this site is for you

Hey, close friends and family, remember a couple of years ago when we first setup this site?  Remember when you used to post pictures all the time?  Yeah, those were good times.  Let’s do that again shall we?  Just looking at the brand spanking new gallery, which is currently empty, and remembering the great albums of family photos that used to be there.  <sigh>  And so, I strongly encourage you, parmeters, to register for an account right away and start posting albums to end the drought.   

button love

You see that gallery button over there? I made that. Yup. From scratch. I’m am so incredibly proud of it and I want everyone to know. It was super-easy to do too. I used inkscape which is a great piece of open source software that is basically similar to some really high-end vector graphics software like Adobe Illustrator or CorelDraw. Free-ninety free. And of course, I couldn’t have done the drop-shadow without a nice open source photo-shop clone. It’s called Gimp and it’s also yours for the low-low price of zero dollars. With the combination of those two programs, I was able to make that shiny looking thing over there – which does not fit in with the site design at all. I still love it though. Love that button.

photoshopped

I sent out a notice to all my groomsmen late Friday to get fitted for their tuxedos. With the place that we’re getting fitted, it’s pretty easy for them to just drop in, provide the group number, and get the style of tux. They guys don’t know exactly what style of tux their getting until they show up and actually get fitted. So, my brother, being the graphic artist out of the bunch decided he was going to take a guess at what the tuxedo would look like. And while he was at it, he took a few other hilarious jabs at me. This was the final result:

Mr. Parmeter

For those who might not understand, the background is a native New Zealand Maori hut (we’re going there on our honeymoon). I’m holding some of the stuff from our limited gift registry. Sooo, we have alot of vases from Crate & Barrel… whatever. All that aside, quite excellent work Dave.

Ben (looking good in that tux).

a weekend in big sur

preetty flowers Interestingly enough, Big Sur comes from the original name el grande sur, or the big south. Even though this isn’t really the southernmost coast on the California coastline, it’s still southern enough to bear the name. Suzy and I set sail last weekend and spent the night down at the scenic Big Sur Campground and Cabins. We got a late start on Saturday, especially late after we stopped for an oil change, but we still enjoyed the leisurely drive down to the coast. We stopped at La Victoria’s Taqueria which has an incredible orange sauce. It’s a sort of creamy hot sauce which is no doubt vein clogging death. But I love it. You can’t help but to liberally drown each bite with the stuff. Someday I’ll probably learn that it’s made out of pure lard – but until then, I will keep on eating it. After our bellys were full, we headed on down to Big Sur with only a couple of stops on the way to pick up some food for the evening. We finally arrived at our destination, Big Sur Campgrounds and Cabins where we had reserved our own tent cabin. Staying in this little cabin with a queen bed, minimal furniture and a small deck was like fulfilling a childhood treehouse fantasy. Except, it wasn’t in a tree at all – but you just have to take my word for it. The next day we set out north to Point Lobos where we got a good bit of hiking in and observed more wildlife than we expected. After hiking for a couple hours we headed up to the Monterrey Bay Aquarium where we did a turbo walkthrough of the best exhibits. A long day of walking made us all hungry. Suzy’s mom had picked out this great vegitarian restaraunt in Pacific Grove (although the name escapes me now) and so we found ourselves munching on artichoke quesadillas, enchiladas, grilled potatoes, and more… yum. Next, we drove on to Carmel, where we walked down to the beach to watch the waves and took in some wine tasting. And that pretty much wrapped up the day.

You can find the pictures from our trip in the gallery here.

Enjoy – Until our next adventure.

Ben.

Total Faux

Driving to work today, I noticed a truck with a large sticker in the back window which read “FAUX”.  It took me a moment to really capture the hilarity of it.  Mispronounced, “FAUX”, could actually sound more like “FOX”.  I’ve noticed that it is also popular to have Fox logo’s on cars – no doubt enjoyed by people who emblazon their cars with “Princess” or “Juicy” stickers.  I always thought it was silly, because the Fox logo is actually a logo for the Fox Racing Corporation who make shocks for bicycles, ATV’s, etc.  I guess people just like the logo and the double entendre.  I’ve also noticed that just because you have the sticker, pretentiously claiming that you are a “fox”, does not mean that this opinion is shared with the rest of the world. 

