Wednesday, November 29, 2006

SACOG -Tall Order

On the 16th of November, W.E.T. River Trips had the honor of attending SACOG's (Sacramento Area Council of Governments) Metropolitan Transportation Plan in one of the 8 region-wide meetings at the Memorial Auditorium in Sacramento, California. As a state-wide rafting business that draws people in cars to the Placer and El Dorado Co, it was important that we were represented. The MTP is a 28 year plan for improvements in a six-county region based on growth in population, housing and jobs. Eight locations with simultaneous telecasting with our meeting taking the lead. Intel provided the technology to simulcast the voting procedures with instant results shown as we voted on small clickers that each of us were given. Approximately 2,000 members were strewn across the region all meeting at the same time. From Davis in Yolo Co, Elk Grove, Natomas, Downtown Sacramento, Folsom, Placerville in El Dorado Co, Rocklin in Placer Co and Yuba/Sutter Co, the various locations of the meeting that evening were all held at the same time. Channel 3 - KCRA helped facilitate the production end with one of their anchors at the helm.

SACOG's MTP - Tall Order is an ambitious attempt to answer burning questions: How would you design traffic flow in your neighborhood? in your city? in the Sacramento region? Last spring, community members weighed-in on projects throughout the region with community meetings trying to address traffic flow and traffic solutions. One of the first questions asked on our evening was regarding prioritizing the anticipated $36 billion budget. The majority of the regions showed "Smart Growth" as a top priority along with "Environmental and Conservation" while "Economic Viability" shifted from 2nd to 3rd positions depending on the voting region. Smart Growth is an absolute first priority since smart growth addresses environmental and conservation efforts. High density livability will curtail the suburban sprawl that seems to be occurring in our beautiful foothills and Sierra Nevada. Smart growth also satisfies economic viability by bringing retail to high density areas instead of placing them in outskirts where no one lives. Leave the wilderness and agricultural lands intact instead of building and destroying them.

Anyone who has to travel from the Placer or Eldorado Co areas into and through Sacramento and on to the Bay Area has felt the traffic crunch. Daily commuters from the foothill areas and the valley are creating a terrible environmental impact throughout the region. We have to come up with solutions to address our population and our growth needs. Alternative modes of transportation were highlighted in almost every region and project area along with light rail, bus transport, trolleys, pedestrian-friendly design and auxiliary freeway lanes. Problems were many as few at each table could agree with specifics on each project. Most projects were limited due to budget constraints though all could agree that we'd like to take the best ideas and combine them.

In the city of Sacramento, Mayor Fargo, along with city council members Steve Cohn and Lauren Hammond showed their support by attending this important meeting. Rutsy Dupree of El Dorado County was also there at the helm. Many familiar faces showed up as Ed Cox from Alternative Mode of Transportation sat just behind us. A well-known advocate for bicycling trails and routes, he is a passionate bicyclist himself. Chris Wilson from ESIA (East Sacramento Improvement Association) and myself, both current members of the RAC committe for the 65th St Transit Village and many other neighborhood groups were in attendance.

The Tall Order is most definitely a tall one. $36 billion is just a drop in the bucket to address this very large region. Adding bridges, auxiliary freeway lanes, re-routing traffic flow for the eight regions will only help to improve our traffic and help to improve our daily lives. Make your voice heard and participate in your region to help the Metropolitan Traffic Plan. Meetings will be announced in your community and bookmark the SACOG websites.

SACOG has set up a special website showing the regional results from this historic meeting. Visit and have a voice in this MTP project.

Monday, November 27, 2006

Sierra Snow is Here!

Traveling from the Tahoe area, California whitewater rafting is on my mind as the snow season has begun in the Sierras. Travel was sketchy yesterday as the summit was pounded by a great powdery snow. Lots of tourists were taken off guard as they vied for the chain monkeys to chain up the rental cars.

Ski resorts are up and running and our teen rafting staff is excited about snowboarding and skiing. I listen as they squirrel around arranging for rides and borrowing each others gear. Cell phone calls and myspace postings create a billboard of gear swap and ride announcements. Gloves and socks are always missing... buried under the gear weight of a summer season of rafting fun.

