Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Rafting and Music

Recently, we were reviewed by internet marketers as a prime example of blogging and marketing. The California whitewater rafting blog is really old. Started as a journal on our original website on Geocities as a way to get our passion for rafting and whitewater out to the public, we are now part of Blogger, a division of Google.

We have various tags or labels for each post since we seem to blog about everything including our rafting trips. But here's what's happened to this blog: it's become a lifestyle blog for our rafting company and has become bigger than just outdoor recreation. The young bloggers who blog about college life, extreme sports and the adversity of young adulthood are also, heavily into the music scene.

All of us listen to music on the way to river trips or traveling and working to the mundane chores of life. Music, like recreation is a way of life. Our young bloggers want to let you know about the coolest music that they love and they want to share it with you, our paddling and rafting friends. We welcome WhiteLite to the team, an artist, a musician and a passionate advocate for music. Here is his first post...

All right dudes check it out! Two new really awesome albums that are out on Paw-Tracks Records are Eric Copeland’s “Hermaphrodite” and Animal Collective’s “Strawberry Jam”, the hit “Peace Bone” on Strawberry Jam is particularly awesome, even my mother likes it. The music video that you can find on YouTube is disgustingly magical.

Another magnificent release to check out on Paw-Tracks is the latest Black Dice album "Load Blown." I saw these guys live with the band f*ckwolf (note from W.E.T. River Trips; sorry parents, but some bands like to shock with just their name) a couple weekends ago at San Francisco’s 12 Galaxies, and they really know how to put on a show. Their music is mesmerizing.

Another very respectable artist to pay attention to is
Ariel Pink who is currently touring the East Coast. His music is a classic pop song washed out in a mess of psychedelic effects.

Last month, I went to Big Sur to see him play at the Folk Ya Music Festival. The festival ended up being a piece of sh*t and made me want to barf after seeing so many terrible bands. Ariel Pink was good as usual, and he even artistically shaved his legs on stage while singing. The only other entertaining act to play that festival out of the 20 terrible bands was Lucky Dragons. This two-piece band from LA was whimsical and original .

If you live in Sacramento, about 45 minutes from the American River whitewater, or happened to catch Hella’s last tour, you probably witnessed co-touring band Who’s Your Favorite Son God an awesome band featuring some of Sacramento’s best musicians.

The drummer Zach Nelson also has three other equally as rad projects including his collaboration with Kinseth from the band
Pinback called “Prints”. The project Prints is out on Temporary Residence records. Zach Nelson’s other projects include Chant’os with Sacramento local pianist Carson McWhirter from Hella, and his solo project Fahlouah.

Last, but not least, I also found myself dancing to Cornelius. He is labeled the “Japanese Beck”, and for good reasons. His evaluation of a pop song is the closest thing to perfect. Check out his hit "Smoke" off his album Point.

Check out our Second Life rafting avatar myspace site, too. She's gotta lot of music friends...

Post by WhiteLite... more to come!

Thursday, December 13, 2007

America Outdoors Confluence 2007

Last Wednesday, I took the drive over the then snow-barren Sierra to Reno to attend the annual International conference (Confluence '07) for America Outdoors. The Confluence is an annual 3-day conference that invites over 400 outfitters and whitewater equipment vendors from the United States, Canada, Europe, China, Thailand, Korea, Panama, Costa Rica, Peru, Brazil, Chile, and Ecuador. The "Confluence" provides a venue for industry in-service opportunities, marketing, sales, operations, government/regulatory changes, equipment innovation, and networking.

To stay current in marketing, I attended a session on Internet Marketing Tips. The session was interesting, validating, and featured (surprise) the W.E.T. River Trips California Whitewater Rafting Blog site! We were the premier example of Blog use! We've been blogging for years as a way to stay in touch, to vent, and refresh our information. It was way cool to see our website blown up to a 20' projection screen in front of an audience comprised of over 400 of our industry peers. I think we'll keep blogging!

The most controversial topic of the conference dealt with the Forest Service's proposal to completely change the Nation-wide permitting system. (W.E.T. River Trips operates on the California Salmon, Scott, and Klamath River under USDA/Forest Service permits). The Forest Service is the largest regulatory system in the United States for the whitewater rafting industry and sweeping changes to the system are a truly hot topic. When all was said and done, our industry has adopted a policy of: "If it ain't broke, don't fix it!" The system truly isn't "broken" and problems in the system seem to be limited to very small regions of the Forest Service's over-view (ergo: the Six Rivers National Forest where we operate is just fine, Thank You!). The discussion isn't over and the debate will continue with very strong opinions coming from outfitters in Idaho, Colorado, Utah, and beyond.

The highlight of the Confluence is always the Banquet/Party/Auction that was held Thursday night. Thanks to Zach and Steve, the party was complete with a "mineshaft theme"... think headlamps, helmets, and glow-sticks...?! The food was great, the auction brought in some serious cash, and the beer wasn't bad (at least, I was told so...I had to drive).

After 30 years in the business, I've run into an amazing collection of folks. It was awesome to re-connect with so many of them: Donna, Marty, Roger, Nate, Bill M, Dick, Scott, Dr. Bert, Jason from Hyside, George from Maravia, Bill McG, Lorraine, Zach, and my first employers in the industry John and Sharon. There were many others old and new... One of the truly great things about our industry are the people involved in it. Although we compete for clients, jockey for user days and permits, and generally mess with each other... we all know that if we ever need help or advice, there will always be a welcome hand extended and a sympathetic ear from someone in our industry of whitewater outfitters.

After the party, we drove back over the Sierra with chain controls on Interstate 80 from Truckee to Alta! The entire Sierra was completely blanketed with fresh snow and some results collected over 18 inches of snow and the valley received over two inches of rain. The whitewater season starts in less than four months (although we all know that W.E.T. guides will be out there in just weeks... Smith River in February? South on New Year's day?). Bring it! In the meantime, let's snowboard, ski, ice climb, mountain bike, and ride motorcycles! ...Happy ChrismaKahAnza!

Posted by Big Poppa!

Note from the young blogging staff: Thanks Big Poppa 4 not yelling at us for missing the 8:30am meeting on Thurs morning; we partied too hard on Wed night!

Monday, November 26, 2007

Feather River, California, USA

I was very excited about my first trip to the South Fork Feather. I had just recently come off the North Fork on the Tobin and Lobin sections. The Lobin had been one of the most intense stretches of river I had ever experienced. Lobin was only about a mile... maybe a little longer, but it was continuous whitewater with many boos in the 3-6 foot range, with lots of gnarly consequences. From what I had heard, the North Fork of the Feather was a very burly run. I was pretty nervous, but I was with my close friend Wolf who is the definition of gnarl.

We didn't leave Auburn until 9 pm or so. Wolf said it would be a two hour drive to take-out. The nice thing about the North Fork of the Feather is that take-out is very hard to find. It is not marked in anyway. After driving for about three or so hours, we finally made it to where the pavement ends and the unmarked forest roads starts. We started searching for the takeout.

Driving aimlessly in the woods for about two or so hours, we finally decided to leave our shuttle vehicle (Wolf's less than adequate mountain bike) at the Golden Trout Crossing. The bridge crosses the correct river, just not at the right takeout. Ha ha ha. Then off to the put-in or ingress point which we arrived at about 2:30 AM. We both fell asleep very quickly and slept tight through the night.

In the morning, we took our time getting ready, in hopes that another group of paddlers would come along to help us with our shuttle. (... love this advanced planning mode...) There’s also safety in numbers when paddling, especially difficult rivers like this one.

Wolf had been down the run once, so we had a little information, but a lot of unknowns in the missing sections. The other rafting info we had was that the run was a very long. We did not put on early since there was a strong possibility of us spending the night on the river. (Note from W.E.T. River Trips: exploratory whitewater rafting requires a paddler to be ready to camp in the river corridor due to unknown circumstances and emergencies...) Armed with that info we knew we could and should not wait too long to ingress.