Putting “FAUX” on your back window is pure genius.  Faux, for the foreign language challenged, is pronounced “” and defined as fake.  That’s probably a more accurate term for the type of people who would put a fox logo on their car. 

Well done Chevy Silverado, well done. 

a new look

Parmeter.net is getting a makeover.  Hope you enjoy the changes.  Keep checking back for more updates.

ben’s account of our harrowing kayak trip from hell

ben_headSo, if you haven’t caught on already – I’ve picked up kayaking as my new extreme sport.  I didn’t so much pick it up.  It was really thrust upon me, by Anthony, who has been maniacally obsessed with the sport for just over four weeks.  Is this really a sport?  Or was it invented purely to scare the wits out of people like me?  Well, I think the answer is that it’s a little of both.  Half skill sport (or balance sport – as Pat would describe it) and half complete, utter insanity.  Never the less, about three weeks ago we signed up for a demo program that allows us to rent out an unlimited amount of kayaks from the kayak shop for up to 90 days.  This seemingly limitless access to kayaks opens up a whole new world of pain that one would never would have expected from such small, benign looking crafts.  I’ll spare you the background story a bit and move on to the juicy stuff.  Let’s fast forward to August 7th, 2004, a Saturday.

Cynthia, who is Pat’s fiancé, was holding bridal shower/lingerie party over at the house.  Naturally, boys are not allowed to this event.  Pat and I were effectively booted out of the house for the entire afternoon.  This was perfectly ok with us, because we knew exactly what we would do.  Anthony, Pat and I decided this was a good time to run out and get some first hand experience kayaking down real rapids.  You see, up until this point, most of our experience was in the back yard pool – learning how to Eskimo roll.  Rolling a kayak is really much harder than it appears.  Most people can’t figure it out in their first lesson.  I’m one of those people.  Anthony is not – he got it right away.  Pat picked it up pretty quickly.  He was rolling the boat in only two pool sessions.  I’m a bit more retarded when it comes to water sports.  Especially upside-down, frantic, scary, drowning water sports.  I tend to panic when I’m upside down and locked inside a boat.  It’s scary folks.  The motivation to roll is there, but I just can’t seem to pull it off.  Despite all that, I wasn’t daunted.  I was ready to try my hand at some class II rapids.  So we went and spent an awesome (and mildly terrifying) afternoon paddling from Coloma to Lotus Camp.  The rapids in this section of the river are intimidating, but totally manageable for the first time kayaker.  It was a real confidence builder and we were ready for more.

After we returned home, we promptly got in the pool to practice rolling the boats again.  And this time, I got it.  I figured it out.  I was a rolling fool.  It was triumphant.  I was on top of the world.  Kayaking was that much less scary now and I was going to own this sport.  At least that was the plan…

August 8th, 2004 – A Sunday.

americanriverAnthony was determined not to let the kayaking momentum die.  We had these boats for the entire weekend and were going to use them.  After we’d finished an early morning game of soccer, we changed and loaded up the truck with our kayaks.  This time, it was Anthony, Aquiles and myself.  Aquiles had signed up for the demo program as well and had actually rented out the boat for Pat the previous day.  He wasn’t able to join us on Saturday due to some family obligations – but he was fired up and ready to go on Sunday.  Aquiles is the kind of person that you can’t quite tell if he’s really aggressive or just really foolish.  He’s always ready to try to push the limits – safety be damned.  We had it all worked out, we were going to run a 5 mile section of the American river near Foresthill.  According to “the book”, Class II+ rapids were all that was in store for us today.  Just a bit more challenging than the class II rapids that we’d seen the previous day.  Nothing to be too concerned with.  Winding our way down unimproved roads for what seemed like hours, we finally arrived at the pull out point.  This is when we first began to realize that this just wasn’t going to be our day.  The water appeared to be extremely low.  From high above, we could see that there were sections of the rapid that were unrunnable.  Still optimistic, we proceeded to the put-in spot in the hopes that we would still be able to run this section of the river.  We did not want to go home without some kind of extreme kayak action, or at least a semi-extreme kayak experience.  We made our way back up the windy dirt road and back down another windy dirt road to find ourselves at the put in point.  Parking near an extremely rickety looking bridge, we again scouted out the river.  And again, we were disappointed.  The water was just too low.  There were clearly several spots that would be less than ideal take a kayak through.  We made our first wise decision of the day (probably our last) and chose not to run this river.  Looking back at “the book”, Anthony was amazed to find that this particular part of the river is best in the spring season.  Since August is well beyond the spring season, we had missed our window for fun, easy rapids.

