Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Into the Raging Water - Hiking Havasu Canyon

Havasu Creek was beautiful. It seemed like an endless turquoise stream. Endless, because it looked remarkably the same during the hike up and down the creek. (I guess the heat just took away some of my appreciation for nature's beauty.)


Peacekeeper and Hiker Girl went blazing ahead with all the kids in search of a waterfall. Finding the waterfalls for all the creeks we hiked seemed like searching for the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow. About 40 minutes into the hike we all rejoined at a site on the creek where the kids were jumping off a boulder into the water. I was glad to see Zman. He had our family backpack with lunch - protein bars and sodas.


As we sat enjoying our break, Survivor Man started to cross toward us from the other side of the creek. Zman knew Survivor Man was headed for a deep pool which looked deceivingly like a shallow crossing. Survivor Man was also carry a backpack and he was trying to keep it out of the water so he was holding the backpack over his head as he started to cross the creek. To our great amusement, Survivor Man stepped right into the deep pool...down he went...water over his head. To me this was the most funny moment of the entire trip. I was laughing hysterically. Maybe a touch of "canyon craziness," was affecting me.

Hiker Girl was intent on seeing the Havasu waterfall which was at least another hour away so those who wanted to pursue it would not be getting back to the rafts for possibly three more hours. We decided to split up with part of the group going back to the rafts and starting to head down river to look for a camp. I had definitely had enough of hiking...and it seemed the rest of the Bailey clan felt the same way.

I still haven't introduced our Fearless Leader and his wife. You've already met their offspring,  T.S. and Ballerina Girl.


They could be on the cover of "Grand Canyon Tours," because they really had the "full" experience. Flipped raft on Day Six...more about them later. I'm getting ahead of the day's events.

The sun was shining as we started heading back to the rafts, Survivor Man, Lovey, Fearless Leader and wife, and all of the Bailey clan. We passed others hiking the trail who had started from the top of the canyon at a hike-in camp site. They had about a seven-hour hike for the round trip that day. They were all heading up as we headed down the canyon.

July is monsoon season in the Grand Canyon. It was mid-afternoon. Time for the dark clouds to start gathering. We were fairly close to the bottom of the canyon when it started to rain. It is no fun to travel on the river, in a raft, in the rain. We thought maybe once the hikers got back from the waterfall the rain would subside. Lovey, AK Santini and I took cover under a large boulder with an overhang. At this point it had been decided we would wait for the waterfall hiking group before leaving. Zman and Survivor Man, Ballerina Girl and her mom were already at the rafts so our Fearless Leader headed to the rafts to let them know we would be delaying our departure.

AK Santini and I caught up on stories from Survivor Man's family vacations while hunkered down with Lovey. There was a trip to Mexico that involved going over a bridge that was "closed" and things got hairy for a while. Then they did a horseback riding trip in the California mountains that started out incredibly hot and within a few hours they were in rain, then sleet, then snow. Brainiac was a young teenager at the time. The family was only dressed in short sleeves because it had been so hot at the start of the trip. As they huddled to keep warm, Brainiac asked, "Why can't we go on vacations to Hawaii like other families?" 

It's important to get new material to draw from in your family conversations and Brainiac's comment about Hawaii is now a current favorite line we throw out every now and then. 

After only about 15 minutes of conversation, Hiker Girl and the rest of the waterfall seekers came upon us. Once the rain had started they had turned around, deciding to forego the waterfall search.


I found this photo on the web. Just imagine Hiker Girl and Peacekeeper standing there. It looks incredible. It almost makes me want to...no...I'll settle for the picture.

Yippee...this meant is was now time to jump into the water and swim back to the rafts. Time for me to embrace my aquatic nature. We all did have our life vests. We had left them stacked on some rocks at the  bottom of the canyon. 

 I was ready to win this survivor swimming challenge. I was just sure I was on an episode of "Survivor." I swam like a fish and made it to the rafts first. I was so please when I arrived at the rafts...I even announced I was the winner and would like to collect my $15,000 prize. No...this is reality...not a reality show. 

 The members of our party who had been there waiting in the rain at the rafts had re-positioned the Bailey raft so it covered the bottleneck of the canyon horizontally. Our four rafts where the only ones in sight. All of the other canyon hikers who rafted or kayaked in earlier that day were gone. 