Will the rafting season be as intense as it has been the last two seasons? Watch for the snowpack as it rises with every storm. High water these past two rafting seasons was a mixed blessing of great water at times and too high of flows on some rivers. By this February, we should have a great idea of what's to come for flows on the rivers in California after evaluating the snowpack and weather patterns.

Thursday, November 23, 2006


Big Poppa posts this story reflecting on the meaning of family, spirit and homecoming. Our children and families are the highlight today as we rejoice in all the family rafting trips that we have nurtured. W.E.T. River Trips is greatful to all the families who have come rafting with us and know that this story will ring in the hearts of many as we all sit down and give thanks for all of our loved ones this Thanksgiving day. Eat hearty and love each other and we'll see you all this season on the river!

At virtually every high school in America, there is a primal ritual of spirit, competition and socialization that is categorized as "Homecoming!" In my 30 years in public education, I've grown accustomed to Homecoming Week as a benchmark of the Fall semester. The event rallies around the concept of the returning football team after competing at another school's stadium. Prior to the game there are usually special dress-up days, spirit competitions, rallies, bonfires, the football game, and the main event...The Dance!

My teen daughter is at an all-girl's high school and it was odd that I began to hear talk of homecoming activities in the fall of her freshman year. Huh? Why? Where is the football team? Whose coming home?

During the next few weeks the events of Homecoming became all encompassing. Soon I was bringing building materials, paint, and pizza to hordes of girls working late into the night to decorate their respective class corner of the gym. I also found myself going to the local supermarket to buy cases of canned goods and buckets of coins for class competitions. I also watched as my daughter stressed-out over choreographing her class dance.

Just as the big rally came up, I made plans to attend...only to discover that Parents of Underclassmen Were Not Allowed. The Gym apparently could not hold the crowd.

This went on each year as the mystery built... until this year... I could finally attend... my daughter was finally a Senior. Since she choreographed the dance... I really wanted to go. Besides my wife and I needed to know what the heck was going on in that gym!

In the public schools, the Homecoming Rally is always a raucous affair and the spirit activities engage about maybe a third of the kids. I expected the same percentage of involvement in an all-girl school. I soon discovered, I didn't have a clue...

My wife and I arrived 45 minutes early... we had been warned to arrive early to get a decent seat. As we stepped into the Gym wearing our powder blue senior shirts, we scooted into the parent's section that was already filled to capacity. A helpful volunteer then moved us. 10 minutes later, another volunteer moved us again...

The young women arrived en-mass starting with the freshmen. The teens flooded into the gym to synchronized chants and cheers as did each subsequent class until the gym was filled with cheers raising the decibel levels to that of an international airport's runway the day before Thanksgiving. Miraculously, on cue, the gym became silent as a prayer was read and opening remarks were made.

The Gym then erupted into chants and the girls cheered as seemingly, the entire staff of the school participated in a dance and lip-synch performance that surveyed two decades of music. The teachers and staff were amazing and the girls cheered every nuance and inside joke.

Next it was each class' turn. Beginning with the freshmen, each group performed elaborate and spirited skits with songs and dance focused upon various forms of current popular music and incorporating their class mascots. With each class the gym went berserk. Not only did the girls cheer for themselves, they also cheered the other classes with equal vigor in a spirit of sportsmanship.

After the Seniors performed, the bleachers emptied and the teens filled the gym floor as they sang along to songs while watching a slide show of the week's events (I recall hearing Shania Twain's I Feel Like a Woman and a cover of Cheap Trick's I Want You to Want Me.) Then by some unknown cue the girls filed back into the bleachers and listened to congratulations and thanks as the Seniors were named the winners of the Homecoming competition.

The entire assemblage of girls then went to the quad for pizza, jump houses, and a live Emo-like band. The dance was the next night.... I was amazed that so much energy and volume was generated and controlled by a large mass of adolescent girls. I remarked to my wife that boys might not be able to contain themselves and might become aggressive in a similar environment; however, these girls channelled their energy into their voices and dance to celebrate their individuality and power.