Yet again undaunted, we came up with a back-up plan.  Once again using “the book” we found a run a little bit more familiar, yet more challenging.  Why not step it up to class III rapids?  We were ready for it.  I mean, I’d learned to roll just the day before – how bad could it really be?  And so it was decided.  We would start at Chili-Bar and paddle 5.8 miles to Coloma and the highway 49 bridge.  We all knew this was going to be a bit above our class, but we were all too proud to admit it.  This run is above the run we had done just the previous day.  It actually overlaps a bit at the end, which was a great idea – since we were already familiar with the area.

After spending more than half the day scouting the previous rapids, we finally arrived at our back-up run.  It was almost 3PM and we were all pretty tired from driving around all day.  We had dropped off Aquiles truck in Coloma and proceeded to Chili Bar in my truck.  Those thoughts of fatigue quickly turned to a tiny bit of fear when we arrived at the little dirt parking lot at Chili Bar.  Right there in front of us were the meanest set of rapids we had seen since we started this whole kayak kick.  They were easily class III (possibly bigger), and just the sound of the water roaring made my heart sink right into my stomach.  I suddenly realized just how scary this sport really is.  I stood there and stared at it for a moment and collected my thoughts.  I marched back to the truck and found Anthony.

“Did you see that rapid there?” I asked, nervously.

cb-map“Yeah, but we’re not going to start there – we’ll start downstream and skip that one” said Anthony reassuringly.

Looking at the rapid, I suddenly had the frightening thought that this may not be the only big water on this section of river.  It just couldn’t be any worse than that.  Right?  “The book” never said anything about this.  It couldn’t be wrong.

We unloaded the boats and all our gear.  Anthony, Aquiles and I donned our helmets, life vests and spray jackets.  We were ready to leave in record time.  I quickly situated myself inside my boat and sealed up the skirt around the lip at the top.  My boat, the diesel, is more of a river boat compared to the less stable “play” boats that Anthony and Aquiles had rented.  Where my boat was engineered to be stable and negotiate rapids smoothly, their boats are meant for spinning, cart-wheeling and surfing rapids.

Right away we got off to a bad start.  As we shoved off, it was clear that Aquiles was having some difficulty controlling his boat.  After all, we were all just learning how to paddle.  None of us really knew the proper technique.  The look of concentration on Aquiles face, as he leaned forward and frantically tried to steer his boat in a relatively straight line, was classic.  I glided forward with ease.  It wasn’t long before we could hear the roar of an approaching rapid.  We braced ourselves for the worst.  It was on us before we knew it.  We were charging headlong into rapids that we had not previously scouted or even read about in a book.  We were completely blind to what was in store for us.

certaindeathAquiles flipped his boat immediately.  Anthony frantically tried to follow along behind him to catch his boat and his paddle if needed.  Unfortunately, in the process of trying to help Aquiles, he himself was tossed upside down by the violent waters.  I watched from about 100 yards behind as Anthony’s boat bobbed in the water ahead – nose down.  I was determined to stay in my boat – despite the churning water all around me.  Alas, I was at the mercy of the water and eventually the river flipped my boat over.  It was at this point, that I completely panicked.  I didn’t even try to roll out of it.  Once again, you’re upside down, with water rushing all around you.  It’s deathly cold and you don’t have much air.  The first thing you can think to do is to get out of the boat as fast as possible.  What you don’t realize is that now, you’re in the rapid.  You’ve got to do a few things at this point.  You’ve got to grab your boat, your oar and get your legs up to your chest.  At this point, you’re just trying not to get hurt.  Rocks just below the surface pound your legs and back.  You struggle for air, taking deep breaths before the water sucks you beneath the surface and spits you back out again.  As we later learned, this was the infamous Meatgrinder rapid.  It’s nearly a quarter mile of punishing class III rapids.  Aquiles rode the whole thing outside of his boat.  He later confessed that this was the closest he had ever come to drowning in his entire life.

