All posts by Kelli Arendt

Bigraphical info.... I have absolutely no idea what to write about myself. My least favorite part of an interview is: "So tell me about yourself." I'll get to it... but with that kind of prompt, my mind goes blank. So there we are....

Gringa! Gringa! Gringa!

(una novelita)

Okay so I’m fully aware that I’ve been far too lax in my posts… But you go ahead and try to take the computer away from Brandon some time.  

I’ve got it now… but mostly because we’ve finally made it to Lanquin and he has celebrated in such a way that as soon as happy hour was finished… so was he.

So why celebrate? Well frankly, If you’re reading this, You’ve probably read a good portion of Freewheelings, at the very least, the latest few installments regarding our wreck and the ensuing adventures.  We’ve finally made it. That 90 mile stretch we’ve been working on for the better part of a week, we are at the initially determined destination!   So a quick overview from my side of things:

well… I say quick…

Five days ago, we once again packed up our moto and headed out for an exciting new destination.  Generally we try to pick places/areas based on something of interest nearby, or recommendation from someone we meet on our way. Often times we like to choose places that may not necessarily have roads (on the map) leading to them.  Lanquin was one of the latter type. Chosen for it’s proximity to whitewater, caves, hiking, etc. It promised to meet back up with the backpacker trail a bit but with much to offer to make it well worth the return to the tourist zone.

Jueves/Thursday

We left El Estor at length, having waited out the rain, and headed down the road to where the pavement ends… Initially not too bad, having been prepped for improvement, the road allowed us a fairly decent pace, warm sun on our faces,wind in our hair… things were going great. Then the bike started acting strange. We had filled up the tank on the way out of town and it was acting as if empty. We pulled over and poked around trying to figure out the issue.  Eventually, a mechanic showed up and offered to help. It seems that having been there 15, 20 minutes, one of the locals took it upon himself to mention our apparent situation.  After a while, it is determined that our radiator is flithy and we’ve overheated. We had been standing still perhaps an hour, and I’ve shared all of my hard candies with the local kids who wandered up curious about los gringos, our moto starts right up again.  We confirm our directions with el mechanico and head out once again on our way.P1094370

The road deteriorates, we make the proscribed right turn at the bus shelter, cross a bridge, begin ascending past mine sites… The climb steepens.  I’m taking photos and videos.P1094424

Lost in the vistas, forgetting at times to lean forward to aid in our ascension. We catch up to a pair of big trucks and take breaks as to avoid literally eating their dust.  The road, while steep, rutted,  rocky, and in generally bad condition, is dry at this point.  We make our way through several small villages, at each, we are a curiosity, obviously our visit is not normal.P1094463 People hear us coming and are shocked to see two gringos ride by. Children wave excitedly, I wave back, feeling like a princess on a parade float. on a few occasions kids come running out of their little houses and chase us down the road until they can’t keep up.

 

We finally crest the mountain and the view is astonishing. I climb to the top of a boulder for photos: 360 view

P1094500P1094503

Headed back down now… we’re on the shady side of the mountain, things get wet, sticky, mucky. I get off the bike and walk a bit, better safe than sorry.

P1094513

When it’s dry I hop back on, we continue. Repeat this sequence a few times.  The road climbs again, seems to improve, we hit some mud, I’m about to offer to hop off again and WhaBAM!

We are in the mud.

 P1094521

I take the photo, we’re going to want it later… That’s a lot of oil…. Crap.   Okay we’ll set up camp.  I’ll go mention it to those locals, to be polite, if this is someone’s yard… “Buenas tardes, nuestros moto se rompio. Esta bien si nos encampamientamos?” crickets. “Se habla usted Espanol?” ‘No.’ waggle of an index finger,  giggle giggle something in a mayan dialect.”  perfect. “Brandon, we’re in a Mayan village, they don’t speak Spanish”  We set up camp anyway. We don’t have much choice, it’s getting dark.  Enter our audience. 

In what to these folks must be a strange role reversal, I set up the tent and Brandon makes dinner.   When our food is about ready, the tent up in a corner of the clearing and someone who speaks Spanish joins the crowd which has gathered to watch what we gringos are up to.  He kindly offers us a place to sleep and I express my thanks but  decline, pointing out our tent in the growing shadows, telling him, “Tenemos una casita.”(We have a little house)  Looking back, I’m fairly sure this was our soon to be friend from the tienda about 500meters down the road with whom we’d become acquainted the following morning.

Viernes/Friday

We spend the entire next day sitting on the patio of the single tienda in what we learned to be Nuevo Concepcion, trying to find a truck to the next town with a mechanic, to no avail. P1104557

We hang around the store all day, people seem to come in groups or not at all… In the afternoon, la senora starts weaving some beautiful fabric and gives me a crash course in making and using a loom.

P1104567

  Late in the day we are informed that there will be many trucks going to town the following day to take the villagers to market, If we got on the first one, there would be room and will only 100Q ($12.50) this could be arranged for just 10Q.  by the way, this camion leaves at 3am.

Deal.