So after slowly getting ready in the morning and making a hot breakfast, we put on the river at ten thirty. Almost immediately after getting on the river, the first big was right before us. The rapid was fairly straight forward but with a big consequence if the kayak was near the right side. I decided to portage down about five feet and get back on in a narrow slot of water, missing any major obstacles. I was full of hesitation before the run, now I was just very nervous.

Immediately following that rapid, is a mandatory portage of a 30-foot waterfall that drops into a very shallow pool. We also walked around the next small boof because of the consequences of missing the boof stroke and swimming (capsizing). That’s really all the details I remember, but the rest of the river turns out to be an amazing.

The river canyon is very deep and remote with very little human impact. There are so many high quality white water rapids on this stretch, that I can not remember them all. So as the day was coming to an end, our minds again turned to the set which we had half-way done. Our plan was to just paddle the remaining miles to the bridge, but the egress is a diversion dam. To our dismay, the dam was robbing the 300cfs that we were on and leaving us with 10cfs below the dam. Paddling was out of the question.

The walk to the car was about five Wolf miles, and if you know Wolf that could be six miles or it could be fifteen miles. So Wolf took off walking, and I just stayed and tried to stay warm. Well, as it turns out, lucky karma Wolf (extreme ray of sunshine) caught a ride, and was back within two hours! I was very glad to be putting on warm clothes.

After looking back on the trip, that river is one of the prettiest river canyons in all of California. The South Fork of the Feather had turned out to be one of the most difficult rivers in my very short river running career. I am looking forward to visiting more of California rivers very soon!

Post by Heffe... mentoring with Wolf is an adventure in itself... we guarantee it!

Monday, November 19, 2007

Rafting: Old Farts

Since the spring of 1977, I have been a whitewater rafting professional (guide, outfitter, shuttle-driver, food-buyer, shuttle-vehicle mechanic, equipment manager, and camp chef... and most of the time, the tasks have been assigned simultaneously). The past few years have seen me rarely on the river; but, this year has been different.

A first personal descent (river, snow slope, mountain bike trail, ocean wave, skate ramp, or twisty mountain road) is always a notch up on the fun meter. The added bonus of a first-personal
descent is the heightened awareness of your surroundings: colors, vegetation, rock formations, and those amazing whitewater rapids!

This rafting season started early with a first personal descent of the Smith River with clear sunny weather in February. The Smith is a crystal clear stream running through the redwoods along the California Oregon border and is a sister river to the Klamath, Salmon, and Trinity. I've run over 17 rivers in California and the Smith is on the top of the heap and not for whitewater... the rapids were great; however, the water, the rocks, and the surrounding old-growth redwoods made the trip (also Vladimir's, another old fart, mid-night escapades!).

Rafting PictureAfter a wild early season filled with a full menu of South Fork, Middle Fork, and North Fork American River trips and the ensuing milieu of shuttles, food-buys, trip logistics, and guides in need of parenting, I was able to run off to Idaho and work as a guide on a 6-day trip followed by an amazing 800-mile motorcycle ride back to Sacramento, California on a KLR 650 with fresh knobbies... huge fun at 80 mph across Nevada!

The season continued on with a hectic
Middle Fork American and South Fork American River season that ended the first week of October. But, the season didn't end until Country Mike rallied us up for a first personal (for all of us) first-descent on Silver Creek that helps to form the headwaters of the South Fork American.

The trip was a constant surprise of sights and rapids at every bend and through every log-jam portage.
It didn't matter that I was approaching retirement age and 30 pounds heavier than I was in '77.

I shared the day with 10 of W.E.T. River Trips guides that ranged in age from 20 to 42 years old (not counting myself). We ran the same rapids, we saw the same sights, we were all cold. At the end of the day, we all smiled and no one had regrets. We all knew the same things: It was a great day.

Let it snow! I'll be back for more.

Note from W.E.T. River Trips: Posted by an Old Fart! Just kidding... Big Poppa rocks! The ol' man hit the whitewater with us... he did good! Hehehehehe...

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

South Fork American - Troublemaker Rapid

Country Mike is one of our newer guides for W.E.T. River Trips. Not a young buck, but a professional banker addicted to whitewater rafting in a big way. He started river rafting with our company a few years ago, got hooked and proceeded to rope in every river in California. Those trips that we didn't do, we sent him over to our favorite competitors so that he could do more esoteric river trips throughout the state. Like Heffe exclaims in a recent message to our myspace blogger... 2007 season ain't done yet! And Mike just verified this in an email to me on Sunday...

"Just wanted you to know we all had a great trip today. Three plus me headed up to CB (Chili Bar on the South Fork American) to see if the flow was good. Looked like about 1300 (cfs). Had a solid surf at the hole (Chili Bar hole; home of the annual Kayak Rodeo) and headed down river. The day was great. One yakker (kayaker) at CB and three at 1st threat (popular class 3+ rapid with a big standing wave). Only people on the river. Great wildlife with deer, buck and wife, swimming across below Coloma Lake. Right after that, a great looking blue heron was on shore and flying around... very cool."

"We cruised through TM (Troublemaker Rapid, class 3+ to a class 4) and I said, 'Hey, lets carry back up shore and try to surf the hole.' I was trying to sucker the guys (his personal friends) into some carnage. One fella opted out, so the rest of us carried up and dropped in the peanut gallery eddy (favorite spot for photographers)."

"Could not get enough mo (movement) going back up river from a dead stop, so the current spun us around right into the proper grove for another perfect run left of Gunsight (easy rapid but a common wrap rock). A rare opportunity to hit it twice in a raft in about 15 minutes. Shortly after, it was off to the Sierra Nevada House for some gold kayaks (mixed drink), food and laughs."

"Anyway, the most important part is a big thank you goes out to (W.E.T. River Trips) for the opportunity to be on the river with friends to enjoy such perfect weather and setting."

"Again, it is appreciated. All the best and the happiest of holidays if we do not talk!"

Country Mike (Already a seasoned guide...)

Note from W.E.T. River Trips: hmmmm, how about a Christmas run to close out the year, people???

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

BIG BOY: Weekend Warrior

Nowadays, you hear the term, "Weekend Warrior" more and more. What is it you ask? Someone who takes care of business and responsibilities Monday through Friday and on the weekends... well we will get to that...

Every time I heard the term, I would think of my dad or an older adult who lives it up on the weekends. Someone who works 10 hour days Monday through Friday and has 14-hour adventures on the weekends. The past couple years of my life, I thought I would always be able to go skateboard, hang out with my friends, go on road trips, and even party everyday; no matter what day.

The last couple of weeks have sure proved me wrong. Being a full-time student and a part time employee, had to buckle down a little, tighten the notches on the belt so to speak. My social life dwindled, and I started to become MIA (missing in action). I was also recently given the opportunity to interview for a personal assistant job with a financial brokerage house. Being the adventure seeker, I am, I thought to myself... hey, maybe there is a future in this, and it's probably good money, so I jumped right on it.

I am very confident and obviously I love to talk, I am a people person, that's what I am. The interview went well and I was offered the job on the spot. So, I took it. After a few days of work, I realized I got myself in over my head. Two part-time jobs, a full load of school, and a social life... well, lack of social life that is. I now work and go to school Monday through Friday from 8am to 6pm. Whether it be from work to work or school to work, I am on the run constantly. The longest break I have is a half hour for lunch and a half hour to drive from one destination to another.

My body is exhausted from no sleep and perpetual brain functioning. I verve and run around strictly on two things, coffee and cigarettes. Both which are absolutely HORRID habits of mine that I would like to break everyday, but at this time in my life, they help me get by. I'm hoping that my routine will become habitual and my lifestyle will serve me well in the long run. I was tired of being a poor college student and had to start building my bank account up again. I just didn't realize how hard it was to do just that.

Most people who have graduated from college tell me, "I have one thing to say... stay in school as long as you can..." But why would I want to be a poor college student for as long as I can? No way, I want a degree and I want it fast. This leads to another problem with people my age. Our minds change everyday, and it's hard to stick with one subject of study. I, myself, still have no idea what I'm in school for but I'm on my way to figuring it out.

