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RAFTING BLOG just some stuff that happens on the river ...

March 11, 2008

Today was sunny and 75 degrees and so was yesterday.

Easter is coming in two weeks and my daffodils are in mid-bloom cycle. Yes, I plant daffodils... lot's of them. Is that a problem? Ok, then...

Some bloom in early February and the latest bloom thoughout March. So... yea... I plant daffodils. I don't plant anything
else. Why? Bulbs, like daffodils are low-maintenance. They transform a bleak winter garden and they come back year after year. I don't have time during the late spring and summer to fiddle with freakin' pansies (of all iterations).

I also like daffodils because they are a vivid reminder that the River season is ON! There are other reminders in the surrounding flora as well: Western Redbud (in full magenta bloom), Flowering Dogwood, emerging
California Golden Poppies, and purple Lupin.

California in the Spring is unbelievably beautiful and a unique contrast to the awesome golden hills of Summer.

While rafting down the North Fork American in late March and throughout April, even the most jaded river guide and client is blown away when they look beyond the river. Look to the sides of the canyon (look upstream on river left just above Staircase) and you'll see an intense blanket of neon orange from a huge tightly packed field of Poppies. Along the trails and roads on the ride out on the

Upper Clementine or the Ponderosa take-out road, check out the intense purple Lupin that stand 3 feet high.
Just take a look while you're ripping through the Class 5, Class 4 and Class 3 rapids on the South Fork American, Middle Fork American, North Fork American and California Salmon. In the words of PBS's Huell Howzer....It's Amazing! (He says: UH-MAY-ZING!
One last cool thing about Daffodils....you have to "Dead-Head" them by rigorously ripping off the stalks of each fading bloom... (Sorry Wolf...the Greatful Dead is still still banned from all W.E.T. River Trip vehicles as well as the Warehouse while I'm in da House!)

Posted by Big Poppa:: gee whiz... no Dead at the warehouse or shuttle vehicles??? Our friend Jackie will be disappointed, dude! Maybe we can sneak it onto the company iPods... hehehe...

March 6, 2008
Yo! On my way to rafting trips, I have to listen to my tunes. Especially if you are heading for the Class 4 stuff like the North Fork American... so close to home! If you live in California's great valley around state capitol Sacramento, then I'm sure you know how hard it is to purchase good music around here without having to order from online distros and such.

For me it's really annoying, 'cause I love to buy new music fairly regularly. So to get my fix, it usually requires making a trip to the Bay Area to dig around in the bins at Amoeba Records store in San Francisco and Berkeley. I recently found some great albums for super cheap. Titles such as CARIBOU's new album "Andorra" is out now on Merge Records and DAN DEACON's "Spider Man of the Rings" on Carpark Records. Both albums are totally amazing if you are into electronic music or trance.

Another outstanding release from last year is the MAGIK MARKERS album "Boss" on Ecstatic Peace. This is a band that I can't get enough of and is highly recommended especially to fans of SONIC YOUTH. Some other albums to check out are BLACK MOTH SUPER RAINBOW's "Dandeloin Gum", Japanese band OOIOO's "Taiga", and for the noisier side of life, check out anything and everything on Load Records; especially KITES.

RESOURCES FOR WHITE WATER RAFTING MUSIC from W.E.T. River Trips:

  • California Whitewater Rafting Blog
  • Myspace Music Friends
  • Dan Deacon
  • Ecstatic Peace
  • Black Moth Super Rainbow
  • Load Records
  • Caribou
  • OOIOO
  • Peace
    WhiteLite:::: more rafting music coming from my homies at W.E.T. River Trips!

    ps! WhiteLite just introduced us to Zach Nelson from albums Who's Your Favorite Son God, HexLove and Prints! He is sooo ridiculously cute! Yoko Tuttle from Fatal Insomia says of his music "This sounds like right now!" Woot!

    February 26, 2008
    UPDATE about a recent W.E.T. River Trips Rafting Adventure Country Mike wrote:

    I hope all went well and everyone came home fine. As long as you did not have Mogely (spelling) splitting his thumb into pieces I am sure life was good! Is Sollie still ambiguously hetero? When we hitting the NoFo!!!!???? WHITEWATER!
    Country Mike
    Here's Sollie's first webcam from the helmet... I got dizzy watching it!

    DAY 1: Sollie arrives at Sacramento International Airport at 1:00 PM
    Meets Heffe at warehouse to load after picking up the W.E.T. rafting truck
    Bird goes Frisbee golfing with Wolf
    (freshly back from Ecuador)
    I ride my motorcycle home from Oakland to beat the traffic
    I lane-split the entire ride and arrive at Save-Mart at 5:15 PM to meet Sollie for a food buy
    Final pack and load
    We then meet up with Bird, Wolf, and Heffe at my house
    Waited until 7pm for Justin and his Bro stuck in traffic coming from UC Berkeley
    Little Alex was stuck in the same traffic so Justin stayed back to wait for Little Alex
    (He was carrying Bird and his Bro Brian as well)
    We agreed to meet at Petro on I-5
    Petro became an opportunity for Heffe to drink a 32 oz Miller High Life
    We had ample opportunities to shop the wares at Petro...

    Sollie bought a fluorescent orange fleece "Elmer Fudd" hat. Justin showed up at 9 pm and he off-loaded Bird to my truck after Bird power-smoked at least four cigarettes and bought his body weight in candy. We rolled out of Petro with Sollie, Heffe, Wolf, and Bird in the Dodge and Justin, Brian, and Little Alex following in the shiny, Black Toyota (important detail for later). We drove Hwy 299 to Hwy 101 (with an obligatory stop in Willow Creek and the tempting prospect of buying the only piece of Chester-Fried chicken: a cold wing). We arrived at Jedediah Smith Redwood State Park at 3:30 AM... stoked.

    Day 2: I roused the camp up with some coffee (hot water for Heffe & Sollie...Metro-tea boyz) We head to the Oregon Hole Run

    After the boys did the run twice with multiple swimmers and a near flip at the Hole, the consensus dictated a quick run on the South Fork and a chance to run class 4+ "Grandma's Pantry." All went well and smooth except for Big Poppa getting in the grill of a local "Game Warden" who thought it prudent to educate our guides on commercial operations and permits. He left by telling me to "talk to the tire" under his breath. He refused to clarify his comments as he loaded into his navy blue Silverado. (nice, Big Poppa... bite the hand that feeds us...)

    That night we had a fat-feast and Little Alex and Wolf played guitars while Justin and Brian drummed along. Heffe was sick; however, he made a run at the Early Times until Bird thought he was at a Rave with Disco Eric and he dropped a glow stick into the bottle. Before shutting down, we all agreed to get up early and make a run to Nordheimer to put down a river run before dark through class 5 Freight Train.

    Sun: Out of camp by 8:45 AM without a problem Headed south to Orick Took a Wolf-inspired Short cut to the Klamath River via Bald Mountain Road (why oh, why does anyone follow Wolf on these short cuts?)

    This is an incredible road. Views of everything and everywhere unfolded of huge redwoods, amazing meadows, and the bonus of an un-tracked snowfield on the summit that Sollie made a first D on in Heffe's kayak with a last ditch bail-out 10 yards from the tree line at 30mph. Well done. We continued on a single track dirt road lined by snow fences getting both trucks filthy...that's why I go with White (remember the shiny new black truck). We hit a detour about five miles from the end of the line (we knew it was a possibility) and we took a detour through Hoopa and back out to the Klamath.

    The boys put in at Nordheimer at 2:30 and made a run to "Freight Train." At "Whirling Dervish" the newbie-rookies opted out and Sollie, Justin, Little Alex, and Wolf took on new "Freight Train" and nailed it. Camp was awesome with a great fire and a tepid scuffed bottle of Early Times floating a dark-stick. Monday: Woke up to find everything covered in ice About 20 degrees Farenheit Butler run on Cal Salmon with a put-in at 35 degrees

    Everyone nailed it and we were on the road by 11:45 AM. We delivered Sollie to the Sacramento International Airport at 5:15 PM in time for his flight back to Newport Beach. About 950 miles, 3 days, five different river runs, sunny skies, and a quarter full plastic, half-gallon bottle of Early times for the warehouse refrigerator. A great Winter rafting trip that will be hard to match or beat. We'll try. Trains hittin' Berkeley... next stop Emeryville... see ya. North Fork American in 2 weeks puppies!

    SHINY NEW BLACK TRUCK UPDATE: When we made a quick stop in Orleans for gas on the way to the California Salmon... Sollie, writes into the muddy side of Justin's truck. "I wish my girlfriend was as dirty as this truck!" in 6" letters not knowing (because Sollie rarely is in-touch with the pragmatic, real property aspects of life and the respect for possessions that was ruined by his upbringing in a hippie commune) that his letters would be etched into Justin's formerly shiny new black paint... uhmmm ... Justin was stoked, yet calm.
    I'm fairly sure that Justin washed his truck Monday night. Posted by Big Poppa w/ whitewater photos, rafting video and side notes by crew of W.E.T. River Trips

    February 19, 2008
    Last summer, brought copious rafting adventures my way. A late June South Silver run with some of the W.E.T. River Trips crew was definitely a highpoint; the bedrock slides and pour-overs surpassed all expectations and left me itching to get back there for some more teacups. In another instance, I was lucky enough to have a chance to run the bulk of the lower class 4 section of the Middle Fork American at a healthy fish flow. The 350cfs experience— complete with a California sunset— was a high point in my time on the Middle Fork American River.

    While moments like these are personally significant, I was also able to take part in some pioneering raft lines last summer as well. On the Middle Fork American the infamous Tunnel Chute is an ever-changing rapid.

    Rarely run in the rivers early commercial history, the rapid has become a staple of the Middle Fork over the years. Recently, Middle Fork legends such as Mack have pushed the evolution of Tunnel Chute even further by running the once class VI “left” line in paddle boats. Since the high water in 2006, the left line at the Chute has become more class 4+ ish, eroding into a fun, super-steep, 20-yard slide that kicks off a six-footer at the bottom into the pool. While still consequential, this line has been run successfully by many paddle boats.

    So what’s next?

    I have always been a little anxious about running Tunnel Chute in a gear boat because it is kind of like driving a bus on skies down a snow hill. You have lots of momentum, no turning, and no breaks. To say the least, the Chute has caused problems for guides in the past.

    So this year I thought about stepping it up a notch and going where (to my knowledge) no one had gone before in a gear boat, and headed over to the left line of the Chute. I had done my homework, and knew more or less what to expect, the entry move, and what the locked-in downhill slide felt like. In July I made my 1st D in an oarboat and had great success.

    Probably the hardest part of the rapid is the entry where there are a few guard rocks that could cause problems if the bumped you in a wrong direction. Other than these few rocks, once you make the squeeze into the top of the slide, the boat gets right into the rapid and its over before you know it.

    As an added bonus, the heft of a loaded gear boat usually sends you fairly deep on the landing as well.

    Probably the most hazardous aspect of the rapid in an oar frame is watching your oars in the tight river channel, but this is really no different than the normal “right” line at Tunnel Chute. Needless to say the left chute goes. I had the satisfaction of running the left a few more times last summer with similar success;— a highlight run occurring during another outfitter's scout of the Chute. Since last summer, the only other person I have ever heard of attempting the oar-frame descent, is the world renowned Wolf, who had a successful run in August. I think the more water the better for this line. When the gauge got down to 11.4, it becomes pretty boney. Tunnel Chute rapidIn the future, it could be possible that the Chute’s left line becomes more commonly run for both paddle boats and gear boats. I look at it somewhat like the “fish ladder” skirt of Rainy Falls on the Rogue River. While I could be the first to run in a gear boat, I don’'t think I will be the last.

    Post by: "Little Alex" from University of California at Berkeley:: UCB Big thanks to Hotshot Imaging in Coloma, California for this series of photographs of W.E.T. River Trips through Tunnel Chute rapid on the Middle Fork American River. Also, big thanks to Bill Tuttle and his awesome website at CACreeks.com! He's got a blow by blow description of all the runs in California.

    February 12, 2008

    Missing in action, we got a message recently from Wolfe. Where did he go? Well, the mystery was recently solved with this email to the office:

    "Hi, guys! I got a new email address, and (I) am currently in Tena, Ecuador. I´ve been here for three days and boated (kayaking, rafting) every single day so far. It's been a very good time. Lots of kayakers and rivers all over the place. Every direction you look, there is a Napo River in Ecuadorriver flowing into the Napo that has whitewater

    . A2 and I, have been playing it very safe and getting accustomed to the rivers before we step it up and start running harder stuff, but it has been fruitful and impossible to not go boating every day. The locals are all very nice, but the beer is "muy malo."

    We managed to get our play boats on the plane. We have been doing all these creek runs in the play boats making things very interesting. Weather is warm, and when it rains, the rivers shoot way up (in flow) and then drop off quickly.

    Today, we were waiting for our shuttle driver after doing a class 4 river and the river came up like three feet while we were hanging out. So, we got a taxi, and we did the run again at flood stages, and then, never had to pay for our initial shuttle!