We set up camp on the patio when the store closes (with permission, of course) pack up for morning, planning to go to bed in our clothes. the neighborhood kids arrive to meet the gringos, apparently the don’t bother them decree has been lifted (this is assumption of course, but with a community gathering, there weren’t adults around to scold them) we laugh and chat with them for a while, they speak as much or less spanish than I and it’s a challenge to communicate, but less stressful than with adults because kids just don’t care as much. Then Brandon breaks out the firecrackers.. It take a while after that silliness to get the kids to realize we mean it when we say okay enough, we’ve got to get up really early.  but eventually, they wander off once they realize “No hay mas cuetes.”

P1104593

Sabado/Saturday

At 3am I wake with the roosters, I didn’t sleep well, I was too worried about missing our ride. We load up on the truck when it arrives an hour later. Sketchy… The sacos de cardamomo, which are assisting our cam straps in holding the bike in place, smell amazing. The ride, giving any gnarly river shuttle ride a run for it’s money, and mostly in the dark, has me wearing a goofy grin and giggles for the entire two+ hour trip.  We realize the wreck was a divine intervention.

P1114603

If we thought loading the bike with a 1’x10’ for a ramp in the dark was iffy… try sliding it down a 1’x8’ plank backward with the ramp being held in the air by half a dozen guys until the bike is totally off the truck so that it doesn’t catch the undercarriage on the way out. Did I mention the bed of this truck is at about my shoulder height?

P1114636

Holy Poo! It is now about 7am and we need a beer. We settle for bad coffee with our breakfast of huevos con frijoles.

Two days in Cahabon, the hotel is across the street from the mechanic. It’s got a fantastic view of town. The owner, Victor, seems to know EVERYBODY. He’s super nice.   Brandon quickly befriends the mechanic who speaks fairly decent English.  The rest of the guys in the shop quickly get to like him as well when he teaches them a new phrase, “pain in the ass.” Who doesn’t love learning to curse in foreign languages?  Shortly thereafter, you hear them all saying it and laughing like little boys who think they’re not being watched.P1114639

Local delicacy here is fried chicken…. actually, that’s about all you can find to eat around here other than huevos con frijoles. There really are no restaurants in Cahabon.  We gain a crowd of truly pathetic looking stray dogs as we eat standing near the center of the crowded market. In spanish, I say something like, “you think just because we’re white…?”  which elicits a laugh from a fruit vendor who had been sort of heckling us earlier.  He tells me I’m eating dog.  I translate this for Brandon who mimes to the dogs (who have circled us like seagulls with a popcorn vendor) that they’re next in the grease. This gets a grin out of the girl selling the fried chicken who until this point had been fairly stoic, and a big laugh out of our heckler who is still trying to sell me a whole watermelon.

P1114664P1114663

Domingo/Sunday

The motorcycle shop is closed …we’re stuck here another day. Brandon finds us an activity.  Kukaan , a local cenote/ swimming hole fed by a beautiful little waterfall in a valley outside (and upstream)of town. There is an honest to god chance that we are the only gringos to ever splash in this creek.  Brandon also learned a new trick, apparently if you get caught pinching your nipples by a Mayan woman, she’ll give you bananas.

 P1124681

Victor had given us a ride to the cenote, our first time in a car since San Antonio, Tx.  We hiked back up the hill and into the edge of town, getting to experience again, the realization that we are THE ONLY gringos some of the children we pass have ever seen you can just see it in their eyes, it’s neat.  Once in town we hop in a tuktuk (rickshaw) and got a ride back to the hotel the name of which we didn’t know  for 5 quetzales.  “hotel de Victor” worked like a charm, everybody knows this guy!

P1124700

Lunes/Monday

This morning the motorcycle shop opens back up and we expect to still need to take a part to the welder.   To our surprise and delight, it’s been done. The bike is fixed and it only cost about $25US That’s a darn bargain.

We pack up and get directions out of town.  we make it perhaps half a mile from town before the first ugly mud patch.

P1134713 

Oh no… not again… I’d been saying since we’d arrived that we need to arrange a truck out of town. We pull into the gasolinera and fill up.  I ask about the road to Lanquin… Es malo. Are there any trucks that go there? No hay. “…”

We sit on the short wall in front of the gas station, me with my english/spanish dictionary, and watch the tuktuks go by… Should have traded the bike for one of those…I go back to the attendant and try again… “We need to get a ride to Lanquin, our bike is too big and made for paved highways.” Es muy dificil…  I go back to the wall…

A pickup truck with a long empty bed pulls in for gas.   I ask the driver(probably 17 years old) Are you going to Lanquin? No. “Do you want to?” he laughs. “ We will pay you.” …Si, ok.   He makes a phone call, unloads his passenger into a tuktuk, we load up using the oilchange ramp,strap her in tight and off we go.

P1134718

I ride the entire way standing in the back of the truck. The views are amazing, and incredibly, this is the worst looking stretch of road yet. Did I mention it rained last night? Totally worth Q400 ($50) besides, camping two days saved us about that much anyway.

