A years worth in a month…

So I know it’s been a while since I’ve been able to post…. I’m terrible at keeping up with this… 
Oooh! Shiny Object!
lots of them…. 
hmm… okay so I had one more trip down the Yampa, and have since come home. 
Basically, It’s been a really rough month for me emotionally. 
I try to only post positive on here, because well, I want to just share my adventures with you. 
But without bad, it’s hard to truly appreciate the good. 
Besides, I have other venues for my laments. 
However, to give a little insight to the drastic change in plans I’ve made recently, 
I’ve decided to fill you in with my epic month.
 And in doing so, pay a little homage to a couple of special guys.
I guess chronological order makes the most sense….  
Holy Poo…so here we go:
 Following the Yampa trip I posted about previously, I received an hysterical voice mail from a friend saying she had terrible news about my godson, Anthony Michael.
 I got no answer when I first called Suzin back and immediately tried to block my mind from jumping to the worst possible scenario…. but I had a real hard time believing myself. 

It’s an odd thing to force your mind into thinking it would be a good thing if a 2 year old had fallen and broken a bone. 
But with the medical history of this little guy, that’s what I was praying for, an over reaction.  Tragically, it was in vain. 
When I finally got ahold of Suzin, she told me her 21 month old son had died of sudden cardiac arrest. She had come in to get him up for the day and found him not breathing
 and had performed CPR until EMS arrived. 
At nearly 2 years old, Anthony Michael was still unable to crawl and could hardly hold himself up on his own. He spent his entire short life in and out of the hospital, for one illness or another, his immune system very weak, and had undergone continuous testing trying to figure out why his muscles were not developing as they should. 

He was recently accepted for assistance from the muscular dystrophy society although it had not yet been confirmed that this was the true cause to his slow development. 
Nonetheless, he was one of the happiest, smilingest little guys I have ever met.
I have precious few photos of my godson but here are a couple from my stash:
Lil’ man rockin my shades
Smiley guy Anthony Michael

Following this news, I closed myself off for a bit, I didn’t want to burden my new coworkers (also my roomates) with my sadness so I spent a week between trips keeping to myself, trying to distract myself by watching netflix. 
I had not mentioned it to anyone, but before this, I had already been depressed while in Utah for reasons I couldn’t pinpoint. I had just chalked it up to exhaustion from going from 5 day rescue instructor class to cross country drive to 5day river trip without breaks. 
The thing is, almost everything about being in Utah was positive. Adrift Adventures is a great company, the crew of people working there, while I only had the opportunity to really get to know a couple, was awesome. 
The Yampa Canyon is one of the most beautiful places I have ever been and I got to run it twice! 
This is one of the most difficult river permits in the country to win.
And I got paid to do it! 
   The people we took down the river were great. 
My ONLY complaint was that the river wasn’t as challenging as I had hoped, but I knew coming in that it was Class III so I really wasn’t upset about it.
So why the hell was I so depressed before anything went down?
I later figured out that a good portion of it was the stress of my being without any money,
 (takes a while to get that first check) 
I didn’t have enough money to get groceries, (don’t worry, I did eat.) 
let alone enough to get back east if I wanted or needed to.
So basically, I was dealing with the feeling of being trapped and helpless. 
My biggest fear.
Sure, I could have called home and borrowed enough to get there, but that would have meant admitting defeat when I was where I thought I wanted to be. 
And I can ask for help…. I really can, for anything, and I’m okay with it. 
But financial help, that’s something I will fight tooth and nail until I am truly beyond desperate. 
To avoid burdening my coworkers, I was bottling my feelings, 
and as a result, I was constantly on the verge of tears. 
 I hadn’t told anyone about Anthony Michael, yet, I didn’t really even allow myself to acknowledge it as reality until I was finally able to talk to my mom 2 days later and said it out loud,
 then it was game over. Just waterworks. 
It was still a few days after that before I explained to anyone around me what was going on.
and it basically took someone expressing concern about me going on the next river trip and how I might affect the feel of the group with my current state. 
And by then, 2 days before our next 5 day trip, I had received more bad news from home. 
G-pa had had another stroke and it wasn’t looking so good. 
I had made a morbid habit, since he had moved in with my parents, that whenever I visited home and left again, when I said goodbye to him, I told myself that I was saying GOODBYE. 
I knew I had to prepare myself, he was 89 and it was only a matter of time. 
I was lucky to have had a winter at home near him and I had gotten to go out Polka Dancing with him a couple times a month. 
So when I heard about the stroke, this I took stoically. 
Or relatively so…. 
But it was pretty much the straw to break this camel’s back. 
So when Heather started to explain something to me, that I didn’t care to hear, and I just said, “Hey, I appreciate it, but I’m not really that interested.” 
And Matt took it upon himself to calm the situations (which was not heated) by saying, “everyone just chill out”
I just looked at him and quietly responded, ” You know, that really doesn’t help anything.” 
He turned and walked away to mention his concern about me going on the next trip (looking back, I can’t blame him, altho, I still think he he could have talked to me himself.)
As soon as he was gone, I looked at Heather, and apologized if I had sounded short, because I hadn’t meant to.
But shortly thereafter, I was in Jenny’s office explaining to her why I had been on the verge of tears for days. That I think the timing just turned out to be bad because I liked being there and everyone and had been really excited about being there.
 But I felt guilty about leaving my dog for 5 days at a time, altho I felt she was perfectly safe and well taken care of, but she’s attached to me, as I am to her. 
Then I told her about Anthony Michael, and about how I had found out this morning that my grandfather had had another stroke… 
I told her that honestly, I really just wanted to go home 
But if I were to not go on this trip I wouldn’t be able to afford to get home. 
But I didn’t want to throw off the dynamic of the trip and be a downer for everyone. 
I explained to her that this depressive hermit person I was showing was not really me and how I had just not wanted to burden new people with my problems. Which is why I was so detached from everyone currently. 
She offered to let me stay in the guest house at the ranch her husband managed for the night to let me get my head together before pack day the next morning.
 I would tell her by that evening whether I would be working the trip or going home. 
We went out to the warehouse and gathered everyone up and Jenny helped me to explain the basics of what was going on with me so that I didn’t seem quite so much like a nutcase. (my words)
I spent the afternoon in a bathtub at the house trying to relax, went out with my credit card (which i was trying really hard not to use) for an inexpensive dinner with pie
Then I went to bed and slept in a quiet, empty room. 
I decided to go on the trip the next day and go home afterward, 
The timing just just wasn’t right for me to be there, and I felt that if I stayed, I may bring down everyone’ summer. Something I didn’t want to do.
When I woke, I felt that a weight had been lifted, because I knew I was going home in a week. 
We packed and shopped for the trip, experienced some ridiculousness in the process, as Matt tried to squeeze a truck with a big trailer through the ATM line behind the bank… kinda snug.
When all was packed, we headed up to the river to camp for the night.
 We had all of the boats rigged and loaded before dark and sat around with beers laughing and carrying on until a private boater came over to shush us (he was actually really nice about it.)
The Sierra Club Arrived in the morning to cruise down the river with us.
I somehow managed to put all negative and sad thoughts out of my head and we rowed downstream. 
The group was phenomenal, most of the people were over 50 and still kicking my butt on the long hikes, and they had amazing stories to tell of their adventures.  
Our lunch spot, first day with the Sierra Club before entering the canyon