Zman and our Fearless Leader had put together a rope ladder to help us all climb back up into the rafts. Let me tell you...that is the hardest thing to do...pull your body weight up out of water that is over your head to get into a raft. I still had to have a lot of help from our Fearless Leader to get up the rope ladder. Brainiac was behind me. He was using his flip flops on his hands like flippers...he was the only one without a life vest. He had left it on the raft after his initial swim into the canyon and back to the rafts to tell us what was ahead. Everyone else was in the water, making the swim back to the rafts when I heard Survivor Man say, "That looks like a flash flood..."

Monday, August 29, 2011

Into the Raging Water - The Mouth of Havasu Beckons

Day Eight - I woke up feeling very sorry for myself...I even teared up a little getting ready to get back on the raft that morning. We were off for a big hike up Havasu Canyon. I generally like getting exercise but hikes in the Grand Canyon are...hot. And I guess they aren't all that beautiful compared to...Alaska. Okay...there...I said it. The Grand Canyon is an awesome place but after seven days it was starting to look the same.

I was very surprised when we pulled into the mouth of Havasu Canyon because that's when I realized this day was not going to be like all the rest...it was going to be even more intense. We couldn't just tie up to a tree on the shore and jump off the raft to the trail. Nope. We pulled our rafts into a narrow mouth. See the orange kayak in the photo below? We had to figure out how to tie up to the sheer rock face right before the narrow bottle neck. Our fearless leader came prepared with rock climbing gizmos to place hooks in the rock face to anchor the rafts. (I'm not a rock climber and I forgot from watching "Everest - Beyond the Limit" what those contraptions are called).


We would spend half an hour getting our rafts secured before even deciding what was next. That's what I mean by this day would involve even MORE! Where were the cameras? Surely this was part of a reality show. Why else would people do these crazy things?

 There were others already ahead of us in the canyon. A group of rafts were tied to the right wall of the canyon when we arrived so we got the left side. Plus we had to make sure others could still navigate between our rafts and the other set to make it into the canyon...like the kayaker in the photo. Really? Other people were planning on doing this? Crazy. Is this Candid Camera? I just sat in that raft not believing it all.

From the entrance of the canyon I saw nothing but water and the canyon walls...no land in sight for hiking. This might be the time to introduce Survivor Man, his wife Lovey, and their two sons whom I have mentioned already, Brainiac and Huck Finn.


Survivor Man deserves a novel all to himself about vacation adventures. He is a kayaker who almost lost his life to raging water and upon being rescued was told he would never walk again. Then there is the story about the small airplane crash he survived. During the course of the day I would learn about a few other family vacations that had "survivor" moments. There seems to be a pattern here that I didn't pick up on until that day. We considered Survivor Man as our experienced tour guide. He had kayaked the Grand Canyon on five previous trips. How can I say this without sounding like I didn't have faith in Survivor Man...but who is more crazy, the crazy person or those who follow him? Is this how the friends of Les Stroud feel when he invites them to join him for a vacation?


Survivor Man had been to Havasu canyon before...he knew the way. It was just before lunch time so we decided to forego a formal lunch and pack protein bars. Everyone also had to bring their own water bottle. Being the son of Survivor Man, Brainiac was sent out first to test the waters. He jumped in and swam away. A little while later he swam back. Sure enough there was land somewhere ahead so we would have to hike after all. 

This is also a good time to introduce Survivor Man's oldest son, Peacekeeper and his family on the trip.


Peacekeeper got his call sign because he spent three years in Ghana with the Peace Corps where he became attached to the two young men in the photo who now live with him and attend school in California, Ironman on the left and Seinfeld on the right. The babe in the middle is Hiker Girl. I believe they are engaged...or maybe they were...Peacekeeper had a lot to make up for at the end of this trip. Ironman gets his call sign because he is all muscle...no fat. Seinfeld...well...it turns out this young man doesn't say much but he has a real knack for comedic timing. I found that out on day eight.

It was time...time to jump in the water that was over our heads and swim toward the light. I can swim...I'm like Shelley Winters from, "The Poseidon Adventure." 


Give me a place to swim to and I'm getting there quickly.
And all of this in the first 40 minutes...we still had the rest of the day to enjoy even more adventures.

