Grand Canyon – Day 1

You Want Me To Do What, Where?

Beware!  Potty humor ahead.

I am back. Actually I have been back for a few weeks, but I have been slow to get back to the technology world. I have tried to stay on “river time” as long as possible.

First a little background. I have wanted to see the Grand Canyon from the bottom, for about as long as I can remember.  On a trip as a child I had seen the Canyon from the  South Rim, but I thought that to truly grasp the size and the scope of the Grand Canyon you had to spend some time in the canyon, and explore from the bottom up. A rafting trip seemed like the perfect way.

There are many different types of commercial rafting trips you can take down the Colorado River, through the Grand Canyon. Many people take the large motorized trips. These rafts are large and carry up to 20 people and their gear.  The main benefit to these, in my opinion, is you can raft the whole Grand Canyon in 6 days.  The downside, is you have to listen to the motor the whole time you are on water. However, I found that the motors were surprisingly quiet.

We (my husband and I) chose to go the slower route. We went on a trip that used just oar boats and paddle boats. The company we went with was Canyon Explorations/Expeditions.  (Excellent Company!) Our group of 17 guests had 6 guides, 5 oar boats and one paddle boat. We were to spend 7 days rafting down the river, hiking the canyon and camping on the beaches. Unlike the motor trips, in 7 days we would only travel half the canyon, the upper half, from Lee’s Ferry to Pipe Creek.  We would then hike the 7 1/2 mile Bright Angel Trail from the river to the rim.

On the oar boats, the guide rows with the oars and the guests ride in front and enjoy the view. In the paddle boat, you have 1 guide paddling and guiding the boat and 6 guest who also paddle. The company also brought along a couple of one person inflatable kayaks (IK’s or duckies) for people who wanted some real excitement in the rapids.

Rafts at Lee's Ferry, Grand Canyon
Oar Boats, Lee’s Ferry, Grand Canyon

So, we arrive in Flagstaff, AZ the day before our trip is to begin, for orientation and our dry bags. One dry bag has to hold all your clothes and personal items for the length of the trip. Good thing they are pretty big! Even I managed to have extra room and I brought quite a few things I never wore. (Mostly cold weather clothing that I didn’t need because we had excellent weather for our trip!)  The next morning we are up and on the bus at 6am!  This was not going to be a vacation for sleeping in.  During the 2 1/2 hour ride to Lee’s Ferry we are served a sack breakfast of scones, yogurt, a banana and juice.  Very good and more than I could eat.

When we finally arrive at Lee’s Ferry we see our boats for the first time. They seem very small compared to the large motor boats that are also loading passengers.  While our gear and dry bags are being loaded onto the boats we get a quick safety talk and are fitted for life jackets.  6  brave people are chosen to start out on the paddle boat. (Hubby and I have heard that day 2 is a better day for paddling so we don’t volunteer.) We are encouraged to fill our water bottles and have our last visit to a bathroom “with porcelain”.  Then it is pick a boat, meet your guide, and we are finally on the Colorado River!

Now here is where it starts to get a little funny.  During our orientation talk we were told that the Grand Canyon is a desert. And because of the heat and extreme dryness  there were three things we needed to pay close attention to. Those three things were hydration, urination, and regulation.   We were told, and I quote, “you need to drink a lot, pee a lot, and regulate your body temperature.”  The details would be explained when we got to the river.

So here we are on the river, and I have my two quart water bottle filled with water. (Hydrate) I have on my sun hat and sunglasses. There are some clouds so the temperature is very pleasant. (regulate). What they haven’t explained, is if I am sitting on this small boat for the better part of the day, how am I to take care of step 2? I am pretty sure the small raft I am sitting on doesn’t have a porta-potty hiding somewhere!

So we spend maybe an hour rafting down the river, already the canyon is awesome. The water is clear and cold, the cliffs, while not particularly tall at this point, are still amazing.  We go through a few riffles, and an easy rapid, and then our guides tie all the rafts together, and, now that it is too late to back out,  we get our real safety talk!  They talk about what to do if (when) you fall in the water. They demonstrate how to pull someone out of the water into a boat. And then they get to what I now fondly call, “The Pee and Poop talk.”

Considering the number of people that travel down the Colorado River, the Grand Canyon is amazingly pristine. For the whole 7 days of my trip, the only signs that other people had ever been there were footprints. No broken beer bottles, no fishing line, no trash at all, and no bathrooms, restrooms, pit toilets or privies. Obviously we weren’t going to hold it all in for 7 days!

Pee, we were told, goes in the river. Directly into the river. At night a bucket would be set up, but during the day, directly into the river.  (As the trip went on I began to think that in our pre-trip packet that had advice on preparing for our trip, they should have suggested that women work on their squatting technique!)  We were told that if we needed to go our guide would happily pull our boat over.  Then they tell us, that don’t always get privacy on the river.  You do the best you can, and then it is up to the other people in the group to GIVE privacy by looking the other way.  Being the privacy freek that I am, I am beginning to think maybe I will have to hold it for 7 days!

Poop, is another story. If everyone who visited the canyon used cat holes the whole place would soon smell like a well aged outhouse.  We were told that when we got to camp for the night, one of the first things to be set up would be the groover. (River talk for an ammo can where poop is deposited. If you are really roughing it you don’t bring a toilet seat and you end up with “grooves” on the back of your legs. I was happy we had a toilet seat!)  The groover is set up in a private spot, along with the pee bucket, and would be available until we broke camp the next morning. Whoa be to those who needed the groover during the day. There was a system available that included paper bags and carrying your own “stuff” until the groover was set up at camp, but  I  don’t know all the details because I made sure I never needed to use it! The ammo cans seal up nice and watertight, which was good because they would not be emptied until the trip was over and a sanitation company came to take care of them.