As my wife and I left the gym 3 hours after we arrived, we were spent. We simply stood as witnesses to the event, yet, the power of these young women drew us in. We understood that these young women will have no problem with the world they face... enpowered without even realizing it; their right to the status quo is one they naturally expect.
Big Poppa sitting at the head of the table eating a turkey leg!

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Rafting, Rivers and Art

Rivers create funny alliances. There are aggro-amped paddlers; young guns who crash and burn through rapids, rocks and over waterfalls, and then there are river lovers who just want to enjoy a bouncing river ride and to write or create beautiful art. Jocks and artists together enjoying the same thing. Right-brain vs left-brain. Weird. Rivers do this to you. Everyone is strangely attracted to rivers...

The whole blog thing is a creative activity, or it's just diarrhea of the fingers tapping on keyboards everywhere. River blogs inspire just like rivers. Great and beautiful artwork is created from inspiration from great rivers and streams. Painters, photographers, sculpturers and writers have created works with the sole purpose to pay homage to rivers. In the Coloma/Lotus area, a place of serene beauty adjacent to the venerable South Fork American River, many artists have congregated there, so inspired by this river, that they have come to live there forever.

Photographer/artist - Betty Sederquist, painter - Robyn Magnuson Center, photographer - Paul Ratcliff and others create works so stunningly beautiful that you know the river gods had a hand in their work. Another Northern California artist, Phil Evans creates metal scuptures with river rocks. The sculptures are so fluid and modern and yet organic with smooth river rock precariously hanging from thin threads of metal as it flows gracefully into an unknown wave. These artists inspire me. A small art gallery in Lotus features many local artists and some who are very well-known, like Andie Thram, a graphic designer known for her beautiful flower illustrations. All have their inspiration from rivers and nature itself.

Northern California's public television recently had their 25th Silver Anniversary for the 2006 KVIE Art Auction. So many pieces were inspired by Northern California rivers and streams. Bebe McLeod's "Crystal Springs" watercolor; Margot Roessle-Best's "American River" watercolor, a juror selection; Simon Jean Lam's "Surprise Garden," a giclee print depicting a whimisical interpretation; Marjan Kluepfel's "Cobblestone Creek," a fiber wall hanging; Megan Bucko's "Fall in the Foothills," watercolor juror selection; Helen Plenert's "American River at Sailor Bar," acrylic on canvas; Barbara Beaudreau's "September Slough II", juror selection pastel; Marie Therese Brown's "American River," oil on canvas; Adrienne Hostetter's "Pond at Sailor Bar I," oil on canvas; Irene Lester's "Old Fair Oaks Bridge," giclee print depicting the urban American River; Jill Stewart's "American River, Discovery Park," oil on canvas; Elaine Bowe's "Life on the River," first place for watercolors; Gregory Kondos' "River Life," signed limited edition print; Jian Wang's "Dawn on the American River," oil on canvas; Larry Weldon's "River Home," digital print; and Beverly DeJarnett's "Serenity," acrylic on canvas; all artworks inspired by rivers.

Art and rivers connect everything. It is the soulful pursuit for something greater than oneself. Artists must create. Their inspiration causes them to stop everything so that they can "make" it happen. Their need to create surpasses all other needs. Be inspired when you enjoy their works and get on the river when you can!

Wednesday, November 08, 2006


I'm exhausted. We watched until 3 am the election results in California and switched back and forth to the internet for updates across the country. The Democrats have won the House and I can't be more pleased. Finally, an election that reflected our country's dissatisfaction with the current administration.