Design Wall Monday

We are having a brief break in August showers so not much is going on in the sewing studio but the rain is due to return so I have been sitting in the sun working on my muscle memory and doodling for the many tops I have awaiting quilting.


This topper has been loaded on my quilt frame since mid June. Quilting samplers requires so many decisions! I think I have it figured out.


I'm looking forward to quilting "Snail Takes a Detour." I'm going to work on a continuous line design for the main body.


This is a disappearing nine patch that I need to make a little wider so I will be figuring out that dilemma this week. I have run out of some of the fabric...hence my dilemma.

I can't believe it's almost September. Yesterday it felt like fall was quickly approaching. I get so little done in the summer but I sure hate to see it end!

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Class Preparation

Tomorrow is my monthly meeting with the Breakfast Club...a group that started out as a "strip club," but has morphed into more of a "meet and sew group." Last month we started a disappearing nine-patch. I only used three fabrics originally.


No sparkle. I wasn't happy.
I played today and added two more fabrics.



Much better! Two different layout options. I'll just make a throw for a standby gift.

I also sewed the first two trial storm at sea blocks using Marti Michell's acrylic templates. It's a bit tedious to cut out with the templates but it was worth it! I've never had success with the odd angles of storm at sea before without paper piecing. It was amazingly easy! 


I'm happy with these color choices by not with the "seaweed" print...going to check out another Hoffman batik in the same colorway that has circles. The direction play of the seaweed on a bed-sized quilt doesn't work for me...especially in the smaller center box. I still might use it in my border where I can control the direction to my advantage. 

Forrest update...no puppy yet! I almost got lost myself wandering through the wooded area he was possibly seen at last Friday. I had Jenny, my other Bernese, with me and my bear spray.  I was wondering around in a very dark and densely wooded area (it was raining but because of the tree cover I wasn't getting too wet), occasionally seeing bear scat and moose poop. As I was stumbling around, moving under and over brush, I accidentally sprayed some of the bear spray...in the front of me where Jenny was. Thank goodness it just hit the back side of her and she quickly rolled on the ground which was spongy and moss-like...I think it was more the noise of the spray that scared her. She didn't react in any other way. I immediately got a wiff of the pepper spray and started coughing. 

Of course my story doesn't end there...I was still going in circles in the woods. I never get lost driving...even when I lived in large cities. So I told myself to trust my instinct and sure enough I saw a break in the trees. But  Jenny still had pepper spray on her backside. I had thought to bring a towel for her since it was raining. I  did one big wipe from the back of her neck to her tail and put her in the back seat of my truck. She appeared completely normal...no sign of distress at all.

I, however, got a tiny bit of pepper spray  from Jenny's back on my left hand which quickly brushed a stray hair out of my mouth...instantly my lips started burning. Then my left hand started burning. I was about a 15 minute drive to get to my house. I realized I had gotten some of the spray on my rain jacket which I still had on so I could smell the spray as I was driving home. 

As soon as I got home I bathed Jenny. I am so glad she showed not signs of distress...the double coat of hair had thwarted the spray from hitting her skin. I was so worried she would try to lick her back side before I got her bathed! Then I showered. It was an hour and a half later before all the burning was gone on my hand and lips. 

That was on Monday. I have only been driving and yelling from my truck on my search for Forrest since then. I've plastered the area with new flyers. So I'm still not getting much of anything else done.

I know...I'm not impressing you with my outdoor skills! If you've been reading about my journey on the Colorado River, you already know what a sissy I am. But I really want to find my dog and since he may not be letting others help him, I feel like I have to go find him myself. 

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Editing Blocks

Yesterday I decided to "edit" blocks I've been working on for a BOM from the blog, Pieceful Kwilter. First, I took the BOM from March.


and changed out the center...


Then I made Block 7...


and Block 8


I pulled out a duplicate of Block 5 in colors I didn't like with the pack...


and now I have this collection of blocks.


I am definitely going to add more purple in the remaining four months. There are setting triangles that need to go around each block and I'm really struggling with fabric selection for those but I will start auditioning choices this week. I just love samplers and the instructions for this one have been incredibly good! And the best part is they have been provided for free each month...but only for a month.

Monday, August 22, 2011

Design Wall Monday

A short post today.


