September 29, 2004

The hot stays hot and the cold stays do it know?

They say the road to hell is paved with good intentions. The road to my own personal hell however, is paved with Dometic refrigerator circuit boards and cooling elements, additionally it seems to parallel HWY 52 and end up in Santee, California.

For months now our fridge has been prone to fits. It likes to stop working sporadically, and like a giant, evil Cyclops it stares at us from its centrally located "CHECK" light. This problem was addressed by us in Durango not more than ten days ago. However, the admitted $100 "stab in the dark" the repair guys took there has proven grossly inadequate.

As best as we lay persons can surmise, our fridge needs $1100 worth of repairs. Cost of a new fridge $850. So this is simple, we have buy a new fridge. It sucks, it's bad timing and in our travel economy it is akin to 21 days on the road. But when life throws you lemons you make nicely refrigerated lemonade right??? Of course not.

See it seems that when camper manufactures build a camper, or as we learned today even high end Class A RVs, they build the inside first. Then they put on jams and doors that are too small to fit the installed appliances through. Our fridge is 24" at its narrowest point, our door is 20.5". You do the math- not good is it.

Resolution? Buy a new fridge, totally gut new fridge, then re-build new fridge inside of camper. Nice huh? Don't forget that this will take time and labor to do. Cost of labor $85/ hour.

I realize this is a bit of a rant and I do try not to complain on here, because really, what on earth do I have to complain about. Mainly I post this as an FYI. If anyone should be reading along and thinking "I'd like to do what they are doing" then I offer this advice. When you visit your local RV dealer, bring along a tape measure.

Thanks go out to the following folks; Bob and Mike at Double-D RV. Rob, Lenny and Rob's wife (sorry I didn't catch your name) at Howell's RV Appliance Repair. And especially Wyn, a very nice man who was having his RV repaired and invited us to his house for a full hook-up and a place to call home while we await repairs. Yet again we are astounded by the kindness of others.

September 27, 2004

Chapter Two

Our trip has a few legs, or chapters. The first chapter was from day one of unemployment through our trip down the Grand. This new chapter will take us through this fall and Mexico.

Zion National Park/ The Subway.

We met up with Brother Pat, his friends Eric, Chris and Joyce, and our beloved Meredith, Friday afternoon in Hurricane, Utah. We kicked off the weekend with a nice bike ride out on Gooseberry Mesa outside of town. From there we headed up to Kolbob Reservoir Near the Northwest corner of Zion park.

Fly fisher on Kolbob Reservoir.

The morning before we met everyone we visited the backcountry permits' office in the park and procured a permit for The Subway. This is a canyoneering hike 9-10 miles in length. Saturday morning we rallied early and headed for the trail. Little did I know how truly amazing this day would be.

The hike begins in a conifer forest and then opens up onto a slick rock basin, before dropping into the slot canyon that the hike is known for. During the hike we scrambled over boulders, swam through deep 45 degree pools and even rappelled a 30' cliff face. Here are the pictures.

Joyce walking along the slick rock section.

This was the first technical move. A shimmy/ fall down a 12' boulder.

Pools along the route.

One of the pools we waded/ swam through.

We tried to straddle over this pool, we all ended up swimming at least some of it.
From here we swam another pool, probably 100' long and 4' wide with a boulder chalked in the walls above the pool, this proved to be the longest pool.

The actual "Subway".

To access the rappel, you must cross over a 30' falls by walking over a fallen tree which acts as a bridge.

Dan posing on the rappel.

Have I mentioned that I am not a big fan of heights?

Pat made a friend along the way- and no he didn't really eat this guy.

Cascades on the lower section of the hike.

Brother Pat really liked all the frogs, he took this picture.

Sunday morning we were all a bit slow to rise. The Subway hike had taken us almost eight hours to complete and we were all feeling muscles we had long since forgotten about. After breakfast we decided to hike another canyon, albeit a much shorter hike than the previous days'. Our hike took a detour when we realized that the canyon we had intended to hike was filled with smoke from a nearby fire. Instead we hiked a maintenance road to get a view of the fire.

The canyon we meant to hike.

Our Group.

The fire that thwarted our hike.

