Wednesday, August 28, 2013

New Friends - Guests and Guides on the Copper River in Alaska.

Aug 17 – 22nd, 2013 – This rafting trip had a full group…..18 guests and 6 guides…..quite different from last year’s trip on the Copper River. I had been worried about how we might get along in such a large group. How would the group mesh?  I needn’t have worried…..We had a great group of people and we ended up making a number of new friends.
It was easier, at first, to get to know everyone by placing them in their family groups. (Note- these pictures were all taken at ‘Suicide Point’ overlook. )
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There were Ellen and Michelle and their 3 young adult children, Zoe (23 yr.), Pierre (19 yr.), Maia (21 yr.) Ellen had been raised in Japan, and Oakland, California, Michelle was from France. They met and married and had 3 wonderful kids - 2 girls, then a boy, all 2 years apart, as our kids are. They had lived in London, then Paris for 8 years, and are now living back in London. Their 3 children are all living in the States (east coast) and going to college. It was fun watching this family interact. They would switch from French to English when talking, and they were all so sweet and affectionate.
The young adults were bright, friendly and open and easy to visit with. They were all about the ages that our kids had been when we had hiked the Grand Canyon together. We also really enjoyed swapping stories with Ellen and Michelle. It was interesting how alike Ellen and I were, and how similar our family situations were, even with the distance of continents and cultures.
Then there were Norman and Carol and their grand kids Kasey (14 yr.) and Daniel (15 yr.), and great niece and nephew, Erica (19 yr.) and Lewis (15 yr.)  Kasey and Daniel were cousins. Erica and Lewis were brother and sister. This family was from the New York (upstate) and New Jersey area.
Norman and Carol had been taking whichever of the grand kids that could make it on camping/travel trips for 3 weeks in the summer for the past 10 years. We really liked this idea. It seemed like a good way to let the kids have some neat travel and to do some things without their parents hovering over them, as well as giving their parents a break. But most of all, it fostered a close and familiar relationship between Grand Parents and kids.
One thing I thought was cute – the kids all had a lanyard with a Swiss Army knife and a whistle on it. Carol had given these to them years ago on their camping trips, just in case they might wander off and get lost. Now, THAT’S a woman after my own heart!
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The next family group was Colin (41 yr.?), Ryan (36 yr. ?) and their dad, Craig. Craig was a retired General (2 star?) in the Air force. Colin was married with 2 small children, and lived in the Detroit, Michigan area. Ryan worked as an animator on action films and had lived in Australia, but now is living in Vancouver. The dad was trying to get both his boys together for a family trip.
Craig was quieter and more reserved……the ‘boys’ tended to go for the action…enjoying the rapids and the hiking and such.
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Fred coaxed  Ben to stand for a ‘family’ shot. Ben (26?) was from London but is currently living in New York City and was traveling by himself. Ben joined up with the other young people and they all formed a really tight group. As a matter of fact, it seems as if they are planning a reunion raft trip on the Lochsa River next May.
The group seemed to divide naturally into the younger people and us older ones. Close friendships are forged in a short time. We definitely want to keep up with these new friends.
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Then, I had to include a picture of Fred and I at the overlook…….
Logan (22 yr.), originally from Vancouver, now living in Spokane, Washington, was along on the trip as a guest, but working for ROW Adventures as a photographer. Logan was working on a video ad for ROW and filmed us going through rapids,  as well as just hanging out at camp. I have to say, Logan was sweet, friendly and VERY  good at what he does. I never felt self conscious about the camera, and enjoyed seeing the trip through a photographer’s eye. Besides, we were promised a copy of the video of the rapids when it was finished.   : )  You can see Logan’s work at Logan Carter Productions.
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We had 6 guides on this trip. Connie at 59 yrs. was the oldest and had 30 years of river rafting experience. She lived in Riggins, a small community in the area. Her knowledge of the local history and the people added real depth to our  experience of Hell’s canyon.Then there was Britt and Mikey……very typical of river guides who raft or guide in the Summer and work at a ski resort in the winter. Britt took a little to warm up in a group, and liked to take care of business first. Mikey was always there to entertain. Britt hadn’t yet decided what he wanted to do in life, and Mikey came to rafting after 4 years in the Navy.
Shamus was working as a guide in the Summer, and this was his last trip. He was heading back to school in Durango, Colorado, for the Fall semester. Jonathon had a number of semesters of study in geology, and shared with us his knowledge of the geology of Hell’s Canyon.
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Eric ‘Spinney’ was our lead guide for this trip. He had been working for ROW for 6 years, and was mentoring Britt to be ‘lead guide’ on the next trip.
It was fun getting to know each of our guides.Eric was originally from New Hampshire. Britt and Jonathon were from Idaho. Shamus was from Maine, Connie was originally from Omaha. and Mikey was from Oakland, California. The diverse backgrounds and personalities all came together in a shared love of people and of rafting.
A raft trip is first about the river and the love of the outdoors…..but it would not be the same without the people that you meet and share this experience with and the new friends that we will treasure as a part of this adventure.

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