So back to my daily routine. Once I'm done with work and out of school, I'm way too burned out to get to any of my social life or skateboarding. I can't even start to begin how many phone calls I get asking, "Where have you been? Come hang out?" My response, "Sorry guys and girls, I have to be a Big Boy now and take care of my priorities." Most of my friends don't understand. The few that do, I respect them for understanding that sooner or later, we all have to grow up. Hence, the "Weekend Warrior" term.

I now look forward to living to the utmost on the weekends. It's seriously the only time I can sit and relax and be on my own time... K-Dog time... I like that. Most people go through a phase like mine, and yes; it's a challenge. Personally, I like a challenge to see what I am really made of, and what I can prove to myself. I'm not going to lie though; this is one of my biggest challenges I have yet to deal with in my life.

There is no telling if I will continue to work both jobs and stay in school, but for the time being, I plan to do so. A lot of people say that they are waiting for their "big break" if you know what I mean. Yea, I used to wait around for that to; someone to come up to you and offer you the job of a lifetime or a opportunity of a lifetime. But, NEWS FLASH everyone!!! It's not going to happen!!! Sometimes you just have to go out there and take life by the horns, grab them, and hold on tight to the bull. It's a wild ride and you might get bucked off but you gotta get back on and give it your all.

My two jobs are the horns and college is the bull that I am sitting on in my life right now. If I fail this time, at least I know to approach the bull a different way next time I go on for a ride.

I'm going to leave everyone with one last quote by the infamous Shane Cross... rip...


K-Dog Post... he's growing up folks...

Note from W.E.T.'s teen blogging staff: hey, parents, we do finally grow up...

Thursday, November 01, 2007

South Fork American Silver Creek Run

On October 20th, W.E.T. River Trips whitewater guides rallied up for the pure air of the high Sierra's and the unique opportunity to run the Silver Creek: one of the tributaries to the South Fork American that flows from Ice House Reservior. PG & E (Pacific Gas & Electric) is providing test flows of 500 cfs for 10 days and we hit it!

Country Mike of Gold River, Saul of Newport Beach, Jason of Marin, Nate of Lake Tahoe, Andrew of Lotus, Wolf & Little Alex of Auburn, Justin and his brother from Grass Valley, Ryan Mac of Lotus/Rio Vista, Alex H. of Berkeley, and Big Poppa from Sactown got together for our collective first-ever run on the elusive (10 boatable days in 2 years) Silver Creek flowing out of Ice House Reservoir and eventually contributing to the South Fork of the American.

We started out with a leisurely load and a caravan to breakfast in Placerville as we then traveled to Ice House where we met Nate and a friend of his from Kirkwood. We launched 3 rafts and three kayaks at the base of the Ice House dam where 500 cfs blasted 75 yards into the canyon at the lip of a class 4 rapid... nice start. The day was incredible with beautiful fall colors, old growth trees that were saved from the massive Ice House fire 20 years ago and a non-stop read-and-run day of whitewater.

The day included some big whitewater fun with 4 portages around log jams and Country Mike wrapping on a log jam (saved by Nate who literally walked on water and when called on his miracle... he calmly responded that he is a Jewish carpenter... makes sense - ha!).

The 11 mile run ranged from fast flats, steep creeking, limbo moves under massive old-growth logs, and the bonus surroundings of high Sierra geology, and forestation that glowed in oranges, yellows, reds, and every conceivable shade of green.

Beautiful, precious day... just cold as F'n Hell... Bonus: we were met at the takeout by Bird and Heffe and we handed off a raft so that they could make the run on Sunday (they had just been hired at the Sierra Ski Ranch job fair... lift tickets, anyone?). Also... mad props to the kayakers that built the fire at take-out... the warm was another bonus....

Unless something else pops up, our 2007 season started the first week of February on the Smith River and finished on the Silver Creek in October... ten months and 11 rivers over countless days and miles in three States... nice, nice, very nice!

End of 2007 Season

A Big Poppa Post

Monday, October 29, 2007

Cali Burn Fest

October 10 - 13th, the team for W.E.T. River Trips turned out for the "Cali-Burns" Burnt Ranch Race on the Trinity River.

Wolf, Alex, Bird, Justin, Heffe, and some stragglers made the trip. Alex guided the Burnt Ranch section for the first time and styled it.

Later, he commented that the Class 5 run at 650 cfs was more like "whitewater gymnastics."

Sunny skies and a great Saturday night party with the Cali Crew made the trip even more awesome than the runs.

Wolf competed in the kayak race with an old-school Pirouette (long and fast)... He pulled down a fifth place while competing against Cali's best... well done, dude!

Charlie Center dropped in with first-place to continue to cement his "legend" status.... for Wolf's sake, Charlie, go back to Law School.

And last week, Team W.E.T. hit the demo run on the lower Silver Fork out of Ice House! More on that tomorrow...

A Big Poppa Post

Tuesday, October 09, 2007


Our young staff members are grieving big time over Michael's death last night. None of us thought he was losing his battle with cancer. He was in remission, damn it. Only 18 years old. My heart is breaking for our young members of the W.E.T. rafting blog. And so are we, the older members on staff.

As we witness the young group, as they deal with their loss of a dear friend, we can't help but wonder how this affects their young minds. I mentioned this loss this morning to a colleague... first thing out of their mouth was, "Was it a car accident?"

Sure, the young group have had losses before... brutal car accidents taking their best friends, weird circumstances related to stupid or dumb decisions (guns, anyone?) ... that's how young people die; but this is not suppose to happen to a vibrant person like Michael... not freakin' cancer.

Creative and artistic, the loss of his life just proves how we all must hold our loved ones as close as possible. And please, all adults... keep in mind that our young adults and teens face the same ugly and sad issues that we face everyday.

Myspace entries throughout the group will be riddled with accolades, memories, pictures and good talks among us all. Michael, if you can hear us... make the best freakin' angel clothes ever... heaven will be lining up for your designs.

Wednesday, September 05, 2007

Burning Man is Wolf

Wolf, whitewater master, has just made it back to Reno after experiencing the Black Rock Desert first hand. The place is a sight to behold filled with nothing but crazy ass folks that think they know how to throw a party. I don’t know how many, but people were saying about 40,000 kooks in the same desert with all their RV’s, art cars, bicycles, moving vans, and golf carts on the same flat desert enjoying the same hot sun all as one tribe.

I didn’t get to find out exactly what they were worshiping on my bike ride out into the desert... whatever it is, it is sic! To be able to endure, for however many days those people spend out there, is remarkable in itself. The fine, salty sand flies everywhere, blasting all in the desert heat. There is no cover or shelter other than what was transported by the Burners to the burn party. It is a logistical marvel on how the event gets put on so successfully. And, I must give mad props to their skills at keeping people much like myself from being able to just walk right in and join the show.

My bike ride was quite a killer adventure in itself for me as I had never rode a bicycle more than 30 miles before, and I was attempting 119 miles in pretty heinous conditions. No shade, food or water... just desert out there, and me cruising on a sweet road bike that I had just purchased from friends in Reno.

After getting lost in Reno in the middle of the day on Monday, I finally made it to the Pyramid Highway and through Sparks. The desert out there is way cool and my bike was fast, so I made good time and was pushing to get as far as I could on day one. I was pretty wasted by the time I made it to Pyramid Lake and took a breather.

So many people were cruising to Burning Man, that I knew I was going the right direction for sure. Cars loaded to the max, working way harder than I was to get out there with all their bottled water and extra bicycles, I could tell those bikes really wanted to be ridden to the The Man rather than carried. My bicycle and I were quickly becoming good friends, as I mastered the shifter knobs and pumped those pedals in my spandex getup. (Note from W.E.T. River Trips; folks the picture is sic... next post, we promise... Wolfe looks pretty good in spandex...)

After my rest at the lake I cruised into Nixon, all pumped to finally be able to get some more water, as I had already drank more than a gallon in my first 5 hours of riding. Here is where all the real Burners were converging, and I tried to not act cooler than them, but it was hard not to in my sick ass outfit and bicycle transporter.