Last night we decided a culture shock might be fun, so we said goodbye to our friends and the wilderness and headed for wild life. Vegas baby, Vegas. Dan had never been to Sin City. We found a nice spot in a casino parking lot, easily accessible from I-15. This particular casino lot, which is adorned with various medieval flags, has no overhangs, no fees and is a nice enough place to catch a few winks after walking the strip.

Despite my inherent loathing for this town, it does fascinate me in a morbid sort of way. Additionally per various conventions I have attended here, and a class I took in college, I know a lot about the place. I gave Dan the .25 cent tour of the strip complete with a few free shows. After an all-you-can-eat dinner we headed for a craps table. Two hours later I was right back where I started with $20 and had "earned us" eight free beers. Really, what more can you ask for? Our night's sleep in the parking lot went undisturbed. This morning we had biscuits and gravy, 3 eggs, hash browns and toast for $6 total- I suppose this town does have a thing or two going for it after all.

Currently I post this from I-15 while traveling at 65mph in the Mojave National Preserve. We hope to hit the beach tonight.

September 23, 2004

On the Road Again

We are slowly recovering from 5 days of (it pains me to say the word...) WORK. Yes we were offered a chance to earn some moolah once we returned to Durango and we felt we couldn't turn it down. Thanks to our buddies at The Ski Barn for always employing us, and for making work as painless as possible :) We spent last weekend in Breckenridge selling ski equipment. This proved to be a wise decision on our part, since our brakes had been squeaking and as we feared they needed replacement. Additionally our fridge has been acting up. Total cost of needed repairs approach. $600.00. Total earnings for the week about $700.

But never fear dear reader, this was a temporary affliction and we are happy to be posting this evening from Zion Nation Park in S.W. Utah. We are on our way to once again meet up with Brother Pat. (Some of you have written to tell us that you, on occasion, live vicariously through us. Would someone please let Pat know that this is best done from afar, and via computer?) This visit is special though because my dear friend Meredith will also be joining us, and the three of us can surely manage Pat.

We left Durango yesterday and boondocked in Dixie National Forest.

The spot was absolutely devoid of other people and it was a fabulous first night back home in the camper.

Lunch in Bryce Canyon

Today we drove through Bryce and Zion, both firsts for us, and both on the must see list. Hiking and biking are plentiful in both parks and the rock formations are surreal.

While in Bryce we hiked up Mossy Cave trail, here are some pictures from the hike.

Waterfall and rock formations along the trail.

Arches, there were actually three windows/ arches here.

Dang in the window seat

Tonight we are camped in South Camp in Zion. Tomorrow we have a 7am date with the backcountry permits' office across the road.

September 15, 2004

The Grand Cayon 2004

For this 21-day tour we have amassed a team of seasoned professionals.

Here's the team: (as you read this to yourself it helps use your own personal boxing ring announcer voice...)

Our fearless tripping leader, and dutch oven master. Bjorn "D-John" Sutton

The beautiful and talented co-tripping leader, and owner of two boats, Mrs. Brook "Floozie/ Flippy" Sutton.

The court jester and beholder of frightening amounts of trivial knowledge, Sarah "Swiller" Henrikson.

Ever even keeled, (with the possible exception of tequila night) Colin "Sutt" Sutton.

The Dapper Don of our crew, Ryan "Dodger" Dodge, a.k.a. Mr. P.

The only woman tough enough to tame the Dapper Don, Jonika "Nadja" Horton.

The anti- tripping leader, class clown and man my husband is no longer allowed to call his friend, Eric "Weinklos" Weink.

The second best kayaker on the trip, the ever tolerant and lovely Mrs. Jamie "Hymee" Weink.

Safety boater extraordinaire and nine-time canyon runner, Mike "Skumby" Werner

The only woman crazy enough to put up with Mike, the not-so-into-spicy, Carol Viau.

Perhaps the only person who is really qualified for this trip, the ruggedly handsome and boatedly endowed, Kipp Ertl

In this corner, the ginger-haired waif from southeast London, John "Blades" Williamson, a.k.a. The Ferrel Cat Slayer.

Bestower of all things NRS and stasher of copious amounts of Coors Light, Juan "Cheezemo" Cullum.

The only person who really ever knew where in the heck we were... and the only person whose last name I do not know.... Val.

Guardian of the groover, beholder of germs galore, the toilet ticket from Page Arizona, Crapper Crab.