P1134793P1134749

2:30 pm, we’re in Lanquin with a room at an ecohotel on the beautiful blue Rio Cahabon. Unloading was fairly straight forward, there was a small hill inside the entrance, and 2’x12’s sitting nearby. the bike was facing backward in the truck so Brandon just drove her out.

 P1134820

We go into town for lunch, eat our fill of good food and return to the hotel for a nap…First we wander down toward the river.Instead of a nap we end up with some locally made (from scratch) chocolate and start celebrating… (Who am I kidding? I had 2 pina coladas at lunch)There are a bunch of other English speaking travelers here, but we’re the only ones from the states.  This place has a great vibe. We’ve already made some friends and have plans to go caving tomorrow afternoon… by the time happy hour is over, I manage to coerce Brandon back up to the room and into taking the first hot shower in weeks. by 8:45 he’s snoring away. Now that I’m done with this novel, I’m going to join him.

we made it.

WOO HOO!!!!

 

P1134806

 

  Incidentally, during happy hour here, Cuba Libres  (aka rum and coke with lime) costs 10Q  that’s approximately $1.25 and they’re similar to how I pour them.  As a result, Brandon is currently snoring away contentedly next to me… I’d take a photo… but no…

A prelude to meeting Montezuma

After locals in Matehuala, SPL, Mex asked if we had been to Real de Catorce and told us to look it up and check the place out, Brandon was convinced to check out the cool little ghost town of a former silver mine town in the mountains. He forgets that I had been trying to talk him into this side trip for a while now, the place having been mentioned in our trusty guide book. Ah boys….
 We arrived after a 20 some kilometer ride over cobblestones that took us up to 9000 feet and through a 3km tunnel to arrive in a town of ruins sporadically rebuilt into homes, hotels and storefronts. I got off the back of the bike and lead Brandon down the only somewhat flat street in the city. This proved to be a  crowded pedestrian market during what we later learned to be a festival.
 Fiesta de Revolution. aka Buen Fin.( Buen Fin seems to have been bastardized in the cities a shopping holiday similar to Black Friday in the USA) Real de Catorce celebrates the Mexican Revolution in Style with reenactments, live music, burro races, and best of all, a food festival.
As I type this post, I’m sitting in the hotel room with Brandon, back again in Matehuala, both of us suffering from our education of traditional Mexican street food… Worry not, we shall survive to ride on, Montezuma shan’t beat us this easily!

Before I get into the photos did I mention that Brandon keeps a blog too? and that he’s better about posting often than I? Check it out and enjoy!  www.freewheelings.com

Cruising around Matehala looking for a hotel,
we passed by a shop full of kid sized pinatas

Looking down toward a little plaza near our hotel. 

La Abueltia down the block. 

Tell me, Brandon, how do really feel about these cobblestones?
We are currently about 1/4 of the way into Real de Catorce. 
Move along burritos this road is bumpy enough
The light at the end of the tunnel, we’re nearly done with the cobblestones!
Or are we?

Secure parking in the Hotel San Juan required us to get the bike to the courtyard…
Up 3 steps using a 4″x 2′ piece of steel along with help from some new amigos.
No easy feat when the steps are 8″ high and the ramp kept sliding. 

Bike parked and secure, we wander the town and check out some ruins

And the rain clouds roll in while we explore, lending a shroud of mist to the atmosphere atop the mountain. 

The cobbled streets slick with drizzle, the stones show their true colors. 

Tiny flowers grow from crumbling walls.  

Twilight is falling, my tired eyes blurring in the failing light….
For once the camera captured things exactly as i was seeing them.  
Other motorcyclists assure Brandon that he is not alone in the challenge
At least we made it into town before the rain.
This poor guy stalled out 5 times trying to make the corner on the wet bumpy hill. 

One of many 1942 Fords in the town used for taking tourists down to the old mine
We rode on (yes on) this one the next afternoon. 

The marketplace quieting down after the rain 
Breakfast!
What is it?
Delicious, that’s what. 

Local kids in period dress for the festival

Oh so much good food cheap! Cheese enchiladas anyone?

Indian girl making and selling her beadwork
While a local pup tries his best to look pathetic for scraps. 

Our somewhat musty hotel room
(musty is to be expected in a refurbished ghost town)
The road down to the mine… check out that dropoff!

Brandon and me atop the mine, waterfall behind us.

Our ride to and from the mine.
We got bamboozled… Thought we were on the 3 hour tour,
we ended up paying 200 pesos for one hour…
 Language barriers will occasionally result in such happenings.
Ah well.. it was a heck of a ride on top!

Our new friends, Will, Elizabeth and Brandon, from Monterrey
So nice to have a conversation with new people… in English. 

The top of the Cathedral in Real de Catorce

Looking down from the highest point in town,
cold cervezas under a full moon. 

Out is easier than in. Only took one guy to help this time… took 4 to get in. 

A little point of view for the streets in Real de Catorce.
San Fancisco, eat your heart out!

Almost home free… these streets are no joke… and our brake pads are due to be replaced.
Notice… I was holding the camera and not riding along in town. 

