Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Dear Bombers

Dear Boston Marathon Bomber(s),

You obviously don't know much about the American culture or what makes us America. And, I say that in the sense that if you are an American consider your citizenship revoked.

You see... good WILL come out of this tragedy you've created at your own soul's expense. That's what we Americans do -- we take bad and turn it into good.

We Americans are resolved. We are united. We are organized. We are not afraid. We are free in our actions, our will and our conscience.  We are also stubborn as all hell.

What's even more interesting is if you take an average American runner, not to mention a Boston Marathoner, you'll find an individual that has all of the above American traits amplified ten fold.

Yeah, you may have thrown a poo poo curtain on one race in one city on one day of our history, but KNOW that you've steeled us for thousands of races in thousands of cities for years and years to come.

I use the word "steel" NOT in that you've made it harder to run 26.2 miles or more dangerous to participate in a race, but quite the opposite. Your moronic actions will have an unforeseeable result. You will "steel" thousands of Americans to train, run and finish a marathon. Some of them will already be runners deciding to run their first marathon and others will be new to running. Some of them will be leading unhealthy lifestyles and will find their way through running. In a sense, you will undoubtedly save many MANY more lives than you've taken.

Know that you have failed! You have not created terror. You have not defeated the Boston Marathon. It will be back and it will be stronger than ever. 

Know that you will soon be hunted down by some of the most elite law enforcement and government officials on the planet and KNOW that many of those officials will be runners a LOT faster than you and they will never give up. 

Good luck with that. Now go to hell. 



Monday, July 9, 2012

The Grand Canyon (Day 20) - Diamond Peak

The following post is from the journal I kept of my recent adventure upon a 21-day private river rafting trip on the Colorado River through the Grand Canyon from Lee's Ferry to Diamond Peak (about 230 miles) that took place between April 18th and May 8th, 2012.

May 7, 2012

My God!

We're finally done. I can see Diamond Peak from my tent and know that we're so close to take out that I could run there in my sleep!

Today kind of summed up the entire trip. It had its ups and downs. We made paddled about 23 miles on the river; some good and some bad. We had a period of intense doldrums with crazy hot heat and then another period of crazy tail winds. Then, just when we thought we had it made with those tailwinds, they changed the hurricane gusting headwinds that caught us off guard around mile 212.

All and all, it was an appropriate finish to an epic trip of a life time. I jumped off the cliff at Pumpkin Springs with my completely worthless Kelty "Good Nite-Airbed" to punish it for being such a piece of crap. It's a good 20-feet drop and as we collided with the water it gave a final pop and deflated. Then we dunked it into the nasty greenish-colored water of Pumpkin Springs as a final insult.

Pumpkin Springs

I paddled the rapids from river miles 200-212 including a very random one called Little Bastard. It was challenging and fun. We stopped before the 217 Mile rapid and I hiked down below along the rocks and waited for the rest of the group to run the rapid so I could photograph them. Andy and Cathy were able to cheat it and get in the eddie below where they picked me up and returned me to the Flower Power.

Later in the day Kathy was knocked out of her boat in a small rapid with no name when she was caught off guard. She was promptly carried under the boat and popped up on the other side where Andy reached down and pulled her back aboard by her life jacket. It was the first time she had ever fallen out of the boat and what a surprise it was! Speaking of which, Robert and I are actually very surprised that we didn't fall out during this trip.

Tonight Butch had a bottle of Jameson (Irish Whiskey) that he told us was meant for a "tip-over" party that never happened. If any of the boats were to flip on this trip then this bottle was to be our reprieve. Since we never flipped we drank it on the final night.... tonight. Henceforth, I'm a little drunk right now so please excuse my poor writing.

We actually missed our intended campsite tonight by probably a mile and that puts us a lot closer to our take out spot at Diamond Creek. However, when we got to camp tensions were high so it was perfect timing for Butch to break out the bottle and pass it around. After dinner we sat around a huge bonfire and burned up just about everything left we deemed "burnable," including Robert's mollky set. It's been absolutely amazing to here some of the stories that Bob and Butch have told around our camp fires.