I have greater appreciation for bikers now, but would rather spend life on a bicycle that's partaking in some hedonistic party lifestyle... so yeah, I was feeling pretty righteous. It was good to know that I had ridden my bike this far.

I was tired, so I bought some coffee, filled water bottles, and continued my assault on the BRC via some crazy highway filled with peeps driving way to close to my edge of the world. This white edge is a very thin edge sometimes, and holding my breath, as I was getting passed, became the routine. Semi’s, u-haul’s, and mad trailers were buzzing by me in colorful gasoline powered streams of consciousness.

Right after sunset, on my first day of riding, I was thankful to find a makeshift Indian Taco stand on the side of the road, set-up to accommodate the Burners and their hunger for fry bread. A mom and daughter were running this operation out of an old RV and immediately invited me to stay the night there, as the road was getting increasingly more and more busy and filled with headlights.

I met quite a few Burners here and they helped me to get a better idea of who was going to this festival of desert carnage. It seemed like everyone. Even the ladies who ran the taco stand were going to go this year... their first ever. Veggie powered buses were shuttling in people from Reno, Volkswagon Bugs converted to RV’s, and lots of people who were driving rentals into the party. There was a majority of the people I met from California, but everyone else was from elsewhere. I love Indian Tacos...

More to come... and Wolfe's pic of his spandex outfit... ala Jonny "skirt" ... W.E.T. River Trips

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Wolfe - Mr. Extreme

We've said it before and we'll say it again. Wolfe is an extreme ray of sunshine...

He calls Maggie to arrange to buy an awesome bicycle from her shop. Maggie, Mz extreme bike rider helped to customize Wolfe's bike to his specifications. He gets a ride up to Reno to pick up the bike and then decides he's not going to take a car ride back to Foresthill near the Middle Fork American, where he's scheduled to work as a whitewater guide on the river today.

Oh, we got the call late yesterday afternoon. "Duuuuuude, I'm going to ride the bike back to Auburn... it'll be so sweeeeet!" Ok. It's not the distance, but all the detours. You can't ride a bicycle on the freeway from Reno to Auburn. So he was going to have to take the mountain roads. Awesome... dude is definitely extreme...

So we're all at the W.E.T. River Trip's office, rooting for his ride and thinking... he'll make it... he'll be there for the trip tomorrow... two hours later... another call.... "Duuuuude, the spirits are calling me... I'm going to Burning Man!" Dude. Serious? We all started cracking up. That's Wolfe... extreme liver of life. There are not many times in a life that anyone can just up and go on a whim. I envy him... and his incredible energy.

So far, this weekend, several of our crew members and network team are going to the ultimate celebratory post-Woodstock event in the West... Burning Man. So Wolfe, Daveed, Kev, Shawny and K-dog are all there this weekend. I hope they survive...

Saturday, August 18, 2007

Angry August? Have a Party!

"Angry August..." said one of the crew members from Idaho, as he explained the grumpy mood of a colleague. Yeh, we know that feeling on the California rafting trips. W.E.T. River Trips knows well the feeling of August. The California crew has been pumping out the whitewater trips since February... that's when we all went up to do the Northern rivers this past spring.

Commercial rafting trips kick in around mid-March for W.E.T. on the North Fork American and rafting continues through September. That's a lot of river miles for any crew. Everyday; different people, same spiel, same route. By August, the crew is spent. Angry August sets in and so does the anticipation of the season ending, school starting and looking for a job. So, why not have a company party?

Second party of the season will be celebrated this Sunday after the day's trips. For the first time, the crew chose not to go to a restaurant or party place to celebrate. They are having the party at Camp Lotus. Yeh, you heard right... the camp. And they want Big Poppa to bbq the food. Ha! It was explained this way... that no one would be driving (hmmm... that's why the kegs are there...) and no one had to get dressed up (wha'? board shorts and t-shirt, ain't dressed up?) and that the crew could have W.E.T.'s famous "Camp Olympics" going full bore... (now, I see why).

Sollie is flying in from Newport Beach, Wolfie cancelled his concert in Marysville to come and even some of the blogging crew are coming. Only one missing in action will be Mac... he's in love and floating the Green with a new friend... but I heard that Mac's latest film production will be shown.

Prizes for the contest will be lucrative... cash, baby... no trinkets. I can see it now... Drew will be devastated if he loses the Horseshoe Tournament... he'll be hell to deal with all this week... go easy on him, young guns... heheheheh.

Sunday, August 05, 2007

Return from the Trip of a Lifetime

After the 3 week trip to Europe, my friends and I returned home to our home town. What a relief it was to be home to feel comfortable again, see our families, friends and get back to our lives. It took me about 4 days before I realized how much real life and growing up is a pain in the ass.

But we all have to do it sooner or later. I came back and have been searching for a job, a living situation, and trying to figure out school for next semester. I have now realized how important it is to plan ahead and have short term goals so you don't get in a rut. As most teenagers, we are working hard to do right when we're are having fun partying and not taking care of business.

Not only is it tough to do this, but another member of the Euro crew, Zee, came home to a big decision and responsibility of her own. To go to college here in town or in the Bay Area... going to the Bay Area school on a scholarship and for something that can line up her future as an artist... whatever she may choose will be a stressful decision, but hopefully work for the better.

All the stress of a teenager and growing up can be extremely hard on young adults... that's why we need our friends and families for support. Personally, I think the best support is, that whatever we do, our friends and parents just want us to be safe and be happy with our lives. Yea... it might take a few of us a few years to figure out if school is the right choice, but so be it.

School is not for everyone, but if we are happy and content with our lives, that's all that should matter... if you want me to elaborate more, let me know; just writing this was stressful haha... K

Parents... listen carefully... words from a wise soul on the torture of teen angst... believe us, when we say, their lives are filled with enormous pressure. Facing real life decisions with a teen brain has got to be intense...
your friends, W.E.T. River Trips

Monday, July 30, 2007

Missing Paddlers

Last week was really strange... we had two weird situations that we have never experienced before... and on two separate occasions. Here's what happened on the South Fork American river trip last week...

We had just checked-in a bunch of people that morning for a Chili Bar run. There were multiple reservations... party of 6, party of 12, party of 8, etc etc... lots of paperwork to collect. Anyway, the head guide collects release forms and has the guests sign in on the California State Parks forms. We ask the guests to board the bus or wait near the bus. As soon as everyone is checked-in, we take off for the Chili Bar put-in. If everyone is on time, we're usually out of there around 9:20am.

When we got to the put-in and boarded the rafts, the guides noticed that 3 people were missing. They were on a reservation for 3 people for a 2-day Combo rafting trip. They were missing and presumed to have been left behind at Camp Lotus. Guides checked the manifest and it showed they signed in and were checked-in. Where did the paddlers go? Apparently, they did not wait near the bus or anywhere near where the rest of the 70+ people were. They missed the white water trip.

Luckily, the guides got word to Camp Lotus to have the guest stay put, and the crew would pick them up when they stopped mid-point at Lotus for lunch. The wayward guests were picked up around noon and finished the day on the Gorge run. All's well that ends well.

Then two days later, another Full River run. The day was really hot... around 102 degrees. The guests who demanded a full river were definitely not in shape to do 21 miles. By the time they got to Camp Lotus for the lunch break, this group was exhausted. As they got back on the rafts after lunch, one person was missing. Panic set-in, as the guides could not find this person anywhere in the campground. The guides ran up to the store, the bathrooms and every other place in the area. Suddenly, one of the guides yelled over, "I found him!" The guest was curled up in his own car, sound asleep. At least they found the person before someone called the sheriff's department to start dragging the river for the guy's body.

The guides wrote a very terse commentary regarding these two incidents. Comments ranged from, "... guests don't listen to us... guests keep wandering off without telling anyone... guests gave me a heart attack when we couldn't find them..." and on and on.