    For four kayakers to go 30-miles into the mountains and do two runs, and it only cost us 7 dollars total. I could do this for a while. Anyway, Volvo is almost all put back together. It's minus a valve cover because when I got the head machined, the machine shop lost a tiny plastic grommet that I had to order. She´ll be up and running though as soon as I get back in mid February in time for some more white water trips. Hope all's well with you guys, Peace. "

    Come back soon Wolfie! Time for the the North Fork American... February 4, 2008

    How about that January of WET -ness? Living in Sacramento, felt like being in Seattle, and being in the Sierras, was a taste of being above the Arctic Circle; except with a lot more snow!!!

    January 1st, I went on on a group trip, motorcycle ride with the Gold Country Dual Support Riders on the venerable and exalted W.E.T. River Trips shuttle conveyance: the 2006 Kawasaki KLR 650 ...yes, the most popular dual-purpose (or, as we "fans" call the designation: "Multi-surface") motorcycle in the world since 1983... yes, there is passion for the pig of a bike that is heavy, under-powered, ugly, purposeful, durable, and the chosen motorcycle of the USMC (except the US Marines go a step further and convert to diesel... yes, Bio-Diesel compatible!).

    Anyway, I took an awesome 230-mile ride with a great group of like-minded dual-purpose riders with a collection of bikes that ranged from a lone Harley to the lone Moto Guzzi with the in-fill populated by a batch of KTM's, BMW's, and the reliable KLR 650. We met in Sacramento after I chipped ice off of my seat and rode to Lake Berryessa (sic) with about 30 other riders where we met another 15 riders and continued on around the lake to Napa, Sonoma, and Lower Lake where we had lunch and the temperature soared to a balmy 50 degrees.

    The ride back was a different route and we road at a much more brisk pace. The whole time, my white water rafting and snowboarding brain was twitching... everything was super dry: no puddles, mud, dry grasses, and a minimalist Lake Berryessa combined with a trickle called Putah Creek.

    I haven't ridden anything beyond a quick couple of 50 milers since ... why?: IT'S BEEN FREAKIN' RAINING AND SNOWING!!!!!!! The lakes and rivers have been transformed and there is as much as 30-feet on snow in the Sierra waiting to come down... and it will!

    February has started out with a vengeance of cold, wet storms and has added to the DWR snow survey done last week at the end of January that showed the watershed of the popular class 4+ North Fork American, Middle Fork and South Fork American River at 125% of normal...last year was 33% (and the whitewater was still awesome). The North end of the State is ridiculous with crazy watershed totals serving the Klamath, Scott, and Salmon River. We're looking at some drying weather and some excellent times for enjoying the bounty of a wet January.

    So, I'm calling it, and it is ON! The whitewater rafting season will be amazing.

    The W.E.T. River Trips crew plans to rally after Valentine's Day (so that Heffe and Bird can protect their domestic Bliss.. shhhhhh) and we can take advantage of President's Day. We're shooting for our annual Smith River, Oregon Hole, Jedidiah Redwood State Park, Hiouchi Rendezvous. The call went out... we'll see who steps up.

    Might as well, we tee-off the season in mid-March... so hit the slopes, get off the couch and let me get in some last rides on the KLR before it becomes part of the job... yeah right.

    For more resources on the KLR 650 ultimate shuttle vehicle for rafting and river trips:

  • http://www.klr-650.com/mod.html
  • http://www.bigcee.com/klr650faq.html
  • http://www.patmanracing.com/klrdyno.htm
  • http://www.klrworld.com/
  • http://www.klrdualsport.com/
  • http://autos.groups.yahoo.com/group/GCDSR/
  • http://www.angelfire.com/co/klr650/index.html
  • http://www.klr-650.com/mod.html
  • Post by: Big Poppa, Road Warrior and King of the River!

    January 22, 2008

    Theo is in New York City. I can not imagine a more misplaced guy. He's a kayaker, guide and whitewater instructor, and he has worked for W.E.T. River Trips for a long time. He and his significant other are in NYC experiencing the world class city together. He sent this post to let us know how he was doing. We miss you Theo. Season starts in a couple more weeks. He promises to get back to California for the rafting trips. Here are his words and observations...

    The opportunity to live and work in New York City was one that my love and myself could not pass up. Coming from California to the East Coast provided great change. There are many things that we find ourselves still taking in and will be, I am sure, for some time. One of those changes, however, makes itself more noticeable on a day-to-day basis; that is transportation. For me, walking to get to and from where I need to go has replaced driving. Thus, the daily commute is partially done on foot, walking to the next train, bus or taxi, which will take you to your destination of choice. More commonly than not, I find myself using the subway system to get from place to place. This is where a unique world makes itself apparent, where every man and woman seemingly regards one another as equal, and where performing arts create the mood.

    My main point in this blog is to reflect on what happens in the New York City Subway, specifically relating to the people, for whatever motive, who are performing, educating, making a buck or perhaps just passing the time.

    As a newcomer to New York City, it is a challenge to be another expressionless New Yorker when I hear the powerful sound of a group of musicians creating music. Certainly, the energy provided makes the transit more exciting. Some of the performances that I have witnessed are as follows:

    Two mime interpretations; one of a ballet dancer and the other of a clown

    A one-man band; playing a guitar, with a harmonica in the mouth, and still having the rhythm to use his feet on a contraption that adds value to his musical sound

    Man with a guitar and microphone singing

    Man singing; not a great voice, but consistent, as I saw him more than once in the same spot

    Asian man playing what I believe to be a Chinese instrument

    Several guitar players

    Poetry and songs on the S or Shuttle Train; a train that goes back and forth between Grand Central Station and 42nd Street/ Port Authority Group on foreign instruments (to me) playing beautiful seasonal music Mariachi on the moving train; really.

    A large group of Quakers (I believe) singing

    Thank you Theo for the great NYC post. We look forward to hearing more about your new world... and, get yourself back to California for the whitewater trips, bro!

    January 15, 2008
    Hi everyone! I was dreaming of a White Christmas. And, I did see Santa head south just before the big day - he was headed for the North Pole! Oh, he was. As I sit on the computer, I glance outside. Today is cold. Not like yesterday which was "warm." I can't tell the difference, but that is what they tell me. (Thanks Sollie for the dream... we just got a major snow storm out here in California!)

    I am in Ottawa. It's beautiful, if snow is your thing. They have been having an especially cold winter and have already received 162 centimeters of snow - whatever that is (Americans... we use parts of our body for measurement.. ha!). It's actually pretty cool... they plow the streets and as a result there are giant snow walls on either side. So when you come to a intersection, you cannot see any cars coming until you creep out midway. Not that your brakes work anyway.

    Otherwise, things are great, and best of all, we will be going curling in two days! These Canadians are walking with a certain air of cockiness thanks to their superior dollar exchange. It's a bit humbling. Come on Rob! Can't you win the presidency so we can re-establish our world dominance!!

    Rene's niece and nephew are 4 and 7 and were just giddy about Christmas. So was I. I have been especially good this year, and I got everything I wanted on my list. (Did you get a new kayak?)

    We had an uneventful flight out here except a small delay at the California Orange County Airport, and the delay at Chicago, causing us to land in Ottawa at 3 am. So it was a long day. Thanks to Rene's frequent flier status, they bumped us to first class which made it tolerable.

    Other than that, Rene and I are going to be celebrating our first wedding anniversary in a few days. We must be having fun, as it seems like just yesterday when we were in Maui with everybody eating those 4-foot burritos and sailing with the humpback whales.

    We will be flying to Miami to meet up with Gee and Fit, and from there, flying to Panama City to board the Melody with Bor and Nig for a few days. We will be cruising around the Pearl Islands in the Gulf of Panama... supposed to be the best fishing in the Pacific. And the white sandy and vacated beaches and snorkeling are as nice as the rumors told.

    Much love to everyone for this 2008 new year! (it's holiday for me, I'm still vacationing!)

    Note from staff: Gee Sollie, rub it in! Remember W.E.T. river trips are starting in 3 weeks!!!!

    January 7, 2008

    Relax. It's snowing and in the words of Mr. Bob Marley, "Every little 'ting gonna be all right!"

    I just got hooked up by "What-would-Ian-do?" with a new Burton Baron ES to replace my aging snowboard, and I'm ready to go find Nate in his Ski Patrol Hut at Kirkwood and Heffe regulating at Sierra while Bird rules the Magic Carpet. (look for a large speeding object carving old-school Euro-stance). I've also got some key motorcycle rides planned.... shhhh.

    With the New Year in our grasp, we've officially opened up a new season of rafting. The early season is river guide heaven: rivers are flowing, snow is still in the hills, the dirt roads are dust-free, and the asphalt twisty roads are oil-free (another reference to those motorcycle rides.... shhhh).

    I'm not shocked by the flotilla of rafts and kayaks on the South Fork American every January 1st (Country Mike?). New Year's Day rafting trips are a local tradition, and this year it was definitely raftable. W.E.T. was seen and makes the Scene... yes, we do that.

    By the way... Sollie just sent in a pic of himself sitting in the snow in Ottawa in front of a McDonalds eating the regional favorite: Poutine (french fries covered in gravy and cheese curds). Luckily, he's now on his way to the Bay of Panama to celebrate his anniversary and New Year's in hot, tropical weather (mmmmm....more Poutine!).

    Drew and Jonny have new babies, Greg D got married, Bird and Heffe have jobs, Maggie is officially a senior in college, Dax, Mr. Concierge is banking cash, Booty is Deep into the snowboard business, Cool J might still be on that couch in San Jose, Wolf is set on getting the turbo Volvo back onto the road, SanJia is possible attending school in Maine while living in a tent, Country Mike will soon own Gold River, JustinO is getting in the best shape of his life, and I've got to check on the others....stay tuned.

    And like Bob also said..."'Don't worry about a 'ting!"

    UPDATE: Kirkwood Ski Resort just got 11 feet of new snow, puppies!

    Post by Big Poppa... hey, how come the SEO staff didn't get invited? Blah on you guys! Thanks to Wikipedia for the (ahem) tasty photo! Yum!

    December 18, 2007
    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!

    December 13, 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!

    November 26, 2007
    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! November 19, 2007
    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... November 13, 2007
    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???

    November 7, 2007
    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... "LET'S LIVE".

    K-Dog Post... he's growing up folks... Note from W.E.T.'s teen blogging staff: hey, parents, we do finally grow up...

    November 1, 2007
    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

    October 29, 2007
    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

    October 9, 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.

    September 5, 2007
    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

    August 28, 2007
    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...

    August 18, 2007
    "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.

    August 5, 2007
    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

    July 30, 2007
    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 trip. 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.

    July 25, 2007
    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

    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. July 17, 2007
    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.

    July 11, 2007
    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... Saul

    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.

    July 10, 2007
    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...

    July 7, 2007
    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.......

    June 25, 2007
    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.

    June 14, 2007
    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 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.

    June 11, 2007
    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!

    June 5, 2007
    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!

    June 2, 2007
    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.

    May 31, 2007

    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...

    May 25, 2007
    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"

    May 18, 2007
    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

    May 14, 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.

    May 8, 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.

    May 1, 2007
    Where does the water come from?

    or-

    How goes the flows?

    and-

    Who plays frisbee golf?

    The last question gets answered first... Outside of UC Santa Cruz students and Marinites... everybody in the freakin' Midwest (at-least according to our expatriates: Ryan D., Eric J., and J.P. (we'll get back to this).

    As to the other questions... I'm glad you asked.

    The North, Middle, and South Fork of the American River have distinct and unique drainages...

    so, tells us more, old river guide and amateur hydrologist.....

    The North Fork American is a completely natural river without dams, canals, or augmentations. With a fairly small drainage above 6,000 ft, where the majority of Sierra snows accumulate, the backside of Sugar Bowl Ski Resort is the headwaters of the class 4+ North Fork. When the Sierra's quit freezing and a 24-hour melt cycle develops (like it did this last Tuesday) the North Fork kicks in and flows freely. In great years, like 2006, the snowpack will squeeze runoff into the river until early June. This year, the early heat in March torched the winter snow pack, but these last few storms in April are now responsible for the flows that we have now. The North Fork should fall below 1,000 cfs soon. We had some great trips and we'll have at-least a couple more before the river becomes a creek.

    The Middle Fork American is a different type of river system. The product of two major drainages, the Rubicon and Middle Fork, it also absorbs the water from the North Fork of the Middle Fork. The entire system drains the western bowls of Desolation Valley (just to the west of Lake Tahoe). Two large reservoirs (French Meadows and Hell Hole) store much of the run-off allowing nearly year-round, runnable flows. The drainages that supply the Rubicon and upper MIddle Fork are high and vast. Rafters and other river users continue to benefit from the system of storage and downstream delivery. This year looks good with solid and reliable flows to be delivered all summer.

    The South Fork American drains the southwest corner of Desolation Valley and the slopes of the Sierra just to the west of Kirkwood and Sierra-At-Tahoe. Silver Lake, Union Valley, Loon Lake, and Ice House reservoirs all hold and control the flows into the South Fork American above 4,000 feet above sea level. With the large storage capacity in place on the South Fork, it takes two back-to-back dry years to severely limit runnable flows in the South Fork of the American. Last year was extra good and this year has proven to be better than OK. We now have guaranteed flows everyday of the summer except for one dry day a week (maybe the guides can play more frisbee golf).

    Apparently the Mid-Westerners love frisbee F'n golf... they talk strategy, equipment, and courses like Tiger Woods must talk golf. I believe them to be sick.... but I also hate hacky sack and I truly enjoy throwing Grateful Dead CD's into the nearest garbage can... I know... that's sick, too.

