Neagle hides ‘Top Gun’ beneath towel for Club Naked wine pickup Experience

C. Patrick Neagle strides resolutely toward his "Top Gun" Experience.
C. Patrick Neagle strides resolutely toward his “Top Gun” Experience.

We encouraged people to get into the spirit of the “Top Gun” movie, if they planned to attend one of our wine pickup parties this month.

Boy, did C. Patrick Neagle embrace the full range of potential attire.

Neagle, a writer and adjunct college instructor, calls Trout Lake home these days.

For his “Top Gun” experience, he could’ve gone bonkers and concocted some sort of Naval aviation costume.

But no, that would’ve been too easy.

C. Patrick Neagle and his wingwoman Angela Bliss at the Naked Winery "Top Gun" Experience
C. Patrick Neagle and his wingwoman Angela Bliss at the Naked Winery “Top Gun” Experience

Instead, he embraced, as he puts it, “the way of the towel.”

Sartorially deconstructed and spinning out of control toward minimalism, he showed up June 13 at the Hood River tasting room wearing a white terrycloth towel.

Nothing else. Just a towel.

He says he got the idea from another Club Naked member, chatting during a previous visit.

“He mentioned that he would come in a towel, and I thought that was a brilliant idea,”
Neagle says. “I hoped he would be there and I could say: Maverick, it’s not your flying, it’s your attitude. The enemy’s dangerous, but right now you’re worse. Dangerous and foolish.’ ”

Foolish, wearing a towel to a wine pickup party? For Neagle, that was just the start of a day in high concept.

“In the entire movie, everyone is always sweaty, to the point where I wanted for the costume to be really authentic, I wanted to take a mister,” he says.

But he forgot. He was busy getting … wrapped. He says the towel — a regular bath towel, from Ikea — was held on by nothing but a tuck.

“I got dressed up here, if you can call a towel getting dressed,” he says. “I drove down with me wearing the towel. I spent three to four hours in the towel. This is a really good towel, so I didn’t once have to adjust it.”

To ensure its security — because, as should be the case, he wasn’t wearing anything beneath the towel — he tested it.

“To demonstrate the towel, I jumped up and down several times,” he says. “It never gave or loosened.”

Good thing, because his girlfriend, artist Angela Bliss, wasn’t so sure about the jumping up and down idea.

Neagle’s real life isn’t that far from the fictive world of Navy pilots on Navy ships in “Top Gun.” A native of Missouri, Neagle employed his master’s degree in English to secure a gig teaching on board U.S. Navy ships. He works through Central Texas College in Killeen, and its Navy College Program for Afloat College Education.

“They call me up, and tell me such and such ship is available, for such and such classes, and do I want to take it?” Neagle says.

“They fly me to the ship wherever it is. I get on board, and I’m there for usually one or two terms. One term is 7-8 weeks, so I can be on board four months.”

Shipboard life, for those who haven’t lived it themselves, is noisy, full of mechanical odors, and crowded. He shares a dorm-like space with four or five other teachers. They teach two to three times a day, three days a week.

The rest of the time, Neagle writes. He says he can draft a novel during a teaching cruise.

Because of that work flexibility, he says, he and Bliss can live anywhere — and have. Before moving to Trout Lake in 2013 — and joining Club Naked in 2014 — Neagle and Bliss lived in Mexico, Sardinia, Alaska and New Orleans.

Trout Lake works for now, in part because it’s close to the Hood River tasting room of Naked Winery.

And Ikea, in case he ever needs a new towel.

A sign of the times for towel-trained C. Patrick Neagle.
A sign of the times for towel-trained C. Patrick Neagle.

Hood River Beach Bash — with Naked Winery boost — picks up and builds on Wind Fest

Regular summer visitors to Hood River may have crossed paths with the annual Wind Fest event. Organized by the Columbia Gorge Windsurfing Association, Wind Fest enlisted wind surfing and kiteboarding gear makers and sellers to let wind sports addicts try out new gear, down at the Hood River waterfront.