What we suggest to anyone traveling in a group: have a buddy. Someone who will take care of your "personal space." In other words, if you have to go to the bathroom, your buddy will make sure that you are not left behind. If you have to go to your car or the camp store, tell you buddy so that they make sure that the bus doesn't leave you behind. If you are going to the photography shop to look at your photos at night, tell a guide or your buddy so that when dinner is served they save you a plate until you get back. In other words, please communicate with our staff and your buddy.

When a client is missing, our first inclination is to look at that beautiful river next to the campground. We have to assume that you may be in the water, if we can't find you anywhere else. The sickening feeling that a missing person may be in trouble in the water is the most overwhelmingly awful feeling. Your brain starts racing and your stomach starts churning. All you want is to find that person.

After finding the person safe in his car, the head guide breathed a sigh of relief. But, man, you should have read the dissertation that he wrote on the trip manifest! Not the normal "...smooth trip..." that we usually get back at the office.

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

More Grist from Sollie

Hi Y'all,So last night I was a little depressed being American... oh, and I ate Sea Cucumber, but it wasn't the worst thing I tried yesterday.

So we got up early last night, and went on this great hike to the waterfalls - they call them water curtains. How cute. It was much like crossing suspension bridges and tunnels through areas in California. From there, we ate, and for the first time, I was needing a little comfort food so I indulged in hash browns. Mumm greezy.

So from there, we went to this high school which was a giant place, almost college-like but a private high school for 800 students. They had 11 piano classrooms and 3 tea ceremony classroom. Wild. Oh, and they were very green - no air conditioning to waste energy. Doh.

From there we went to the Buddhist University, which was amazing. Someone is donating major money for this place. It too was awesome, and they treated us to a vegetarian lunch. They only serve veggies - some Buddhist thing about not wanting to kill animals. Also, there were sleeping dogs all over the campus - wouldn't want to disturb anything.

At this time they ran out of things to show us, and we drove to some random places... went to the beach... super rocky, but I did buy some melon ice cream. Went to a fish museum/store. They had a few fish, but sold lots of dried fish. Hummm. From there to some Japanese WWII hotel/art exhibit.

It was there that group leader took me aside and said, do you want to try some stinky doba? Huh? Do you mean stinky tofu? Yeah, yeah, tofu. So we walked down the street to where I just knew there was an open sewage pipe. We walked into the hut, and he ordered up some of their stinkiest. Lots of people in the hut just eating away, and I am about to die of stench poisoning. Finally the offending food came out, we put some chili on it, and ate away. It tasted like regular tofu, but wowie! That smell. By the time we finished, everyone was on the bus, and waiting for us. I walked into the bus, and they all smelled me. Hahahahahaha.

From there we went to a restaurant for everyone else. Lots of fish stuff, but also a protozoa named Sea Cucumber was served. It reminded me of chicken Jello that Grandma Sophie used to serve.

Next up, a train back to Taipei. On the train, many of the principals were joking and being really loud. A meekish passenger from the train asked them to be quiet. They didn't. Later she stomped up to them and sternly told them to shut up as her baby was trying to sleep. They grinned and chuckled under their breath the way a 7th grader would when told to stop laughing at a classmate who just spurted milk out of their nose.

I was sitting next to one of our guides, and we had a discussion about how Americans appear rude and ugly on a world scale. Once we returned to the hotel, a part of my group decided to go to McDonalds because they didn't eat any of the dinner. The Taiwanese people may be the nicest people on the planet. I have been here a week and have only spent a few dimes on internet use.

Everything else in my 5-star trip they are paying for. Every person we run into is the kindest most gentlest person you can imagine, and our group is loud, thankless, craving McDonalds, and ordering beer and pork at the restaurants, and knowing not even the most basic Chinese words. I feel a bit embarrassed by the American tag today.

Off to Korea tomorrow. Not a moment too soon...


Sollie, is a long-time crew member of W.E.T. River Trips. A guide with an extraordinary sense of fair play, people-skills, guide skills and leadership. His observation is telling. As Americans, we need to keep the perspective of a guest when we travel to other countries. Respect their culture and their language. Try to learn at least a rudimentary level of communication such as "thank-you" or "good-bye." The locals will be impressed with your attempts. The world welcomes us, we just need to have a bit more manners out there.

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Lunch Meat's Dog Dilemma

A new roommate arrived while the bloggers and skaters were in Europe. M, or Lunch Meat as he is affectionately called by his friends. He signed the contracts and knew that no pets were allowed at the rental house for the team. W.E.T. River Trips was searching myspace recently and came across a picture of M's dog in the kitchen of the rental. BUSTED. Here's his pitiful little story about "lying to the landlord." Growing up, coming of age, these teens are learning that life is tough. Sigh... the first-time renters are quickly learning the ins and outs of rental contracts... and grown-up life.

"Well it all happened the day after 4th of July...
My sister and her husband were leaving town and she had asked me if I could watch her dog. He's an old fart, so I figured as mellow as he is, that him staying with me at the house wouldn't be a problem. I did post a pic of the dog on myspace as a joke hoping to give Liz a scare... well, I guess W.E.T. got a hold of the picture before her and gave me a scare.

We all know nothing can be kept secret if its on "the space" and with that stated, you should know that I had no intentions of hiding anything.
Plus, I remember an old Full House episode where the girls tried to smuggle a dog into the house and Bob Sagget ended up finding out. The girls went through so much trouble to keep the pup a secret, but Mr. Tanner was just too much brains for the girls.

Since then, I always knew it was impossible to hide a dog in someone's house.
Anyhow, I'm sorry again, I should have asked and made sure it wasn't a problem. I hope we're even now... if not, let me know what I can do to make it up to you.
Sincerely Lunch Meat. :)
Whaaaaaaaa.... says the landlord... no pets, period.... not even fish.

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Sollie, Taiwan, the Cove, SF Giants

Hi Y'all! So my phone keeps getting messages... I have 7 today, but no way of reaching any of them. Oh well, at least I can get to a computer now and then. Today, I ate a fried leaf...

Oh, just an update: I spent a week in Tennessee visiting family and The Farm with Irene, Rob and Gin. From there, I flew to Taiwan for an educational understanding tour for principals in America. They basically sent us around the nation, and we toured colleges and universities, and they still haven't told us why we are here. However, they are treating us like kings.

So, I have been here in Taiwan a few days, and the coolest thing I saw, was in a night market; a 15-foot boa slithering around on the floor. Today, I ate fried stuff. Yup, just like a Taiwan State Fair. I also ate a fried flower and a fried taro root. Mummmm. Greezy. So I woke up at 5 am and we got on a bus to the train station. I was hoping we would be on a bullet train but sadly this one didn't seem to go faster than 20 mph.

We arrived in some town Hulain (sic). Sounds close. We ate a meal at a place that if it wasn't in Taiwan could easily have been a forgotten place in Mexico. There were no signs for the restaurant, dogs sleeping on the dirt floor, stumps for seats, palm leaves for a room, and squat pots for restrooms, and a monkey chained to a tree, but the food was great. I think I will deep fry some leaves when I get home.

Afterwards, we went up to a National Park and drove through this Slot Canyon 9000 feet deep. With a river running through it! Just in case you were wondering , it was all runnable whitewater.

We arrived at our motel and watched the natives do a dance and use some clubs to make a rice paste. Mummmmm rice paste...

After that, I went upstairs and watched the Home Run Derby on ESPN Taiwan - I think I saw Jason in some W.E.T. river rafts out there in McCovey Cove. I wandered down to the game room and spent the last hour teaching the locals to play ping pong. They don't even know how to hold the paddle upright. Rookies.

Hey guys - did my dirt catch on fire? I received an e-mail from a resident who lives in Coloma and thinks my property caught on fire. Can you have one of the guides check on it?

I will be in Taiwan for a few more days, then off to Korea for a week where I will meet up with Irene. Good times...

NOTE from W.E.T.: On Monday, July 9th, the crazy guides from the W.E.T. crew took a couple of rafts, a partying spirit to the Cove to try to catch a $1M ball. It was a party. Last year, it was chaos but the organizers this year had set up a parking lot just for the crazies. The W.E.T. boats made ESPN, SacBee, Major League Baseball and the rest of the world out there. But the best picture came from the Official Site of the San Francisco Giants. Yeh, its a good pic.

