summer. (part 1)

Hello everyone.  I know it has been MONTHS since my last post, and I must say that I started several and never finished them because I was just straight up too busy.  You may ask yourself, how are you really too busy to take an hour out of a 4 month period to write a blog post?  Well, I am about to tell you.

Summer always seems to fly by.  With this being the first fall of my life that has not brought a new school year, I thought that this summer might feel different, but it flew by just the same.  This summer has been more than I could have asked for or imagined.  Working at Splore has been a ridiculous, rewarding, exhausting, frustrating, playful, joyful experience.  The people I have had the privilege to spend my summer with have been unbelievably awesome.  My coworkers and bosses have supported me and run like crazy people with me through this whirlwind of a season, and I am so grateful to them for making this season what it was.  Many people have asked me, what is your favorite story from this job?  And, to reward you, my faithful reader or two, for your patience, here are some insights into what exactly I’ve been up to for these past 4 months.  Also, I am supposed to be packing right now for my next adventure in Vermont, and this is clearly more interesting than rolling my straps while listening to my Pandora station which confuses Paul Simon with 2 Pac.

When I arrived in Moab, I was a little apprehensive but fairly certain that this logistical coordinator position that I had applied for and been hired as was going to be something that I could handle.  On my first day on the river, Brad (my manager, who more closely resembles a muppet than a human, almost always) told me that I, in fact, was going to be a river guide.  Well this was news to me.  I spent between 50-100 hours per week on the river for all of May and June before I cracked and begged Tim (my other boss, whose relationship with me closely resembles that of a big brother) to take me off the river and put me in the office where I clearly belong.  But not before I met some very interesting people who were crazy enough to trust me to row a 16-foot rubber raft down the Colorado River with them perched on the sides.

Let’s start with Michelle.  Michelle is potentially the only person I have ever met who actually talks FASTER than I do.  She is in her mid to late 20’s, as far as I can guess, and has autism.  Autism is bizarre.  That day I had 2 participants in my boat with autism, each with their own personal aide (for a total of 4 in the boat, plus me).  Michelle somehow LITERALLY did not stop talking for almost 3 hours (to the point that she was foaming at the mouth from not stopping to swallow her saliva), but the other person on my boat (Kevin, who I’m guessing was in his early 20’s at most) laid on the back tube with his hands over his ears because of the noise from the wind.


Every time we came up on a rapid and could start to hear the whitewater, Michelle would start repeating “Oh dear!  Oh dear!  I’m OK!  Oh dear!”  and Kevin would try to stand up to get a better look (I probably don’t need to tell you that having a person with autism standing on the side of the boat at the top of a rapid is not a totally desirable situation… but we managed to keep him out of the river).  As we approached the boat take-out, Michelle still had not been in the river to swim, though she had been talking about it non-stop (literally) since taking her place on the front of the boat that morning.  Every time I would ask her if she wanted to go in the river, she would reply “Later!  I’ll go in the river!  Later!”  I explained to her that the take-out was coming up, and she needed to get in the river now, and that I would pull her back into the boat as soon as she decided she wanted to get out.  So, into the river she went.  She swung her legs over the side of the boat and slid down into the river.  Her head disappeared for just a second before her PFD popped her back up, and suddenly, Michelle didn’t have anything to say!  She just had a huge smile on her face and her eyes looked like if they opened any further, they might pop.  This was really one of the first times that I realized how lucky I was to be able to be out on the river with people who really wouldn’t get the chance to be outdoors in many other capacities.

Whew, that story was way longer than I expected it to be.  I really do need to get back to packing.  I PROMISE that within the next week, I will post more stories and talk more about all the crazy things I learned about myself and this world from this innocuous-sounding raft guide job in a little town in Utah.

(PS, I’m not kidding about this Pandora station being confused – I just listened to Jay-Z sandwiched between Van Morrison and Jeff Buckley…?)


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