    Go raft a river & do a trip... enjoy what great flows we'll have this year... no, that's not sick: that's livin'!

    Big Poppa posts are his own personal opinion; the rest of us like frisbee golf, hacky sack & the Dead!

    April 27, 2007
    Watching Bush dance at the Malaria Awareness Event with the West African dancers made me wince. You could tell he felt a bit awkward at first as he started to "get down" with the music. Then , he cut loose. The man's got rhythm! I was a little embarrassed; much like a teen would be watching his parents trying to be cool. Sigh... he seems like such a nice guy. I'd love to party with the man, you know. His past background is riddled with rumors of drunken frat parties and more. You just know that he'd be the life of a party if only he wasn't the President of the United States of America.

    It makes you wonder. Is he the typical trust fund baby who was coddled by his wealthy parents? Was he pushed into a college because his father was in a position of power? Is that why Dubya had poor grades and a reputation for being a party animal in school? He was like a lot of wealthy kids. Just occupying space because he was suppose to graduate from a prestigious school.

    From his parent's power base, he became our president. The awkwardness of his position is evident each time he has to "wing it." He resorts to cliche phrases and canned responses. He's been groomed to this position even though I think deep down, most of us feel that he is definitely in over his head.

    The real power lies in the old guard. They are the ones who have been in power these last few years, not Dubya. The fiasco of Iraq, the excruciating slow response to Katrina, the lack of leadership on health care, the seemingly naive attitude about our economy and our recent public image to the world has been overwhelming.

    I grew up in a honorable military family. Where I lived, we were required to pledge our allegiance to our country every single morning. And during the day, when the alarmed was sounded, we stopped where ever we were, and we faced the flag with our hand on our heart until it ended. I grew up respecting the military and my country. I was told countless times that freedom, liberty, free speech and religious freedom were the cornerstones of this great nation.

    What has happened in the last few years is frightening. Our country has lost part of its soul. Instead of condemning torture, our leaders make excuses. Instead of regulating our food, our drugs, our leaders allow these companies to operate without the past regulations that kept us safe. Instead of allowing environmental scientists the ability to research and publish their findings, this administration has deliberately hampered science's efforts in conservation or in anything that goes against the giants of industry. What is going on?

    And as far as Dubya? I'll party with him anytime. I just don't want him to be our president anymore.

    April 22, 2007
    I haven't written for this blog in a while... concentrating mostly on the business end of the company. Big Poppa and the rest of the crew have been sending lots of new posts with the perspective of being on the river trips during these past few months. Starting in February, when the guides went up north to do the Smith, filling in their acclimation time on the American River, and then last month, spending time up on the Cal Salmon, they've been blogging. Their posts are funny and filled with lots of new pictures. It was a pleasure to read them and see the images of the river and the crew.

    The past week's posts have been cloaked with the sorrow of Virginia Tech, as all of us were affected by the tragedies of young life ending so abruptly. Those students were the same age as many of our river guides. It also triggered for me the sorrow of a friend who died just a week before from leukemia. Lots of sadness, lots of time to think of my own mortality.

    The weather reflected all the tears, too, as winter seemed to come back with rain and snow on the summit this week. The client paddlers came out anyway, regardless of the weather. Some even called to make sure we weren't canceling. I love them all. They seem to know, at least by my interpretation, that life is nothing without a bit of hardship. With the bad, comes the realization of how good life really is. My family, my dear friends and this rafting company, who I've had a pleasure to be associated with for many years, have all given me unconditional love.

    He called yesterday, a gentleman who recently moved to California. His voice lilting with the echoes of a Southern origin. His demeanor and candor was so refreshing. He was a river rafting junkie. He called me sweetheart, which usually, I would bristle, coming from a feminist attitude. But it was the way he said it. He spoke to me as if I was his daughter. It came from a sweetness and love that I hadn't heard in such a long time.

    It seems that our world just keeps getting meaner. There is no other explanation. We can go on and on about society's failures, but it just boils down to plain ol' mean people. They're the ones who scream at us on the phone or flip us off at the stoplight. Being mean takes a toll on everyone. It kills the soul. The best and grandest reminder of heaven on earth is when I'm on the river, the ocean, the outdoors. It's God's gift to be able to enjoy being on the water; a soulful connection with the earth and a greater being than oneself.

    Sun's out today in all its spectacular glory! And that Southern gentleman? He'll never know how he lifted me and wiped away the tears.

    April 19, 2007
    When W.B. Yeats looked at a darkened, cloudy sky he described his vision as a "sky filled with fists of filthy, dark, congealed fat."

    When a cosmic-cowboy poet looked at a similar sky, he wrote: "the sky was like the colors of sparrows: a thousands different colors of gray."

    They were both right and they were both wrong

    Immanuel Kant explained our perception of truth as "Phenomena" or an "impossible truth" with reality filtered through our respective and unique vision compounded by how we feel.

    It is "real" and it is an illusion simultaneously and reliably understood without prediction or even reason.

    I wrote the set of lines below 30 years ago and I've never kept a copy; however, I've re-written the pile of words at least four times for a variety of reasons and the words are always different and the same, and how I remember, but I really don't. The words are just words. The thoughts are a chant, a drone, an echo, and a sound like a whoosh, a scream, a whisper...

    Death and senseless violence make our world shudder and spin and that same violence casts a vague light that reflects and changes and hurts to look at.

    Infinite Regress...

    The boys are standing

    They are facing a wall.

    The boys are standing and facing a wall.

    The boys are wearing pink bow ties?

    The boys in pink bowties are standing and staring at a wall.

    They are staring at a wall full of boys in pink bow ties that are staring at a wall.

    They are staring at a wall full of boys in pink bow ties.

    The boys in pink bow ties are laughing as they stare at a wall full of boys in pink bow ties?

    Laughing.

    They smile as they stare at a wall filled with boys in pink bow ties

    staring at a wall filled with boys

    smiling at a wall

    filled with boys

    smiling

    at a wall

    filled with boys

    smiling

    as their mouths are torn and bloodied by their own snarling teeth and gnashing gums that are forcing hideous smiles to ripple their blood stained chins as the drips of dark thick blood fall on their bow ties that are tied tightly beneath their chins and around their choking necks as they stare with dry eyes?

    at a wall

    full of boys

    in pink bow ties

    that are staring at a wall full

    of boys

    in pink bow ties

    that silently scream and smile and gasp for air as the bricks fall and the sky becomes light and dark as clouds speed to somewhere where those same boys are laughing and staring at a wall filled with boys with pink bow ties laughing at a wall filled with your face, your mirror, your light, your soul, your compassion, your face.

    There is a delivery: it is a box filled with pink bow ties.

    Someone will need to hand them out and tie them tightly with love and care.

    Big Poppa wrote this post after the VT massacre. He is about to send his first-born off to college...

    April 17, 2007
    The pain is indescribable. My heart is so full of ache. All those young students. A day of student life broken in chards, never to be whole again. It didn't matter who you were when you heard the news. It couldn't be real. The numbers were insane. How do you wrap your mind around this horror?

    Imagine. Just imagine. Sitting at your desk in the dry droll of a German class. Your mind is wandering and thinking of the next test that you didn't study for during spring break. Summer is coming soon and you have big plans. Travel to Europe. Internship at your big wish company. The normal and mundane thoughts are suddenly interrupted by a surreal dadaist nightmare.

    One Virginia Tech student was interviewed and commented on the horror of watching people dying around him. My thoughts went immediately to the young soldiers in Iraq. Their ages the same and their horror as grim. All these young people in the beginnings of their adult lives...

    The pundits came out immediately. Gun control. Legislation. Computer games. Hollywood violence. Everyone wants to find the reason, where to apply the blame. All of mankind's history has been riddled by violence. Violence of wars, violence against each other. This era is no more violent than the past. What's changed?

    I was struck by the throw away comment by one talking head about the shooter. It seems that the shooter was being treated for "depression." And that usually means, pharmaceuticals. Isn't there a pattern here? Hasn't many of the crazy crimes that we read about involve some kind of medication administered to the lunatic. Those husbands who kill their families, the guy in the community that goes bonkers and runs over a group of sidewalk innocents, the high school shooter killing his classmates; all on medication.

    As we vilify another mass shooter that will surely go down in history, the chemical crap that passes for medication that might have warped his mind, is basically a side note. It seems that no one is paying attention to the medicines we give to our most vulnerable.

    I pray for all the families suffering from this agony including the parents of the shooter. Their terrible burden will surely destroy them in ways that none of us will ever understand.

    April 14, 2007
    Spring break is over! And I'm so thankful to be home. I was back in my home town of Sacramento for the week, and while it was lovely to have a break and socialize with family and friends I feel so much more content and at ease now that I'm back into my studies.

    Am I the super nerd? Should I start a sorority branch of Lambda Lambda Lambda?

    Perhaps not, but in the meantime I still wear the praise of UC life on my face and on my lapel.

    And on top of the fact that I get to read great literature, study current events, see performances and have all of it count as work I also get the opportunity to interact with people in the most ridiculous of ways. So... speaking of Sororities:

    Today, for instance, I was on my way to Kroebber Hall for my English class when I was approached by a dashing young man named Corey Jackson. Currently, Cal is getting ready to hold elections for the student action committee. The meat market near south gate was transformed into a sea of signs and slippery flyers advertising attractive young people to lead the Greeks.

    Anyway, back to Mr. Jackson. I was walking over to say greetings to a couple of classmates when he was suddenly in my path with a flyer in his hand.

    "Who are you voting for in the elections?" He asked me.

    "Nobody." I answered simply.

    "Nobody?!"

    "Indeed."

    "Is there a reason, or do you not care?"

    "Haven't investigated anyone yet."

    "Well, I'm running and I have a flyer here..."

    "What would you give me for a vote?"

    "Give you?"

    "Would you give me money?"

    "Are you part of a student group?"

    "No."

    "Then I'm afraid not. I will be giving money to student groups should I be--"

    "Would you be willing to give me anything else?"

    He laughed and my new friend Rose jumped in and offered to help hand out flyers if he gave her money (The Fund Rosie Foundation). I had abandoned the notion of getting any cash out of him (and I wasn't serious to begin with) and had simply gone for trying to make him laugh and blush a little. He was admittedly adorable. I took his flyer and he went on his merry way. I've since looked him up. What's hilarious is that he's actually worth my vote.

    I love Cal so much. The folk here react well to my special brand of humor.

    April 10, 2007

    Somehow our spring training is guided by a singular concept: run the Cal Salmon. The concept is then guided by a simplistic goal: don't waste an opportunity to be on the river....

    With those over-arching concepts in place it all began Saturday at Camp Lotus two thirds of a way through a 3-day American River Combo trip and at the front end of a Middle Fork one day and a South Fork Full River trip. Our Guide School overlapped all of this and we finalized plans to drive to the Salmon with the expectation that we would arrive at Nordheimer (the Cal Salmon put-in) at no earlier than 1 am. Saul rolled up in style after flying up from Newport Beach and getting a limo ('85 Volvo Wagon) ride to Lotus by our teen correspondent Liz.

    Heffe, Wolf, Greg, Country Mike, Andrew, and Mogli joined Saul to watch over our newbies: Cool J, Bootay, Dax, and Marie. (it should be noted that Andrew decided to join the Salmon trip 45 minutes before we left... well done Andrew!). We planned to leave as early as possible after the day's trips came in.

    Saturday went well. The South Fork American came through for us with great flows of over 2,000 CFS and we were the only rafting trip on the Middle Fork (that will be another story...). After smiles, hugs, and high fives we finally got the van, trailer, and the Kawasaki KLR 650 (our shuttle vehicle) loaded at 6pm and started off on the seven hour north up I-5, west on Hwy 299, and east on Hwy 96 to the Salmon River Hwy. And finally... up the Salmon River to Nordheimer just down river from the Forks of Salmon. It was 2:22 am when we unloaded and set up our under a full moon in a deserted campground.

    Sunday morning, I got up and made breakfast. Soon, the smell of coffee, a campfire and breakfast burritos brought everyone out of the tents and in the case of Cool J, Bootay, and Heffe.... their bags (they had simply rolled out of the van and slept on the ground). We rallied, became coherent, and started what would become a 2-day horseshoe tournament. It was illuminated... by Andrew... that he had been undefeated throughout a 21-day trip down the Colorado River through the Grand Canyon last fall. Long story: Andrew lost while playing doubles and Saul and I won the tournament. Saul eventually won individual title and Mogli became most-improved...

    Then we scouted the river to find that Freight Train had changed with a large slab of rock choking up the normal run to the right side of the main hole... all of us agreed to play it safe on the first day and run the lower section twice by putting in at Butler Ledge (Class IV) and run to Brannan Bar. We would still have two class V drops and several class IV rapids as well... plus we would make the run twice. Both runs went well with the exception of Heffe dropping into Double Hole and putting together a full crew swim and a five minute surf. (Wolf was the last paddler to eject... he got tired of surfing and just bailed out). After the second take-out, we headed to the store at Somes Bar where additional liquid supplies and ice cream bars were purchased. I left the crew and headed back to camp on the KLR.