I couldn't even do them justice with words trying to describe their knowledge, experience and characters. Tonight was absolutely great! It's been such a honor to have run the river with these individuals and to have gained the knowledge I've gained.

Tomorrow morning we take out and I'm ready. I've used eight AA batteries to charge up my cell phone and I can't wait to call Jenny and tell her how much I love her as soon as we reach cell phone reception. I'll probably make one more entry after this, but for now I retire... one last night in my sleeping bag in my tent set up on top of a borrowed air mattress that's too big to fit inside.

Monday, July 2, 2012

The Grand Canyon (Day 19) - Simple Day

The following post is from the journal I kept of my recent adventure upon a 21-day private river rafting trip on the Colorado River through the Grand Canyon from Lee's Ferry to Diamond Peak (about 230 miles) that took place between April 18th and May 8th, 2012.

                                                                          May 6, 2012

We're camped at Mile 202. We paddled 20+ miles today. Robert rowed the morning and I rowed the afternoon. It was a good workout. I just realized that we have less than the distance of a marathon to go and I'm stoked! It's comforting to know that I'm capable of running a further distance than what is left in our trip. It's been an amazing journey, but at this point I'm more than ready to end this and get home to my Jenny.
My campsite for tonight

I finished the book, "Hunger Games" this morning while on the boat. I think I read the last 80 pages straight. I want to now see the movie when I get home. The book is an easy and fast read. It's entertaining, but sometimes gets a little dump when the main character goes on and on about her female teenage feelings. I could have done without the insight into a 16-year old female's messed up mind.

Robert, Athena and I are going to hike up the side canyon here in a moment and search for these Native American paintings or pictographs that Tricia has told us about, but for now I'm chilling at my campsite. It's been a long and hot day with a mild hangover from the shenanigans of last night. I'm thankful for the shade I rest in at the moment. Tomorrow will be similar to today as we'll be making many miles. I'm starting to charge my cell phone now with my solar chargers in anticipation of calling Jenny as soon as we hit an area with reception. That's all for now. Time to go explore!

Don't ask...

Friday, June 29, 2012

The Grand Canyon (Day 18) - LAVA LAVA LAVA!!!!

The following post is from the journal I kept of my recent adventure upon a 21-day private river rafting trip on the Colorado River through the Grand Canyon from Lee's Ferry to Diamond Peak (about 230 miles) that took place between April 18th and May 8th, 2012.

May 5, 2012 (Cinco De Mayo)

What are the freaking chances that my 200th Blog Post would coincide with my Grand Canyon journal entry for Lava Falls day, which actually occurred on Cinco De Mayo and one of the brightest full moons of the year?!?! I'm stoked! Here goes....

6 A.M.

Today is Lava Falls day. We are 13 miles away from this class 10 rapid that for many is the highlight of white-water rafting the Grand Canyon. We will probably hit it by mid-afternoon. Today is also Cinco De Mayo so a large portion of Americans will be getting shitfaced drunk across the continent to celebrate a holiday that doesn't really have anything to do with the USA. It's all good for us because we also enjoy an excuse to party and it also, just so happens, to be tradition to drink tequila after Lava Falls.

I'm writing at this super early hour in the hopes that i will better help me conduct myself today. I've struggled on this trip giving up the higher class rapids to Robert (Crystal, Hance, Dubendorff & Horn) and I have to constantly remind myself that I have been given the opportunity to paddle a few good ones (Upset, Fishtail, Granite, Bedrock, etc.), but man, deep down inside I really want a shot at just one of the big ones! I think I was right in demanding to paddle a few of them back in the inner gorge, but I felt like I really had to demand them rather than be given the opportunity. Even yesterday I had to fight for Upset Rapid. I had to give Robert an ultimatum and say "if you do Upset then I'm doing Lava," and Robert instantly backed down, but not before saying, "I just want more practice before Lava." I responded with, "you're either ready for Lava at this point or you're not. Are you ready," because I am.