Best way out is the way we came in… the market place.
No hay una calle mas facil por los motos.

Yes, that sign does say pedestrian zone.
But that street is flat… ish.

Waiting for our turn in the tunnel

I’ve found a new chauffeur… Brandon might get jealous.
Okay he took the picture.
El hombrito se gusta los motos. 

“Happy travels”
Can’t you just see Brandon’s excitement for a 23km cobblestone road out of here?

Sunny view from the top of the mountain bumping along, only 22 km til asphalt!

I realized after getting through all of these photos that i skipped a good portion  of the trip on the blog… Brandon’s blog can catch you up if you want a bit more verbal detail with the photos!
www.freewheelings.com

On a new adventure.

I find myself wanting to write my blog… but trouble in actually getting it to happen.
a number of reasons, not the least of these is the fact that the adventure I’ve recently embarked on is via motorcycle.  Thus the primary model in my photographs will not, this time, be my ever faithful, furry companion you’ve gotten to know in the past, but the gentleman who’s found a place of his own in my life.  Not sure he really knows what he’s getting himself into.
Undoubtedly, after this trip, we’ll both know.
What’s this trip? You ask, Well… We are riding together on an overloaded motorcycle to Panama ( the canal, not the cheesy spring break destination om the Florida panhandle.)

But! Let’s start off  with a little re-cap.

Okay so excuses excuses, not writing the blog… here’s what I’ve been up to.
I spent my summer back in West by God Virginia on the rivers experiencing a record high water year. 
My season started with a long, very cold swim in a rapid called, Mile Long, on the New River Dries in March . This freaked me out a bit. Not that it was a particularly nasty swim, mostly in the way that it beat the hell out of my confidence for a bit as I was unable to get myself back onto, then into the raft.  When you’re that cold, you lose strength and dexterity pretty quickly.  At this point, it’s a laughing matter and a funny river story; but 6 months ago, I was longing for low water. 
Low water never came. In fact the only low water I saw at all was on the Rio Grand when I drove with my (now) boyfriend, whom you will get to know in due time, to New Mexico, on rescue mission for his ’71 VW bus. 
A record high water year, a record carnage year high water.. thousands of boyscouts… A record learning year. 
I’m sorry it’s just been so much that i’m only going to mention it but not get too into it.  I would have done a post with pictures from the summer as a recap… But I shattered my computer screen a day before embarking on my current journey. 
Shortly, I will get back into the photo journal format… it keeps me off of tangents. 
Onto the current adventure. 
Currently, the boyfriend and I are en route to Mexico and beyond.
Our goal is South America, via motorcycle. A 2001 Honda Shadow 750 Spirit to be exact.
We Have about 5 months to reach our goal or to get wherever we decide to stay then come back…or..see how far we can get then sell the bike and fly home.

Brandon and I coerced my mother, with no little difficulty to sell her motorcycle to us.

Now,  it had been for sale for some time, the asking price very reasonable, Mom just wasn’t actively seeking a buyer. With our idea for winter firmly decided upon, we came to visit my parents with cash in hand… But when Mom learned what we had in mind for the motorcycle suddenly it was off  the market.  Weird.
After much debate and the comment from her, “If you’ll just take that money and buy plane tickets to Ecuador, I’ll just give you the damn bike!”
My response being, “Well then we’d have to lie to you about our trip.”
She finally caved, then Mom and Dad proceeded to sweeten the deal for us by providing us both with learthers, helmets, rain gear, etc.
  My parents are pretty awesome. They’re also dogs sitting for us. Shelby has her own furry companion now, Pablo. They started dating early in the spring…and Brandon came with Pablo, so I win.
anyways…
Following the end of river season, I designed a  much larger cargo rack, and with my dad’s help, brought it into fruition at his machine shop. To do this, he taught me to use the old manually operated mill, a machine that I, personally, have only ever used as an over-sized drill press. 
We installed the new rack, loaded onto in everything we need to camp and live on the road for months on end.

When I say need, I mean NEED.  Down to the nittiest of the grittiest;  A tent, sleeping pad, bedding, 3 changes of clothes each, week or so worth of socks and underwear, a pair of flip-flops, each.  Brandon’s got his laptop(hence my posting ability) so he can work remotely. We have a small camp stove, a skillet and saucepan, my mini med kit (just in case) saddlebags, one  holds food, the other, tools and spare parts.  A pair of headlamps and our riding gear. Oh, and a couple useful books, Spanish/english dictionary (hablo un poco), a copy of Treasure Island which I’ve been reading aloud in the tent at night, and a really great pair of self published books by a Canadian Gentleman, Sjoerd Bakker, called Economical Hotels Handbook of Mexico and Central America. He’s spent 30+ years riding a motorcycle all over the continent and keeping track of the great and/or cheap places he’s stayed over the years.  Nice guy, made sure it arrived in time for our trip and covered the envelope with awesome superman stamps.

We found our way down through the Smokey Mountains and took the bypass through the national park to avoid Gattlinburg. The ride up and over the mountain range with the colors at a full peak was gorgous!  Photos, of course do no justice, however, this one is untouched and gives you a decent idea.   Many bike-back drive by shootings to come!

