Posts Tagged 'grand canyon'

The Emerald Mile

Never (until now) have I read anything that remotely comes close to describing why I love rafting. I may not be one of the “elite” dory-boaters (can you feel me rolling my eyes?), but we have this in common:

There were rapids that you feared and rapids that you hated and rapids that you would be a fool to take for granted, even under the most benign conditions imaginable. But on those days of wonder, when the tumblers in the lock were oiled and turning flawlessly, any one of those rapids could also transport you into a dimension of pure, unadulterated joy that had no analogue in any other part of your life.

The taste of that joy was absolutely intoxicating, a kind of drug, and perhaps the most potent part of the charge lay in the irrevocability of the moment when you untied your boat, and you and your partners peeled out into the current above a rapid in a tight and graceful little arc like a formation of miniature fighter jets. For a minute or two, you would find yourself drifting on a flat and glassy cushion of serenity as the current slowly gathered its speed and heft beneath the bottom of your boat and you drifted toward this thing that waited, invisible, just beyond the horizon. It was silent during those minutes, the only sounds being the creak of your oars in their locks and the dipping of the blades as you made a few microadjustments in the hope of putting your hull squarely on the one tiny patch of current that would insert you through the keyhole in the cosmos. Then in the final seconds, you would start to hear the dull, thunderous roar, and you could see the little fistfuls of spray being flung high into the air.

This, perhaps, was the most riveting moment of all, because by now all of your decisions had been made – you had done your homework and sought a point of balance between instincts and analysis, listening to the data flowing from both your brain and your gut, and now you were well and truly committed. This thing you were running down had no brakes, no rewind, no possibility of a do-over. You would ride the surge of your adrenaline and surf the watery crescendo that was about to explode before you, and you would accept the consequences, good or bad, along with whatever gifts or punishments the river was prepared to dish out. There were lessons there, insights a man could put in his pocket and take out later, long after he was out of the canyon, tiny compass points to steer by during those seasons when the river that was your life turned turbulent and ugly. You could learn these things about yourself that you would never learn in civil society. And if you were lucky, you might navigate to a place that would enable you to glimpse, however obliquely, a bit of who you truly were.  –  Kevin Fedarko, The Emerald Mile


grand reunion, pillow talk

we baked about 5 loaves of seedy yummy bread for flour friday, then the whole river tribe came to juli’s house pot-luck style.

biggest treat of the evening:  getting to listen to the sound tracks from the river.  tres was amazing enough to record many many beautiful sounds and moments.  the one i’ve added was on the very last night of the trip nearing the end of our very last campfire.  if you listen closely you can hear the river behind us and our hugs and soft “goodnights” as several head to sleep.  magic.

around 3am that last evening i awoke to whispers, then louder voices.  someone had gone down to the water to pee and realized there were only 5 boats anchored to the beach.  corey – who sleeps on a platform on his boat – was missing.

nick and donnie painstakingly traversed the shoreline about a half a mile through thick tamarisk trying to catch a glimpse of his yellow boat in the moonlight.  after two hours and very little progress, they came back to camp where some had already boiled tea water and sat up to hope and wait for either corey’s return, a signal, or to wake everyone early to pack up and go find him down river.

just before daybreak we saw the signal we’d been waiting for: a quick flash of a headlamp downstream.  corey was slowly making his way back to us.  he arrived just in time for breakfast and very hearty “welcome homes.”  turns out he’d forgotten to anchor in and in full slumber drifted away from shore, rode the eddy upstream where it kicked him out into the river.  he had woken about 30 feet from the top of a rapid – fortunately a small one – ran it still cocooned in his sleeping bag up to his waist.  after the riffle he pulled over to the shore where he began his difficult trek back to camp.

corey was positively gleeful that morning.  it seemed it was the way our trip almost needed to end.  one last hurrah.  bravo, corey.  he’s still saying he’s going to write them and ask them to don the unnamed rapid with a new title:  Pillow Talk Rapid

always look inside and see
exactly what we wanna be
underneath the stars so brightly shining
here we are

glad to be with you here, my friend
though it seems near the end
it is just beginning

tres altman

new photos

i got new photos from one of the guys on my canyon trip. all of them can be found here, but i added a few highlights on this post as well. be warned…there are many.

the silence is not silence at all

sunday night was a special night.