I'm getting caught up on an online BOM designed by Shannon at Pieceful Kwilter. I mistakenly made two of the same. Oh well! I still have the July and August blocks to complete. 

To the right is my paper version of my latest EQ7 quilt. I like to print the blocks up to make sure I like the size, especially for the size of the components using the theme or main print fabric. The scale is off for inserting the actual fabric photos when designing with the program so this helps me get a better idea before I start cutting. I'm happy and hope to make a sample set of blocks this week.

We are still looking for our lost puppy, Forrest. There was a possible siting of him on Friday...it's one of the most plausible ones we've had so we have renewed hope. Thank you to Karen and Nancy for sending me stories of found dogs. Nancy's from the Missoulian was really an incredible story. If you are a dog lover you might be interested. It has quite a different and wonderful ending. It's an article about a B & B but the first half talks about a Golden Retriever's journey.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Squirreling Away

I took a break from sewing big quilts and got caught up on the Henrietta Whiskers BOM. 


This is block seven of Anne Sutton's wonderful free pattern. My wool selection is getting sparse so I was thrilled to find this green wool for the nut house body. At first I worried it was too bright for the overall look but it definitely works.


Block eight is a warm and cozy house. 


Here's the current line up of blocks. 

I'm very anxious to see if there is more wool applique in the borders for this quilt.

Lots of rain in our part of the world. We are still missing our dog, Forrest. All this rain makes me too sad, missing my boy. Our other dog, Jenny, is a big comfort. She's been extra cuddly. If you have any great dog stories about weeks going by and dogs being found, I'd love to hear them. It has been three weeks since we lost Forrest.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Into the Raging Water - I'm So Tired

It is Day Seven. For some reason we have the idea that we are behind in terms of how many miles down the river we need to be each day. So the overriding feeling is we need to make up time on day seven. I remember so little about this day except that it was endless. We had two, "seven" rapids to navigate and we made it through the big water only to get wrapped around a boulder at the tail end of Deubendorff Rapid. It was such a helpless feeling as the water just relentlessly pushed us against the downriver side of the boulder. Another rafting party entered the rapid and passed us while AK Santini and Zman strained on the oars to push us away and into the main current. It did eventually happen and we made it back with our group of rafts. 

There was one small hike in the afternoon to Deer Creek Falls.


Here's Zman hiking back to the rafts. There were two commercial rafts here also which meant sharing the space with about 30 other people. This day we skipped lunch and downed cliff bars for sustenance. It was a long day on the water and we all had sun burnt knees that night. 

Finding a campsite was always the most stressful time of the day for our family. The high water level meant many small camps were nonexistent and many times we would pass three or four camps that were occupied before we would find an open one that was decent. Many camps were at the top or bottom of rapids where it could be tricky to get the rafts out of the main current and to the shore. 

Finally we found a camp on a rock formation called "Ledges." The landscape was like sheets of flat rock stacked. Lots of open flat areas. An interesting place but like many days, it was almost dark by the time we got off the river so it was a rush to set up tents and get dinner going. No time to enjoy the scenery.

Our fearless leader called a council meeting. A bit of grumbling was made about the frantic pace. I, alone, voted to slow the pace. If I hadn't been so worn out I might have made a better argument because in reality we were ahead in terms of mileage. We had five days to go and only 74 miles left. Day Seven we had gone 30 miles! I had no working brain cells at that point to present facts to support my case.

A group trip means majority rules. I seriously wished I could get voted off the island but this was reality and not a reality show. It was a very bad night for me. I was so tired...tired of not having time to do much of anything but ride on a raft and camp chores. Tired of feeling filthy and no time to care for myself. Tired of being the peacemaker on the family raft. Tired of sleeping on a blowup pad on the ground in tent that felt like a sauna.

Let's face it...I was tired


A big hike was planned at Havasu Canyon for Day Eight. Maybe a night's sleep, slanted on the small sandy area we had pitched out tent, would make me feel better in the morning. 

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Into the Raging Water - Righting the Raft

There we were...floating on the Colorado River with one raft upside down, looking for a place to pull over. Just like being on a road trip when you really need to find a rest area. Thankfully, about a mile from Serpentine rapid there was the perfect spot on the right side to pull over and assess the damage.