We regrouped at the shore.  Everyone had to catch their breath after that run, but we agreed that we should do a better job of scouting rapids before running them.  It was then, when Aquiles sheepishly looked at us and admitted that he had forgotten the keys to his truck.  The truck that we had left in Coloma – our only way back.  Collectively, we agreed that we would figure it out when we got to Coloma.  Surely we could hitch a ride, or perhaps call someone we knew.  Our primary objective was to get down the river.

And we set out yet again.  It wasn’t long before we approached the next set of rapids.  This time, we took it a little slower.  Anthony went first to try to find a good line through the rapid.  Once again, Aquiles ejected from his boat and rode through the second set of rapids in just his life jacket.  Anthony and I managed to pull this one out and meet up at the shore on the other side.  Aquiles was looking rather dejected at this point.  He was exhausted from swimming two intense rapids and was running low on confidence.  Despite the way I may have looked (and the fact that I made it through this set of rapids without flipping), I was terrified.  This was big water – and it was owning us.

After a short rest at the shore, we were paddling again.  This time, we were going to scout the rapids before we tried to run them blind.  Or at least that was the idea.  As we approached the next set of rapids, we couldn’t really make out what was in store for us.  The river twists around a bend and makes it almost impossible to see the danger that lies ahead.  So once again, Anthony charges in head first.  I blindly follow behind.  And Aquiles, well, he makes a smart choice and pulls off to the side of the river.  The river makes a violent turn to the left and then back around to the right.  It clearly has the biggest rapids we’ve seen yet, with waves so high that I thought I would surely be swallowed up.  It attempts to slam you into solid wall of rock before changing direction and sending you off balance into more huge waves.  Anthony bails out.  I begin to panic.  If I fall out of this boat, I will surely drown.  This is the single dumbest thing I’ve ever done in my life.  I try to steady myself.  Sitting in a kayak is like sitting on a balancing beam with a paddle.  The boats aren’t terribly stable and one false move means that you’re flipping over upside down.  Now imagine, you’re sitting on that balancing beam while someone violently shakes it.  Yeah, that’s what it’s like.  It’s dumb luck if you can stay on top of the water.  Somehow, I made it through, and backed my boat into a cove to wait for Aquiles.  He would surely have bailed out by now.  I was terrified before, and now I was doubly terrified.

Anthony appeared on the rock above me.  He said something about “crunching” his boat and hitting his face.  Then he set out to find Aquiles, hiking back up the canyon.  Left alone, I decided to do a bit of roll practice.  So I quickly rolled the boat a couple of times, just to inspire a little confidence.  The cold water woke me up a bit and I decided to get out of the boat and check out the shore.

I was actually glad to get a bit of rest.  It had been non-stop adrenaline up to this point, and there was no sign of that changing any time soon.  We were barely 2 miles into our nearly 6 mile journey and we had nearly died 3 times already.  It was shaping up to be a rough afternoon.  Or a rough evening.  The sun was starting dip down lower in the sky and became imperative that we get back in the river as soon as possible.  You wouldn’t want to be stuck several miles outside of civilization with a 30+lb kayak to carry on your back.  This wasn’t the most hospitable land.

I climbed up on top of a rock that was right on the bend in the river to sit and wait for Anthony and Aquiles to return.  It was at that point that I noticed that I was sharing this small ledge with a plastic gurney.  It was obviously placed here as a warning to rafters and kayakers alike.  Well, maybe more as a precaution.  But probably a little of both.  It wasn’t very settling, that’s for sure.

After about 10 minutes, Anthony finally returned alone.

“Where’s Aquiles” I asked.middlefork_01

“He’s hiking back – we’ll meet him at the truck later” Anthony replied.