    When I rolled into camp the kitchen area was littered with plastic wrappers and hunks of cardboard. The wild horses that live at Nordheimer had eaten our dry goods: pasta, bread, oatmeal, etc. (after staying at Nordheimer for 26 years, we had never been attacked by the horses, they must have been very hungry). So... back on the KLR and a speed run back to Some's Bar. We were re-supplied and we were inevitably well-fed after contributing a little bit more to the local economy.

    More horseshoes and with a full moon: more horseshoes.

    At some point, as our wood supply was running low, Mogli attempted to slit wood with a rock and nearly severed his finger... no worries: some neosporin, gauze, and duct tape and Mogli went on to more horseshoes.

    The next day we took a quick run down the Nordheimer section with clean runs at Bloomers, Airplane, Cascade, Achilles, and Whirling Dervish. We bailed on Freight Train and loaded up for the return trip... Saul had a 9:30 flight from Sacramento to Orange County. We were in great shape as we rolled out at 2pm after a lunch at Butler Ledge.

    The ride from the Salmon to Weaverville is incredible at this time of the year; everything is bright green, the redbud is screaming magenta, and the rivers, creeks, and streams are running clear and strong. As we drove through the Six Rivers National Forest, we saw Salmon, Klamath, Trinity, and the New River.

    About 35 miles from Weaverville, things got interesting and Country Mike blurted out one word: "Trailer!" I look in the rear view mirrors and saw our trailer flying down the 2-lane Hwy in the opposite lane at well over 50 mph as we skimmed the edge of a cliff 75 feet above the Trinity River. In slow motion, the trailer kept a straight path throwing a shower of sparks into the air as it began a slow arc toward our lane and the river cliff. With no other choices, I positioned the van in front of the trailer and slowed down enough to take a major impact from the speeding load. The KLR took the hit as it was mounted to a carrier that was in front of the former trailer hitch. It all worked well: the trailer slowed while the tongue dug into the dirt shoulder and the right rear wheel stopped less than twelve inches from the cliff... All told, a bent motorcycle carrier, a cracked taillight lens, and a broken turn signal on the KLR. The trailer loaded with two inflated rafts, river gear, camp equipment, and personal bags was intact. A stop at Napa Auto Parts in Weaverville for a new hitch pin, food in Redding, gas at Petro, and a replay of Micky Avalon... we dropped off Saul at the airport at 8:30 and finished back at Camp Lotus... 780 miles, 70 gallons of gas, three class 5 river runs, an epic story, and a nearly severed finger all in less than 52 hours... and we had a new horseshoe champion.

    Andrew won't put up with this for too long....

    April 3, 2007
    I didn't know what to expect on the trip up to the Northern California rivers. It was my first trip away from the American River rafting with the W.E.T. guides. I was ready for a full couple of days of river rafting new rivers, but I realized there is more to a road trip then rafting. The comraderie, traveling, rafting, and camping are all as much a reason to go on the road as any other reason.

    After the day has ended, and dinner has gone and passed, it becomes time to settle around the camp fire. I recognize the camp fire as a place to discuss the days happenings, and also to discuss what to expect the next day rafting. The fire is a relaxing place to sit back and exchange river stories, and maybe to share a beverage or two.

    As the night goes on, the stories become more and more elaborate. The tales are harder to comprehend whether or not these things really happened, or have, at least, a semblance to reality. The fire and the drinks allow you to, maybe, open up a little more then you would when the sun is up.

    Being the young and newer guide, I hear a lot of life advice from the more seasoned crew members. Advice about how to deal with all possible situations... sometimes the advice comes not in verbal form, but in the actions of the other guides. The life lessons are not just for the world of rivers but come into use on a daily basis. I think after only a few more river fires, I will be ready for every situation imaginable. I will always remember these river trips and all the advice given.

    Note: Heffe is a 2nd year guide for W.E.T. River Trips though he's had approximately 100+ trips training with our company. He is a great river guide and kayaker who is fast learning the ways and wiles of our more (ahem) "seasoned" crew members (the wise ol' farts). His youth and enthusiasm bring a breathe of fresh air to the more seasoned guides as his eyes look with wonderment at every nuance of the river. Aaaah, I remember my beginnings when I was a newbie on the river.

    Heffe is helping with the guide training this year as he passes on his experience to the guide school students. Saul and Andrew, our senior staff members look to Heffe as the new generation coming up on the W.E.T. team. Look for him on the American River rafting this year!

    March 30, 2007
    Our California whitewater rafting liason with the utility companies that manage the dam has just sent out an update on river flows for this 2007 rafting season. Here is what is predicted for flows on the SOUTH FORK AMERICAN. I write that in caps to make sure you don't confuse it with the other forks of the river.

  • May and June: questionable flows on Wednesdays (there goes Wacky Wed)
  • July and August: questionable flows on Mondays (may as well go to work)
  • September: weekend use and probably Friday (that means it'll be busy)
  • Our lovely boss has decided to apply special pricing to both Tues and Thurs.

  • 2-day standard South Fork trip can be done for the $175 per person Wacky Wednesday rate.
  • The One Day Chili Bar run will remain at $99 per person from Mon through Fri.
  • And you still get the every 6th person free!
  • So what's bad news for Wacky Wednesdays, is good news for our rafting clients as they will be able to save a bundle on rafting packages with us. This will be an awesome year for families, group rafting trips and corporate team-building. See ya on the river!

    March 28, 2007
    The enpowerment of rafting has brought many women to our company, W.E.T. River Trips for team building. Many of our group rafting trips are strictly for women such as women's groups, bachelorette parties and women's sports teams. Last year, active seniors joined us... women over 50 who enjoy being out on the river rafting on whitewater trips! The outdoor adventure industry that was once dominated strictly by men has now seen a huge inclusion of young women in all sectors... and more are joining!

    Our recent blog was written by one of our oldest tenured guides, Jonny. He is married to a remarkable young feminist who has just recently released her first book: "Fight Like a Girl." We caught up with her during her speaking tour. This is our interview with Megan Seely:

    I was the youngest President of California NOW (National Organization of Women). I am currently teaching Sociology and Women?s Studies full-time for Sierra College. I also serve on the board of directors for Women?s Health Specialists, a Feminist Women?s Health Center. Women?s Health Specialists are women-centered health care centers in northern California.

  • As a young woman, how did you become so passionately involved with women's rights and issues?
  • My folks say I was born passionate. I?ve always had very strong convictions and a strong sense of justice. But growing up in a family of predominately women I really didn?t know the realities of women?s rights and/or issues. I grew up with a family that celebrated having daughters, who encouraged my exploration and declarations of self, and more than anything taught me that my voice was valid and important. I think the defining moment for me in terms of women?s rights was while sitting in a large lecture hall at UC Santa Cruz with my mother who was a re-entry student of Women?s Studies and who was taking a class from Bettina Aptheker. Listening to Bettina opened my world and I began to understand that not all little girls grow up they way I did. I knew two things at that point? 1. I would teach and 2. I would work my whole life to make the world a better, safer, more encouraging, supporting and respectful place for women and girls.

  • How were you involved with the UFW (United Farm Workers)?
  • I grew up in a small coastal farming town near Watsonville and went to Watsonville High School. The realities of the farm workers? struggle was impossible to ignore. A group of friends of mine were very aware of UFW and Cesar Chavez?s work. We decided to join in on the grape boycott by sharing a hunger strike. There are some interesting stories in my book about my mishaps ?learning? activism during this time. But this experience, at such a young age (I was 14), made a huge impact on how I saw the world and my role within it. I think I have always been an activist but this experience is when I really began to see the power of collective social movements.

  • Has equality between the sexes become a mute point? ie, women are attending college in greater numbers than men.
  • Nope. There are still many challenges for women and girls today?in this country and certainly around the globe. From issues of political representation (we still only comprise about 16% of Congress, have only 8 woman governors, and still no woman president) to issues of equal pay (on average women make about 74 cents to every dollar a male makes, and that is seriously reduced when you include race/ethnicity into the statistics) to safety (I could give many statistics here but the fact that even one woman in the world is raped or beaten, much less the hundreds of thousands around the world who are, makes my argument) fighting for equality continues to be important. The gains that have been made should be celebrated and should encourage us to continue until all women have the same opportunities.

  • Are the young women of today even interested in women's rights?
  • There are many young women (and men) who care about, and are involved with, women?s rights. There are many who proudly call themselves feminists. The media doesn?t often focus on these folks, but we're here. Of course, on the other hand there are young people who don?t believe that feminism represents them, or that women?s rights is a current issue and who can blame them when we look at the effective slam campaign against feminism in the media, and when our schools barely (if at all) mention feminism or women?s contributions to history or politics. However, when you poll Americans about the tenets of feminism (i.e. ?do you believe in equal rights??) the vast majority of people say yes. I think we generally like strong women characters in our movies and television shows, I think most of us were thrilled with the women who gained political office this last election season and are ecstatic with Nancy Pelosi becoming Speaker of the House, we like that women go to college, we want women to be paid fairly, and we want women safe?that is all feminism.

  • There is a current trend that shows women are making more money than men. Part of that reason is that women are graduating from college in larger numbers than men. Also, for the first time in our history, over 50% of women in marriages now exceed a higher level of income than their husbands. Do these statistics point to a general equality for women?
  • I think that it is important to celebrate and recognize gains that are made but we also need to be careful not to assume equality based on a few gains. Women, in this country and beyond, continue to fight for true equality. In the U.S. we remain under-represented in business, politics, media, education, military, and religion?all the key institutions that shape our society. We still have no constitutional equality in this country and have failed to sign onto the 1979 CEDAW Convention (the Convention of the Elimination of All forms of Discrimination Against Women)?a document that over 180 countries have already signed, including more than 90% of the United Nations membership, most of our European allies and many of our trade partners. We have to ask the question, ?why hasn?t the U.S. signed on??

  • Reproductive rights have been at the forefront for the last few years as we have had a dominate Christian-based agenda as it relates to abortion rights and planning parenthood. Do young women still care about the erosion of these rights?
  • Absolutely, reproductive rights continue to be a cornerstone issue in women?s rights. Among women, young and older, who are activists, reproductive rights continues to be at the forefront. For others, it tends to depend upon the situation. In many ways young women almost take reproductive rights for granted, believing that birth control and abortion is there if they (or a friend) need it but otherwise not a big deal. This is what happens when you don?t teach history. Far too few young women understand the fight that ensued to earn access to birth control, abortion, or other reproductive rights (or to vote, go to college, wear pants, etc). Without an understanding of the politics of reproductive rights it is difficult to truly understand what is at stake? until you, or a friend or sister, are the one who can?t get the services you need. Unfortunately, with 87% of counties in the U.S. without an abortion provider, this is a reality for more and more women in this country.

  • If a woman had been in charge these last four years, would we be in Iraq?
  • While we just can?t know this, it is hard to imagine that we would be in Iraq if a woman had been president. I guess it depends upon which woman. This is not to say that women don?t support war or are in any way incapable of being the Commander-in-Chief but given how unnecessary and ill-planned this current war is, it is hard to believe that a woman, particularly a feminist, would have gotten us into such a position.

  • What do you hope for the women in the USA or the world? Can we apply our cultural concerns to the women in other countries or is the cultural differences too difficult to overcome?
  • So much could be gained, here and internationally, if we were able to simply value and respect women. With value and respect it would be impossible to steal her choices, do harm to her, limit her, deny her education or health care, or treat her as less. My wish is for the safety, health and equal opportunities of all women, everywhere. And if you have these things, I would ask that you remember that a woman devalued anywhere, devalues women everywhere.

  • What is the most important issue standing before the modern woman?
  • Too many to choose just one. Body image and eating disorders are so pervasive among young women, as is campus and dating violence. Certainly reproductive rights are critical and many argue essential to respect and self-determination. Child care is a tremendously important issue as discussed below. Pay equity, workplace safety, overall safety, equal opportunities?all important issues. Another essential issue is what is happening with our democracy?some would wonder if this is a feminist issue, but I argue that participation and representation in democracy is absolutely a woman?s issue.

  • In your marriage, is there a sense of general equality between you and your husband?
  • Very much so. When I first got married, people would challenge me often about equality in marriage. Many insisted that we would have to share 50-50 in all that we do to call ourselves an equal marriage (i.e. one common example that was used was the notion that if I folded a sock, he should fold a sock). I?d like to argue that this is so silly but the truth is that these types of arguments are distracting and can even be divisive. We like to believe there are so many differences between men and women and that nature drives us nearly completely. When in my experience there are not as many differences as people seem to focus on, and that while nature is influential, women and men can both learn to do the ?domestic tasks.? In fact, Jon has always been better at laundry than me, but I?m a smart girl and have figured it out. In my opinion, an equal marriage is one that respects and supports one another and that champions strengths as opposed to gender stereotypic norms.

  • How does a husband and wife create a balance between jobs, marriage and family?
  • I?m not sure if there is a true balance, particularly once children enter the scene. So many of my friends with children feel that when they are with their children they are not doing a good enough job for work and when at work, not a good enough job as a mom. Our country?s politicians love to yell about family values but very little support is put into practice. Other countries do a far superior job aiding families in integrating work and family?from paid leaves, subsidized child care, and an overall cultural value of family and women. The vast majority of American parents are employed in the paid labor force. We have jobs because we need them and because we want them. This should not diminish our ability to be good and present parents. Our country supported women in the paid workforce when it suited them?providing state-sponsored child-care during WWII. We could decide to allocate funds for such things again. The goal should be helping American families successfully integrate work, family and a civic life.