i got to stand alongside one of my dearest (and most certainly my longest) friend and sing background vocals while creating a piece of art live on stage in front of almost 700 people (so i was told).

if you know me much at all you probably know that even the mention of being in front of more than 4 or 5 people can potentially cause a violent nervous reaction in me.  in the last 6months the mere suggestion that i need to ‘present’ something has caused a serious case of the shakes, a complete cry-fest meltdown, and an angry fit.  even in the grand canyon I was unable and unwilling to attempt to present something in front of 10 of the most accepting people i’ve ever met.  who knows why i accepted the offer to do a show where i was not only on stage, but on stage creating art (something i’ve never done live) and singing (something i haven’t done in years).

alli and i used to sing and play guitar together in junior high and high school and the chance to be a part of her art again was more than i could pass up.  i’m so glad i chose to face my fears.

my nervousness melted away as soon as i picked up my first pastel.  having something to do with my hands while i wasn’t actually singing made everything seem so perfectly natural and relaxed.  my plans for what my art would be quickly went out the window as well.  due to the moment, the failure of certain mediums, and just the nature of art in general, my piece didn’t turn out anything like i’d vaguely planned, but that’s ok.  it became completely intertwined with the music being played and the story that was read.

i could go on for hours about how special alli is to me, about how she nearly brought me to tears onstage as she introduced all of us, about how perfect it was that her words and song brought our friend, sydney, onstage into the show as well…but i wouldn’t know where to begin or end.  all i can say is that i couldn’t have imagined such a conglomeration going so naturally.  it’s quickly becoming one of my all-time favorite experiences.  and who knew – i didn’t even have to leave iowa to experience it.

[sidenote: if anyone has photos of that evening, i would love to see them. pretty please send them my way]

a portion of the piece that spun from my brushes and pastels that evening

a few photos

john sent some pictures from the trip, so i thought i’d share a few…

the rest can be found here (newly added)

hungry ghost

john was always good – among many other things – for a wise word.  many of his little pearls have stuck with me – rattling around in my head and polishing down my other thoughts.  he spoke one morning about the hungry ghost: the voice who lives in each of us and whispers a  subtle, ‘just one more.’  the ghost sabotages our satisfaction by forever encouraging ‘again! again! that was so good let’s do it again!’  one more pringle, one more kiss, one more minute of sleep, one more night in the canyon, one more hour of daylight.  by always allowing ‘one more’ it’s easy to live in the future and forget our presence.  and in forgetting the now we aren’t able to truly enjoy what we’re experiencing.  if one more happens, let it happen by surprise, child.  let it come like a gift unsolicited.

these are the lessons i learn time and time again in new words and altered angles.  seems at this age unlearning and relearning are one of the few consistencies in my life.

welcome home

it’s been a whirlwind around here – a big move, a big trip, and now i have a big friend (not in size, but in love and importance) out visiting me in los angeles.  sydney is one of my dearest friends and i’m so glad she took the time/money/effort to make it out here.  if you know sydney, you know it’s a big deal that she flew to los angeles by herself and has actually been driving her cute little blue ford focus rental around these crazy roads!  so far we’ve gone to the walk of fame and the chinese theatre, we’ve done a star home tour (something i had previously vowed not to do, but i got a little wrapped up in haggling with the guys bugging us on the street…plus…syd really wanted to do it.  it wasn’t as bad as i’d thought it would be, actually ;), seen the hollywood sign, gone to more high-end fashion stores than i’ve previously been to in my entire life, gone to a few great restauraunts, diddy riese, menchies, gone hiking, and today we’re going to the getty and to venice boardwalk to rent bicycles.  she must put her feet in the pacific ocean – it’s a tad chilly for actual submersion.

this has been a nice welcome home to los angeles.  my friend, rachael, moved out from nashville while i was in the canyon.  we have a house together with one more roommate in a wonderful neighborhood in the valley.  if i have to come home from the grand canyon to los angeles at least it was to such wonderful women with whom i have such rich histories.  egads, friends are so important.  thank you, ladies, for being in my life and for the patience and grace you’ve shown me and taught me over the years.  i love you dearly.



Keep me away from the wisdom which does not cry, the philosophy which does not laugh and the greatness which does not bow before children.
-Kahlil Gibran

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