Sunday, May 13, 2012

Sun, Sand and Surf

Being a raft guide doesn’t seem nearly as daunting as it did a few weeks ago.  I’ve been told I’ve already got the “look” of a guide down.  And looks are everything, right?  So, I should be good to go.  But seriously, here’s what I’ve been doing so far…

The "raft guide look" with Elise and Jeanne Marie 

After a marathon day of grocery shopping and packing I left Johnstown, CO on April 28th along with the Anderson’s.  I don’t think I’ve ever been a part of a $1000 grocery run before, but now I can add that to my resume.  We arrived in Texas Creek several hours later and began the not-so-small task of cleaning and organizing.  Within the next few days we were joined by Steve, the Soniat sisters, Dwight and Justin Grant (Dwight is the founder of VFH), and Josh Shannon.  I didn’t take any ‘before’ pictures of the office and boat house, but you can trust me when I say great improvements were made by way of elbow grease from the whole crew!

View of VFH from the road (the office is behind this building)
Office (front) and Boathouse/Staff area (behind)
Inside the Office (it's still being organized, but you get the idea)
Picnic area (white and blue building on left is the back side of the office)
Inside the prep room/staff area

On May 2nd seven of us left Texas Creek, CO for the Green River in Utah.  I’d never been to Utah and I’d never been on a raft trip so new experiences all around!  We drove for nearly 12 hours when we finally made it to the put-in.  We were all rather tired after a long day in the van so we rolled out our sleeping bags and slept under the stars. 

The next morning we woke up bright and early, packed up the boats and said goodbye to civilization and hello to Desolation Canyon.  We wanted to cover about 30 miles the first day, but only ended up going about 26.  We rowed and rowed and ROWED for what seemed to be forever until we reached our campsite.  Tired, cranky, and sore are three words that come to mind from that first day.  However, we all felt better after eating some food and playing a highly competitive game of Bocce Ball. 

On the Green River
Getting ready to leave our campsite

The second day was a lot like the first, long and tiring, but VERY pretty.  The views in the canyon were spectacular.  The next 4 days were quite a bit easier because we only covered 3-10 miles per day. 

Right before a wave drenches the boat

We were able to do some hiking in the canyon.  One hike was to an old prospectors cabin and another was to the top of a high point in Grey’s Canyon.  For the most part, though, we stayed near the river.  But that wasn’t hard because every campsite was home to some of the best beach sand I’ve ever seen!  It was so nice to be able to get off the river, kick your shoes off and walk around in the warm sand.  But, there was a drawback… Sand got EVERYWHERE!  I’m still trying to clean the sand out of my sleeping bag, toothbrush and camera. 

Hiking in Desolation Canyon
Josh trying to stand up in the prospectors cabin
View from the high point in Grey's Canyon

Another thing about river trips is… you can’t relieve yourself on shore.  By that I mean if you need to go (which you do multiple times during a 6 day trip) you need to go in the river.  And if you need to take a poo you get to use what’s known as a groover.  Basically an old ammo can with a toilet seat on top of it.  I’m trying to come up with a points system for the groover, but it’s much harder to come up with that a point system for BIFFing. 

Using the "facilities"

I ended up hurting my elbow after the first day of the trip, so I haven’t been paddling since then.  It’s my left elbow and it feels like tennis elbow.  Mark and I decided that it would be better if I skipped out on rowing for these past few weeks rather than become more seriously injured and being out for the summer.  So, I don’t have too much experience under my belt yet but I will in the near future. 

Since we got back from the Green River trip we’ve been further organizing and cleaning the office and boat house.  We’ve also been practicing backing up the trailers with 15-passenger vans.  I’ve gotten quite good at that.  The other newbies have been learning how to guide a paddle boat down the Arkansas River, and because of my elbow I have been learning how to shuttle and take rafting pictures. We've also become quite good at mouse extermination.  We've caught 9 since getting back from the Green River and have removed a nest from Jeanne Marie's car.  And by we I mean Josh.  

Training on the Arkansas
Josh taking care of a mouse nest

Overall, I’ve been having a good time and am about 10 shades darker than 3 weeks ago.  I cannot wait to start paddling again and I’m hoping and praying that my elbow can take it!  Currently I’m in Fort Collins, CO with Jeanne Marie and Elise.  We’re staying with they’re older sister Gina.  We will be heading back down to Texas Creek on Monday night to officially begin staff training on Tuesday.  And… just so y’all know I don’t have cell phone service where I am and currently I don’t have internet access either.  Steve is working on getting us some wi-fi, but in the meantime, if I don’t answer you back for a week it’s because I literally cannot. 

If you’d like to send me snail-mail here’s the address:

Elise Holmstrom
27077 Highway 50 Suite 4
Texas Creek, CO 81223

Mark and Sarah are still trying to purchase a house down by VFH.  They have one that they want that would be practically perfect for them and their 5 kids.  They put in a bid, but so far no dice.  If you could be praying for them, I would greatly appreciate it. 

Lastly, Happy Mothers Day!  Love you Mom!

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