  • If you have a child, how will you raise her/him to understand women's issues and concerns?
  • I hope to raise a child to be a contributor. This is one of the most valuable lessons I learned from my parents. I think that it is essential to raise children with an understanding that what they do impacts others, negative or positive. If we raise children to be respectful and empathic toward others, women?s rights is a given. As are civil rights, gay/lesbian rights, disability rights and essentially every human?s rights.

  • Do you plan to run for any higher political office? Isn't that where a young feminist can make the most difference?
  • Perhaps someday?in the meantime I am really passionate about training young people on how to make a difference, create change, and take leadership. I think we need to re-define leadership for a new generation in way that incorporates women?s experiences rather than demand that they mold into a male model of politics, business, education, media, etc. Politics and government certainly is a powerful way to make a difference and running for office is a fabulous way to join in but activism comes in many forms and we make a difference on many levels?from running for office, but also by voting, talking to friends and family about an social issue that concerns us, creating co-opt child care with your neighbors, combating media images by speaking out about loving our bodies... just as they are and encouraging other women and girls to do the same, by taking a women?s studies class at the local community college, joining a campaign, going to a community meeting... activism is everyday and everywhere, for everyone.

    Visit Fight Like a Girl for more information on the author, Megan Seely. She will be speaking at several Northern California locations. There is a listing of speaking events and resources for the young feminist.

    March 26, 2007
    Jonny is our longest tenured guide for W.E.T. River Trips. He is a remarkable man of distinct personality, far different from the standard guide on the river.

    Jonny started out at the warehouse at age 14. He and his best friend would hang out there trying to get on a whitewater trip. The older brother was also quite well-known around the paddling community as a very accomplished kayaker, so Jonny always had his big brother ahead guiding the way towards the rafting community.

    He started training and guiding when he ended high school. There was a joke around that time about his time management skills as we always referred to "Jonny-Time." A loving reference to his delayed execution to just about anything including preparing lunch or packing gear. We all loved him regardless, and he has stayed with W.E.T. for many years. Here are his words...

    My first experiences with whitewater rafting started in the spring of 1982. A wet spring and I would hear all about the adventures of my oldest brother David when he came home from raft guide training. A high water year, and he had lots of stories to tell. I was drawn-in by the adventure of it all. A year passed, and I was overjoyed and surprised to find that David had offered to take me, my family and a friend down the South Fork of the American for my 14th birthday. I remember seeing Chili Bar for the first time, as well as helping David blow up the raft with a foot pump. Even though it was July 18th, the water was still high. I remember David knocking my dad out of the boat by maneuvering it into rocks. My dad was a bit shaken but he was fine. The thought of having a captive audience and total control of one's environment seemed pretty appealing. I must admit I thought big brother was pretty cool. Later that summer, I met the W.E.T. boss, Steve.

    A few years later, big brother said I should try to be a raft guide and train with the crew... Along with my best friend, Bruce, (who is currently a Grand Canyon Guide and Firefighter) I headed up to Coloma right after graduating from high school in 1986 to try to find work with a company who would train us as a guide. We ended up at a rafting company, which shall remain nameless, who hired us to deliver lunches to designated sites on the river. Nonetheless, that company never trained us to be guides. It was later that summer and the following spring and became trained as guides with W.E.T. River Trips, the original "Punks on Water."

    I remember reading a whitewater handbook which had helpful information as well as stuff that looking back I just wasn't going to use, such as the 15 or so signals to be given on the water. C'mon, face it, when it gets squirrely, the guy across the river is either going to give you an all ok sign or shoulder shrug sign of we're screwed. I received my practical on river experience from Steve. It was under Steve's watchful eye and expert tutelage that I slowly becamed trained in the art of hydrological adventuring. I remember running into a lot of rocks that first year simply because I couldn't be decisive about decisions on the water.

    Guiding teaches you to be decisive and commanding as well as forcing oneself to look at the big picture in terms of planning and executing a professional rafting experience. I know many a guide who have had to adjust their thinking to keep up with W.E.T. protocol. By the time I became a guide, my big brother had started his outdoor clothing line of and opening his Snowboard shops in Sacramento, Placerville and the summit. I do, however, enjoy the rare day when both of us work together on a rafting trip.

    Currently, I am teaching math in northern California. W.E.T. has had a lot of teachers work as guides over the years. I think because Steve is an educator and relates well to others who teach. Being a teacher helps when working as a raft guide because you have to think quickly on your feet. Being creative and being positive often helps when dealing with various situations in the classroom or on the river.

    In the fall of 1995, I married my wife Megan who recently was hired on as a full-time Sociology professor at Sierra College. Yea! I am very type B, and she is a motivated type A. Her book "Fight Like a Girl" came out mid-January 2007. Megan is the best thing that has ever happened to me. She knows I enjoy working as a raft guide and supports my efforts to do so. Besides, she likes going out to dinner every now and then with my tip money! We are expecting our first child early July 2007. Another Cancer in the family. I am very excited and can't wait.

    In my tenure over the years I have been more of a role player than a key player. I would like to acknowledge many of the key guides that I worked with over the years. People such as Ian, Andrew, and Saul. It was only this past rafting season that I took on such a role. It was satisfying as well as daunting at times.

    I have been a guide for W.E.T. many years because even though the guides may change, W.E.T. always feels like a family. Steve treat us all very well and make us feel appreciated. And, yet, he will tell us when we are screwing up. I know that Steve wants the best for each and every one of us. When the guides get together and shoot the breeze, the tenor is often irreverent and playful. I recall Saul often saying things like, "Always remember you're unique." It was guides like Ryan, Nathan, Saul, Andrew, Vlad, Zack, Maggie, Alex and Jason among many others to keep it lively and interesting.

    I will share one funny story from a raft trip. It was after a long day in which a group of guides just finished a full river trip on the South Fork of the American. We loaded up the people on the bus and sent the head guide Ian with them. It was after loading up all of the gear in the equipment truck that we realized that Ian had the key in his pocket. I remember sitting on the hood of our vehicle at the Salmon Falls parking lot and asking the other guides if anyone wanted to listen to the radio while we waited. I don't know about you, but that one killed em dead at the time.

    As per me being the naked guy, I'm not sure how that started. I don't doubt that it was coaxed out somehow by Barb's trip. I distinctly remember a former guide named Lara who did an ass-out backflip off of the boat on one of Barb's trips and daring me to do the same, so. . . I did. I saw how much doing so charged the atmosphere and people were just giddy. I think I like seeing people's reaction when I do something unexpected or risque. I guess deep down I am just a people pleaser. I would like to say that it is really special having Barb's trip come every year and request me. I am truly feeling the love. Those gals are great. It is really fun just cutting loose and letting it all hang out (so to speak). It is an added bonus to watch Saul squirm because he gets uncomfortable with such things.

    So many rivers to see... Life is an adventure, we need to all get out there. Don't take life seriously, it is not permanent. March 22, 2007
    Am I Irish? Perhaps. My mother's maiden name is Mitchel. But even then, we're terrible mutts. I'm as white as a quivering narcissus and yet I somehow have Cuban blood.

    Whether or not I actually have any Irish in me, I enjoyed Saint Patty's Day. I decided to spend the holiday here in ol' Sac'o'tomato with my wuv Dustin. We had somewhat of an adventure, I must say!

    But to begin with, I'd like to describe the Friday before Saint Patty's Day at Cal Berkeley. There was much premature green to be seen! There was even a young gentleman with the Irish flag painted upon his face walking into a cafe at approximately 11am. Friday was a beautiful and bizarrely warm day. I sat at the fountain near the South Gate and read my copy of Tim O'Brien's "The Things They Carried" This did seem somewhat fitting; reading war stories written by an Irish American the sunny Friday before Saint Patty's Day.

    But as is typical with this collection, I became a little sad. I was touched by O'Brien's account of how and when he was drafted. He had felt immune. He'd been a college man oblivious of the long-reaching fingers of the American Military. He'd been a liberal. Like me? He wasn't a radical. He wrote a few anti-war articles here and there. But could be considered a pacifist? No. And off to war he went.

    I'm bothered by the expandability of military personal. But so far, I'm immune. I will never know what it's like to sit frightened in the humid jungle of Vietnam, nor will I endure the stinging heat and smothering sand of Iraq. So far, I'm immune. As a woman. As a college student. As a non-volunteer.

    What does that have to do with Saint Patrick's Day? Sacrifice. And that's all I'll say about that.

    So let's move on to an account of my actual SP insanity. I started my day at McKinley Park with my two-year-old nephew, Jimmy. He made me feel big for 5'4". I love that kid. After an hour or so of following around his joyous exploration of the wooden playground and chasing ducks and geese (which were comically almost twice his size), Dustin (my wuv) and I took my older sister (Jimmy's mother) out for a birthday brunch. How sweet must it be to have your birthday on Saint Patrick's Day? We ate at the Rio City Cafe. I stared down a snobby couple that attempted to sneer at us for bringing a toddler to their restaurant. People like that are such horrors.

    After brunch is where the mischief began. Dustin and I attended a timeshare presentation put on by Trendwest. We had absolutely no intention in buying, we merely wanted the free gift and trip, and the opportunity to torment the salespeople. Now, I was not intending to Hunter Thomas these people as much as I eventually did. But man, they sure asked for it.

    The young woman who was our main sales-rep' revealed herself immediately to be a remarkable example of the Stepford wife. She immediately began to engage Dustin--the man--and inquire as to his business. I gazed down at her paper and noticed that there was a space for my "job" as well. So I waited to be asked. But I wasn't. She almost completely ignored me the entire time (aside from asking to see my engagement ring), focusing all her energy on selling Dustin.

    Thus, the fundamental feminist in me became enraged. When Dustin took leave to the restroom, the saleswoman began to ask me about where I wanted us to go for our honeymoon and what I was planning our wedding to be. I responded with the following: "We're not very traditional, he and I. We haven't given much thought to a honeymoon. Our wedding, however, will be entertaining. We're going to do it at the beach."

    "Oh! The beach is so romantic!"

    "Yes. Dustin wants to wear a Speedo and a bow tie. I'll be dressed as a belly dancer and we'll perform the ceremony in the water. In between the vows everyone will take a shot of hard alcohol and we want to have bagpipers in duck suits. We like duck suits."

    She didn't speak to me beyond this. Our gift consisted of a DVD player and a three-day trip to Tahoe. Completely worth it.

    The rest of the evening consisted of visits to friends and some mild adventures. We spent about 15 minutes at the Jammies before we realized that there wasn't much to see or listen to. We then enjoyed the rest of the night in our loft with music, food and friends. It was somewhat of a Ferris Bueller day. Had we wrecked a priceless collectible car, however, it would've been complete.

    I enjoy Saint Patrick's Day very much, even though it's been branded as drunken amateur night. Unlike first-hand war experience, nobody is really immune to that.

    Here's to your roof, may it be well thatched And here's to all under it - May they be well matched.

    March 20, 2007
    80 degrees, 1,500 cfs, 2 paddle rafts, 1 oar boat, and 2 safety kayaks... add to the North Fork American and we couldn't have had a better commercial season opener for the 2007 Rafting season. A group of past clients, mixed in with some newbies, were guided by Mac, Wolf, and Jason with Andrew and his buddy Greg watching the flock from their kayaks, had an amazing day.

    After picking up the clients at Camp Lotus where they spent the evening in the Camp Lotus lodges, we rolled to the Iowa Hill put-in and found ourselves the only company on the river...the day just got better and better.

    The hills were green and filled with blooming Lupine and Poppies. The side creeks were still pumping in fresh flow to contribute to the 1,500 CFS we were getting at the put in. Chamberlain Falls, Slaughter's Sluice, Bogus Thunder, and Staircase were run cleanly without incident. It was a little dicey when Wolf tried to beat Jason into Slaughter's and almost peeled him into the entrance rocks; however, Jason showed he wasn't rusty and pulled his oarboat back to let Wolf drop-in and both boats ran the rapid cleanly... like it should be run.

    Great day, good flow, great guides, and clean... like the North Fork needs to be run. Oh and that sunny 80 degree day in mid-March...that was bonus!

    March 12, 2007
    Midterms, Spring break... student life demands a break from the grind! Let's ask Steph how it's going over at Berkeley...

    So, I had my first experience with Cal Midterms. Exciting? Not so much. Painful? A little bit. The most intriguing part about midterms was watching my fellow students burn out, but show up. Yes, attendance dwindled somewhat the last two weeks. But for some reason, I would come to class and see these young people who did show up looking twenty years aged. Their eyeballs sagged. They looked like victims of Lyme Disease. I felt terrible and guilty that I'd gotten so lucky.

    I only had one Midterm on Friday. Granted it was absolutely brutal, but I got off light compared to some of the kids studying engineering and the like.

    But don't think my week was all a bed of roses. My internet connection went dead at home. T-Mobil screwed up my billing services and shut my phone down.

    At the end of the day on Friday, however, I felt a great sense of accomplishment. I walked out of my English discussion; the first one to successfully finish taming the beast. Am I brilliant? Not so much. Am I compulsive? A little bit.

    I walked over to a little tea spot on Bancroft avenue called Moccacino and had myself an Oreo milkshake. I'm not cool and hipster enough to be really into tea.

