Wednesday, July 26, 2006

Maddox? will he RAFT?

Lots of excitement over here; I can die now. I met Maddox. The one and only. He with the Che Guevera-look, caped and crowned with the eyepatch of a pirate... you know the one... the best page in the universe. I got pictures and everything! "Snooze and Revue" interviewed us, but I just read the article.. my name is NOT mentioned... but who cares.. I met him... now I can read his book.. "The Alphabet of Manliness." The harsh blogs and words on his website and in his books and comics don't reveal the true gracious intelligence of the man... ok, so he's a little like Howard Stern... but much more interesting... but I digress... the gallery was full of young techno geeks all paying homage to his holiness... or his oneliness... as he is a genius and holder of all things true... we invited him to go rafting in the next few weeks... but that's a secret... oops.

It's flippin' hot... I mean really hot. 108 degrees is unreal, but why are we bitchin'? When people are actually dying in their ugly heat. I mean those of us here in California. Rafting, hanging on the beach and rivers. Surfing waves and staying cool. There were over 1,000 people on the river this past weekend on the South Fork American. Way too many "hot" people. All arrived sweaty and excited; dripping with the salty flow from their pores. Lots of families, corporate groups (does anyone golf anymore?) and gobs of friends came out to join us.

Rich came out with his son, Riley who is a high schooler of 14 years old. Rich was one of the original owners of W.E.T. River Trips with partner, Steve. Rich originally started out as an "old school" guide for Outdoors Unlimited when they had the permits on the American River, Tuolumne and Stanislaus. Now OU is strictly on the Colorado River through the Grand Canyon. Rich and Steve were both school teachers specializing in high-risk students... you know, the kind of kids you're trying to make sure that your kids don't hang around with. Anyway, they rode down the river on Sunday with favorite W.E.T. guide Maggie-Mro. Pistol-packing hot, and the flow came up rather slowly in the morning.

Boat after boat rafted down the SoFo freeway as the rigatta bounced through rapids and the guests squealed with delight. Cooling and refreshing, the cold water felt just right. I love rafting. My soul needs it. If ever there was an entity called "god," he is here... right next to me; sitting on the rocks; hanging in the sky; and bouncing with me in the boats. Gotta be... just gotta...

Monday, July 10, 2006

Monday Office Blues: Rather be Rafting!

What a weird day of calls.

A caller today was griping about non-receipt of their email confirmation. First we asked about their email address to check if we had a typo. No, the email address was correct. The gentleman became very aggravated with our staff member. He started complaining that he should have received the email immediately. Then we asked if the email might have been hiding in their spam folders. I don't know, was the answer. Please check your junk and spam folders first. A long silence proceeded with a sigh. Hmmm. Is the email there? Oh, there it is, came the reply. No apologies for yelling at us. Not even an acknowledgement that we did do our job promptly in the first place.

Is this you? Do you nit pick at your desk all day? Yelling at the underlings; demanding perfection... are you this guy? When you're at a restaurant, do you request or demand items from the server? Are you unforgiving when the retailer across the counter accidentally makes an error on your order? Look in the mirror... have you become this person? If so, you need to go rafting. You need to go outdoors. Get out of the box and enjoy a slower pace; a less demanding life.

I'm downsizing. I want a smaller house. I want a smaller car that sucks less gas. I don't want to be rich; just happy and be able to send my kids through college... and have enough to enjoy the rest of my life... just want to slow it down a bit...

I'm heading for a California rafting trip for a couple of days. Just me and a few friends to enjoy ourselves on a beautiful river out in the wilderness. Not much time... just two days of fun and relaxation. Enough time to just refresh and renew my head before I face another Monday office blues...

Saturday, July 08, 2006

Whitewater Rafting vs Raftin'

I really need to go whitewater rafting... stuck in the office, in front of the computer, working for the paycheck that's never enough; I really need to be on the river... Fourth of July has come and gone and I read news reports of the crazies in Sacramento on the Lower American River.

The urban giant flows through Sacramento and attracts the most hideous group of hillbilly idiots during the 4th. With IQ's lower than a potato (sorry to all the french fry lovers) the 4th draws the young and stupid out for "fun in the sun" with their inner tubes and plastic rafts, except it usually means the cops are out in droves trying to prevent the idiots from harming themselves and each other.Summer rafting trips

American River trips

What a contrast... what a difference it makes to go from that scene to the beauty and challenge on the South Fork American River or the wilderness trip on the Middle Fork American. There, W.E.T. River Trips took several families, groups and corporate trips on various whitewater sections of those rivers during the long four day holiday (did
anyone work on Monday?). No alcohol is ever permitted on the rafts and it really makes a difference in the way people conduct themselves. Paddling participants are really into the beauty and serenity of the river itself. More reflect on the challenges of the whitewater and how to negotiate the difficult rapids. The focus is on the river; not drinking or drugging yourself to oblivion.

Our professional whitewater guides enjoy the youthful exhuberance of rafting teens and newcomers who bring new eyes to the river. Those people are given an opportunity to really appreciate nature and the true beauty of dynamic rivers. Now, I'm not saying that the urban river in Sacramento is not beautiful... au contraire mon amis... it is one of the jewels of California. That broad river meandering through the state capitol in Sacramento has inspired more artists and paddlers than probably any river in the state. It's just that hooligans have disrespected its soul and have desecrated its face with slovenly behavior, dumping garbage and waste on the beautiful beaches and water. I'd like to grab all those people and drag them up to the whitewater sections just an hour from Sac... just to show them what real rafters do: respect the river, challenge it on its own value and preserve its natural state as much as possible.

Whitewater rafting has changed so many people's minds about the process of rafting. More people have had life altering changes because of a simple rafting trip. I've seen our guests challenge whitewater rapids, love the sport so much, that they go out and buy an inflatable kayak to paddle on urban rivers and other waterways throughout the country. It is a soulful endeavor and I really need to get my "fix" soon. I need to be out there paddling, rocking with the raft over the waves, lazily floating under Mr Sun and challenging a whitewater rapid. Summer is definitely here. And hopefully, the shameful behavior in the valley will either be legislated away or the river gods will finally put a stop to it.