I felt really bad after making that statement, but upon reflection I feel it's the truth. I am 100 percent confident of my abilities at this point and if needed, I would paddle Lava. Lava Falls is hands down Robert's rapid. He invited me to go on this trip... to go on his boat... so it's been silently understood from the beginning that Lava is his. I wouldn't try and take Lava for him for anything. My issue, that I'm just now figuring out is control. I never dreamed I'd have such a problem with it until I got out here and had to experience it. I've been psycho-analyzing myself for days now and I've finally figured it out. By figuring it out and writing about it I think I can come to terms with it and be a better person.

Here's what I've learned. If I were in a boat with Bob or Butch, I wouldn't have an issue being a passenger and being in their hands and giving them control over my fate because they've each got 30+ years of experience on this river. They're experts. Robert and I are NOT experts. Not even close. We're both super smart and in great shape and completely capable, but at the end of the day, we're both fucking beginners. We've both made excellent decisions so far on this trip and we're always thinking the same thing, which is good. Those decisions have come with having the right knowledge provided by Bob and Butch before hand. We are both at the same skill level. Neither him, nor I are better than the other at this point. This is the reason I'm struggling. It makes it difficult for me to sit back and be submissive. Everything in my upbringing has pushed me to be in charge and be an "alpha" male in critical situations. I feel and hope that Robert is the same way. I was also raised to be competitive or at least be the best when put in a situation where I'm surrounded by equality.

So.... today I must bite my tongue, hang on and try to enjoy the ride. I must be stoked for my cousin and share in his triumph. This is what I must do and I know it. Next time, if there is a next time, I will man my own boat and bring along Jenny. Hopefully, it'll be with Robert and Athena and the gang again, but each of us in our own boat side by side. That would be epic.

Oh... I don't think I wrote about Upset Rapid yesterday. It was my worst run yet. I planned to enter the tongue on the left and push left through the first lateral and the rest of the run, which curves right. There is a huge hole in the middle that has flipped even commercial rigs so that is what you are avoiding with this strategy. There is a cheat to the right, but it's narrow and hard to hit and often times the river pulls you left because the rapid is curving right along a rock wall.

Upset Rapid

Everything in my head was conflicted because every other rapid that looks like this one usually is the opposite in that you want to avoid the outside of the curve instead of pushing into it. I watch Butch go ahead of me and he makes it as planned. It's my turn and a domino of things cause me to miss my line completely. First, I start a little left in the tongue where Butch entered, but when I push into the first wave on the left side I missed a stroke on my left oar. This threw me off balance and the wave knocks us to the right. I lose my grip on the oar completely and during the time it takes me to regain control of the oar we are pushed halfway across the river to the right. Now it's too late to do anything, but take whatever this rapid throws at us. We are in the middle-right side of the rapid quickly approaching the hole. I hit a wave sort of sideways and really think we might come close to flipping, but we rock right over top the wave. This gives me enough time to turn us straight again and push directly forward as we enter the hole.

We collide violently with the hole, but punch right through it. All in all, it wasn't as bad as I was anticipating. Butch asks afterward how the devil at the bottom of that hole is doing? I guess we're now in some sort of special club of people that have been down there to see the Devil. I really didn't think the hole was bad, but we might have hit it just right. What really didn't like was losing the oar and the control loss. It wasn't a good run, but it was a good experience. Upon reflection, the same thing happened to Robert in Dubendorff. Now I understand what he meant after that run when he said, "sometimes you wish you could have a 'do over' when it goes like that."

Alright, well, it's time for breakfast. I'll try to post again tonight given that all goes well! Bring on Lava!

10 P.M.

So... I'm a little drunk.

The word "so" seems to be the go to word on this trip when you want to talk to the group and state some kind of plan of action. Butch uses it all the time and now it seems that I've adopted it as well.

So... we are camped at the "Below Lava Falls," campsite otherwise known as Tequila Beach.

