And I get to go with him this time! Along with his hand picked fellow rafters and river guides, Rhett, Tommy and Luke. A few other besties were scheduled to join us and had to bow out for other more important things that came along in life. I’m glad that wasn’t me.

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Pizza and beer for two at Aspen’s Mezzaluna at the end of the build a boat day.

I originally posted much of this material on my Facebook page and decided for continuity’s sake I should write it up as a blog. So if you didn’t see my “6/6/19 – Fred’s Annual Birthday Trip – the Big 7-O!” album you’re in for a treat!

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The day before leaving for this big adventure, we spent a few hours – we meaning mostly Fred – building a boat! We worked at Fred’s place right there on the Roaring Fork River. And it was roaring!

I was perfectly capable of lugging stuff to the appropriate pile on the ground near the boat, but Fred’s the only one who could stow it where he wanted. You know how it is. Everything in its proper place, right where it belongs and where it can be found when you want it!

 

On our appointed day to hit the river, we head out in the pick-up truck to Fruita. Some blue boat and trailer kept following us the intire way. lol. We stop a few places to pick up those last minute supplies – foodstuffs, ice, more beer, more ice and other essentials for the trip. The tequila was safely stowed away.

It wouldn’t last long.

Fred's Birthday River Trip 2019
There’s talk of Dinosaurs in this here valley!

The river is “high water” now, approximately 34,000 cubic feet per second, and not to be taken lightly. Between Fred and his boat-mates, they figured they have about 140 years of experience on the water; I was completly relaxed and confident that all was well. And it was.

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Our journey started in Ruby Horsethief Canyon, eventually moving into Westwater and Skull Rapid – now that was a day! More on that later…

 

We put in at the ramp in Fruita at RimRock Adventures. Each boatman had his own way of doing things, each put-in was a bit different. I got to meet our fellow adventurers – Luke and Rhett, and was reacquainted with Tommy Myers whom I’d met on an earlier trip to the Colorado River to boat with my brother.

Fred's Birthday River Trip 2019

In between the time that Tommy, Fred and Rhett pulled in to the ramp, backing their trailers to the river’s edge to get the boats into the water, other guys and their trailers and their people pulled in and I’m sure, innocently enough, messed with our own operation. We were just glad later on, that “those guys” weren’t camping close to where we were! Rhett’s two sisters Cathy and Lisa were on hand to send us off and away we went.

Fred's Birthday River Trip 2019
Tommy at work adjusting his oar with his trusty-dusty mallet!

Just down the river aways, I got this first day lucky shot of a great blue heron keeping an eye on us. No matter how much I wanted it, I never did get a shot of one in flight, or of an eagle in flight, either. Each time a great bird flew over us, my damn camera was in it’s case or in some other not-in-my-hand place.

Fred's Birthday River Trip 2019

I order a copy of one of Fred’s Guidebooks: River Maps: Guide to the Colorado & Green Rivers in the canyonlands of Utah and Colorado. There is a wealth of information about turn of the river, so to speak. The history of the river’s path, millions of years of geology in the making, the people who came before – I’m loving all of it.

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High water was definitly one of the defining factors on our trip. The entire length of the river, low water eddies and campsites were missing or under water – a lot of water and not anything to mess around with. Out of curiosity or need, (I’m not sure which) one or another of the guys would check on his phone or some other electronid device for the cfs (Cubic feet per second) each day we were out. They read the currents and adjust their path through the water based on their many years of experience.

Fred's Birthday River Trip 2019

 

The out of this world – really part of this world – natural landscapes, geological formations grabbed my heart and won’t let go. I can’t read enough about it, my curiosity has the best of me and I’m looking forward to learning more about this neighborhood.

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It seems I’m continuously shaking my head, sighing and awestruck with the beauty of it all. It’s a leisurely first day and I try not to miss any of it!

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I’m starting to learn the routine now. Doesn’t take long. Open your eyes, Kathy. Put in to a campsite, take it easy for a time – river time – and then grab my gear to get my tent put up and my stuff inside of it.

 

This first night, the guys enjoy themselves, laughing if you can imagine, as I attempt to put up my borrowed-from-Tommy tent. What?!

“I could watch you all night trying to do that…but no…” Tommy says, he and Fred giggling, “they snap on like this!”

Fred's Birthday River Trip 2019

I’m warned not to leave anything outside that a nasty little scorpion – about this big! they say – could crawl into – so I leave nothing outside! Each night, I rifle through my zip locked belongings in the dry bag, removing this shirt or another and packing it all back in the next day. My toke bag, water bottle, head-night-lamp and my glasses are always in a certain left corner of the tent. One pair of glasses “for on the river with that little croakie tied on”, and my fav newly minted glasses I wear on land.

My new sleeping bag and softer-than-soft-socks keep me warm all night long. I never wear the socks outside – I don’t want one bit of sand in at least one thing I’m wearing – my pair of night socks!

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We settled our first night in Bull Draw camp after a wonderul first day on the river, five hours and counting. The scenery is such I can’t look away.

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Luke and Fred figuring something out.

 

Fred is the chef tonight. I find myself thinking of other chefs in my family, starting with Dad’s Dad who was a cook in the Merchant Marines, then Dad, who was a chef himself, and then my oldest son Rob, a trained chef and author.

Menu consisted of salmon patties grilled and loaded with guacamole, sliced sweet onion and tomatoes! Yummmmm. The next day was his breakfast duty – french toast, bacon and fresh fruit. Tasty indeed!

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Dinner was over, dishes washed and drying and it was time for some story-telling and tequila! The story-telling on the trip is the best!

Fred's Birthday River Trip 2019

I notice Rhett didn’t make the cut in photos today. Either the camera was stowed or he was out doing a fine job of scouting just the right place for the groover.

And yes, I found the groover and it’s a spectacular view! It’s just a short walk from my tent below a canyon wall with no little crawling bugs. Or at least I don’t see any of them.

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And then it’s time to call it a night. I’m in early my tent-home and I can just barely hear the laughter and voices of the boatmen in the camp kitchen. Good nite!

Fred's Birthday River Trip 2019

Each day of this trip would bring an amazing array of waterscapes, landscapes, changing skies, animal life, flora and fauna, joking, wonderful conversation, peace and joy. By the end of the week, my eyes and lips were fried by the awesomeness of it all!

These days with my brother was an amazing gift and I’ll cherish it always. I’m so happy this adventurous life never gets old.

 

Published by WriterPaints

I write and I paint. I'm a photographer of life including a bit of sports photography for the local newspaper. I'm a member of the Napa Valley Writers. I hike and bike. I'm a listener and I read. I'm a proud member of https://www.couchsurfing.com. I'm lucky to have a few great friends, a large and beloved family. I enjoy my own company and manage to be happy most of the time. I love the outdoors.

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  1. I’m getting to read your great stories, a little bit at at a time, I’m thoroughly enjoying them.

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    1. I’ve been looking for something exciting to write about for a long time. Glad you’re enjoying the adventure with me!

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  2. Felt like I was there! Really enjoyed the scenery, but loved the details nobody would otherwise think about…like scorpions hiding in your gear and sand in all your clothes…great food after 5 hours on a raging river, tequila and stories shared.

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