    I highly recommend the place. I also recommend that when you sit down to take a midterm, sit down and tame it. Don't be intimidated by it. You are its master. And when you hit the question that you have no idea how to answer, just move on. That one question is not your identity.

    Neither is the Oreo milkshake or the tea if you like them. But they are delicious and refreshing.

    "Steph at Berkeley" - Steph is a college student at Berkeley and blogs about student life. March 5, 2007
    My first day of snowboarding was March 2nd... the latest start for me ever but, I'm happy to say it was freakin' awesome; no lines and first tracks through thigh-high deep powder. On the drive-up Hwy 80, I saw the first patches of snow just before Colfax, and it just got deeper and deeper until Donner Summit where 12' banks teetered over the highway. The blue-bird conditions were perfect.

    Sunday, I went up again to Sugar Bowl. The place was packed, light clouds shifted overhead, and I was with three of our teen staff members. The snow was still deep and light. From the top of Mt. Lincoln, I could look down into the upper drainage of the North Fork of the American River and all I could see was deep white snow... the North Fork whitewater is going to flow strong and long!

    After a few more runs off of Lincoln, I made the traverse to Mt. Judah and re-connected with the teens, waded through the crowds and rolled down Hwy 80... another great day and a great North Fork season is just a coupla weeks away.

    I've still got the time to make it to Kirkwood and see what's coming down the hill for the South Fork American (Kirkwood had 14 feet of snow in three weeks!)... happy to say.

    Sidebar: both the drainage for the North Fork and the South Fork American look very healthy after these past few storms. Looks like a great 2007 rafting season after all despite the dry January!

    March 2, 2007

    California Rafting picture Spring break is here already... another year of debauchery. A parent called this week in an uproar over their child's decision to hit the Cancun circuit in Mexico. We had a long talk about spring break craziness as we both knew what our children would be doing on those trips.

    It got me thinking about past years when we had college students from across the country on our spring break rafting trips. Mostly college students who loved the outdoors and were bonding together as a small group of tight friends... some were traveling across the country as they headed towards California mecca of rafting and paddling trips. These young adults seemed a bit more mature about where their lives were heading. Sure, they spilled out of their cars with the same wild abandonment as any other young person, but they were here to tackle some California rafting instead of hanging out on the beach getting wasted.

    The guys were here with the machismo bravado of the whitewater paddler, while the girls just wanted to hang with their best friends. No "Girls gone Wild" types... just a bunch of really great young people having a good 'ol time on the river.

    I wonder how we parents survive watching our kids jump out into the real and wild world of partying and getting crazy. I mean, we all did this in varying degrees; some of our old friends still act as if life was a spring break!

    Traveling and exploring is definitely a rite of passage into adulthood... we parents just hope that where ever they are, they are safe, sound and having a good time.

    February 26, 2007
    It was all Sollie's idea, "Let's go up and raft the Smith River in February.. (it made sense because the Smith is dependent upon rain and not snow for its flow and it was finally raining). What didn't make sense was the fact that it was February, and we should have all been snowboarding!

    Nine of us finally committed to go as we faced a long President's Day weekend. So Heffe and I drove up to Lotus to load the gear Friday night.

    3:30am Sollie left Newport Beach for his 400 mile drive to Sacramento. Maggie left Reno at 5:00am. Jason and Brian would leave Marin in time to rendezvous with us on Hwy 101 in Willits. Justine, Nate, Heffe, Vlad, and I met Maggie in Sacramento at 9:00am. Sollie came in 15 minutes later.

    After a quick food buy and securing all the personal gear in the Dodge Ram and Justin's new Toyota 4x4, we left the parking lot by 9:45am. We rolled north on I-5 to Hwy 20 where we skirted the north shore of Clear Lake while noting that none of us had seen more mobile homes in any community that had not been leveled by a tornado. Knowing that tornadoes are attracted to trailer courts (yes, scientific fact!),we realized that we were in potential danger and thought best to move quickly to Hwy 101 and head north to Willits.

    Once we reached Willits, it was time for a Taco Bell stop. After 18 tacos, 6 burritos, odd nachos, and other quick meal fixes, the seven us walked out into the warm early afternoon sun to meet Jason and Brian as they rolled up in Brian's Illinois-rusted Toyota Camry. We gassed up, bought some potatoes, eggs, and carrots at Safeway and headed north as a caravan of three vehicles with nine passengers.

    After a quick blast up 101, we skimmed the incredible northern, winter coast of California just north of Eureka. We went through redwoods, watched the sun drop to the surf, and crossed the Mad River as well as the mighty Klamath and Eel Rivers. We thought about the consequences of hitting a Roosevelt Elk at 60mph as we past herds of the beasts.

    Just outside of Crescent City, we headed northeast on Hwy 199 to Jedediah Smith, Redwoods State Park on the banks of the Main Fork Smith River.

    Since it was getting dark, we made camp (while we marveled at Justin's full-size inflatable mattress and 12' x 12' Easy-up covering his entire truck) and quickly and cooked up a meal of pasta, dutch-oven chicken breasts, garlic bread, and salad. Interestingly, the water source was fifty feet away so due to that hardship, we took full advantage of Jason's forethought in stopping at the Marin Costco to pick-up a case of micro-brew. Well done.

    It rained all Saturday night and we were greeted by BLUE SKIES (in February?in a rain forest!). After a round of breakfast burritos of potatoes, egg, hot sausage, and onion? we loaded up to find a section of river to run (interestingly we did not plan which run to do since there are four distinct runs suitable for rafts and only two of us had ever been on the Smith?yes, we are professionals!) Luckily 199 gave us some great views of the river, and we decided to do the Oregon Hole run on the Middle Fork of the Smith. The flow looked perfect and the run had a nice and easy warm-up before dropping into some class 3 and hard Class 4. As we drove to the put-in, I discovered that we were only 42 miles from Cave Junction Oregon, the put-in for the Illinois River as it flows north to the Rogue River and ending just inland from Gold Beach Oregon? sounds like a new combo trip: 3-days on the Illinois, a day on the Smith, 2-days on the Cal Salmon, and hit the Scott River on the way back to I-5? as Borat (or Vlad) would say, "Very Nice!"

    We ran our shuttle and put-in just above the Gasquet Bridge. Just like every season, the wetsuits shrank, the dry-top gaskets tore, and the pfd's felt extra snug? odd. We loaded into two Hysides with Sollie, Heffe, Maggie, and me in one boat while Vlad, Justin, Nate, Jason, and Brian took the other.

    The sun was out, the temperature was mild, and the water was crystal clear. Wow?a great day on the river!

    After some easy class 3, we hit the Oregon Hole section. We ran three Class 4 rapids back to back with the only drama coming from Vlad's boat as they paddled into a deep hole with no momentum and off-angle causing three swimmers. Heffe threw a spot-on shot with his throw bag (we were first through and set-up safety) right to Vlad (the other guys got to their raft) and Heffe pendulumed Vlad into Saul's grasp. Vlad would paddle again!

    The rest of the run was Class 3 and finished with sections of Class II as we united with the South Fork of the Smith River just above our camp.

    Since we had some daylight after the shuttle, we played a Bocce Ball tournament that started in our camp and ended on the cobbled beach of the Smith. We played through the redwoods and ferns, down steps to the day-use area, along the beach, and back up the stairs to camp? team Gold won the tournament. Sollie came in last.

    We had another pasta dinner with hot sausage, garlic bread and salad. Justin had to go to work on Monday so he and Nate left for Sacramento.

    Again, the water spigot was simply too far away and we had additional beverages: Maggie had brought along a friend by the name of Jose Cuervo. And someone else had a friend named Jack Daniels. It was a lively campfire and everyone was safe and sleeping by 11pm.

    Monday morning, we had another round of breakfast burritos, and we packed up camp leaving one raft inflated and strapped to the rack of the Dodge as we headed back to Crescent City.

    Just south of the main drag in Crescent City, Maggie, Heffe, Sollie, Jason, and Brian put a raft into the surf while I took pictures and Vlad reveled in memories of his conversations with "Jack" around last night's campfire.

    With 8' waves coming in strong and fast, the crew hit the surf for two sessions and called it quits by 11am. We said goodbye to Jason and Brian and we took Hwy 299 east to the Trinity through Willow Creek, Weaverville, past Whiskeytown Reservoir and to I-5 just south of Red Bluff. After our obligatory stop at Petro Truck Stop, we made it back to Sacramento by 6:30pm. We unloaded, said goodbye and Sollie drove 400 miles back to Newport Beach, and he arrived home at 12:30am.

    So, after 1,600 miles of hwy, 15 miles of river, 1 hour of surf, and a sunny February weekend on the north coast of California?we were done. Thanks Sollie, it was your idea.

    February 23, 2007
    The guides gathered over this past weekend and hit the road for a Northern California river tour... successful runs and a fun time was had by all... silliness prevailed as they ended their road trip surfing in the ocean with the rafts... stories were formed as they headed home tired and spent... some rain fell, but most days were sunny and beautiful with whitewater rapids.

    Here's some pics raft surfing on the Northern coast after the river trips...

    Sollie led the crew on this recent California road trip, and before they headed back to home base in the Lotus Coloma Valley, they stopped for a brief respite at the ocean.

    A gray day contrasted with the colorful gear of the crew as they carried the raft out into the sea. There the water was rocking and rolling as waves came in for a nice surf.

    ... it seems we just can't get enough... ever. Postcard from the Great North

    February 20, 2007
    The transition is difficult... from her being here everyday. I watch her as she packs up old toys and books from her childhood. But isn't she still a child? Still a youngster who needs her parent? The transition is difficult... she's pulling pictures and posters from the wall. And the colorful poem written in bright paint on the closet door is highlighted even more without the surrounding poster decor. It will be very difficult for me to let go.

    High school is almost over for her. She's planning her next move into a house of her own and a college schedule that seems close to her high school schedule. She'll still have to get up early and juggle teachers and classes just as she does now. But who will fix her breakfast? and lunch? and dinner? Who will buy the groceries and plan the meals? Who will wash her clothes and linens... on a regular basis? Who will hold her when she's sick with a fever? Not me... anymore.

    I walk by her room now and the echo is apparent. She's packed most everything and discarded what she no longer needs. Hubby and I went through the garbage bags and found too many keepsakes. And we fished them out and dusted them off and placed them carefully in our memories. We just can't throw everything out. I kept her first books. I kept all the teacher's accolades. I kept all the awards and trophies from every event and more. Her first doll. Her first stuffed animal. Pictures of her first river trip. On and on, we poured through the remnants of her childhood as tears rolled down my cheek. Sigh... I will miss her so much.

    Overwhelmed by her near empty room, I slip out only to hear her scrambling through papers. Another bag of garbage coming out of her bedroom. She has a grin on her face; wide from ear to ear. Her excitement over her new anticipated beginnings is contagious, and I don't want her to see me cry.

    February 13, 2007
    After the driest January in the recorded history of California, a new WET world has dawned in the middle of February giving whitewater rafters and kayakers a moist (naw...make that a W.E.T. River Trips) Valentine's gift. funny pictureMuch love came down from the skies from across the watery Pacific Ocean ranging from over 3 inches of rain in the Sacramento Valley to 10 inches in the upper foothills. Fat whiteness also dropped in the high country with over 3 feet of very WET snow.

    This means that with 2 more months of precipitation left, our snow melt rivers like the North Fork American and Cal Salmon are in great shape and our dam-controlled rivers like the South Fork and Middle Fork American Rivers will gain added storage to ensure predictable, boatable flows well into late summer and early fall.

    With more rain and snow to come, we are in for some big fun with great whitewater rafting, beautiful rivers, and mountainsides dripping with wildflower color.

    It's going to rain and snow some more....Bring it.

    My snowboard needs some exercise and so do my legs for that North Fork put-in, the scouting on the Cal Salmon, and the portaging on the Middle Fork... and not to mention for chasing Ryan Mac around the warehouse after he pulls another prank that needs major payback! Like I said...Bring it!
    Another Big Poppa Post; are u hearing it Mac?

    February 12, 2007
    Whitewater rafting in California is looking very good after this recent series of storms. The snowpack was a welcoming sight for all the Sierra skiers and rafting enthusiasts. Pent-up energy sent a lot of travelers up to the snow country this past weekend as witnessed by the traffic jams on the summit.

    On the North Fork American, we should have a normal mid-March through May season with flows starting as the snow melts or precipitation falls. North Fork American is our favorite Class 4+ river run in Central California. Easy access from San Francisco and the Bay's outlying areas, this river will delight the advanced or experienced rafter. W.E.T. River Trips has been running this river since the late 70's and our guides enjoy this challenging whitewater run.

    Included with W.E.T.'s river rafting packages are wetsuits, splash jackets, helmets, lunch, kayak support, guide service and shuttles. You can even combine this trip as a double run in one day or as a 2-day combination trip with another river.

    Both the South Fork and Middle Fork American will have great flows as both reservoirs are in good shape. We recommend both these rivers for groups and corporate programs.

    Our start date is March 17th, Saturday on both the South Fork American and North Fork American. Wetsuits are part of all our trip packages so don't forget to have the height and weight information when you reserve.

    This year, you can either call in your reservation 1.888.723.8938 or reserve online at raftwet-store.com. Store pricing includes the government land use fees so you don't need to figure the fees out with your calculator. And remember, "If you can't find the info you need, just call us!" February 5, 2007
    UC Berkeley has a subculture of furry flittering-tailed creatures. Squirrels. Having grown up visiting Capitol Park in Sacramento, I've a great love of squirrels.

