Tuesday, February 28, 2006

Photography & National Parks

Photos and pictures of rafting and nature in general have really livened up all adventure sports websites. Looking at photos of rivers, streams and more really support the old adage,"A picture is worth a thousand words!" In the lastest edition of Outdoor Photographer, David Meunch is featured along with his latest book,"Our National Parks," a beautiful picture book about our national treasures. He talks about his favorite places to work and photograph and the imagery is just stunning.

Our National Park system was started in 1916 when Congress placed Yellowstone National Park under the protection of the National Park Service. What makes this book so important now, is the proposal from our current adminstration to actually "sell-off" National Park lands to pay our current debts in our country. This is alarming in that these National treasures will never be replaced.

Photographers and our National Parks and all natural places in our country have worked hand-in-hand to bring imagery to the populace. For those of you who may never see all the parks in your lifetime, Meunch's book is a revelation. We need more photographers to help remind the public how precious our natural resources truely are, and nudge us gently towards protecting these resources for our future generations.

Friday, February 24, 2006

Rafting and the Zen of Making Biscuits

Rafting and the Zen of making biscuits... I came across this interesting article about Zen teacher Edward Espe Brown, an author of many Zen-inspired cookbooks. Here is what he writes,"When I first started cooking... I had a problem. I coudn't get my biscuits to come out the way they were supposed to. I'd follow the recipe and try variations, but nothing worked... Growing up, I had made two kinds of biscuits. One was from Bisquick and the other from Pillsbury. For the Bisquick, you added milk in the mix and then blobbed the dough in spoonfuls onto the pan... the biscuits from Pillsbury came in kind of a cardboard can... I really liked those Pillsbury biscuits. Isn't that what biscuits should taste like?... Finally, one day, came a shifting-into-place, an awakening. 'Not right' compared to what? Oh, my word, I'd been trying to make canned Pillsbury biscuits! Then came an exquisite moment of actually tasting my biscuits without comparing them to some previously hidden standard... These occasions can be so stunning, so liberating, these moments when you realize your life is just fine as it is, thank you... Trying to produce a biscuit - a life - with no dirty bowls, no messy feelings, no depresssion, no anger, was so frustrating. Then savoring, actually tasting the present moment of experience - how much more complex and multifaceted."

Mr. Brown goes on to say,"We've all done it, trying to look good as a husband, a wife or parent. Trying to attain perfection. Trying to make Pillsbury biscuits." As W.E.T. River Trips enters its 29th River Rafting Season, we still try for perfection on our river trips, but even better, we try to enjoy life and rafting as it is.
Thanks to Edward Espe Brown, Zen teacher extraordinaire!

Wednesday, February 15, 2006

Watching the 2006 Olympics

We've been watching the Olympics and marveling at the athletes. This is armchair activity at its best! Not many of us can ski like Bode Miller or snowboard like Shaun White. So we watch and we are amazed and we dream about those past athletic accomplishments in our own time. We like to keep a hand in the thrill by taking a whitewater rafting trip, or kayaking in the ocean, or crawling up a climbing wall, or just going fast on a motorcycle. We are all thrill seekers. Seekers of adrenaline.

This spring, W.E.T. will start on the North Fork American on March 18th which coincides with the start on the South Fork American. Spring weather has already arrived and the anticipation of whitewater thrills is closely approaching. We are looking forward to greeting our past guests and friends.

Wednesday, February 08, 2006

Wilderness River Trips

Unusually warm days are occurring in Central California. Yesterday reached 72 degrees in the valley. Blue skies, sun and daffodils blooming everywhere! Spring is coming fast. This year, W.E.T. River Trips is featuring several wilderness river trips including the 2 day Middle Fork American for a great introduction to whitewater rafting and camping trips; 2 day South Fork American on the BLM campsite for families with children who are gearing up for multiple day river trips; 3 day Middle Fork American for camping, hiking and rafting trips; and the 5 day Klamath River in the Great Northern California region.

Overnight wilderness rafting is a total joy from the first dip of your paddle into the river, to the star-filled night on the beach while camping, to the wonderous sound of silence where no auditory assaults enter the ears; the only sound you hear while camping on the river is the roar of the whitewater while it cascades over the rocks. River time approaches and each participant slows down to the gentle bobbing of the rafts. No watches, no cell phones, no blackberries and just you and your loved ones and friends floating and rafting with each other. This is a wilderness river trip.

Best bargain this year is the 3 day American River Combo or 3 day Middle Fork American River trip. Just enough time to experience a real river trip and just enough to acclimate for the longer rafting trips in other parts of the country.

Friday, February 03, 2006

Respect Teens, Please!

W.E.T. River Trips is gearing up for our first rafting trips next month. This will be a great year for families with active athletic teens and kids. A few of our teen rafting consultants are helping out here as we create new activities and rafting programs for them. The other day, two of our teen consultants, were running through town doing errands for the company. Busy day made for a lot of errands while we bundled our activities so that gas was saved and time was used efficiently.

The two were in an older vehicle with stickers in the back window advocating the environment, vegetarianism, favorite bands, bicycling, rafting and the ubitquous Apple sticker. No political statements except for the total attitude that, of course, these teens were flaming liberals. They had just left the post office and were sitting at the light, when a very well-dressed middle-aged woman (at least that was the description given to me... could have been in the 30's since all adults look middle-aged to teens!) driving a Lexus SUV pulled up behind them. The woman was sneering at them and the teen driver could see that she was mouthing something and pointing. Our teen driver couldn't figure out what was wrong, so as a newer driver, who has been told by experienced drivers not to make eye contact with the weirdo driving population, our teen just focused ahead waiting for the light to turn green. The woman behind her proceeded to go around and pull up beside the two teens. This woman then proceeded to yell at them and point to their stickers. The teens couldn't understand what was wrong except that somehow this woman was really offended. When the light turned green, the woman rolled down her window, stuck her arm out and proceeded to give them the flying bird!

Both teens sat there shocked and when the SUV drove by, they realized that they were still sitting there just stunned. When they got back to our office, both came running in talking about this strange event. Both were first year drivers, and both teens live in sheltered affluent lives. While the flipped bird is used frequently among teens accompanied by the 'F' word, they were just shocked that an adult would blatantly do this to young teens. We all had a laugh, but some of us were actually scared for them. Why in the world would an adult assault two young people over their car stickers? Was the woman so challenged by these teens youthful forays in trying to understand this complicated world? Is being a vegetarian something to be scared of or insulted by? Is advocating for a clean and healthy environment by encouraging bicycling some kind of attack on someone's poltiics?

What a sad state when our youth cannot even experiment with new ideas and thoughts. The funny thing is that these two teens go to private Christian schools. Their school focuses on giving back to the community in way of donations and time. These teens participate in soup kitchens, they donate their precious time while helping with non-profit organizations in town, they collect coats for kids, they go to foreign countries to help build homes for the poor, and they are normal teens who've been blessed with a wonderful life.

As adults, we need to respect teens. Their lives are filled with turmoil. School, peer pressure, drugs, alcohol, boy/girl relationships, pending college apps and parental relationships make it difficult to transcend into adulthood. Respect teens for they are our future. W.E.T. sees them as being our future paddling clients and our rafting guides. You will be hiring and working with them. You will be including them into your family when your child marries them. They will be your new young neighbor. They will elect our future politicians. As a rafting company, we see them as an exciting addition to our river trips. They bring such excitement and joy with their new eyes. They aren't jaded as the rest of us, yet. Let them enjoy life and, please, respect them.