So... the day went well after all. I'm so glad I took the time to write this morning. I think it helped me sort things out in my head and be a better person today. Before we reached Lava Falls we stopped to hike Fern Glen Canyon (Mile 168). Not a big deal, but worth mentioning. At one point I did hike away from the group and was the first to reach a destination point and there was one single dove that flew away right over my head. I feel that the dove is a peace symbol and this was a sign to find inner peace with myself. We then ate lunch on some sandbar with no shade where Butch didn't even want to come ashore because of a science trip he did back in the 1980s where it was brutally hot.

Finally, we make it to Lava Falls! We scout it and then it's time to go. Bob goes first in the dory. Then Andy and Kathy followed by Butch and Tricia and we bring up the rear in the Flower Power. Robert did a fine job considering each person going in front of us did slightly different than what was discussed beforehand. We were all aiming for the same line, but everyone went slightly different from one another. Robert stuck to our plan and we did just fine. The actual rapid was somewhat uneventful; a few big waves head on and we were done without incident. Everyone did great. I felt happiness for Robert even though I long to do Lava some day myself. Next time!

After making it through upper Lava Falls (the serious part of the rapid) and before entering the lower Lava Falls rapid, Robert, Athena and I all share a round of tequila. Then, once we all make the beach below the rapid everyone starts binge drinking and celebrating our triumph. Tequila shots of Patron, brought by Andy and Cathy, are slammed down followed by mucho cerveza. A few days ago we switched our day 18 food pack with day 20 intentionally so we could have Mexican food tonight instead of Italian. Robert, Athena and I cook dinner for everyone. Spirits are high and everyone is stoked! After a few hours, I'm very buzzed and decide to call it a night, which brings me here to my personal campsite.
Lava Falls GoPro Video

I picked this sight during my intoxication and it immediately became obvious that I chose poorly. I'm right in the middle of a sand dune with exposure to the wind at all angles. I lay down on my air mattress and immediately realize that I'm going to be sand blasted all night. What to do? My first idea is to go back to the kitchen and drink more so I can pass out in my sand box. Then EUREKA! I'm struck with pure brilliance that for the life of me I can't understand why I figure it out now while drunk and not days ago when I'm sober.

I march back to the boat and grab my tent. I bust out the tent and throw it right on top of the air mattress. The air mattress is way to big to go inside my tent so for days I've been sleeping outside. Now I realize that I can easily set my tent up on top of my air mattress and stake it down just the same. I stumble around totally wasted doing this and 15-minutes later, WAA-LA... I have a tent to provide some shelter from the sand storm and a soft floor to sleep on! I take great pride in such a small accomplishment! I'm smiling just now as I write this because I'm still stoked!

Tonight I noticed a since of calmness coming over Butch and Bob. It's as if a huge level of stress was lifted off their shoulders once we were finished with Lava.

I'm about to fade away to sleep here, but I can't believe we only have three more days and we're out of here. I miss Jenny more and more each day. I'm not sure if she would like the adrenaline rush of the larger rapids, but I know she would love everything else this pace offers. I can't wait to get back and never separate from her this long again!

The morning after... Sand still got into everything, but not nearly as much as without the tent. Yay, for drunken innovation!

Thursday, June 28, 2012

The Grand Canyon (Day 17) - Grand Canyon Proof

The following post is from the journal I kept of my recent adventure upon a 21-day private river rafting trip on the Colorado River through the Grand Canyon from Lee's Ferry to Diamond Peak (about 230 miles) that took place between April 18th and May 8th, 2012.

May 4, 2012

At this point in the trip there are a few pieces of equipment that have proven worthy and some that flat out suck. I keep thinking of that Grandma-type character that was a spokesperson for Columbia Outerwear a few years ago. She would be on the commercials showing some Columbia clothing taking a beating in some extreme weather condition. I feel like I've got the Columbia grandma beat out here in the Grand Canyon. Seventeen days and some things are beginning to break down.

To name a few, my Kelty "Good Nite Airbed" tops the list of SUCK and I know I mentioned it yesterday, but I thought it would make me feel better if I wrote that it SUCKS one more time. I can't describe with words the frustration I have with that piece of equipment. Kelty is a name brand that I've always trusted. Not anymore. 