My,  how the child has grown. This year, it’s called Beach Bash. Instead of two days, this year it covers four. Here’s the what and where of it all:

  • Thursday, June 25 — Pray for Wind Party, 6-10 p.m., Stonehedge Gardens restaurant. $20 covers a catered dinner ($10 for kids); cash bar, raffle, band and auction.
  • Friday, June 26 — High Wind Demo, sponsored by Windance, from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. at Rowena (East. Mayer State Park, 15 miles east of Hood River off I-84).
  • Later that same day (Friday, June 26) — Outdoor Concert, 6-10 p.m., Waterfront Park Amphitheater, presented by 10 Barrel Brewing and supported by Naked Winery, food by 4 & 20 Blackbirds and Leah’s Lunch.
  • Saturday, June 27 — Big Winds Beach Party, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., Hood River Event Site. All kinds of fun, including a Mt. Hood Meadows Kids Section, with races, relays and the Never Ever Windsurfed Before Race. For us bigger people, the day includes music, food, drink, gear demos, archery tag and more.
  • Sunday, June 28 — All Sports Swap Meet, 7 a.m. (sellers), 8 a.m. (buyers) to noon, Luhr Jensen Parking lot (just to the east of the Hood River Waterfront Park). Sellers pay $10.
  •  Closing BBQ — 1-3 p.m., Northwave Lawn.

Just for the fun of it and to get you all jacked up, we’re sharing a video below from the recent Pistol River Wave Bash on the Oregon Coast. Winds pushing 50 mph, and a lot of talent. The Hood River Beach Bash will be a lot calmer. Count on it.


Pistol River Wave Bash 2015 from American Windsurfing Tour on Vimeo.

Heat is coming … get a seat on the Deschutes, drink Naked and relax

Hard to beat those Central Oregon sunsets while watching a concert at the Les Schwab Amphitheater in Bend.
Hard to beat those Central Oregon sunsets while watching a concert at the Les Schwab Amphitheater in Bend.

Just a reminder, Naked Winery is again a sponsor this summer of the Bend Concert series at the Les Schwab Amphitheater.

At this writing, you still have plenty of options to put your hot weather self on cruise control.

Tix are available for Sheryl Crow (July 6), Death Cab for Cutie (July 9), Lyle Lovett and His Large Band (July 12), Pink Martini (July 25), Wilco (Aug. 8), Michael Franti & Spearhead (Aug. 23), Weird Al Yankovic (Sept. 4), and Ben Harper and the Innocent Criminals (Sept. 6).

Take a tour of the lineup here, and hop on board the banks of the Deschutes River, with a glass of wine from Naked Winery and your mind on mellow.

Add your smile to these, when you attend a concert at the Les Schwab Amphitheater in Bend.
Add your smile to these, when you attend a concert at the Les Schwab Amphitheater in Bend.

Appalachian Trail hikers hit half-way point, gain strength from piles of miles

(Editor’s note: Here’s the last report from Barb Prescott, who is hiking the Appalachian Trail with her boyfriend, Gleb Velikanov. Naked Winery is sponsoring them with regular deliveries of lightweight bottles of Outdoor Vino wine.)

Friends, family and fellow yo-yo dieters,

Gleb and I have officially exited the “dirty south” and are in West Virginia, about two miles outside of Maryland. We have had quite an adventure in the last month on our way to the half-way mark.

Gleb and Barb in Shenandoah National Park.
Gleb and Barb in Shenandoah National Park.

First and foremost, I feel as if we have stepped into a true thru-hiker realm. We are able to bang out “big miles” consistently. I am not talking about the silly 20-mile strolls I mentioned in my previous e-mails. We have been steadily hiking about 25 miles every day and even traveled 32 miles in one stretch two days ago.