In California, results showed a bit different attitude; one that hopefully will sweep the nation. Here, we didn't vote party lines... It really was about the issues. Hordes of Democrats voted for Schwarzenegger, a moderate Republican married to a full-fledged, Bostonian Kennedy. Democrats watched as he tried desparately to create a balanced budget. He got frustrated and brought the issues by way of a special election to the people in a stupid attempt to circumvent the legislature; and was defeated... and boy, did he find out that certain groups would not be bulldozed by the Austrian oak. He learned, though. He made amends. And he remade himself into a working partner with the Dems. Now, we hope his agenda in the upcoming months and years will keep the promises that he has made. Infrastructure, environment, education and the budget of California are essential programs to push this great state forward.

We need leaders, not kings; not fear-mongers and alarmists. We need moderates from both sides. We, the people, can no longer throw daggers at each other screaming about issues that are so personal that it doesn't belong in anyone else's business except their own. We need to talk about why our infrastructure here has become dangerous. In our Great Valley, we suffer from levees that are ancient and failing, while we build new development right next to them. We need to talk about sustainabilty of our resources; we can't all drive Hummers and suck up all the fuel in the world and then not understand why other nations despise us. We can't keep talking about immigration and watch big business hire them, exploit them and then watch them die from pesticide exposure, industrial accidents and medical neglect.

Last night was a revelation. There is hope. Not the hope of a Democratic House; but a hope that people are tired of the same dialogue that's come down from the top. We're tired of fear and we're tired of watching our lives erode, our freedoms disappear and our promise for the future turn grim. We owe it to each other to care for each other and to lend a hand when people are in need. That is a true Christian value. And my friends who are Jewish, Muslim, Aethiest, Buddhist, Quaker, etc all place that same value in their hearts as well.
Peace Out

Friday, November 03, 2006

W.E.T. Blogger Problems

First, I want to apologize to all the webmasters out there who have our feed on their sites. I am sure that most of you are aware of the reoccurring problems that Blogger experienced these past few days. W.E.T. River Trips official company blog was updated to a beta version that reeked havoc on our posts! Over on Momentum River Expeditions, the posts showed up with the conversion date and bumped everyone else's posts out. Also, California Whitewater Rafting was showing 15 of our current posts all at once, also bumping everyone else out. Geesh, what a nightmare. This is a test post to see if Blogger worked everything out. If not, we're back to square one.

The blog is currently showing up correctly if you go to our regular link at either or Either one will take you there.

We're going to post now... hope it works. If not, we are really sorry about the inconvenience to the feeds. We have faith that Google will fix it!
iBetty Networks

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Purists vs Extreme

Well, did we start a dialogue with the paddling and surfing community with our last post on rafting news! We had received info on the APT circuit for tow-in surfers. Tow-in surfers are not paddling out into the waves. They are dragged out towards monstrous waves because you can't paddle using human power to get through the hellacious currents. Motorized watercraft or even helicopters are used to break through the coastal waves and out into mega-waves of epic proportions. This is not for the weekend surfer.

Purists decry the use of motorized, smelly contraptions that are used to get those tow-in surfers to the waves. Surfers are in two camps over the subject, much like kayakers, skiers, snowboarders and rafters. Purists are looking at the natural formations of any sport. Is a water park the same as a kayak run through Giant's Gap? Is a boulder strewn river that has been dynamited for safety the same as rafting through a potentially dangerous rapid? Is a snowpark the same as wilderness backcountry snowboarding?

Extreme sports have graduated into different camps because of participants' skills. Surfers such as Laird Hamilton have accomplished so much in regular surfing that the temptation to push it to the extreme levels is warranted. They need to get to the bigger waves. And yes, sponsorship monies are definitely attracted to the extreme levels of any sport. Look at kayaking. Kayakers used to be happy with a successful run down Class 5 rivers. Then sport boats came out and the same run was pushed to a more extreme level so kayakers could do tricks. Then kayakers went over falls and drops, and now, kayaking is so extreme that rivers have been abandoned for creeks.

It's a dilemma. In order to educate people on how precious our environmental resources are, we end up promoting the extreme levels of each sport in order to draw money, sponsors and public support. How do we keep the excitement of any extreme sport without the extreme participants? It makes good copy for news releases and it definitely piques the interest of the outdoor public.