First, the people. Everyone looked great and aside from some very scary moments in the water they were all okay. The sun was shining, we were standing on solid ground and somehow life seemed good...no...life was great!

Then to the business of righting the raft and seeing what was still attached.

Before we were released on the river to begin our journey, we all had to watch a series of videos showing us how to care for ourselves on the trip; filter drinking water, groover rules (in my case, gruber rules), satellite phone operations, and...how to right a flipped raft. (This must happen fairly often to rafters.) Despite 12, mostly adult-aged viewers...only one remembered the correct direction to flip a raft regarding the location of the shore and people...Brainiac. Thank goodness he spoke up. Only nineteen and starting college any day now, Brainianc, is always thinking...asking questions...and apparently he actually remembers the information he gathers.

Just in case you were wondering, when a raft flips, pretty much everything that isn't in a waterproof metal container gets soaking wet and sometimes things in waterproof metal containers get wet too. We completely unloaded the raft and opened every thing to pore out the water.  This raft carried our kitchen: 6-burner cook top; cook set with all pots, pans, dishes, silverware; spices; food staples like cooking oil; lunch box that was loaded every night for the next day's lunch; and three days worth of meals.

Good news, all of our kitchen stuff was still attached to the raft, as was all of the food stuff. Whew!  Pretty soon the shore looked like we were holding a garage sale. There were about a dozen soaked books we would have loved to offer at a good price rather than cart down river for the remainder of the trip.

Their "river guide" book that was supposed to help them navigate the rapids, was at the bottom of the river...just as well. At the bottom there was also a lovely set of cots and a sun umbrella.

While we let the sun dry the raft contents, we split up and two rafts headed less than a mile down the river to Shinumo Creek...the closest thing to a water park for the kids. It was an easy hike through a creek bed to a small and very warm waterfall.

But progress still had to be made so in short order all the rafts were loaded and ready to forge down the river. Lots of nice, easy rapids the rest of the day but the storm clouds were gathering, as they always seemed to do late in the afternoon.

We made one last stop to hike to yet another waterfall...it's just like Hawaii...waterfalls everywhere...only you must be willing to hike up canyon walls! Lots of very jagged boulders with no clear path to the magical waterfall. I was tired and not an enthusiastic climber when we crossed paths with a group we'd been seeing since our trek through Crystal rapid. They were assisting their 80-year-old grandma down the canyon wall with her two walking sticks. I felt like a major wimp. Despite what should have been a boost to my sense of adventure, I never made it to the waterfall at Elves Chasm. And the clouds were darkening. I was just hoping to make it to happy hour...somewhere in the world it was definitely happy hour. But first a campsite must be found...while rowing down the river in a thunderstorm. I know I was thinking...when would it get easier?


Monday, August 15, 2011

Design Wall Monday


I'm working on Henrietta Whiskers...I'm running out of wool in my stash. I have two greens for the "nut" house.


This nut house is too dark.


This nut house is a little to bright for the rest of the quilt.


Although it may be growing on me.
I don't have a good source of wool locally and I'm getting tired of ordering on the internet and waiting...and then not really having what I want. Anyone have a good internet source for hand dyed felted wool? I'd love to get a great sampler pack instead of ordering by the piece. I need a big quilt show to got to with lots of vendors!

I'm very happy with my "Chugach Mountain Hike," quilt top. 


I  really need to get back to quilting...my tops are stacking up. 

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Quilting Updates

Yes...I am making progress.


I'm working on the borders of a king size quilt. But like most projects it's time to pull out the seam ripper... I've changed my mind about fabric placement on the tiny outside corner.


I am going to replace the triangle fabric with the striped one. 

I am anxious to do some sample blocks for my next project.


I took the financial plunge and bought two sets of Marti Michell's templates to try out on the storm at sea blocks. They look so cool! Grainline markings, corners trimmed to ease piecing. I just love "smart" notions.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Story Time

Once upon a time there was a beautiful Bernese Mountain dog named Greta.


She was always with her people...


actually...she was usually leaning on them or stroking them with her paw. 
She was the perfect companion except for her unusual appetite...
a steering wheel
a brand new cell phone
$40 in cash
Anything left in the vehicle with her in it was likely to become a snack.
She was always hungry.


One day in the sewing studio, Greta spied a solitary piece of cat food under the sewing table. She lunged for the cat food morsel before anyone else could get it.