I find myself amazed at the differences nature can produce side by side, in the rock and the  clouds 

Looking back toward the Yampa from Starvation Gulch
Starvation Gulch hike, from Big Joe campground, the Sierra Club folks, showing us how it’s done

Some really beautiful rock formations, Morrison formation sand/siltstone with geodes

Just one of many sightings of Bighorn Sheep.
We must have seen at least 40 on this trip!

Duckies rollin down river through weber sandstone formations

A perfect pair of Elk antlers found at Mather camp. 

Spawning beach this cobble bar with a tributary creek running in across from it is the perfect spot for spawning of the endangered fish that helped to save the Yampa

What we think is a fox skull, found on the beach at Mantle Ranch where we stopped for something special.

Nature shot! bumblebee on thistle… never seen a white thistle before.

This guy was not camera shy. 

Mantle Ranch and some of the original structures.
This is private property, but Pat, the Sierra Club trip leader, who used to own adrift, is friends with the ranch manager, so we were able to get special permission to come up and check it out. 

A little hard to see in photos, but this is the petroglyph and pictograph wall at Mantle Ranch.
 It is the largest collection of rock art in Dinosaur National Monument.
 Because it’s on private property, almost no one gets to see it.
Thanks to Pat Tierney, we were allowed to check it out

a hidden petroglyph of a deer or bighorn sheep

“Look guys! more sheeps!”

Our camp at the newest campsite in Dino, Seacliff, and the Alpenglow as the sun sets.
Pushing off from Seacliff for another day on the water!

Looking up canyon through the trees at Jones Hole Camp 4

Jones Hole, from the canyon, looking in at what is about to be a 10+mile hike

WHITEWATER!!  the pretty rippling creek that runs the length of Jones hole

A briar rose, a small waterfall, and my first personal experience with stinging nettle…
While digging in the medkit for some tape to use to pull out the nettles,
 I found chocolate i had forgotten i’d left in there from the previous trip.
Incidentally, stinging nettle sucks, I just grazed the back of my hand, I can’t imagine falling into a patch of it!

Deluge pictographs/petroglyphs.  this one is a combination of both.
a Pictograph is painted on, while a petroglyph is pecked into the rock.

Hey look! that’s me! I was there!
Arguably one of the most famous pictographs in Dinosaur. I’ve seen photos of this critter many times before. 

a slab of really clear petroglyphs, you could see above where the slab had broken off of the wall and fallen … i wonder if it fell before or after the drawings were there. 

this orange stuff is some kind of cool lookng parasite growing on a vine… still trying to figure out what it is.

pictographs from a distance

Butt Dam Falls, the rock (lodore formation) is carved out by this creek into rounded little troughs.
 You can sit in the trough and block the flow then when someone walks by underneath, move and watch the built up water sploosh down on them!

more beautiful views

Hiking back out toward the river and camp.