I was shocked.  We were 2 miles into these rapids already.  Aquiles was going to hike his boat back out?  All kinds of questions came to me, but I realized it would be pointless to ask.  We needed to get moving before the sun set and we were trapped on the river.  We still had to figure out what to do once we reached Coloma.

From this point on, Anthony and I made a pact.  We were going to try to take the most easily runnable lines down the river, and we were going to do it as fast as possible.   No messing around.  And with that agreement, we set back out to finish this river up.

Over the next three miles we hit a rapid succession of whitewater.  Four sections in a row.  Both Anthony and I popped out of our boats at least once during these rapids.  Anthony, looking more comfortable than ever was actually able to roll out of some of the larger rapids.  I was still not comfortable flipping my boat back over in whitewater – instead opting to pull the skirt as soon as I was upside down.  Yet all in all, we did fantastically well considering we were complete novices running rapids that were clearly outside of our skill level.  We hit two huge four foot holes in this section of the river and managed to stay on top of our boats.  It was the most terrifying, yet most exhilarating experience of my life.  After each of the short rapids, I’d give a little whoop – to let nature know that I had made it out alive.

After those last rapids, was a long stretch of river with calm, small class II rapids that really seemed like child’s play after what we had just been through.  It was at this point that I was able to take stock and realize just how silly this whole adventure really was.  How stupid we really were.  How we had done everything wrong from the very beginning.  And how incredibly lucky we were that we weren’t twisted, mangled and broken – trapped underneath the frigid water.

It was about this time that we began to meander back into civilization.  Houses began appearing on the waters edge.  Campsites starting appearing.  And up ahead in the river I could clearly make out people standing on a rock on the left hand side of the river.  At last, we had made it back to Coloma – or at least close enough.  I was ecstatic.  I was literally out of adrenaline.  You could have shown me another class IV rapid at this point and my body wouldn’t even have flinched.  There just wasn’t any energy left in my muscles.  I was exhausted.

And then we saw it.  One last rapid on the left hand side of the river… near where those people were standing.  But luckily, on the right hand side of the river it was smooth water.  Anthony and I had our pact that we had made earlier.  We were going to take the easiest line and get out as fast as possible.  Sure enough, Anthony made his way to the calm water on the right hand side of the river.  I was happy we wouldn’t have to brave another set of rapids.  And they didn’t look small either.

waterfallThen – Anthony’s boat suddenly disappeared… over the lip of a small waterfall.  Once I realized what was actually going on, those rapids to the left didn’t look so bad.  I paddled frantically to get back to the the left hand side of the river, but it was already too late.  I found myself running through a chute at the top of the waterfall, sideways.  Let me tell you, sideways is not the way you want to approach rushing water.  As soon as I hit the edge of the water, it violently flipped my boat upside down.  I was falling over the edge, underwater, upside down.  I decided that this must be the absolute worst way to attack the rapids.  I could be making instructional videos on how NOT to kayak.  Once again, I panicked.  There was not chance I was going to roll the boat at this point.  I reached down and popped the skirt.  This time the rapids held me under for a while.  When I finally did come up for a breath – it was brief.  The water sucked me back down and ripped my water sock right off.  I came up again and struck my right shin against a rock and was sucked under water for a third time.  When I surfaced I had cleared the rapids and the people on the rock behind me were yelling.  At first I thought they were telling me to get out of the water, but then quickly realized that they were trying to direct me to my boat.  Unfortunately, there was no way I was going to swim to my boat.  However Anthony had somehow survived his drop over the waterfall and was already chasing it down.

I swam to a rock that was jutting out into the river.  Swimming at this point is not really swimming in the classic sense.  It’s more of a frantic flail.  My arms and legs had been completely sapped of all energy and I wasn’t a very effective swimmer – especially in the river’s current.  When I finally did make it to the rock, I hauled myself out of the water onto the slippery surface.  Walking around on the rock with only one shoe towards the shore, which was covered in brambles didn’t really appeal to me at this point.  I decided that I was just going to get back in and float with the current down the river until I reached Anthony.  And he was a long way down the river.