Unfortunately the power cord for Mom's Bernina 1130 was between Greta and the solitary piece of cat food.
See that pretty terracotta tile? That's the flooring in the sewing studio. When Greta hit the power cord with her 85 pound body the Bernina 1130 went flying across the room and landed on the hard tile floor.

Mom screamed and then wailed like the wicked witch of the west when she was melting.


Mom's Bernina suffered greatly. The needle arm was bent. It was repaired and ran for a short time then the side wheel went askew and it froze up completely. 

 Greta chose never to come in the sewing studio again. She would sit on the top of the basement stairs and squeak her toys in an effort to get mom out of the scary sewing studio. 
   
Bernese Mountain Dogs give so much love which somehow makes it worth all the expense and heartache of parting with them.


Sadly, Greta died at the age of 5 from lymphoma. She was a wonderful princess.

WIP Wednesday

I've finished piecing the main body of Chugach Mountain Hike. Next I'll be starting the border.


I'm patiently waiting for some Marti Michell templates to arrive in the mail for my next project...


I am going to tackle Storm as Sea blocks. I might call this, "Whale of a Tale."

Monday, August 8, 2011

Design Wall Monday

August in Alaska typically means lots of rain. So far we are having a typical August. It's hard to believe, but in two months it will most likely be snow.

Lots of rain also typically means lots of sewing. Since I've been worried about my missing dog, Forrest, I can only tackle projects that don't require much thinking. An extensive paper piecing project is perfect. I have pieced  112  - 8 inch blocks. The last 32 blocks are ready to be sewn together.

 
I see so many adaptions of my original pattern in the future...sew exciting. This version is a king size. 


My second ongoing project this week is a disappearing nine patch that needs to be saved from murkiness. I'm playing in EQ7 and will probably combine a second block into the quilt. I started this the day after Forrest went missing so I didn't think it all through. Now I need to try and save my mess.

Meet my newest addition to the studio...


A Bernina 1260. I've been wanting one of these for several years and I finally found it at the price I wanted on Ebay right after our return home from rafting the Grand Canyon. This is a major therapy investment. My first Bernina was an 1130 which my first Bernese Mountain Dog, Greta, destroyed. It was a bad day in the studio. I'll have to do a post someday about sewing machine destruction...I have a couple of stories.

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Still Missing Forrest


Just wanted to update the world on our search for our missing dog, Forrest. We are still searching. I've had one call from someone who thinks they saw him being walked on a popular trail in Anchorage. Since he's missing his right eye, he's pretty distinctive. Anchorage is about 25 miles from where we lost him but a shooting range and small airport were right where we lost him so lots of Anchorage residents access the area. We've been told repeatedly since Bernese Mountain Dogs are so popular and expensive, people often keep them. I don't understand that mentality but I guess some people can justify anything they do. 

We have a very active Bernese Mountain Dog Club that rescues berners. Sometimes they are dumped at Animal Control. Usually they are young but past the adorable puppy stage. Berners are high maintenance dogs. They have double coats of long hair that has to be brushed and washed with some regularity. They shed like crazy. They are "people" dogs...they cannot be left alone, outside and ignored. When they are ignored they shut down mentally. Like most purebreds, they have health issues and given their size, their medical bills are not small.

I'm thinking someone has taken him with the expectation of keeping him but given his medical history I would bet they figure out they have taken on more than they wanted so....it may be a while but I'm hoping we get him back someday. Today would be best but we will keep hoping.

Saturday, August 6, 2011

Into the Raging Water - The Tipping Point

Day Six!!! We were halfway through the canyon. One of the two "nine" rapids was behind us and we had three days before the next, and final "nine." Surely we could relax and have a little fun. More hiking was on the agenda. (Hiking was always on the agenda...kind of like more rapids.) It was time to launch and get the fun underway.

We started out with a couple of  "five" rapids, Emerald and Ruby. Very jolly rides they were. Our only challenging ride of the day was up next, "Serpentine," rated as a seven. Should we scout this one? We usually scout rapids rated seven and above. Naw...the guide says it's a read-and-run rapid. The guide also does mention "...a large pourover on the river right near the top of the rapid. This is to be avoided." Not everyone on the trip had the guide book we were using...some guide books only had numerical ratings with no advice on obstacles in the water. Oh well. It's just a "seven."