    I'm Stephanie, and I'm a student at UC Berkeley.

    While the courses are amazing and the city is alive, this first post, I felt I should dedicate to something I feel is a bit of a metaphor. The other day I stepped out of Dwinelle Hall on campus at ten in the morning. I walked toward the south gate when I for the first time consciously noticed a small gaggle of brown furry campus squirrels. I realized at that moment that the hordes of students simply left them alone. Sometimes they'd feed the squirrels, but nobody attempted to approach them, or generally notice them beyond the opportunity of feeding them.

    I had time to kill and attempted an experiment. I walked up to one of the squirrels munching on a peanut shell. I had some pistachios in my bag. I kneeled in front of the little guy -- about a foot away -- and held out a pistachio. He squirreled up to me, sniffed the nut and jumped on my shawl. I pulled the treat back... and the little feller jumped on my knee. So I gave him the nut, then offered him another. And another. Continuously. And after a moment, I extended my index and middle finger toward the back of his neck. And while he feasted on my pistachio snack, he let me pet him.

    And the hippies stared in awe.

    I love going to Berkeley. Give the squirrels a Nobel Peace Prize.

    -Stephanie

    Steph is a University of California at Berkeley student. W.E.T. River Trips welcomes her musings as a college student and her experiences at one of our favorite universities!


    February 1, 2007
    10 billion dollar price tag for the Auburn Dam is just too much for too little. Doolittle's own requested research has shown what an incredible waste of tax payers money and time would be spent on this dumb project. Keep in mind, too, that this project study is based on a 1978 dam design that may or may not even "hold water" today. Is the economic impact of whitewater recreation and other recreational uses be willingly sacrificed? Is the loss of a wild and scenic canyon and its natural rivers such as the North Fork Americanbe sacrificed for so little?

    Will Doolittle and his dam cohorts finally give up this pipe dream? Is 10 billion dollars for only 1/2 the water storage, his team had originally been claiming, be worth the trip to the taxpayers? And how will they address the fact that no one or no entity will step forward to even purchase this water? And will they hear their own research that the flood protection doesn't even exist with this project?

    Or will Doolittle cite another Michael Crichton story to discredit the science and research of his own requested study?

    January 27, 2007
    I've been surfing the web for hydrology information on rivers in the West and California. Also, I've been looking at the weather predictions for this winter. A dry winter has set upon us as we remember the last two winters of huge snow packs and relentless rain. Is it global warming or is it just the natural cycle of the weather out here in the West? Most weather and hydrology sites seem to say that the weather has been actually quite normal out here this year. Some have even said that we would have a lot of precipitation next month and into March.

    Here is a listing of sites that were interesting enough for me to spend quite a bit of time with as I looked at the Farmers Almanac to the National Weather Service. I'm having a good read outdoors in the hammock since the weather has been just incredibly beautiful!

    I particularly like the weather map at the NOAA site showing normal river flows for this time of the year. The map is updated every 10 minutes, so it'll be a good one to bookmark to view throughout the river rafting season... especially for those who are planning group rafting trips. Normal flows mean that the river will be better suited for youth groups, families and corporate groups.

    For extreme whitewater paddlers, you probably got your fix the last two years. This year is the time to drag those beginners and novices to go rafting. Introduce your buddies to whitewater rafting this year and get them ready for the big stuff later. January 22, 2007
    W.E.T. River Trips is pleased to announce the following news about our company. We have finalized several new programs for the 2007 Rafting Season. New start dates for the Middle Fork American have increased our company's capacity on this beautiful wilderness trip. Also, the South Fork American River permit was increased by giving us a carrying capacity that will help us satisfy our many loyal clients. Why? Why did we increase our usage on our rivers?

    rafting and paddlingThe history of whitewater rafting started around the late 50's and early 60's. Yes, of course, there were many early rafters throughout the Southwest; especially in the Canyonlands where river lore predates the 50's and even the turn of the century. But, I digress... what we're talking about is the commercial rafting trips. In the late 70's, river rafting became very popular as the entire paddleboat scene unfolded. Earlier, rafters enjoyed river trips by allowing a professional guide to row down rivers using inflatable rafts and oars. Large 10-foot, wooden oars were used to navigate the boat through rapids and rocks. The rafts of old were boats with no drain holes or mechanisms to allow the water out. We called them "bucket boats." That meant that someone in the boat either had to start bailing out the raft with a "bail bucket" or the oarsman pulled over in a calm eddy to bail the water out himself! Talk about an epic journey when the water was high... you're bailing constantly as a passenger and a critical component.

    W.E.T. River Trips started paddle boats back in the late '70's. Key employees, Steve & Tim took notice of canoeists back East and applied that technique to paddling on the South Fork American in August of 1978 and the Tuolumne in July of 1980. Then self-bailing rafts made their debut shortly after. What a difference it made in the execution of rafting trips. Time to take a breather between rapids, time to position yourself comfortably for the next rapid, time to allow your guests a brief reprieve from the constant dousing over one's head... self-bailers changed rafting forever. And it changed W.E.T. River Trips and the entire industry, too.

    Growth was tremendous for some of the larger rafting companies while W.E.T. kept a low profile with very small and intimate trips. The small boutique rafting trips became a slowly dying entity as larger rafting companies swallowed up the smaller ones. W.E.T. created many programs as the big companies started mimicking and outright copying our concepts. So back to the why? Why are we trying to be bigger? We're not. Just more efficient as our client base has grown and we were tired of turning so many people away. We offer great California river trips at a good price point. We want everyone to be able to enjoy a river rafting adventure. Not just the affluent or privileged groups... so, how do we accomplish that? We had to have more carrying capacity to allow us to discount special trips for non-profits and youth groups.

    Our owner is firstly an educator. An educator that has dedicated his life to students who might not have all the advantages in this affluent world that we live in. He has opened our doors to even more types of groups and we are excited about our 2007 rafting season coming up this spring. Now it's youth groups, corporate groups, teens and tons of families that enjoy our trips. For those of you who have rafted with us, you know what were talking about here. You are the ones who have helped us grow. You are the ones who have encouraged us to hang in there when the "big dogs" were barking and nipping at our heels.

    W.E.T. River Trips thanks you and all the others who have been in our corner since the beginning. Special thanks goes to Bill and Robyn Center of Camp Lotus who have been champions for this river community and for us. We also want to thank all the Coloma/Lotus businesses who have supported us with their enthusiasm and goodwill such as the Sierra Nevada House, the Coloma Gas Station, the artists and creative people in that community, and, of course, the Coloma/Lotus Chamber of Commerce. We also want to give special thanks to the American River Conservancy who has helped to save the South Fork American's beautiful river corridor.

    Have a great winter this year as blue skies seem to dominate the horizon. With our past wet winters, storage in the reservoirs are healthy. That means the South Fork and Middle Fork American should have good dependable flows for this season. Get out and play outdoors and "get off the couch!" We'll see you on the river starting in March 2007! W.E.T. River Trips staff and guides

    January 18, 2007
    Guide school reservations for W.E.T. River Trips started on January 15, 2007. We advise that you complete your First Aid and CPR requirements before you start our school. rafting guideThose of you in college who are working on majors in recreation and plan on making this a long-term career, should also look at Swift Water Rescue, Wilderness Medicine and even EMT (emergency medical training) certification. All will be beneficial for your whitewater guide training advancement. Rafting outfitters in the State of California are required to have guides trained with the minimum of First Aid and CPR. Most agencies that govern the rafting companies also require Swift Water Rescue training. So be prepared before you come to join us. The rafting company will look upon you more favorably and you'll advance more quickly.

    Most white water guide schools in California are scattered from the far north, central and southern sections. In the north, rivers like the Cal Salmon and Smith are great runs in the early season starting in mid-March through May. In central California, the American River whitewater sections are best suited for rafting schools. The central California area has a very long rafting season from March through September. Most California guides work on the American River so no matter where you are employed, you'll end up there at least for a while. In Southern California, the Kern and the Kings are usually available for training purposes around May and June.

    Top rafting schools include W.E.T. River Trips, a guide school that focuses only on professional rafting guides; Whitewater Voyages, a program that's been around since the 80's training both commercial and non-professional guides; and Zephyr Expeditions, a guide school open to the general public.

    All guide schools should have experienced trainers leading the school. rafting guideYou should learn on the water and not from a manual. You should have a ropes component, swift water rescue techniques, emergency procedures, client-guide relationships, government rules and regulations for rivers in California, liability issues, food safety and preparation, warehouse management, equipment/raft management, and of, course, reading the water!

    W.E.T. River Trips has chosen to focus only on commercial guides for our guide school. We decided that commercial guiding was too difficult of a subject to dilute with an open guide school program for the public. Commercial guides need to know so many more things than just techniques and gear management. Because we deal with the public on rivers that are very popular, our staff needs to have strong people skills and strong personalities to lead beginners, novices and advanced rafters down the river.

    Our whitewater guides have to have many, many river miles before they are allowed to guide a commercial raft of clients. Because of this, our guide school starts in mid-March on all kinds of flow levels. Last season, one of our new guides trained in our guide school, and by the time busy May came, he already had approximately 45 trips under his belt. By the time August came around, he was a seasoned guide with approximately 100 trips.

    Keep in mind that it's important that you start researching your options soon. Call the companies and see if the program works for your focus and your schedules. January 12, 2007
    As each rafting season reaches an end, nostalgic thoughts tend to blossom in the dozens. With the weather turning grey and the air and water temperature plummeting to unreasonable numbers, rafters say farewell to hitting the currents day after day. And yes, there will always be the hardcore badasses who could give an "F" whether or not they freeze their asses off. But for the majority of us, we would much rather throw on a big Gortex jacket and hit the slopes in hopes that this new season's snow will melt into the raddest flows for next year.

    teen rafterAs a sullen teenager, I didn't raft as much as I should have. I was "busy" with parties, preparing for college, and other social engagements. I didn't want to get wet and ruin my new trendy hair cut. But when I look back at what I missed, I start feeling a little regret. Despite some major obstacles and problems such as the wildfire, this past season had some gnarly flows and exciting runs. Out of the few times that I went, I must say, I did enjoy myself immensely.

    I took some buddies down and went on a wilderness trip on the South Fork American where we layed down our sleeping bags right on the beach and slept under the stars. Ya, my friends were pissed to get up the next morning so early, but they were pleased to find a breakfast feast of chicken apple sausage, country egg scramble, English muffins, orange juice, pineapples and melons prepared for them by the guides. The water was cold at first when we put-in, but as the sun brightened and the rapids became more exciting, all negative thoughts left. The day was not only super fun, but also a good ol' bonding experience with my friends.

    This season I hope to go down at least 10 times more than this past season. And not only go down my normal South Fork American run, but expand and do more Middle Fork and North Fork American trips. Maybe I'll even hit up some Kern River down south! By then, I'll be 18 and free to drive all over California as I please. Maybe I'll even turn it into a high school graduation trip and try to pound as many California Rivers as I possibly can. PARTY ON.

    Thanks to Liz, teen consultant for W.E.T. River Trips for her "words from the wise!" January 5, 2007
    It struck me yesterday, as I flew back from long-time W.E.T. River Trips' guide, Saul's wedding in Hawaii, that I felt blessed to have long distance memories, especially those that I can readily retrieve, of people and places. I hadn't been to Hawaii in 22 years and the islands have changed. At first, I was disgusted and angry for what I perceived had been done to a formerly quiet and calm little tropical island; now, it was lined with resorts, condos, golf courses, malls, and traffic-brimming roads. I felt fortunate that I remembered the long distant past, and I looked beyond the clutter and glut. Still, the sun was strong, the water clear and warm, and the locals were kind and happy to share this place. During the wedding, we faced the ocean and that is all that we could see besides Saul and his bride, Irene. A long-term view that has changed very little in thousands of years; the ocean remains a true constant. The island will continue to change, and so will I.

    What I now appreciate about being old is that my points of reference continue to expand? maybe that's why I will soon be addled with too much information to sort and ponder; however, for now? it is still a puzzle and a revelation. Everyday we are challenged to figure it out and to find ways to make it all work. Usually we do and sometimes we don't, but we respect the challenge and keep working on "This".

    Changes still come slower on whitewater rivers. If someone gets too arrogant and builds too close to the water, a hundred-year flood comes along? sometimes that hundred-year flood comes 3 times in 12 years! There is a dramatic slowing down that rivers impose? they too will change? in due time. Sometimes that change happens over a thousand years and sometimes those changes can happen overnight. You can count on differences; however, sometimes you have to look closer at a shift in a gravel bar, a new tree on the shore, more turtles than last year... and sometimes it hits you in the face as a fallen tree, a new rock or a new rapid.