I am thinking Great! They get you to the point where there is no going back and then go into details. I am not at all sure how I will do with this interesting bathroom arrangement.

By lunch time I really have to go. I have been real good about drinking my water. I didn’t ask my guide to pull over, because I really didn’t see anyplace with any privacy at all.   We pull into this nice small beach, the guides start pulling lunch supplies off the lunch boat, and all the guests are looking for a place to pee. There is no place to pee. The river is right there, but the beach is small and it is plain to see there are no private spots. The guys, being guys, kind of shrug, face the river and go. The ladies are all standing around with looks of quiet desperation.  Finally we collaborate, all of us go to one side of the small beach, and while one pees, the rest form a circle to provide a small amount of privacy. I glance over at the guides and see they all look somewhat amused by this.

After hand washing and sanitizing we have an amazing lunch of sandwiches, fruit, cookies and chips. We eat standing over the river so the crumbs will fall into the water and not onto the beach. Apparently stinging red ants are a problem and we don’t want to feed them with our crumbs. Then it is back on the boats for more whitewater fun.

~to be continued~

Grand Canyon Adventure

Well, I am off again. This time I will be spending a week in a place with no cell phone reception or internet connections! In fact, I won’t have access to a computer at all.

I am going on a rafting trip down the Grand Canyon. It is something that I have wanted to do for years, and I can’t believe that I finally  get to go.  I will be spending the week rafting, hiking and camping in the Grand Canyon with 15 other people I have never met before!

Grand Canyon Rafting

When I get back I will be sure to tell you all about it. Especially about the 7.5 mile hike OUT of the canyon.

Mini Vacation in Santa Cruz, CA

Orca Whale Near Santa Cruz, CA

My daughter and I just got back from a little mini vacation in Santa Cruz, CA. I had no idea there were so many things to do. One of the highlights of our trip was the whale watching trip. I was smart and took some motion sickness medicine which worked wonderfully. We saw so many whales! Including this guy. Officially an Orca Whale, but I always call them killer whales. He was traveling with 3 other whales and we managed to get a good look at them all. In addition to the killer whales we also saw humpback whales and a minke whale.

We also spent some time on the Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk. I got up my nerve and went on the Classic wooden roller coaster, The Big Dipper, twice! It was a lot of fun. I did not buy the picture of me looking like an idiot screaming on the roller coaster!  I did buy fish and chips for the two of us and we ate on the beach while watching Chinese acrobats.  The contortionist made my back hurt!

In three short days we also managed to get in a little beachwalking, we looked at tidepools, and a lighthouse, and we visited the redwood forest.

A good time was had by all, and I am happy to be home!

Need a New Way to Waste Time?

I haven’t been blogging as much lately. I also haven’t been exercising, or doing housework, or even watching as much TV as I normally do.

I found a game on the internet, and it has just sucked me in!  I hate it when that happens.  And so, I am going to share it with you.  Maybe it will suck you in also and then we can form a clan. That might be fun. I’m not sure yet about the benefits of a clan but we can figure it out.

Improbable Island is a text based game.  Not too many of them out there any more but this one is pretty good.  Something like the old Zork, (are you old enough to remember Zork?), but with point and click instead of trying to come up with the right words and phrases to get your character to do what you want them to.  Being text based the action is actually much faster. You don’t have to wait for the animations during the fights.  What I really like about this game is there is nothing to download!

During the game you travel to different cities which you can explore. You can buy things, get married, fight with other players.  You earn “requisitions” by  fighting monsters, or by attacking other players that are silly enough to go to sleep without depositing all their reqs in the bank.

It really is  a lot of fun, and I would like it if you would use this link to Improbable Island and play at least to level 8.  I can earn points for every person that signs up, and if I get enough points I can pay to have my name turned RED in the game!

I am at level 13 now, and when I get to level 15 I can fight the improbability drive, so I better get moving!

If you have never played a text game you will be pleasantly surprised.

Tips For Great Health and Prosperity

This showed up in my email a few weeks back. Some of it is trite, some of it I have heard before, but put together it is good advice!

1. Take a 10-30 minute walk every day. And while you walk, smile. It is the ultimate anti-depressant.
2. Sit in silence for at least 10 minutes each day. Buy a lock if you have to.
3. Tape your late night shows and get more sleep.
4. When you wake up in the morning complete the following statement, “My purpose is to _______ today.”
5. Live with the 3 E’s –Energy, Enthusiasm, and Empathy.
6. Play more games and read more books than you did last year.
7. Make time to practice meditation, yoga, tai chi, and prayer. They provide us with daily fuel for our busy lives.
8. Spend tiem with people over the age of 70 and under the age of 6.
9. Dream more while you are awake.
10. Eat more foods that grow on trees and plants and eat less food that is manufactured in plants.
11. Drink green tea and plenty of water. Eat blueberries, wild Alaskan salmon, broccoli, almonds and walnuts.
12. Try to make at least 3 people smile each day.
13. Clear clutter from your house, your car, your desk, and let new and flowing energy into your life.
14. Don’t waste your precious energy on gossip, energy vampires, issues of the past, negative thoughts or things you cannot control Instead, invest your energy in the positive present moment.
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