As I floated down the river, I passed several campsites with children asking me where my boat was and I had to explain that I had lost it back at that waterfall.  It was really quite embarrassing – but I deserved it.  Eventually I heard Anthony yelling my name from the shore.  So I floated a little bit more until I could see him and I climbed out of the water.  There I was standing there soaking wet, with all of my gear including a paddle, except one shoe.  We made our way up to a small general store at the camp ground.  I began to bleed from the gash in my shin.  We quickly shared stories of our experience going over the waterfall.  When we arrived at the store, we found that it had already closed.  They did, however, have a pay phone outside the door.  We didn’t have any money and we’d have to make a collect call.

colomabridgeIt’s funny how much we rely on our technological gadgets in these times.  Both of us were without our cell phones – and lets be honest – who memorizes phone numbers anymore?  Our cell phones have done away with the necessity of phone number memorization.  Cell phones have greatly simplified our lives – which is great.  But in this situation, where we were stuck in Coloma with no money and no phone number to dial – we were out of luck.  That’s about when a very nice lady opened the front door of the store and asked us if we needed any help.  We explained our situation and how we didn’t remember any phone numbers and we needed to get back to Chili Bar.  She gave us a bit of a blank look and then asked us again if we knew any phone numbers.  Anthony suddenly had an epiphany and remembered a number.  I was frankly, impressed – drawing a complete blank on any non-work related numbers that I could call.  Anthony had somehow pulled one out of his hat.  So the shop owner let Anthony inside to use the phone.  While Anthony was using the phone she came back out with a paper towel that I could use to clean up my wound.  The folks at Coloma Resort were so nice, that they were actually asking us if we needed anything to drink, etc.   I’m definitely going back with a bottle of wine some day.  They were incredibly helpful.

After about an hour, Anthony’s sister and brother-in-law (Connie and Will) arrived with their truck to save the day.  We loaded up the kayaks and headed back up to Chili Bar.  On the way we described the epoch journey in detail to Connie and Will and how we expected to see Aquiles back at the parking lot – or perhaps stranded on some fire road in the wilderness alone, carrying a boat.  And when we finally arrived, we didn’t see Aquiles anywhere in sight.  So we pulled into the parking lot alongside my truck.

I jumped out and started unloading our kayaks into the the bed of my truck.  As I loaded the first kayak, I spotted Aquiles!  He was ambling his way down the hill from the road above, shirtless with a paddle in one hand and a bottle of water in the other hand.  He explained that he had hiked most of the way back, carrying his kayak on his back – but eventually gave up carrying the kayak and left it back on the trail.  Grudgingly, Will and I went off to retrieve the kayak – which was probably about a quarter to a half mile away. Climbing over rocks and crossing through painfully spiky bushes we managed to haul the kayak back to the truck.  Unfortunately, Wills flip flops broke and he had to hike a good portion of the trail barefooted.

It was finally over.  We were re-united and emerged with only minor cuts and bruises on our bodies.  It was a full day of near-death experiences that taught me not only to respect to the river but also countless other valuable lessons.  Never have I been more terrified of drowning in my entire life.  And still I wouldn’t trade this experience for anything.

Ben.

anthony’s account of our harrowing kayak trip from hell

Disclaimer: This is Anthony Tarabini’s account of our late Sunday afternoon kayaking trip on August 8th, 2004.  A story that illustrates just how important it is to be prepared before you try something way, way, way beyond your skill level.  The following is taken directly from Anthony’s e-mail and has been slightly edited for spelling, grammar, and good taste.  None of the photos on this page are from the actual trip HOWEVER they are included to give the reader a frame of reference… and to keep the people with short attention spans from closing this window.  Most of these pictures are sourced from this awesome site.  Please, sit back and enjoy…

Anthony - Extreme Sports NoviceDude,

You won’t believe what a dumb ass I was the other day. We hit a section of the American with class III rapids on it and a class III+. And we so weren’t ready for it. We went at the wrong time of day. Ran it pretty much blind and got jacked up. It was one of the scariest things I have ever done. I was in a Dagger Juice. I have since decided it will be a while for I’m ready for a boat like that and will now be doing some demos in river running boats and not play boats. 🙂