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

KD and Barcy Nightlife

Today is day 14 of my trip to Barcelona, Spain. I had never been to Europe and was not too sure as to what to expect. The trip was solely planned around one thing and one thing only; skateboarding. To the average person, Spain's architecture is amazing and beautiful. In the eye of a skateboarder, we see a giant playground. Not only is the city itself perfect for skateboarding, but so is everything that comes with it.

For example, the weather is cooler, and as far as the laws for skateboarding on the streets, mellow indeed. There is no real reason that the police are more giving out here with skateboarders. But after two weeks of skating around, I have a theory. The fact that skateboarding is less familiar here in Spain, it has only begun to blossom, and has only been around for maybe 10 years or so. Therefore, compared to California, or just America in general, skateboarding in Spain has not had enough time to become a problem. Which for now, is AWESOME for skateboarders.

I came over here to skate and then got here and realized I had a new plan. Don't get me wrong, I have been skating non-stop and taking advantage of how much fun it is, but came across a different comfort zone. Obviously, being in another country where they speak a different language is going to take you out of your comfort zone right? Well, I had never really thought about it until I got here and jumped right into it. For me, the thing I really enjoyed is meeting people from other countries. But, very sadly trying to communicate with each other with the bits and pieces of words we know from each others languages was a bit frustrating.

One night, the skate crew and I decided to go out to the clubs and check out the Spanish night life. Luckily, the drinking age over here is only 18 which was a recipe for disaster for us, right? HA HA HA. So at one point, we were all together dancing and having a good time in a club called FELLINIS. I decided to go outside to get some fresh air for a few minutes, and I found myself at another bar separated from the crew.

Thinking I knew my way around town, I decided to go with it and have a good time by myself.
I took a seat at the bar, and, within 5 minutes, I was chatting it up with 2 Spanish guys who lived here and 2 girls from Norway that spoke English and Spanish. The girls would interpret my English for the Spanish dudes and vice verse. They were surprised I was still out and about even though I was lost from my crew of team mates. The girls offered to hang out with the Spanish guys for the rest of the night, and, of course, I went with them.

We went to 2 more clubs and 1 more bar. Throughout the night, the Spanish dudes kept saying they wanted me to have a good time and kept buying my drinks. Being the gentlemen, I could not refuse a drink someone offers me. When the sun was coming up and the bars closed, we said our good nights and "nice meeting you's," and I took off in search of my destination; our apartment. Little did I realize, I was about a 30-minute walk from the apartment. After asking a million people for directions, I finally made it home by 6 in the morning.

The next day, my friends asked what happened to me the night before, and so I told them about my lost wild night. Then I realized I didn't even remember the Spanish guys' or the Norwegian girls' names. It was funny to think I had made friends and hung out with them all night long, but never got their names. The more and more people I meet now and see, I have concluded that it doesn't even matter if I get their names or not because it's more of a good-nature thing. Whether you speak English, Spanish or French or whatever, it's human nature to speak with one another and teach one another.

We still have another 4 days here in Spain and the weekend should be fun. Hopefully, I will have another story to tell before I come home. THANKS for reading ya'll... KD

Check out these resources on Skateboarding Barcelona:
Why skate Barcelona?
Thrasher Magazine Article
Barcelona Skate Tours
Barcelona Metropolitan Magazine
Against the Law

After skateboarding all day in your current heatwave in California, ya otta check out whitewater rafting. It'll give you the same thrill except no road rash. LOL... ollie-oop...

Saturday, July 07, 2007

Barcy Excerpts from the Teen Bloggers

W.E.T. River Trips has a brethren of young guides and bloggers working for us. They bring a youthful and enthusiastic lifestyle to our company. Many of them are also involved in surfing, kayaking, rafting, skateboarding and snowboarding programs and events because of their wide range of talents. They live the lifestyle. Our rafting news and California rafting news pages also highlight the lifestyle of the extreme sport outdoor enthusiast.

This month the young bloggers headed to Barcelona, Spain. Meeting with several other skateboarders and production crews, the 20-somethings joined pro skaters in Barcy (that's their nickname for this beautiful city) after their tour to end the trip as a vacation. And yes, W.E.T. ended up sponsoring more than just a few... the story of the card-eating ATM machine was one of the reasons given for the "extra" sponsorships...

Here are some excerpts:

July 2, 2007
"...last night I stayed at the new apartment for the first time. It's the epitomy of Spain. Woooooooo hoo. We are right next to a main street, so there's a bagillion people out at all times. Anyway, I hope my account s%!* is all correct... but whatever. Anyways, I miss you and I hope all is well..."

July 3, 2007
I have a butt load of money because Arthur just transfered 800 bucks online into my account cuz his card just got lost too. So I officially have everyones money in my account, so I technically don't have that much. Anyway, Danny seo is going to pick us up from the airport since you can't, but his car is too small so can you have a full tank and keys to the Subaru ready for Danny on next Wednesday... anyways, I'm having a lot of fun, and today I'm trying to relax because I've been going non-stop. Last night we went to the 'skater bar' called Bar Manola and they project skate videos on the wall, and everyone that goes there is a skate dude. We saw some pros... and blah blah. Then we went to NASTY MONDAYS. It was radddddddd. No one got carded except for poor Goober, but he talked his way in. We danced till 4 in the morning to all American songs... Beastie Boys, Joan Jett, Of Montreal... it was rad. Anyway, I'll keep you posted and I miss you guys a lot... it's super fun and you guys would love it."

Words from W.E.T.
KD had an encounter with a card-eating ATM machine in London... day 2 of the tour. This was the first of many card losses with the group. KD contacted his parents who contacted W.E.T. who contacted the only one in London who still had their debit card. So in went the money. (Read post above about the butt-load of money...) I think everyone had LL handle their funds. The crew also discovered that drinking was legal at 18 years. We didn't get many blogs after that.......

Monday, June 25, 2007

Type A vs Type B

This year has been remarkable in that the guests have been fairly on time. Almost everyone has showed up within 15 minutes of the hour and with their paperwork completed. This has saved a lot of time in the morning. It also shows that our constant "nagging" is working. No one wants to wait for anyone in 105 degree weather. The bus driver needs to keep on schedule. The guides want to get you on the water. The other guests don't want to wait when they were there on time and ready to go. So I think, our clients have been just wonderful this year. Almost everyone has been on time.

What's also been remarkable is the type of client coming on our rafting trips. They have been what we like to call type B personalities. Laid back... undemanding. Everything is cool as long as they get to go rafting on the river. Kind of a guide's perspective... if you know what I mean.

As a guide, all of us share the common stories of hardship in trying to get to a particular river trip. I'm sure you've read our stories on our website of crazy situations and traveling problems to the rivers. None of it ever matters, once you're on the river. The river soothes all things and smooths the sharp edges away. Nothing matters, but the river. And it seems that our guests feel the same way. They may have fought their way through awful driving conditions, ie, traffic, snowstorm? or getting the kids ready, to get to us, but they arrive with smiles on their faces and an infectious enthusiasm for something that is totally unknown to them. But, it's a river and the water connects us all.

A prime example was the other morning. The bus was not there at 9:00am as usual. The guests were all on time and ready to go at 9am. The driver was off schedule due to another group's late arrival, so the driver would not be there until 9:15am. The group was laid back and most just went to the edge of the river to wade in the water. They were laughing and talking and introducing themselves to each other.

One small group, a mom, dad and a couple of kids, stood off to the side. The kids were antsy as kids usually are, but the Dad was mad. "I got here on time and I don't want to wait... Jimmy stop splashing me..." and on and on. He was upset and we hadn't even started. The guy focused on the company and started in with one of the guides. "Why can't you get another bus here now," the dad demanded. The guide, patiently, explained that the driver would be there within minutes. As they spoke, the bus came down the hill and a collective cheer rose from the group. Everyone got on board quickly.