Our raft was the third in our party to enter the rapid. Two others were ahead of us from our group. I was watching the rafts in front of us. I always had to see how wet they got on their ride. Just before we entered the rapid, the raft in front of us flipped...yep...it turned upside down. Ballerina Girl, Tom Sawyer and his parents were on that raft. It was not a good thing to see as we entered the rapid...to the left of the pourover on the right.

We were desperately looking for people's heads as the water started to pull us through the rapid. I saw three right away by the upside down raft but had not idea who was missing. Scanning...there was the fourth head off a bit from the raft. Was that one of the kids? Gee..I really hoped it wasn't.

Still in the churning water. Often there were little rapids that buffered the ends of larger rapids. We had some of that to get through. Pretty soon there were people sitting on top of the bottom side of the raft. Thankfully there were four people all in view.

One of the many miraculous moments came next...a sandy beach in view on the right side of the river. A place to right the raft and check on everyone's condition...physical and mental.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Into the Raging Water - Not a Happy Camper

Time to celebrate! We all made it through Crystal rapid without flipping a raft. But wait. We still had 16 miles to go before reaching our camp for the night. Another eight-hour day on the river. Yippee! 

video

Just for Ballerina Girl - A video of riding the rapids. This was Tuna Creek rapid. A mere "six" rating.

The day is not over. It's my team's turn to cook again. On the menu - Mexican Night. Pre-packaged guacamole with chips, chicken fajitas stir fried with green peppers and onion, Spanish rice, Tomato salad (like Pico de gallo - chopped fresh tomatoes with onions. Spicy) and for dessert, pre-packaged brownies.

Did I already mention I never camp? I have only camped one other time with my husband and that was before we were married. We camped on the beach. My husband loves to cook over an open fire so he made great food for us...too bad every bite included a sprinkling of beach sand. Steak and sand, scrambled eggs and sand. That was at least 24 years ago. I never forgot. How did I find myself camping in a sandy environment? Remember...the participant list for the trip sounded so fun! Surely the inconvenience of camping would be worth it.

July is monsoon season in the Grand Canyon. Right about the time I finished cooking most of the meal our evening storm blew in and whipped up a whole lot of sand. I wanted to scream and cry. All that work and now I didn't know how anyone would eat with nonstop blowing sand. We threw aluminum foil over every open food container to keep the sand out. Forget about eating off a plate. We all took turns filling a flour tortilla with food and quickly shoving it down our mouths while we huddled against our shelter and tarp cover. It was so frustrating. The Spanish rice hardly got touched. The fresh tomato salad hardly got touched. We didn't heat the tortillas because I didn't know how to do it without having sand cover both sides so they cracked when we rolled them up. 

The sand storm is all I remember about that night. I have no other recollections about that camp location and it's not because I was drinking. I wear contacts so I was struggling to see the rest of the night. I was miserable. Seems to be a pattern here. When would the fun out-weigh the not-so-fun? 

Tomorrow would be day six. The halfway point, but who's counting?

More about the food: 
There have been a couple of questions about the food. We went through an outfitter to provide our rafts and provisions. Our team leader picked the menu and when we arrived all the food was packed and ready for us to load on the rafts. Absolutely everything was labeled. Our boat had two to huge coolers, even larger than the marine-sized coolers we have at home. Each cooler had 8 inches of block ice on the bottom. One cooler was stocked with food for days 1-4 and the other cooler was for days 5-8. In  the coolers would be our fresh meat, milk, butter and  frozen foods. Another raft had produce bins and a bread box.. Another raft had an egg box with at least 100 eggs. Another raft had the cooler for days 9-12. Throughout the rafts were small waterproof boxes for each day that carried the dry goods for that day's meals. By day 10 we were eating meals with mostly canned ingredients. No more bread other than tortillas. Each boat also had a munchies box with an assortment of goodies - Cliff bars, gold fish, pretzels, jerky, dried fruit, gorp, etc. 

Monday, August 1, 2011

Missing Forrest

No sign of Forrest. I'm still very hopeful we will have a Disney ending to the story. I've been thinking about Jimmy Stewart's poem about his dog and found it on YouTube. 


I know if you are a dog lover...you have some wet cheeks right now. Me too.