So the day started with us getting schooled at soccer by a team we should have beat. After that Ben and I headed to my house to meet up with our other buddy to hit a 5 mile section of the north fork of the American River. The take out was about 10 mile north of Auburn. We get off the highway and head down this windy paved road, which happen to turn into this crazy windy, washed out dirt road. For 3 miles this road winded down toward the river. We finally make it to the bridge at the take out and notice that the river isn’t running very much and looks like we would be hiking more than kayaking. We decide to leave the truck there and go to the put in to see if it looked any better. So back up the windy dirt road and back to where we got off the highway to head north a few more miles and down another windy road, which soon turned dirt and just as bad as the first road we were on. We make it to the put in and find that the river really isn’t run-able. Then I notice in the book on kayaking trips it says the boating season for this stretch of the river is spring. Definitely a beautiful drive but it did burn off the entire morning.

cb-mapWe decide to head up to Coloma and run the class II section that we did the day before. But I talked to guys into trying the Chili Bar run on the way there. Hey it is class III but we can do it. Those class IIs are way easy. How hard can it be? It is 5.8 miles, it is 3pm and we have plenty of daylight left. So everyone agrees to try it. We get to Chili Bar and at the put in there is a crazy class III rapid staring us right in the face. Damn that looks crazy big! So let’s do this. We put in after the big rapid and started down river. After about a half mile down we hit our first big class III+ rapid, Meatgrinder. They don’t call this rapid Meatgrinder for nothing either. Ask Aquiles. This rapid is long too, some call it the Quarter Mile Rapid. Aquiles fell out of his boat early into this rapid and Meatgringer went to work on his body. He got beat up pretty good. I fell out about half way through and didn’t really take too many bruises from this rapid. Ben made it the furthest before falling out and made it through unscathed.

meatgrinder-leadWe continue down river and come across a class II+ rapid called Racehorse Bend. Ben and I make it through this rapid and helped Aquiles get back into his boat again. I paddled down to the next rapid to take a look at it. I wanted to find a place to get out of the boat and check out the rapid before we went over it. I couldn’t really find a spot where I could get out of the boat so I paddled back to Ben and Aquiles to let them know. I decided to go first and see if I could pull over and hike back to give them the go ahead. So I go blind into a class III rapid called Maya. And let me tell you Maya kicked my ass. I fell out and was using the boat for a little protection. The front of my boat slammed into a rock and then the boat slammed into my face catching me under my right eye. Damn that hurt! I’m sure if my eyes weren’t filled with river water they would have teared up a little bit. My left foot slams into a rock. Where the hell is the surface? I would really like a breath of air. Is this freak’n life vest working? How long can this take? Finally!!!! I made it. I get myself and my boat out of the water and find a big chunk of plastic missing from the bow of the boat. Wow! Glad that wasn’t my head. Then I see Ben roll through – still in his boat. Way to go Ben! I ask “Where is Aquiles?”  He replies “I don’t know he was still on the other side.” I hike up the rock and work my way around a small ledge trying not to fall back into the rapid that just punished me for taking her for granted. I showed her my respect by keeping my distance between me and her rushing water. Hiking back I find Aquiles standing on the shore. He looks at me and I can tell that he has had enough. He decides to hike back out the mile and a half. There was no way Ben and I were getting our boats back past that rapid so I tell him we will push on and get a ride back to the truck at Chili Bar, since Aquiles left his keys locked in the truck at the put in we wouldn’t be able to return in his truck. And not knowing if he would make it back to Chili Bar with his gear before we did we decide to hang on to the keys and he could just wait for us if he got there first. On the hike back I decide to climb over the top of this rock and give myself more room between me and the edge of the river. I look up and see a gurney tied to a tree. Seems Maya has punished others in the past.