And finally the home team...

The love of my life, guide of all guides, weighing in at 31 going on 71, Daniel "Dang/ Bunny" Goddard.

And yours truly. Barer of few clothes, consumer of too much vodka and co-flipper extraordinaire, Rachel "Ratchet/ Honey Bunny" Goddard.

Now that we've met the team let's get on with the show.

(In an attempt to make this as easy on you, the reader/ viewer, I am going to upload segments masked as different dates, so that there are never too many pictures to upload at once. Hope this helps. )

Note: Alright I have now dedicated many hours to this series of postings. I am no longer able to proof read my own typing so I am certain this is riddled with errors, I trust you will all overlook these. Anyone want to offer to correct all of my posts for me?? It is my hope that any errors will not detract too much from the general content.


September 14, 2004

The Big Ditch Part One

Ditch Journal.

Day One En Route:
We awoke at 5:45 and loaded into our fully laden vehicles for the five hour drive. We made a pit stop in Page, AZ for last minute provisions including river costumes. Once in Lee’s Ferry we met our ranger, Ray, and began the seven-hour task of prepping and rigging our boats. About two-hours in we were treated to a torrential rain storm. We all mobilized to cover the beer with tarps, so as to save the cardboard boxes, before we sought shelter. Ranger Ray would site this event the next day in our official ranger meeting.

Additionally Ranger Ray informed us that we could expect flows of 16,000-18,000 through the end of August, then the flows will drop to 6,000- 8,000.

That evening we enjoyed a “last supper” of sorts at the Marble Canyon Lodge. I opted for chicken fried steak smothered in green chili and my last ice-cold bottled beer for 21 days. We spent the night in the rafter’s campground along side the river and were serenaded by the hundreds of frogs there.

Entrance Bouy.

Day One River: Up early. It’s launch day. Our meeting with Ranger Ray was scheduled for 9am, but he showed up early and sat in on our group meeting. After our meeting was over the love fest began. Ray LOVED us! He waved us through, sighting the previous day’s comradery and attention to detail when we sacrificed ourselves for the beer cases. This was particularly cool because there are hundreds of ranger check-out horror stories out there. Groups forced to drive back to Page to buy new life jackets because theirs are slightly faded for example. But not us, we got the green light and hit the rio at noon.

The entire group at the put-in.

We floated a mellow 11 miles, the first 100’ were the most pristine green waters ever but then Pariah Creek came in and muddied the river to the color and consistency of a latte. The river would remain this way until we hit the lake 293 miles downstream. We floated under the Navajo Bridge the only automobile bridge we would pass. Now 1600’ deep the canyon walls rose above and I realized, wow…after all of the years of waiting and anticipating I am in the Grand Canyon!!!

Mile 7.4 marked our first Grand Canyon rapid. Generally accepted river ratings are I-VI. Class I being lake water and VI considered unrunnable in a raft. The Grand has so many rapids and they are so big that they use a 1-10 scale. Our first rapid was Badger a 4-6, a big wave train, it was a blast. Our first night’s camp was above Soap Creek Rapid.

Day Two: Our plan is to have early mornings and get on the water before afternoon showers and winds kick in. We woke up per the plan and hit the river. Dan and I were alone on our raft today which was nice since we are a bit shell shocked being around people again. Our social skills leave a bit to be desired after two months mostly alone.

This was an amazing day, filled with rollercoaster waves and ever deepening canyon walls. We are six layers deep in rock now and I am not convinced that we are seeing the top of the canyon from down here.

Two big rapids today. House Rock and mile 24.5 both have huge waves and the Prince William, our only bucket (non self-bailing) boat got swamped, the bilge pump got a heck of a workout. The rapids seem tame compared to the eddy lines down here. Each eddy has the power to suck us in and stops us in our tracks. Top Gun quotes started flowing right about here. A boat sucked into an eddy while another passes by in the current solicits a “we’ll hit the breaks and they’ll fly right on by”. A boat getting spun in an eddy line gets a “ Maverick, we’re entering a flat spin”. And if all the boats pass a boat stuck in an eddy cries of “never leave your wingman” can be heard.

Day Three: Eric’s 30th Birthday.

We hit the water early and made good miles to Nankoweap., mile 52. Only one rapid along the way, President Harding is essentially just one big rock in the river which you skirt on the left.