Incredibly difficult to take a photo of myself via an opposite side mirror and get Brandon in it too…
Best shot out of.. i dunno… 30?
fun to try .

I was just about to beg for a stop and stretch when we pull over into a massive antique store’s driveway… He knows me so well.

The one absolute rule on our trip is:
 NO CHAIN RESTAURANTS
Easier said than done in rural America. you find civilization, you find all the greasy staples, what you have to work to find, are the little locally owned diners that haven’t yet been stomped by the big guys.
This was a little Ma n Pa diner in North Carolina, good reuben.

Find the turtles! There are two.
I was watching the fish swim by under a bridge
 on a creek in Cave Springs, Al

Can’t really see the turtles in this one,
but it came out so pretty I had to share.
On a side note, the Creekside cafe in cave springs,
while not much to look at,
that place makes some delicious
fried green tomatoes!

COTTON!!!!
Brandon thinks that if you yell at the cotton while you’re driving by it will look at you.
I told him, that only works with “HEY COW!”

Our first free campsite, followed by our first time laying down the motorcycle.
Don’t worry, it was about 30 yards from this spot,  in very soft sand.
It looked solid enough… it wasn’t.

Behold!
The largest natural bridge east of the Rockies!  Pretty neat…
Incidentally, I noticed the bonus to this photo just before uploading it.    If you don’t notice it, it’s probably for the best. 
More natural Arch!
It’s in North Georgia, $3.50 to go hike around all you like and keep the gift shop’s lights on.
Looking out for the fuzz.
 Brandon’s walking in Johnny Cash’s footsteps, picking me some flowers in Starkville, MS
Harry (center) pulled up next to us in Starkville traffic and appeared fascinated with us.
We pulled into the parkinglot of a market and he followed and offered us his back yard to camp in for the night.
We ended up spending the evening and morning chatting with him and his wife about adventures, his and ours, and staying inside, sleeping on a mattress on a cold cold night.

Word to the wise…
buy leather. It doesn’t melt.
Oh… SOUL FOOD…
Reminds me of  CPM tour and church potlucks
So good! Just south of Jackson, MS
Natchez State Park entrance

In Concordia Parish, La  they don’t need grass, they have pretty pink flowers.
Fatboy & Skinny’s
Great burger, amazing fresh cut fries, and
milkshakes so thick you had to let them melt a bit to get through the straw.
Good way to start the 2 day break we greatly needed. 

Well… that’s all I’ve got for now,  We left the KOA in Bastrop, Tx this morning, in San Antonio tonight.
Brandon’s taking me out to the River Walk for an evening on the town. Last big city in the USA!
 I’ll post again soon from the real deep south!

It’s been ever so long…

So I started this about a week ago, catching up… and I fear that if I continue to try catching up I shall never get to the present with this blog.  My apologies, for my motivation to blog is lacking these days.
But hey, look! a post! enjoy!

It has been far too long since we’ve chatted. But you see, I get so distracted.
No, I didn’t meet a new boy. Well… not one in particular. That is far from a priority in my life these days.
And yes, I have been traveling… a bit…
I know that to most people, my adventures at raft camp are exciting and might be worth reading about, but I suppose you could say, I’m a bit jaded on it.
That isn’t  to say that I don’t get excited about it. On the contrary, I get excited enough about going on the river every day that I actually get up at 4:30am for 6 weekends to be at work on the Gauley. Believe me, as insane as that sounds, it’s worth it.
So why, you ask, don’t I write about my 6+months at raft camp? Well, mostly because I’m pooped.
By the time I’ve gotten off the river, showered and eaten, watched my video and schmoozed the guests in hopes of a tip (yes, guided adventures warrant a tip… 20% is acceptable… some people just aren’t aware) then driven back to my caravan where my furball awaits her playtime and dinner… once that’s all done, and I sit down… and forget the fact that I didn’t have wi-fi, I’m just done, I pass out the moment I lay down. I don’t even have the energy to read!
Wonder why my winter posts are so long? It’s because in the winter, I’m an insomniac. I’m lazy so I don’t burn off the energy I normally do and can’t sleep as a result.
blah.. okay so explanation done… not that you really needed it.. but if anyone missed me, that where I’ve been. oh, also, I just don’t take as many photos in the summer. I carry my wonderful waterproof camera in my lifejacket (ahem PFD) pocket everyday and either forget I have it, or have to steer the boat when I want to shoot something.  However, I did manage a few photos and I will get you all up to date on my little world. … eventually…

Hmm so I definitely had to go back and look at my own blog to see where my world left off… from your perspective.  Gpa… what a cool guy… I’ve got about 150 neckties that belonged to him that someday soon will become a really neat skirt for me.

Anyhoo… I returned to West By God Virginia and all the fun that entails….
New, Gauley, whitewater walmart… I  finally felt home.
It was the oddest thing, I wanted so badly to go somewhere else and experience working on a different river and totally different setting and once I got there, all I wanted was to come home.
Don’t get me wrong, I’ll try it again some time, but last season, it just wasn’t the right time.