Around 4 p.m. that day, we had about 13 miles to go. With that seemingly daunting prospect, I thought to myself “sheesh, can I do this?” Hungry, tired and sore, I had to start digging deep inside myself to keep going. It’s kind of amazing how you have to get your mind and body in sync in order to complete such a monumental task, something that I proudly feel like I have mastered at this point.

We confidently strolled into the gas station one hour before they closed and enjoyed our last southern meal of Jo-Jo’s, fried chicken, two pints of ice cream and donuts. It felt good to be alive that night!

Wild ponies love carrots.
Wild ponies love carrots.

Virginia has been our favorite state so far: It contains about 600 miles of the trail, wild ponies in the Grayson Highlands State Park, and lots of wildlife in the Shenandoah National Park. The ponies in Grayson Highlands are a must-see for all the thru-hikers on the AT.

We saw people buying carrots in town right before the park to make sure they would capture the perfect picture with them. Our friend “Snail” celebrated his 20th birthday with the ponies and a five pound bag of carrots. He was loving it!

Gleb and I decided to push on and left the group of hikers we had been with for a couple of weeks to make it to “The Barn” in time to celebrate my birthday. The town — or small street, I should say — consisted of two gas stations and a tiny school cafeteria style restaurant. We ate southern food including a hiker burger, hush puppies, and a real treat for me (!) pickled beets! We capped the night with a Steele reserve beer and strawberry ice cream, hiker trash-style.

About half way through Virginia we got picked up by our friends’ parents, Jim and Vickie Budge, and spent the night in the town of Lynchburg. They took us grocery shopping, let us wash our smelly clothing, and cooked us the most delicious home cooked meal including squash lasagna and a mixed green salad.

Back on the trail, we did a quick 70-mile jump into Waynesboro, VA, so that I could pick up a package. I unexpectedly got hit with a cold and had to take a day off to rest before entering The Shenandoah National Park. The park was on par with what one would expect from a national park — exaggerated wilderness, hikers allowed to stay only in the trail side shelters, and lured to purchase expensive food at frequent waysides.

Those are park ran-Delaware corporation-owned stores/cafeterias. In the Shenandoahs, they were scattered every 10 to 20 miles and offered grocery store quality food at premium prices. Clearly we weren’t too fond of all the rules and things in the park.

The bear did not back down.
The bear did not back down.

We did see some wildlife, mainly bear and deer. One beefy Ursine specimen even cared to have a Mexican stand off with us. On our way back to the trail from one of the waysides, we encountered a bear on his way down to where we came from, probably in search of food scraps. Upon seeing us he did not want to yield, even after we loudly sang songs, yelled and banged our poles together! Eeeek!

After about 10-15 minutes and him still not backing away from us, we decided to be the more level-headed mammals and slowly back away from him. We walked back down the trail, got on a different one, which eventually connected us back on to the Appalachian Trail. We both confessed to each other later that that scared the s–t out of us and that we were each happy with how brave and calm the other appeared during the encounter.

Over the next couple of days deer came equally close, and that was AMAZING! Last but certainly not least, I finally saw my first firefly! About three-and-a-half years back I had mentioned to Gleb that I had never seen one in my life. Before I even noticed the little flickering creature, he got one stuck on his hand and came over to me with a huge smile and an even bigger “YOU’RE WELCOME!” It was so sweet it brought a tear to my eye.

People that really know me know that I am totally sensitive and that I can cry when anything touches my heart. I think I may have inherited this from my dad. Hiking the Appalachian Trail is putting me even more in touch with myself and my feelings. Imagine me climbing my heart out up every mountain and tearing up at the beautiful view at the top every single time. It gets pretty comical.

Sometimes I am so overflowing with joy and gratitude when people unexpectedly offer us things that I can’t help but cry and everyone laughs. This brings me to the day Gleb and I were approaching the half-way mark. Friends that had been hiking with us knew, and all teasingly said that it was going to be an emotional day for me and it truly was. I am so proud of us for making it this far. Crossing the bridge over the Shenandoah River into Harpers Ferry was such a monumental moment for us that it was almost in slow motion. And I totally cried.