Our Nankoweap camp.

In camp we lounged in the river until it was cool enough to hike up to the graineries and the most famous (if you rate fame by number of postcards with the same picture on them) grand canyon view. The view is all it cracked up to be.

The view.

Nankoweep Graineries.

We returned to fully decorated camp and the birthday party began. Everyone put on their birthday party costumes and traded in their beer cans for margarita glasses.

A very fine day indeed.

Kip's raft early on.

Day Four:

A shorter river day today. Half of the group got dropped off to hike the Carbon Creek trail. The remaining folks rowed the boats down to camp where the hikers would be meeting us later. Among those of us in camp early was Blades. Blades lives in Aspen and I had never met him before. He kept us entertained with stories from his rugby days in England and we became fast friends. Dan and I served Groover Gin and Tonics. A groover is a portable crapper. Originally they were simply ammo cans which left grooves on you butt cheeks. The new generation groover is essentially a giant plastic water bottle. So before it has EVER been used for its intended purpose it makes for a nice cocktail tub. We have six groovers for this trip and we will fill them all.

Vasey's Paradise.

Catadyn Filter, our water source. We collect clear water where we can and filter it for drinking.


September 13, 2004

The Big Ditch Part Two

Day Six:
This was a big day. A really BIG day! We ran Unkar and hiked through the archeological site there. We scouted Hanse rapid and I wanted my mommy! We picked our line and learned that the river picks your line down here, not you. Afterwards we ran Sockdolager and Grapevine Rapids which are my favorite rapids, super fun and big wave trains.

Pottery Shards at Unkar.

The canyon changed today from Red and tan sandstone to medieval looking granite. Powell’s expedition noted how this did not bode well for them because the harder the rocks they found, the harder the rapids. Tomorrow Jonika leaves us so tonight we celebrate her and enjoy our remaining time together.

Day Seven:

We bid adieu to our beloved Jonika and were so sad to see her go and to see Dodger so sullen at her departure. A few of us hiked up to Phantom Ranch and were rewarded with packages from family and friends. Our booty included homemade cookies, which remarkably survived the ten-mile mule ride, snacks and money which was converted into iced lemonade for all. Special thanks to my folks, Kim and Mike, Dave and Sue and cousin Heather.

Mule train at Phantom Ranch.

Back on the river for another big day. Right away we hit Horn Creek, you enter the rapid through two rocks or horns and run her down the gut. Then came granite and again my mommy was no where to be found. Hermit was super fun, with the biggest waves I had ever seen. All runs were clean and I was just starting to feel really good about our chances. Then came Crystal, the ugliest meanest looking rapid I have ever seen. From the scout you cannot see the sneak run so it is truly mortifying. We watched two J-Rigs come through, these boats are about 40’ long, this should give you an idea of how big these rapids are.

Dodger and Sutt in Hermit.

Juan in Hermit.

Day Eight:
Since our camp was occupied we had a slightly modified layover day. Traditionally a layover day is a respite from the day to day tasks of load the boats, unload the boats. We only had to float 100’ to Bass Camp so we Beverly Hillbillied down the river.

Once in camp we realized the short comings of this layover spot. #1- no shade! #2 a nasty eddy in front of the camp, so no easy access to swimming waters in which to cool ourselves. Well we aren’t whiners, we’ll just drink the heat away. In the afternoon we hiked to Shinumo Creek and cooled off in the clear water.

Day Nine:
A fun day of Class 5 rapids. We did a group hike up to Elves Chasm and all jumped off the waterfall. Elves is yet another oasis in the desert.

Elves Chasm.

Day Ten:
Big fun Rapids today. Specter Rapid was especially of note. Bedrock was a technical and potentially nasty rapid. Prince William spent some extra time in the eddy here. Dubendorf caused Dan to call out his first “Oh Shit!” command, as we hit the two biggest holes in the rapid. Somewhere in here Dan managed to throw out his back which lead to him not rowing much in the following days. We all did a huge hike up Tapeat’s Creek to thunder River. This was a fun hike for Dan who did it ten years ago. At Thunder River you can climb into the rock wall where the water comes flying out of the cliff. Inside is a labyrinth of caves with waist deep pools of freezing water.