Enough with the negative. Let's talk more about the positive; the things that are working great despite adverse conditions. Teva sandals. I have two pairs with me on this trip and surprisingly the older ones are out performing the newer ones. I have a pair that I purchased in the Bahamas in 1999. They are 13 years old and are finally biting the dust, but only because the glue holding the rubber tread on the sole has biodegraded over time. The left tread came off today, but you know what? I'm continuing to walk in them and they'll still holding together like a champ. I just have to be more careful about slipping on rocks.

My Pelican Case has done an amazing job of keeping my Nikon D7000 dry and free of sand. My North Face sleeping bag (Cat's Meow) is also a decade old, but continues to keep me warm and cozy at night. Sometimes too warm. Before the trip I purchased a Patagonia "Nano Puff" jacket with Primasoft insulation. It's not waterproof, but the dang thing stuffs into its own pocket down to the size of a softball and only weighs a few ounces. It's proven plenty warm during chilly mornings and is beyond comfortable and durable. It's my new favorite all around jacket. I really need to create a list after this trip of what works and what doesn't. That way if there's ever a 4th river trip for me I'll have the list to remind me!

Today we paddled 20 miles! It took all day and we only stopped once for lunch. We passed up the popular Matkatambia and Havasu stops. Athena was really disappointed about Havasu and it was even worse that when we passed it there was not one boat there yet and the water coming out of the side canyon was a beautiful blue, kind of like the Little Colorado. We've all seen Havasu before except Athena and I kind of suspect that Butch and Bob were dead set on avoiding it from the start of the trip. I can't blame them as it's pretty  much a mandatory stop on commercial trips so they've both seen it hundreds of times. Robert, Athena and I took turns rowing and passed the time playing silly games that you might play on a long road trip. We also drank a bunch of beer when we realized that our supply now is more than we'll ever drink during the rest of the trip.

I'm going sans-tent again tonight! Last night was the best sleep I've had in weeks on this borrowed air mattress that doesn't leak and leave me laying on rocks. It's also warmer outside at night now and not  cloud in the sky so rain chance is low and amazing star gazing is high! The wind is a little annoying, as usual, but I've found a spot that is some what protected. This rock I'm sitting on is getting really hard and dinner is calling! Peace!
Finding out if it is possible to do a headstand on the bow of an inflatable raft in white water after drinking several beers.

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

The Grand Canyon (Day 16) - Whispering Falls

The following post is from the journal I kept of my recent adventure upon a 21-day private river rafting trip on the Colorado River through the Grand Canyon from Lee's Ferry to Diamond Peak (about 230 miles) that took place between April 18th and May 8th, 2012.

May 3, 2012

It's dark. I'm freaking tired. Too tired to even set up my tent. I thought I might sleep on the boat tonight, but nixed that idea because we're camped in the middle of a freaking rapid and the water is not calm or quiet. This camp side is called Olo Canyon. The moon is almost full. It's so freaking bright that I don't need my LED headlamp to see clearly. To hell with it - I'm going to put on my sunglasses and sleep out in the open tonight. Oh, and did I mention I just drank three beers and a bunch of wine? Yup, this post should be interesting. . .

Today was a damn good day! LOoooong, but good. We hiked Kanab Creek Canyon all the way to Whispering Falls. It took more than 6-hours in total and as a result we got to camp super late in the day. I must say that the payoff at Whispering Falls was truly epic and absolutely beautiful. Several times, we almost turned back as it was much further than Bob or Butch remembered. I'm glad we didn't. After some difficult hiking/climbing we reached the place and with perfect timing. It's a long narrow pool of crystal clear water with a trickling waterfall into it and it probably only gets about 30 minutes of sunlight a day. We nailed it perfectly as the sunlight glistened into the pool. Twenty minutes later it was in the shade. Bob and I speed hiked the way out and got a chance to chat it up during a couple of beers at the boat while we waited for the rest of our group to arrive.