Nice Marmot. I caught up to some of out hikers, having hung back a bit, to find them checking this lil guy out.
He seemed nonplussed to see us only 6 feet away. We figured out why when I stood back up after taking this shot.
He was standing in front of his den, we couldn’t see it but he knew he could get away if we tried anything.  
I’m Raft Guide Barbie!
Now if only I could find a turquoise and purple highfloat PFD to go with it!
Lil’ Mikey, this pose is for you. 

Last day in a duckie!
Today will end with some fun class 3 whitewater through Split Mountain Gorge, and a bit of a surprise for my boat. 

Self portrait in the shades… 

another self portrait in the shades
Mary, our model here, was one of the few who got to be part of the very last expedition in 1963 down Glen Canyon,
now know as Lake Powell, she said they took Powell’s book and followed his expedition’s path as closely as they could.
Island Park, looking upstream to where we’ve been.

and for something truly new to me… see those bubbles? and that hyside raft blue? yeah, that’s the air coming out of the  tear in the bottom of the back left bulkhead in my boat.
after  picking up Jack, a 70ish guy who had flipped his duckie, we pulled over to regroup.
When we pushed off again and ran a shallow section to get back to the main current I bumped a rock.
“Gonna bump and spin guys, boat’s rubber, it bounces, no big deal.”
This time I was wrong, the upstream side of the rock was round, the downstream side, not-so-much, but we couldn’t see that because of the silty water, so when we caught, we ripped.
I didn’t realize it until after I had rescued Jack again, man took 2 long swims that day and was ready for more!
I noticed my boat leaning drastically to the left and looked back to see my tube uber-soft.

At the takeout after rowing 5 miles of classII-III with a 5 inch gash in my boat.
Clean cut, must have been a seriously sharp rock!
So there’s my Yampa Trip with the Sierra Club, I have more photos, but this is already getting long… 
I’d kind of like to stop here… but with my consistency with updates… perhaps we’d better go on.
I came back to base to unpack the trip and pack up my stuff to head home.
when I turned on my phone, as will happen after a week, it went nuts with the missed calls and text messages. 
When you look at the list of texts on my phone, you see the most recent first….
So I was greeted with texts of “sorry to hear about your G-pa” before I had the opportunity to speak to my mom.  But I’m pretty sure I already knew.  
When someone is 89 and has had as long and full a life as my grandfather… it’s hard to be terribly sad
and that may sound terrible, but hear me out. 
Since his 20s, my G-pa has been a Polka Dancer. 
He stopped skydiving when I was a kid, but did that for decades,
(mom and her siblings made him stop when he turned 70 I think)
He stopped SCUBA diving about 15 years ago when it occurred to him how it would affect the other diver’s vacations if something happened to him while they were out. But he started back when SCUBA was still a hose attached to an air pump on the surface.  
So for the past 20 years, dancing was G-pa’s recreational life. 
In the past couple years, his health declined fairly quickly,he still went to dances every week, sometimes twice a week up until he had his first stroke and moved out of my parents’t house and into assisted living less than a year ago. I had the opportunity to dance with his anytime I was home, and I am so glad that I did.
Having him as my favorite dance partner, it has been really hard to see him for the past year, stuck in a wheelchair unable to get up and polka. 
It didn’t stop him from flirting with every one of his nurses tho, they all loved him. 
He could be getting a sponge bath in a hospital bed, and he would look up at the nurse and smile,
“Boy you’re pretty.” he’d say.
Knowing how much he loved to dance, It’s a comfort to know that now, my G-pa; Buddy Lou as the polka bands refer to him, and one even wrote and named after him a song, in his favorite, Slovenian style; is back up and dancing, making girls dizzy with his super fast pivots and turns, gliding around a golden hardwood dance floor.
G-pa Lou and Me at the Friday night dance

My G-pa, Buddy Lou
with Don Wojtilla,  composer of the “Buddy Lou Polka”


So… Since all of this, I was home for a couple of weeks, spent some time with Mom and Dad
Bought my first home. 
WHAT!? you may ask… no, I didn’t buy a house, 
I bought a pop-up camper from my lovely aunt Ruthie
She and Uncle Ralph (to whom I posted an homage a while back) bought it new in 1981 
It’s in fantastic shape, especially for 30 years old, and it’s HUGE (for a pop-up).
I have brought it down to WV where I’m happy to be back to work on my home rivers. 
Got it set up at a pooch friendly campground near some of my coworkers and in dangerous proximity to the gear shop where i get an employee discount. 
I am still getting myself set and and settled in, I’ve been back a week and have worked a few trips, one of which being an overnight already! 
Best Upper New family overnight ever! Woo!
It’s good to be back in the swing of things.
Things are looking up and my emotional well being is quickly bobbing back up to the surface,
 soon, I believe, to resume a steady float. 
I went up to Summersville Lake with a bunch of friends some old, some new and we had a great time. 
I would post those pics.. but you’ve had enough for one day… 
and I don’t have my camera with me anyway
hope that wasn’t overkill… i’ll try and post more often so it isn’t quite so long winded. 

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