mg83vertBen and I get back into our boats and push on. God this boat is squirrelly. Why am I always upside down? Oh well. I have my Eskimo roll down now. We hit a little class II rapid called the Rock Garden Rapid. I seem to remember falling out here and couldn’t roll because it was to shallow. And let me tell you it was a rock garden, just ask either one of my ass cheeks. Both of them are cut and bruised. We make it 2 miles in to the trip and run a class II rapid called the African Queen. We cruise right through this rapid with out any difficulty. Here we go again 2.8 miles in and we run up against Triple Threat a class III rapid. So here is a little tid bit of info from the website I have linked below [editor’s note: not actually linked below!]. “Not surprisingly, Triple Threat has three drops, and all three can be run down the middle, with lots of bouncing and fun”. Fun my ass! I go over the first drop and there is like a 4 foot wave in front of me. I lean forward and punch through it. When I come up I get flipped over. I’m upside down thinking “I’m not getting out of this freaking boat again”. I roll upright with such force that I went right back over the other way. I roll again and take the second drop backwards. How many freaking times am I going to be upside down? The nose plug hanging from my helmet was a waste of money. It never seems to be on my nose when I actually need it. Oh well, that is the least of my problems. I roll back over and make it through the last drop with out a problem. But damn am I tired and dizzy. I think I just went through the spin cycle on my washing machine. Ben and I pull over at a day use spot at the 3 mile mark to catch our breath. I hop out of my boat to see what the river has in store for us. OMG my freakin foot hurts. I take a few steps and try to remember what I hit that was making it hurt so much. Then I remember.  Maya! You little bitch.

Ben and I drink some Gatorade and get ready to get back into the boats and finish what we started. We head down river. We come across some small rapids along the way, but nothing to speak of until we get back into civilization. Houses and campgrounds on both sides of the river. We can’t die now right? There are people swimming in the river. It can’t be that bad now. Then off to the left I see Troublemaker. A class III+ rapid that I really wasn’t in the mood to go through. I see some kayakers paddling back up in to Troublemaker’s big wave to surf it. I decide to go to the right and check it out since it looks calm on that side of the river. As I approach the calm water I get pulled into a current and realize I now stuck going over a 4 foot waterfall. Oh well!  I lean a little too far forward and enter the water nose straight down.  Hey, go figure, I’m upside down again. I roll again and paddle away from the water fall. I see Ben out of his boat and no where near it. So off  to the races I head for his boat and try to rodeo it to the shore. The problem is the current is swift in the area and made it very hard to paddle and pull the boat along. I get his boat turned upright and make it to the side. tmaker1The problem was there really wasn’t anywhere to get out and the current is still moving pretty good. I get pull over and was able to grab a tree and flip back over. But I lost Ben’s boat in the mean time. Now I’m under a tree and the branches are scratching the crap out of me. And I get flipped over again. I try to grab a branch to right myself again and just pull it through my hand, removing any skin that didn’t want to stay attached. So off to the races again. I catch back up to Ben’s boat at the Coloma Bridge. The website states “Built in 1917, also known as the “one-way bridge.” No parking or river access.” River access my ass! I’m getting out of this boat. A couple standing on the shore helps me get Ben’s boat out of the river. I limp across the street to look for Ben. I find him floating down river looking for me and his boat. I call to him and he gets out of the water and we head to the store at the Coloma Resort. Problem is we have no money for the pay phone. And even if we did, we didn’t know anyone’s phone number anyway.  The store owner comes out and asked if we need help. Ben’s leg is bleeding a little bit and I’m limping around her porch. She let us use the phone in the store and I was able to remember my sister number. So about an hour later my sister, brother-in-law and niece show up and take
Ben and I back to his truck at Chili Bar. When we get there we find Aquiles with no shirt on, a paddle in his hand and no boat. He was able to hike the boat out about a mile of the way, but left it behind and walked the last half mile out with out it. Ben and my Brother-in-Law (Will) hiked in and got the boat. I tried but I was moving so slow I wasn’t of any use to them. Seems on the way out Will broke his flip-flop and hiked out on the sharp rocks barefoot. Made me feel bad about whining about my foot. 🙂

This trip is by far one of the stupidest things I have ever done. But OMG it was exciting, scary as hell, and one of the most incredibly fun trips I almost died on. I can’t wait to do it again. Just a lot safer next time.

Ant out