We are looking forward to completing the second half of this journey north as simply and as light as we possibly can. Washing our clothes and selves in a river by day and using our body heat in our sleeping bags at night as a dryer may not sound like a super good time, but it is, especially if you have a super partner and awesome support at your side!

So much love from the trail,

“Whisper” (Barb’s trail name)

Love of water sports brings photog Myrdal to Oregon, Mt. Hood and Naked Winery’s walls

Grant Myrdal and some of the photographs on show at the Naked Winery tasting room in Hood River.
Grant Myrdal and some of the photographs on show at the Naked Winery tasting room in Hood River.

If you find yourself staring at the gorgeous photography on the walls of the Naked Winery tasting room in Hood River, and find yourself wondering how someone decides to become a surf photographer, let alone make a living at it, here’s how Grant Myrdal carved his path to paradise.

Born and reared in South Africa, Myrdal spent much of his youth surfing the famous Jeffreys Bay break.

Life isn’t all about fun, however, and when reality called, Myrdal completed a master’s degree in urban planning, and actually held down a desk doing that work for just shy of five years.

“When I was 26, my wife Michal and I met,” Myrdal recalls. “I always wanted to follow the ‘Endless Summer,’ get on the road and go surfing around the world. My plan was to do that for two years, then come back to my urban planning job.

“It never happened.”

The “coming back” part, that is. The trip took them in directions they’d never imagined.

They spent six years traveling from beach to beach, reloading the bank account just enough when the money ran out.

Michal loves horses, and landed a steedy gig in New York. It became their base for nine years, while they waited for residency permits in the heightened security environment post-9/11.

“But that kick-started my photography,” Myrdal says.

He had learned to snowboard in Utah, loved photography, and figured he could parlay those passions with his love of surfing to build a business. He couldn’t leave the country, but he could travel to Hawaii, which he did, bobbing in the waves as the world’s best performed for his lens.

After 12 years of bouncing back and forth between New York and Hawaii, Myrdal secured a green card.

“I had an affinity for the West Coast, and I wanted to move back here, but I didn’t want to go back to California — it is so crowded,” Myrdal recalls.

“A friend of my wife was living in Bend. She was a horse person, too. She knew I would love the mountains. So we bit the bullet and moved there without having visited Oregon before.”

Three years after their 2005 move, Myrdal got an invitation to photograph a family reunion on Mt. Hood. As it happens, the family included Matthew Drake, CEO of Mt. Hood Meadows, who appreciated Myrdal’s work and enlisted him to provide on-slope photo services during ski season.

Six years on, Myrdal’s snow photography has grown, complement the last three summers by a focus on wind sports in and around Hood River.

“You get to meet everyone,” he says of his slope-side imaging. “I just love it. Getting down to the river reminds me of all the shiny waters, the boards, the speed from my surfing days. I actually love shooting all that stuff on the river.”

Surfing itself has taken a bit of a back seat, as other activities have drawn Myrdal’s focus. He still gets down to the coast in the fall, when bigger surf hits the West Coast, but when winter waves hit Hawaii, he’s up in the Mt. Hood snow.

Myrdal says photography gives him a thrill almost the equal of his favorite thrill sports.

“I love shooting the stuff; it’s very exciting,” he says. “It’s almost as exciting as doing it yourself. I get sucked into it through the lens. I get such a thrill out of shooting.”

Myrdal loves the direction life has taken him and his wife.

“My wife has started a tack shop,” he says. “She has five horses. Most are rescues. She  takes them in, gives them a lot of love for a year, then tries to find them a good home.”

He loves the casual friendliness of Oregonians, too.

“Especially coming from New York,” he says. “I’m happy.”

* * *

Myrdal’s work will be on display at the Naked Winery tasting room in Hood River through the end of August.