A little over a year ago my mother had me worried. In 1999 she would have her permit to run the Grand and I hadn't been invited yet. "But mommy I wanna!" I said in my best 8 year old whine. Ok I didn't really, but I did ask her why I hadn't been invited yet, and let her know in no uncertain terms that I wanted to go, please, please, please. She told me that the oarsmen and their required enterage were the first to be invited. Arghhhhh! I told her if it was the only way to get on I would row.
Now you have to understand I hate rowing big rafts and big rafts are required for the Grand. The trip is 18 days and just the food for that (and the ice) takes up a whole lot of space. Also my forte is not big water like the Grand. I like rowing technical little rivers like the Middle Fork of the Salmon. Face it I'm a wimp when it comes to the thought of muscling a heavy raft through the big water of the Grand. Trying to get a heavy raft out of the eddies, well let's not even discuss that. Pure torture. My mom told me not to worry and that my husband and I would be able to go. She had no problem getting oarsmen willing to haul her heavy rafts down the river. Later I tried to convince my husband that me rowing a little raft (with him up front) would be a blast. He was having none of that. He knew that meant we would definately flip at some point. I didn't want to do it alone, insanity has its limits. So Joel and I will be riding someone else's boat.
Our next logistic hurdle was our kids. We have two kids, 10 and 11, and they are definately too young for this trip. Luckly we have some friends that love to take off for the weekend without their child and we worked out an arrangement for a babysitting exchange.
Now we just had to figure out what we still needed to buy for the trip. I've been on two previous trips down the canyon and have never brought a camera. Last time down I brought watercolors, but this year my husband said we need a camera. So I researched digital cameras and found they are good enough for what we want to do. We ended up buying a Kodak DC260 (though I wish the DC265 had been out when I got it) and a Pelican case to carry it and our binoculars. We both bought sun shirts, desert hats and 6 large tubes of sunscreen (though I'm not convinced it is enough). My husband decided he wanted rafting/hiking shoes, so he got himself a pair of Adidas that were labled eco-touring shoes, great for hiking up streams. I tried some on but wasn't convinced I liked them. What I wanted was a pair of Reef Convertible sandles. I had bought a pair of them in New Hampshire years ago and have never found them since. Both Teva and Merrel sandals hurt my feet but Reefs are like walking on clouds. I have even backpacked in them. Unfortunately the tread on my old ones had totally worn off and one of the clips had been chewed by our dog when she was a puppy. But lo and behold I finally found them on the web. The canyon gods must be looking kindly on me since I've been doing web searches for them every couple of months for the last two years and never found them until this year.
Now a private raft trip down the Grand takes a lot more preparation than this, but it was my mom's responsibility to get everything together. She made sure we had the rafts, the oarsmen, the portapotties (ALL solid waste must be take out), the shuttle, the food. She made sure we adhered to all park regulations, and she worked out the logistics for getting all the people and rafts to the put-in. Needless to say it was a lot of work for her to organize it all. I wanted to help out with something, so I asked her what I could do. My job was to dehydrate several pounds of mushrooms, some onions, peppers and four cabbages. Two to three weeks later I was done. Cabbage is damn hard to dehydrate without turning brown.
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Please contact Daphne Gould for comments or problems.