    The three forks of the American River run through and straddle fast- paced and fast-growing communities yet, "river-time" is always different? predictable, surprising, and mythic. There is a Madrone tree that is growing out of a road cut above Salmon Falls that I have been watching for 30 seasons. I first noticed it because it was so small, and that the botanical wonder insisted on growing in such an improbable spot 30 feet above a road on a cliff, and at a 45 degree angle. Consciously and unconsciously, I continue to watch the tree, and I review its progress in growth and I assess its health on every single shuttle for the South Fork American. I remain happy to report that the tree is now large, well-established, and seems to be doing just fine. I will continue to watch? I can't help it. Post by Big Poppa, the Boss!December 22, 2006
    Snow is here North Fork American waterfall after a stormand Donner Summit is clothed in a white wintery powder. The blessing is apparent to all the snow resorts, restaurants and snow-related retailers up on the summit. Finally, the snow is here building gradually. We're on our way up to Sugar Bowl this morning for a fun day of snowboarding and skiing with friends. Some of the teen rafting staff are on board today along with well-known sponsored skateboarders who have limited experience on the slopes. Liz will be giving some impromptu lessons to the neophytes. Just remember that this is the snow that everyone will be on rafting and paddling come this springtime. Get in shape, get out on the slopes, the street or wherever, but just do. The photo on the right was done by Big Poppa after last months rainstorms. The side creeks, tributaries and waterfalls were flowing. Each winter, we wait for the spring runoff... Come paddle this spring on the North Fork American. W.E.T. River Trips wishes you a happy holiday and a safe vacation recreating outdoors. See you in 2007!

    December 18, 2006
    He was always ahead of you... always the benchmark. He couldn't help it. He was older and you looked up to him in more ways than one. At 6'4", he rose above you. You at 5'8". And through school, from 7th, 8th, 9th, 10th, 11th... senior year... the teachers compared you with him. He was on the dean's list; you barely made 3.0. He's now a doctor. You're an entrepreneur...

    We'll see each other this Christmas. We'll all have drinks in the living room. Chit chat chit chat and then the guard comes down and your'e reminiscing over your youth. Remember that time when we rode our bikes down... it doesn't matter how the story goes. It's as universal as mankind. Your family connects you. They are the only people who really know you.

    We did a river trip together a few years ago. A short trip, only 2 days or so. Just two men enjoying the water. Rafting and paddling through waves. That night, on the beach, we talked as two men. Small slights were forgotten as we gazed upward to a million stars. We talked through the night.

    The ritual of breaking bread with a family... it's that same feeling. Gathering this Christmas night with young and old. Good food. Good family. We come together as a tribe of people with all sorts of foibles. All sorts of stories. Be patient. We must be patient and understand each other...

    Then the night wears on and everyone sits down to this gourmand meal. We share food and memories and each other. He, once again, becomes the big brother. You become that small boy who admired him and loved him. Though pangs of jealousy may haunt us, we don't let it come between us anymore. Not on Christmas...

    November 29, 2006
    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.

    November 27, 2006
    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.

    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!

    November 15, 2006
    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!

    November 8, 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

    Novermber 3, 2006
    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 raftwetblog.com or raftwetblog.blogspot.com. 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

    November 1, 2006
    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.

    October 27, 2006
    During this winter, watch the flow charts for the popular North Fork American
    Class 4+ run after a storm or heavy rain. You'll see the flows come up and you'll also see the kayakers arrive. I came across a very cool blog site from a Japanese paddler that lives in Davis, California. Check out his North Fork description with his kayak pictures.

    I just love surfing the net for blogs and news items about rafting. north fork american paddlers It keeps me close to the action when the season is over. California Whitewater Rafting is a description site full of info on California rivers. Check out Kevsmom for a recent description about a "Mystery Run." These are true blue lovers of rivers. Even when the commercial rafting scene is over, everyone who paddles still comes out whenever there's a drop or a rapid to negotiate. It's a habit and an addiction. Also, check out CaCreeks' website for general river descriptions for kayakers and paddlers. Lots to check out here and lots of pictures to see.

    New rafting sites pop up everyday, but, I have a tendency to use the ones mentioned on a regular basis. W.E.T. River Trips' rafting news has become popular as well as their company rafting blog for California rafting information and updates.

    Over at the American River website, the well-known forum was finally "done-in" by the nasty spammers. But, in its demise, comes a beautiful news page with lots of updates on the South Fork American and the American River in general. So many talented bloggers, news agents, webdesigners and webmasters are creating great resources for our industry. The more, the better in order to promote rafting, kayaking, and paddling for our California whitewater industry.
    Post by iBetty Networks

    October 18, 2006
    As we put away our rafts and paddles for the winter, we encourage you to get out there and vote next month.
    This election is critical. There are several candidates and propositions that will impact all of our lives. From the govenor's race to your local campaigns, get off the couch and vote. For those of you who love rivers as much as we do, we ask you to pay close attention to candidates who have a history of voting for the environment. This is not an issue of right or left or Democrat or Republican. It is not "radical" to vote for the environment; au contraire, it is actually a conservative decision.

    Definition of Conservative: "favoring or adhering to a restrained style or opinion; to conserve or preserve; favoring traditional views and values; moderate and cautious." Conservative people think about the future. Conservative people saw what happened with high gasoline prices and gas guzzling vehicles. It is the Conservative who understands that our resources are few and it is a conservative approach to try and handle these resources properly to ensure their availability for the future. That's conservative.

    Pay attention: it's about your future and your children's lives. We all need to breathe, we all need to eat and we all need to get from one place to another. It is up to us to vote intelligently without thinking of our own pocketbook. Vote as if you cared about your fellow human beings and this planet. And if you belong to a particular religious affliation, pray to your God and ask if it is truely right to vote for money. Or is it better to vote with the poor, the downtrodden (sounds like our Statue of Liberty!) and the weak. Your answer and your vote will impact many lives. And I pray that you do the right thing and vote with your heart.
    W.E.T. River Trips

    October 8, 2006
    Current technology is demanding that the auto industry create smart cars to help navigate the roadways of America. The buzz word is VII known to techies as Vehicle Infrastructure Integration.
    A fancy term for smart cars. GPS navigation systems, internet access, voice controls, iPod and satellite radio, and onboard devices to communicate with other vehicles and sources help to navigate the roadways and obstacles are already here. Soon everyone's car will have the same technology...

    I was wondering... what if kayaks and rafts had this same technology? Think... navigate the toughest river using a navigation system that you could program based on your own skill set. If you are a novice kayaker or rafter, you could program your boat to run conservatively with no possible flips or wraps. Or you could run like Tao with drops and rad moves through the rapids. Imagine being able to run an unknown, virgin river run without scouting! The GPS would do that for you. You could communicate downstream with other rafts or kayaks to find out if there was trouble ahead that the navigation system didn't pick-up. Or you could just have a conversation comparing your runs.

    See it. The smart car takes you to the river without you having any knowledge of the run. The car drives you there knowing which washed-out road lies ahead. At the put-in, the car offloads all your equipment without any labor on your part. And then the same technology pumps up your raft or rigs your kayak. All the while, you are slipping into your wetsuit and lifejacket without a single moment wasted in preparing your equipment. As the raft self inflates or the kayak rigs its own foot mounts, you slide in when ready. You then push a few buttons on your paddle and the craft proceeds downstream. In front of you is a navigation screen with speech recognition. Over the din of the whitewater, you shout "Class 4." The boat then gives you all the Class 4 techniques to run any rapid. You paddle; but the boat corrects any errors on your part. This leaves you with plenty of opportunity to take photographs or just enjoy the view. The tunnel vision view of navigating a river disappears as you no longer worry about the safety aspect of paddling any river.

    Then on shore, the smart cooler with its high tech refrigeration system operates so well that ice cream could be served on day 12 of a Grand Canyon trip. On the inside of the cooler is a screen telling you what items are perishing or still eatable. And on the same screen, the river menus pop-up suggesting ways to cook what's still left in the cooler. No thinking or planning involved. Then over to the kitchen set-up where the stove quickly cooks any meal with no fuel; just a solar source. We're talking the simplest food scene in the history of rafting or boating. No more arguing about meals on river trips!

    On the side of the river, monitoring stations allowing WiFi access allowing all the systems on your boat to communicate with a source to allow you to have a stress-free time on the river. Think of the porta-potty system that could be developed. No mess, no stink... wow! Everything recycled on the spot and broken down into its most simplest form.

    So Kayak or Raft Infrastructure Integration or K/RII may be coming soon... and we can't wait until it's here... NOT!
    Silly post from the bored: W.E.T. office staff...

    October 2, 2006
    School's giving way too much work. This goon would rather not work so hard. The incoming students look so young and blissful... unaware that SAT's are just around the corner. It's the end of the rafting season and October is peeking its scarey cold head around the corner. Like a jack-o-lantern, it can make you smile or it can put the fear of God in you. I've seen October hot for 25 days, and I've experienced it when the snow fell and buried the summit. No sooner do you put away the summer clothes, then to have the weather change again back into the high 80's. The cool breeze and muted light tells us Fall is approaching.

    A few rafting companies are out there on the South Fork American, enjoying solitude with whitewater rapids. Seems like a lot of corporate groups are out doing their team-building thing. What's that anyway? You got to work as a team when you're paddling together. It's obvious. What better way to teach and create a cooperative group?

    Team building is based on experiential training. The philosophy is one of comparative teaching as it is applied to business and education training. Why sit in an office with your "team" talking about "working together," creating a cohesive working group with the sole purpose to successfully implement a goal or project when you can demonstrate that focus by rafting or climbing or hiking in wilderness areas? How better to show that training by paddling together and successfully running a rapid without flipping? That's real team building training! And that's why so many corperate groups are out right now doing just that.

    September 22, 2006
    Middle Fork American is back to normal!
    Latest info from California State Parks is a welcoming notice about the Middle Fork American river. No more fires, access road is open and the flow is ramping up at the dam. Good boatable levels will be available for the Middle Fork this weekend!

    Scheduled cut-off dates for this river is October 2nd. No word yet for scheduled releases on the South Fork. Odd... usually, by the first week of September, the utilities and water managers have already sent word to our laisons about late summer and fall flows. South Fork has been flowing though last Sunday there was an abrupt surprise as we all waited for a flow that never came...

    Yesterday, several of our representatives testified about the SMUD relicenseing on the South Fork American river. Hopefully, after today, we'll be given some sort of notice about October flows.

    Seems so strange that a reservoir as full as that, experiencing two years of unprecedented high water; that we should even be talking about unpredictable flows for Fall!

    W.E.T. River Trips will be ending our season on October 1st (now that the Middle Fork is up and running!)

    September 18, 2006
    What do the guides do in their off season?
    Just in from our "vacationing" river guides... Saul, senior headguide for W.E.T. River Trips is staying in Southern California surfing and boarding near the beaches of San Diego. Here's his account of his beginner surfing days...

    "I went body boarding last week and got hammered pretty good... I still have water in my ears and none of the surfers have any idea how to get it out beyond using "swimmers ear", and blowing the ears with a hair dryer set to "Cool". Maybe, I'm not cut out for this type of sport...

    The re-occuring thought with body boarding or surfing was how the water just didn't feel clean. Salt aside, the funk felt like surfing the Upper Klamath in late August. Also, I know wiping out in Freight Train (Cal Salmon) sucks, but it still felt safer than wiping out on an ocean wave, and having the surfboard and you getting recycled in the washout. Maybe I'm just too used to the rounded river rocks and rubber rafts. Oh, and another thing, waiting for a wave.... why don't you just drive up to a wave, jump on your board and surf. Why wait? Surprisingly, its not a bro fest..."
    Saul "The Man"

    September 12, 2006
    Oooh la la! Time to put the rafts away until next year!
    What a great year it was, too... we have never had so many people on our trips ever in the history of W.E.T. River Trips. Our guests came from all walks of life... from high tech geekville to jocks galore, we had men, women, children, teens, grandparents, corporate groups and everything in between. The great thing though was that no matter who you were, where you came from, the color of your skin, your religion or non-religion, your sexual orientation, your political party designation, groovers, hippies, yuppies and just plain ol' folks... we enjoyed them all!

    Upcoming fall trips will be mostly on the South Fork American and there are several outfitters who will be pumping out trips in October. For us, we are taking a well-deserved break after Sept 30th as we watch our guide staff take off for West Virginia's Gauley season, ski patrol in the Sierras, Costa Rica rafting, back to school and other seasonal winter jobs. I am going on a hiatus to recuperate from the dry droll of paperwork. Lots of government reports and documents will be processed as we end our rafting season in California.

    Bookmark our website or this blog page for upcoming information on California rafting and California whitewater rafting. Pray for lots of snow (well... maybe, not as much as last year!) in the Sierra Nevada mountains. 2007 rafting season will be here before you know it!

    For more Blog Blahs, click here for
    Jan - Aug 2006 Rafting Blog ARCHIVES and
    2005 Rafting Blog ARCHIVES:
    Stuff from 2006 and 2005: More blogblahs!
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    DO'S and DON'T's
    from W.E.T. River Trips

    Do ask us questions, but please let us answer them fully. We want you to be an informed paddler.

    Do the right thing by being organized. Keep all confirmation materials including emails, driving directions & fact sheets. Again, we want you to be prepared.

    Do be patient when timing is off. If we are at fault, please contact us and give us an opportunity to make it right.

    Do put your best foot forward. This is a rafting trip in the outdoors, not a carnival ride.

    Do get plenty of rest before the trip and avoid partying hard the night before. Hangovers are not fun on the river in 100 degree weather. OUCH!

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    Do let us know if you appreciate a well-orchestrated trip or if you have a complaint. Call us or email us with your feedback. We need your suggestions and criticisms. Your feedback will make us a better river rafting company!
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