Everyone was ready to roll, but the Dad was still angry. He started yelling at his kids and then the mom got in the act. The entire bus listened to this guy berate his entire family while the onlookers tried not to stare. Suddenly, someone started laughing in the background as a joke was told. The laughter helped to break the uneasy situation. Maybe that's what made the Dad stop.

Perspective is the key. Did it kill him that the bus was a few minutes late? Didn't he bring his family rafting because he wanted to enjoy the company of his children and spouse on a wonderful river trip? Did he realize how he affected the others around him with his tirade?

Sometimes life is hard and difficult. The best laid plans go awry. Sometimes things just don't work out and we have to deal with that in the best possible way... or we go the easy route, and just give up. The people who I've met around rivers and paddling are not quitters. They are the best damn people I've ever met. They never quit, they don't complain and they find solutions for any obstacle in their way. It's kind of a paddlers creed, and it works in real life, too.

For those of you who are type A personalities... the river will soon change you... and you will feel the same way we do soon... just get on as many rafting trips as you can and you will find nirvana on the river... just chill; you'll enjoy yourself even more.

Thursday, June 14, 2007

My Dad

The memories of dear old Dad seem so far away. I remember most, the rides on his shoulder as he hoisted me around our cherry tree. Picking those cherries is a memory that I hold dear. I remember the warm sun on my face and squinting skyward to see the cherries high in the branches. I would pick and eat cherries until my hands were dyed pink.

He was a big, burly guy who was 100% military trained. From his pressed creases in his pants to the tip of his hat, he stood like a soldier, even at home. We had a strict routine around our house during dinner time. No one came to the dinner table without a bath and fresh, clean clothes.
Dessert was always served on the TV trays while we watched Ed Sullivan shows.

I still remember those nights eating jell-o, chocolate pudding or ice-cream. My mom and dad would sometimes turn on the stereo (Dad was an early audiophile) and dance together while we kids jumped up and down laughing and clapping at the adult antics. Such fond silly memories...

Dad died a few years ago, leaving me and the rest of the family to contemplate life without him. With Father's Day coming, the little tug at my heart is a constant reminder of how much I miss him. Even though he is gone, I still celebrate Dad's Day by making my family a great dinner and toasting his memories with a glass of wine.

This year, the kids and teens are gathering for a
group rafting trip on Sunday to celebrate their own father in the outdoors. Most of my friend's still have their dad's in their lives, but as for me, he is still with me every time I eat a handful of cherries.

Monday, June 11, 2007

White Water Rafting with Car Keys?

Ahhh Technology!

Mogli lost his Prius keys yesterday... $250. (if it had been an "07 model... $375.)

Two weeks ago, a rafting client thought it would be safer to put their Mercedes CLS keys in their zippered shorts... $650... due to a swim and a failed zipper.

Last month, a client took their '06 Camry keys down the river, got the keys wet and fried the chip... $300.

Lesson: stash your keys in your car, get a hide-a-key, and do NOT take keys to your modern vehicle down the river outdoors. And if you do, make sure it's just a key... with no chip.

Back in the pre-historic days of W.E.T. River Trips, we had a '64 Dodge truck that started with an alligator clip and a toggle switch... oh, how we have progressed!

When the radiation storm shrouds our planet and every modern electronic device fails, I wish we still had that Dodge truck without electronic ignition, carburetor and no key. (don't get me wrong... something like the vice-grip window cranks, and the bungee cord holding the hood latch, I don't miss).

What's missing is the simplicity of our old vehicles... we could fix them. The good news is that the new vehicles rarely need fixing... but sometimes they do.

When a 2006 van failed to move forward while in drive after leaving the Middle Fork American put-in at the Oxbow Reservoir, we went through the motions: opened the hood, checked the fluid and let the engine cool down. The transmission is "electronic" and without a USB connected diagnostic CPU, we didn't have a chance.

Luckily, we switched the van out for another one with help from Bird and Mogli as well as cell phone technology. I had a two-hour drive in a tow truck from Mosquito Ridge Road back to home base. Our paddling clients were not delayed or ever placed at a disadvantage, and the replacement van was even the signature "white" of W.E.T. River Trips.

I still miss the ol' Dodge... until I grab the cell phone, crank up the A/C, plug in the i-Pod, adjust the electronic mirrors, and roll up the windows with a single button push.

Hey Big Poppa, none of us miss the ol' Dodge truck... we love the new vans with the killer stereo!

Tuesday, June 05, 2007

Day Two, Boredom?

The kids have been out of school for only 2 days now... and already they are bored to tears. Yes, we have the family vacation coming up in a few weeks, the baseball camp, the trip to see grandma, but how do we keep them occupied and out of the mall for the next couple of weeks?

When I was young, my mom would not let us be bored. There were always chores to do. We didn't dare say we were bored because she would assign some awful task such as cleaning the garage or the yard. So we learned early to occupy our free time with neighborhood basketball, bicycling around the neighborhood, or just hanging out at the neighborhood school. The community pool was always open in the summer where we would just waste hours playing in the water. TV? Who stayed home and watched tv during the summer... not us. Mom would have kicked us out of the house before she let us waste our time like that.

Parents now are so worried about the real bogey-man that may be lurking. So most of us keep our kids close by or in organized activities. It's a real shame. I'm always reluctant to just say, "Go outside. Go ride your bike..." since, I'm not too sure if it is really safe to do that. So we organize stuff for them to do. This year, some of us have organized a rafting trip for our teens.

The kids will go on a whitewater rafting trip on the South Fork American just for a one day trip. Just enough to wet their whistle on an adventure that they've never experienced. My daughter is dragging a few of her friends while another family's son is bringing along his buddies. The kids are actually excited about this family get together. Can you imagine? They want to go with us!

Saturday, June 02, 2007

Birthdays on the River

Kind of cloudy today and a bit cooler. Mom says that I was born on a day like today. Birthdays are a funny thing. A celebration of a monumental event called birth. Of course, the special event is celebrated early in life mostly by parents and surrounding relatives.

When you're really young, birthdays are a hazy memory of birthday cake and Aunt Margaret pinching your cheek. Balloons surround and silly hats sit on the heads of the family. I remember the candles and blowing them out.

Adolescence brings a sense of greed. Its all about the presents and hanging out with your friends. Usually, a parent or relative has arranged for a simple backyard gathering with a picnic and birthday cake. Or, an extravaganza at a local party place filled with activities and games. It didn't matter as long as there were presents for the birthday child. Those birthdays, I remember the most. Filled with family and friends and tearing open a bunch of presents. I remember the bowling ball I received when I was around 9 years old. I was so thrilled since my mom and I were on a daughter/mother bowling team. That ball was all swirly and creamy... that's all I remember.

In the teen years, birthdays were about money. Cold hard cash. Birthday money. I remember hoarding it once I received it from parents, grandparents, uncles and friends. I would save a bundle then head out to Tower Records and buy music and magazines. Shopping for makeup was more or less a stick of mascara and a tube of lipstick all purchased from the local drugstore. The money would burn a hole in my pocket and hand. I'd give it a month, before all the funds were gone.

Young adulthood enters in and you just can't wait until you're 21 years old. Ready to vote and ready to drink grown-up drinks. Once there was a surprise birthday party in my early 20's. That was the one with the singing gorilla that arrived unexpectedly and swept me away to a party at a local restaurant. After a few margaritas, I really don't remember much about the party except that I know I had a good time.

In your 30's & 40's, birthdays are spent with close friends and/or possibly a spouse. Usually a weekend getaway plays in the scenario while celebrating with a loved one. There was the time on a wilderness rafting trip that I spent with about 10 close paddling friends on our favorite river. I remember the birthday cake coming out of the dutch oven. We were plied with cheap booze, and I still remember spreading the icing on the cake and my fellow bakers.