I'm so tired right now that I wish I could write more as it was such an amazing hike. On the way in I played a game with the Grand Canyon to see if I could make it all the way to Whispering Falls without getting my trail running shoes wet. This often left me way behind the group, but I would eventually catch up as I jumped from boulder to boulder and took extremely difficult routes rather than traverse the creek 500 times. This is probably why I'm so damn tired. On the way back I blasted through the creek at full speed and it felt so refreshing.
 Kanab Creek
Resting during lunch break at Kanab Creek

 My new bed!
The waterfall at Olo Canyon

Long story short - tonight I'm sleeping on a borrowed air mattress from Robert and Athena, who are sleeping on their cots instead. My air mattress, a Kelty "Good Nite-Airbed" that is made for camping, started leaking the second night of this trip and eventually got to the point of not holding any air last night. During the entire trip I've had to get up every 2-3 hours and manually pump the air mattress back up. It's been a shitty experience, but I've been determined not to let it ruin the adventure. Last night I ended up sleeping on rocks as all my efforts to patch it failed. Tonight I'm stoked to be on a mattress that seems to be holding air just fine. Looking forward to a good night rest!

 Swimming at Whispering Falls
Big Horns that Robert and Athena spotted along Kanab Creek

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

The Grand Canyon (Day 15) - Deer Creek Falls

The following post is from the journal I kept of my recent adventure upon a 21-day private river rafting trip on the Colorado River through the Grand Canyon from Lee's Ferry to Diamond Peak (about 230 miles) that took place between April 18th and May 8th, 2012.

May 2, 2012

Another good day in the books! Although it started off with some aches and pains in my lower back, probably from paddling so much yesterday, I spend some time stretching and doing a few yoga positions and took some Advil and it quickly got better.

We drifted a few miles down the river after breakfast and were the first ones to arrive at Deer Creek Falls (Mile 136). Like the the Little Colorado River we have the place to ourselves temporarily until other river parties arrive at this popular stop (by the time we leave there would be 18-boats here).

We all hike up to the Patio, which is one of the most beautiful areas I've ever seen. It's a slot canyon hundreds of feet above the river that leads back into a gorge with Deer Creek flowing all the while in the depths on its way to eventually go over the waterfall. There are dozens of mini-waterfalls along the way and it eventually opens up into a big area with lots of shade kind of like a natural patio.

From here, Bob, Athena, Robert, Andy and I continue on the trail on a mission to get to the "source" of Deer Creek and the famous Throne Room. The source is a powerful waterfall coming straight out of the side of a canyon wall high above the trail, which goes directly behind the waterfall and into a room where people have literally made "thrones" out of large flat pieces of rock. We stop and refill our water bottles directly from the source. It's the best tasting water of the entire trip! We then all stop, pick out a throne and eat our packed lunches. Bob reads his book, the Game of Thones, while sitting in one of the largest thrones for about a half hour.

When it's time to hike back to the Patio I decide I'm going to trail run, but this time film it on the GoPro mounted on my helmet that I brought up from the boat in my backpack. I'm only wearing my Teva Sandals so I have to be extra careful. I think to myself that Jenny will enjoy seeing this video. I really wish she were here to run some of these trails! I finish the run in just under 11 minutes. It takes an average river rafting passenger about 45 minutes to hike what I've just ran. I cool off by laying down in the creek at the Patio.

Trail run back to the Patio

I spend most of my time taking photographs of the area and I can't wait to get back to a computer to view them. The problem with these GoPro cameras is you can't review your video or pictures. I thought that the SD card would work in my other cameras from the GoPro, but they aren't compatible. Everyone wishes we could review footage instantly, but I kind of like it because it's like the old days of film where you just don't know until you get to the darkroom. I miss those days sometimes.

We are camping now at a place call the "Dorris" campsite and we got here early so everyone is super chill and relaxed. I'm not sure why it's called Dorris, but I get the impression from Butch and Bob that it's something dirty. Oh well, the weather is pleasant and I'm excited about an all day hike we're planning for tomorrow at Kanab Creek.