But I’m getting ahead of the pictures… lets catch up visually, shall we?

In Iowa, on I-80, the rest stops all have themes celebrating something native to the state.
The one where I stopped for what became an hour or so was dedicated to writers. Each picnic pavillion featured a quote by a famous Iowan. As I approached this one, a baby bird lay still on the walk,  many metres below it’s nest.
I found a beautiful irony to the quote nearest.
“Death is one moment, Life is many of them.” ~Tennessee Williams
Considering my month, this could not have been more perfect.
strange comfort

This moon caused me a detour, much larger than this as it rose, I tried to pull over to catch a shot of it’s orange hue
and found myself exiting the turnpike I had forgotten I was on.  Pain in the butt… by the time I had paid my toll , turned around, waited in line, then gotten back onto the toll road, i had missed the original shot. oh well
a few miles later, I was able to pull off and catch another shot. with slow exposure, there is littel predicting what will be caught as traffic whizzes by.
I like the surprise sometimes. 

So I returned home to attend my Gpa’s memorial and spend some time with family, which I hadn’t had time to do before heading to hunting camp the previous November.
You wouldn’t think of a military memorial as being a comical event… and I suppose the ceremony itself was not. It was very tasteful and succinct. You see, my gpa didn’t want any of that.. no funeral, nothing. But was finally talked into the 10 minute military ceremony, the 21gun salute, etc. Mom helped himn to realize that while it was about him, it wasn’t for him.
Anyways, Ceremony over, with luncheon to follow, the family gathered at the wall where Gpa’s ashes would be interred. The space was at the top of an 8 foot tall wall, the plaque would be set later on but for now the official placing of the ashes would happen. This is where things get silly…  Somehow it was decided that my mother should be the one to place the ashes in the wall…. but of five siblings, she is the second shortest. At 5’2″, she stood on her tippy tippy toes to set the box in place, just at the edge of the slot… repeating over and over to herself under her breath, “Please don’t fall on me, please don’t fall on me.”
Now we’re all standing there, trying our damnedest to not laugh at mom as she’s trying to do this. Suddenly someone giggles and we all start to crack. The gentlemen working at the cemetery, are trying to keep professionally solemn. One walks up after Mom steps away to replace the tile that will cover the  space in the wall. And as he raised his power drill to replace the screws, my father, goofball, goes, “Is that a union made tool?” and we all just lose it. Gpa (of course) was a union man. Poor guy is still trying to be professional, but finally laughs and we all giggle it out for a while before heading down the road for lunch with everyone else who had come to honor Gpa.

By some stroke of luck, while I was home, my twin cousin was in town with her husband and their munchkin, my very precocious goddaughter.  I called them up and was invited along to the Circle the oval parade at Wade Oval in Cleveland.  This, By far, was one of the coolest parades I have ever seen.
All floats totally man-powered, many of them built around wagons and wheel chairs the costumes were phenomenal, the puppets elaborate. Just so so cool! Obviously, I have pics for you…

Some of the super cool puppets paying my goddaughter and the other kids a visit

There was a person inside/underneath this amazing costume puppet , i was too slow to get a shot of the front. 

Some of my favorites of the stilt costumes, the peacock and the mantis per particularly cool
The puppeteers really played up their creatures well.

Shelby loves parades….
well…
she loves the attention she gets in crowds anyway. 
Another fantastic puppet
I loved that you could see the person through this one.
Wade Oval was PACKED.
The crowed enjoying the grand finale with the largest of the man powered  floats

Following the Parade, there was a festival where you could get a closer look at all of the costumes and floats.
The girls and I went for a wander to check it all out and give their moms a little break. 

Not that the rest of my time home wasn’t important… but I didnt take any pictures… besides, you dont want to hear/read all of it. soo… Back to West by God Virginia

Little early spring huckleberry picking at long point…
a bit of climbing is necessary for this particular berry stash, so my only competition is the animals

One of my favorite things about WV
is the number of butterflies and moths you run into daily
Luna Moth on the kitchen tarp at the overnight site
Sup dog!
Shelby and my former manfriend paddling along at Summersville Lake 
The cave dog in her not so natural habitat under an overhang in a kayak  with me at Summersville lake

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.

HELLO!
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.
 WE WIN!
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”
http://polkas.nl/donwojtila~music.html

 

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. 
Alright… Back to business.
Hehehe who am I kidding? You just wanna see some photos! 
Well, here it is, a photo-journal of  
my first Trip down the Yampa canyon through Dinosaur National Monument
yay!
My view from bed on the back of my raft at the Yampa Canyon put-in the night before we launched.
Big bright moon, bright stars, the water cruising by underneath my tethered boat.
Sounds really relaxing, right?
It would have been had I not somehow set myself on a tilt all night. I felt like I was going to roll off the back of my boat, my co-workers woke to the sight of me with a cam strap seat belt around my sleeping bag! 

Entering the Yampa Canyon

So I left this one really big so maybe you can see why i took a picture of rocks and shrubberies
look closely!