Now, as age creeps up more quickly, birthdays are to be ignored. That day is no longer a celebration but a relief that I've made it that far. Celebrating the day includes going about the day as if nothing was special, nothing was remembered. I join just a few close friends and we spend our time at a nice lunch or maybe shopping in a cool place. This past birthday, I spent it rafting with 3 of my closest friends. We didn't do a wild class 4 run this time, though... just a great whitewater trip on the South Fork American... just enough to make me remember how wild I used to be. Now if only I can stop the birthday cards coming to keep reminding me that I'm a year older and hopefully a year wiser.

Friday, June 01, 2007

Finals Done, School's Out

So I finished out my first semester at Cal with three B's and an A. My best report card? No. But it was my first semester. I decided to take it somewhat easy. Adjust. Ease myself into the whirling tornado of post-secondary school.

Finals were a trip and a half. The first I had was on a Saturday. Modern Literature: English 45C. I had three hours to identify and explain ten quotes and write two essays. When I finished I had carpel tunnel syndrome in my right hand and an hour of time left. I walked out of there in a daze and caught the bus home.

My second final was for a theater class. Performance studies. It was a group performance final exploring the concerns of the various scholars we studied; Judith Butler, J.L. Austin. My group did an interpretive recitation of Edgar Allan Poe's The Raven. It was a blast and a half. I'm considering buying the DVD the GSI made.

The Final final took place in the beautiful hotel-esque Giannini Hall. It was for my Interdisciplinary Studies course "Representation of Self Deception in the Modern World." I rocked it. I was thrilled. I went home and my roommates made me a great dinner.

So what in the world am I doing now? Well, right now I'm enjoying Luc Besson's The Fifth Element and looking for a new apartment. I currently live in Emeryville and the commute has gotten thoroughly old.

So new apartment. New Job. Ugh. Retail? Most likely. I am somewhat hoping to get back into acting this summer. Recently took a new headshot. I am very excited. A summer production over selling accessories on 4th Street? I think so...

But for now... I will sit... and I will send out my resume. Oh the joys of being sort of a grownup...

Congrats! Steph's first semester at Cal was a success! Now let's go rafting...

Friday, May 25, 2007

My Little NoFo

The North Fork American is one of the forks of the American River. Just northeast of Sacramento, California, this river is a popular whitewater rafting trip for advanced paddlers. It's season is brief and challenging. The last scheduled trip was just this past weekend, and we say goodbye to it's beautiful rocks and rapids until 2008. W.E.T. River Trips will now focus on the main Klamath River, South Fork American, and Middle Fork American for the rest of the 2007 Season. Call us for summer rafting and special discounts!

my little nofo

you, the precious one
the river of my dreams
crystalline waters flowing from snow
i love you so...

you, unconquerable
just tolerating us,
allowing us to stroke your hair
caring for us in your magical way
then striking us when we don't respect

my little nofo
you, the most vulnerable
others would destroy you
capture you in a man-made box
drowning you in our sorrow
oh, i love you so

my little nofo
we bid farewell for now
until tomorrow
when the snow arrives
and the sun shines
we'll meet again

"Ode to the North Fork American"

Friday, May 18, 2007

American River

WAAAA...! stop the whining OK, the snowpack was light, it got hot early, then it got cold, it was raining in April....Waaa F'n Waaa!

We have had one of the best early seasons of all time and last Saturday was the peak: Saul rolled up from Newport Beach in big style accompanied by Irene as they "roughed" it by checking in to the North Fork cabin at Camp Lotus. Jonny '07 left his lesson plans and expectant wife for the day, Jason took a break from Marin, Andrew folded up the wetsuits and put one on himself while he enlisted Julie to do two shuttles, Country Mike nailed his second class IV debut in two weeks, Robbe took a break from steep creeks, Ryan Mac put down his video camera, Nate switched from Ski Patrol to Kayak Safety, Greg D. continued his education into all things W.E.T., Wolf emerged from the farthest reaches of the North Fork Canyon, Maggie left the dogs in Reno, Jeffe made it back with one good ankle from Big Sur, Bird made himself a legend amongst head-guides, Booty tapped Class IV, Dax padded his resume, and Cool J. finally got cool... Saturday, W.E.T. River Trips ran all three forks of the American River: North, Middle, and South: a rare feat even in a bountiful year of water. The stars aligned, the rivers ran and the best guides in California came out to play.

All told, we ran all three Forks with five trip configurations and fourteen guides. When the day wrapped up and the warehouse was buttoned up, a vicious game of nerf football ensued in the star thistles and on the blacktop of Bassi Road while we re-grouped and caravaned to the Sierra Nevada House for Margaritas, ice water, and steak sandwiches.

Jonny rocked the purple pouch, we laughed till we were sick, and we saw sights that made my eyes burn.
It was a great way to celebrate the crown jewels of the Desolation Wilderness drainage... rafting the three Forks of the American River. It was also bitter sweet to say goodbye to the North Fork American for the season; however, it was a happy occasion to welcome back the Middle Fork American with consistent flows for the rest of the season to compliment the great flows on the South Fork American.

Sunday was Mother's Day and we had two forks to run the next day; but, the purple pouch will re-appear for Father's Day... or maybe that's just a rumor.

Why do I still hear that whining...oh never mind, it's just Bird.
A Big Poppa Post

Monday, May 14, 2007

Graduation 2007

My baby is graduating. And the heaviness that weighs inside is almost unbearable. How did my teen become an adult overnight? The flurry of end-of-school year events is helping to distract me from my agony. Yes, I am in agony. This day just seemed so far away, and now it's here.

The baby came on a cold rainy day... one of the rainiest days ever. I always looked at that as being a sort of cleansing. A purifying of the world before the baby arrived. Those days seem so far away, now. The diapers, the breast feeding, the sleepless nights. I remember I felt as if the non-stop baby routine would never end. And now, it just seems like a small blip in all of our family life.

All the family trips that we took were just not enough. The road trips, the rafting trips in California, Idaho, Oregon... it was just not enough. And the thought that we may never get together as a family again for any vacation trip really gets to me. I could just cry.

College beckons now for my adult student teen. Already, my teen is a busy college student; taking care of paperwork, getting classes together, meeting with counselors, getting ready for the open house. Going away will be hard on all of us. We've purchased all the sundries to accommodate the new living quarters, and we've probably bought way too much. My teen doesn't seem to understand how difficult this is for us. And they shouldn't feel our sadness. I don't want to rain on their blossoming heads.

The confidence and independence that we had hoped to instill is reflected in their almost cavalier attitude of leaving home. This is how it should be. My teen is ready for adulthood, and as far as mom and dad? We're the ones who aren't ready.

Tuesday, May 08, 2007


In the urban core of the central valley, Sacramento's sparkling jewel, the American River, has long been a draw to the suburban and city paddlers. The river flows year round attracting many users to its fishing, picnicking, swimming and rafting. It's the recreation river we read about the most... especially after a major holiday. The river is deceptively calm. And yet, it has had more fatalities due to its seemingly easy flow. Debris, cold waters, swirling currents have trapped many who did not have lifejackets or proper gear during their attempted swims or crossings.

The county of Sacramento has had its share of woes as more and more groups run that river on small vinyl rafts or rented rafts from the various vendors that line the shores. It's become a ritual for the rowdies that pepper the river with loud, cursing voices and tossed beer cans. Not only has the area been polluted by noise and trash, but the pollution of the atmosphere has given way to alarming riots and a melee of violence.

Alcohol does that. That seems to be the element that is shared by every violent encounter on that river. It has driven families away. So the county has passed an ordinance banning alcohol during Memorial Day weekend, 4th of July and Labor Day Weekend. So there.

Up here on the American River whitewater trips, the ban has been in placed for many, many years. California State Parks saw the problem years ago and applied these regulations to our industry. Not because of violence, but out of a respect for white water. Ya gotta know what your doing to be safe. Commercial outfitters don't allow alcohol on their trips. Period.

As rafters and paddlers, we enjoy our alcoholic beverages. Don't get me wrong. It's just that California outfitters have a responsibility to our paying guests to be at our best when their safety is in our hands. The rowdy and obnoxious public behavior on the Lower American is a shameful display of idiocy. If I were the county board, I'd ban alcohol permanently on that urban river.