OutdoorSteve is a member.

Steve’s race, Men’s Novice 1X (1X meaning single person rowing shell)was 1,000 meters.

Time adjustment

The Master’s division is from age 28 up. In order to make it somewhat equal based on age, for example, 28-year-olds racing against 70-year-olds, a calculated value is made to adjust each rower's finishing time.

Races will be 1000m and start via Anchored Starting Pods, meaning a raft anchored.

SIR Venue

SIR is held at Nathan Benderson Park, now a world-class rowing venue and North America's premier 2,000 meter sprint course and regatta center. The course includes a multi-function Finish-Line Tower and state-of-the-art wave attenuation system, now fully in place through the length of the course, making for calmer water in the event of easterly winds. All starts for the three days of racing are from fixed platforms and races are either 1500 meters or 1000 meters.

The Race
As I positioned myself at the starting line of my very first single-scull race, my mind was a whirlwind of advice and strategies. My primary goal was clear yet daunting: finish the race without any incidents. Despite my coaches' emphasis on staying between the line markers, the unfamiliarity of the watercourse loomed large—after all, I had never practiced as a single rower on an Olympic course.

The moment the starter announced “Attention Go!” I propelled forward, slowly adhering to my coach's instructions of half slide, ¾ slide, and full slide. My form was far from perfect, as was slow and unsteady, a fact evident in the video my son, Tim, was filming. My start would have certainly made my coaches wince, however I was in the race.

As I steadily advanced, the absence of my four competitors from my peripheral vision surprisingly bolstered my confidence. The mantra “Steve, concentrate on form” became my guiding principle, pushing thoughts of winning or even placing far from my mind, as I fixated on each simple stroke.

With each stroke, my confidence solidified, my strokes became smoother, and I gradually corrected my course whenever I veered too close to the port side lane markers. The tranquility of the environment struck me—the absence of motors or crowd noise, with only the distant starter announcer's voice permeating the silence.

Finish Line
Guided by the wisdom of my instructors to “stay in the middle of the lane” and “look only straight ahead,” I focused solely on my performance, never once looking back to gauge the distance of my competitors.

As the race progressed, my stroke rate increased, prompted by the beeps signaling my competitors finishing ahead of me. Yet, the support of the crowd, shouting my name, and the distinct voice of my coach, Ray, son Tim, and wife Cathy, spurred me on.

Crossing the finish line was more than just the culmination of the race; it was the realization of a significant personal achievement—I HAD ROWED A SINGLE IN THE SARASOTA INVITATIONAL RACE!

In the aftermath, amidst the relief and pride, I offered a silent prayer of gratitude for a safe race, acknowledging the support of my family, the Sarasota County Rowing Club coaches, and my friends. This experience underscored a vital lesson: it truly takes a team to reach such personal milestones.

As I saluted the American Flag, I reflected on the journey that brought me here, a testament to the power of persistence, focus, and community support.

Click the below video to watch Event #38A Novice 1X  Lane 5

My wife Cathy, in reviewing this blog video, noted my left oar regularly was stronger than my right oar and may have accounted for my scull going port. This observation was later confirmed by Coach Ray as we discussed my pull to port side performance. Again, it takes a team to make a rower.

  • Thank you to my son, Timothy J. Priest for his videos documenting this special day.
  • In the video I thank my coaches: Ray, Joe, Jim, Betsy, and ARK, who all significantly coached me with skills and confidence.
"Everyone must do something. I believe I will go outdoors with family and friends" S. Priest

Click this link to SUBSCRIBE to OutdoorSteve's YouTube Channel



    * Never have to say, "I wish I had rowed in a Regatta!" 

(**2023 Florida Shorts Film Festival Award Winner First Place Film Documentary**)

Wednesday, January 31, 2024

USS Orleck Museum Ship

 USS Orleck Museum Ship

My friend, Michael, a retired commander from the United States Navy, took his wife, my wife and I on a tour of the decommissioned USS Orleck. The Orleck is a destroyer and the most decorated post-WWII built US Navy ship ever.  The Orleck was used in World War II, the Korean War, and the Vietnam War, and the Orleck assisted in the recovery of the Gemini IV space capsule.

The U.S.S. Orleck, which earned the nickname "The Grey Ghost of the Vietnam Coast" by firing more rounds in support of ground troops than any ship in the Navy, is at the Jacksonville, Fl, Naval Museum open for visitors on its permanent berth docked in the St. Johns River.

The USS Orleck was called ”Train Buster of the Korean War”, as it demolished two trains in two weeks.

As Mike, myself and our wives walked up the gangplank of the Orleck, I could feel the spirit and bravery of the American sailors who had served aboard this proud ship during wartime and peacetime.  The Orleck had served this country for over 25 years in battle. My Dad and one brother had served in the Navy, another brother in the Air Force, an Army veteran myself, along with my grandfather and uncles, aunts, cousins, and nieces. I felt so humble about my family, yet proud to know we had served our country.

A visit to the Orleck is a MUST for every American.

"Everyone must do something. I believe I will go outdoors with family and friends" S. Priest

Click this link to SUBSCRIBE to OutdoorSteve's YouTube Channel


Steve’s books are available as hardcopy and e-Books at Amazon's Kindle and hardcopy at Harborside Trading Company, 81 Main St, Sunapee, NHWild Goose Country Store, 77 Main St, Sunapee, NHMorgan Hill Bookstore, New London, NH, Bookstore at Colby-Sawyer College, New London, NH, Dartmouth-Hitchcock Gift Shop, Lebanon, NH, and Village Sports, New London, NH.