Lori Looking upstream from our first camp at Big Joe.
Something interesting is happening…

These crazy kids… running upstream… did you find them in the rocks n shrubs pic??
then they spend a couple hours trying to figure out how and if they can make it across the river. mind you, in this photo, you can only see about half the width.

Looking downstream from camp at Big Joe

Looking toward the canyon walls river right, behind camp

The amazing number of natural amphitheaters in the canyon… the echos you can play with are awesome. 

We took a Hike up to Wagonwheel Point (rock?)
Anyway,  a decent hike, with a pretty  solid climb in altitude.
Desert flowers growing along the way, one of these was looking kind of  wilty so i shared a  splash from my camelback
On the way back down, it had perked right back up. 

Looking back out toward the river, about 1/3 of the way up the canyon. 

No tweaking of colors at all on this shot, these contrasts come out exactly as they were.
The changes in the color of the rock and sand as we hiked was like living in a fantasy world. 

This pretty cactus was loving the hot, sunny weather much more than I.
Playing with depth of field is fun… especially when the shots come out so well without  needing to crop  anything!

Looking down to where we had come from.
That hike is no joke!
on a side note: I don’t know if I inadvertently changed the setting on my camera,
 but I love the painterly quality that this photo took on. 

Some of our kids enjoying the view and the cool breeze, now that we’ve reached the top
We had a really great group for my first Yampa trip.
Outdoor  Rec majors from Colorado Western Unversity taking  a course called “water based”
Learning what it’s like to be a river guide…
they actually split into groups and did all of the cooking and  grunt work all week, it was fantastic!

The little guy I shared my clifftop shady spot with

Chillin in the shade, enjoying the view from Wagonwheel. 

Panoramic shot from the top… if you look really close river left, bottom left of the photo, you can see tiny blue dots, those are our boats.

Hello undercut! looking back upstream.
I was on top of that mountain a little while ago!

I seem to have the habit of attracting foam in the eddies each night. 

Looking upstream from halfway down Warmsprings rapid where we stopped to scout.
At high water, I’m told this rapid is really formidable, the mantra, “rig to flip, dress to swim” was  mentioned
However, while fun, this rapid at 3000cfs, not so scary…
…so long as you don’t drop the pour-over, left of center, or pin on a big rock. 
Early morning moon set over camp as the sunlight encroaches. 

Self Portrait…

Steamboat Rock and Echo Park, at the confluence of the Yampa and the Green
We pulled over on a beach near the rock for a drum circle and some fun with echos.  
The Confluence!  can you tell which river is which??
Why do they call it the Green, I wonder?

Coming into some of the Lodore formations, (the purpleish rocks on the left)

Same Photo, I just thought it looked really cool in black and white.

Lodore Formations a little closer up

Exiting the Yampa Canyon, entering the long meandering Island Park last day.

Well that’s what i have for pictures, this go-’round, 
but I assure there shall be more as the summer goes on!
I still have the 4 day Gates of Lodore trip to experience, and well, I’ll be doing both trips often enough!
There were so many things I wish I’d had my camera for this trip tho, like the last night, when we did shadow puppets on the cliff wall across the river! or the Extreme screepile Bocceball when the green ball hit a rock and exploded!  yes, a memorable trip it was.  
Admittedly, I felt a bit of a brat through part of the trip. 
There is a LOT of flat water, and I had let myself come in with the expectations of challenging whitewater, so I did get a little disappointed. 
But the more I look through my photos, the less it bothers me. I will have my challenges, there’s always Gauley season in September!
Anyhoo… next trip is on the 25th, until then, it’s fun with power tools!
Matt and I are retrofitting and rebuilding some oar rigs so we have shiny new-ish equipment to work with all summer!
Maybe I’ll be a photo-nerd and take some pics while we’re doing that too…

And I’m back… or gone again… or whatever, here’s a blogpost!

At Long last, I have returned to you, oh blogging world!
I can explain… 
So I got home to Ohio and lost the will to write.
Terrible, I know. 
 It isn’t as if nothing happened while I was there, or for the 2 months that I was back at CRO in WV.
It’s just that well…. when you’re at home, whether it’s true or  not, you feel like nothing’s going on. 
And as far as CRO goes, the interwebs connections are kinda sparse…. 
…and I’m lazy.  
SO.. To Catch you up, here is a Photo summery of what’s been happening in my world. 
The Full moon shining and reflecting through Uncle Ralph’s Stained Glass Sun at Mom n Dad’s
a few days after getting home.
A Polka Party In honor of my G-pa’s service in WWII 
Catching Bella catching me on “film” as it were at a family gathering
In leiu of a quartet of midgets sent to serve my every whim… (they apparently got lost)
These arrived late in the v-day with an anonymously written poem.  and they survived nearly 3 weeks!

To anyone who says, “There’s no white water in Ohio.” I call BS.
This, my friends, is in downtown Cuyohoga Falls, Ohio.
Where, in a couple months, the lowhead dams are being taken out in order to provide the opportunity
for a whitewater  rafting industry to flourish.
They say it will be class IV.
So my man friend and I went to scout what we could in town.
I can’t wait to run it!

A less painterly  view of the beginning of the canyon.
The uppermost visible part of the river is one of the dams slated for removal.
One of the things I love about West Virginia is how often you are surprised.
This McD’s is still open for business…
It’s hard to see, but the workers inside were going about business as though the facade of the building hadn’t been ripped clean off.
Sure the dining room was gone, but they’ve still got fries to sell!
Little bit o’ preseason repair work in the CRO guide  house.
Fun with blowtorches in an old wooden house!
That paddle I babbled all winter about getting…
 Here she is!
Duende (the evocative spirit)
9 different kinds of wood in this beauty,
most pieces individually hand picked by yours truly, with the guidance of  Mr Jim Snyder
 
So, a relatively uneventful spring season on the Cheat… 
The water was low, the boys were rarely in town…
Very little work to be had…. Lots of playtrips tho!
I did get one run in on the Big Sandy, ran a big waterfall… 
Ninja and Me dropping Wonder Falls on the Big Sandy
Photo credit to the talented Ant Riffle

I took a couple mini road trips down to ACE to visit friends,
And to take a Rescue3 class, of which I shall become an instructor come fall.
I do have a head start on that…
Thanks to my good friend, Travis, who called in a favor on behalf of Simon (get all that?);
 I got the opportunity to take an ACA swift water rescue instructor course with Mike Mather, one of the top rescue guys in the industry.
Proud to say that I am now a level 3 (soon to be 4) swift water rescue instructor.

Mike Mather,  our instructor trainer, handing down words of wisdom to Simon.

Setting up a practice run of the “V-lower/Livebait rescue technique”

Travis and Mike
 “fun with advanced mechanical advantage”

Immediately following the class, The pooch and I had to get in the car and start rolling west for Utah.
If you recall, I’m working the Yampa and Green Rivers through Dinosaur National Monument!
Anyhoo, I made a quick stop at home to raid the fridge, get a few hugs, and trade out some gear. 
Back on the Road, first stop, St Louis, to visit my Twin cousin and her hubby and munchkin.

Awesome cloud formations to hint at the night of driving I had ahead of me.

Silver Twinkie into the sunset

I drove through one of the most spectacular electrical storms I’ve ever seen!
What you don’t see are the 800 or so photos of not lightening that I took and deleted to get these few. 

So worth killing a camera battery over!
To me this one looks like a dragon breathing lightening/fire 

just cool. man, Iwill never stop being in awe of thunderstorms. 

Riley, my goddaughter and budding photographer. 

Cool looking mushrooms that Riley and  I found while wandering  around outside trying not to wake her parents.

Turbodog  and the moon
Shelby, catching some night-time air as we drive ever westward, next stop, Denver. 

The Big Bright Moon shining down on a wind farm.
had to pull over to snap this one, long exposure and all… so worthwhile!
supposedly the biggest and brightest we’ll see the moon in this lifetime.

So It to Denver, after a stop for a short nap… arrived in my friend’s neighborhood about 4:15 am, found a parking spot around 5, by which time, Tim had fallen asleep(and who can blame him?).
I sent a text saying where I was parked and to come shake my car when he was ready for breakfast.
around 7:30 am, I was curled up on a comfy sofa, Shelby on the floor next to me. 
One last leg on the journey to Utah to go…
 Considering how many pics I’ve already put into this post,  
I will leave you for tonight with one last shot.
Shelby, the turbodog cruising through Colorado, enjoying the view, and anticipating new adventures.
 Next time (hopefully tomorrow) I will show and tell of my first Yampa trip through Dino NM. 
 

so… i’m a slacker… i know it.
in my defense, i have not had much access to the interwebs of late. however, i will be needing to post some pics soon for your benefit and describe my adventures.
i go through stints of extreme dedcation, interspersed with times of ambivalence. i’m working on being more consistent… but really…. that pattern is consistent for me so….
anyhoo… just wanted to pop in and say hi, and let you know, i havent forgotten you.
Utah and Dinosaur in 3 weeks!

i keep saying i’m going to catch up… to be honest… at this point, i dont really feel like it.
i have had a month and a half at home, working for dad and mostly being bored at home.  i’m looking forward to getting back on the river next week.

traveling cross country with trevor was fantastic. we had a great time. managed to neither get arrested or married in vegas! we even ended up leaving in the positive when it came to gambling. it was cancelled out by 2 extra days in vegas due to car trouble but we had alot of fun.
i didnt take much by way of photos there, but i will post a few that i did take.
lately i havent been real inspired to do my normal photography, but i feel like thats because i’ve been at home. theres little novelty, and the feeling of it’s always here, why take a picture… i dont know. i’m in  afunk, i guess.

trevor came to visit while on spring break and we had some fun playing hometown tourist in cleveland.

well… I’m now procrastinating my packing process by writing for you 🙂 above you see my mess.
actually, watching Sherlock is what  slows me the most.
back to WV in the mornng. gotta get back to it. new adventures will be posted soon!