I wasn’t one of those kids who began recreating in the outdoors practically since birth. You see a lot of that here in Oregon and especially in Bend. I didn’t, but still credit my love for the river to my dad who took me whitewater rafting on the McKenzie river for the first time when I was 15. It was, in fact, a brilliant parental tactic well-played. I was a “troubled teen”. At least I think that’s what we call it these days…really I was a normal teenage girl with hormones running crazy who craved independence, and had a love for dancing, partying and coincidentally getting myself into a lot of trouble in the meantime. So I was “troubled” in the sense that I had a habit of coming in at 5am having stayed out all night with friends and boys 5 years older than me.
This particular raft trip was inspired by a big screw-up on my part, that landed me “grounded for life” (which turned into a month) but was allowed to do anything with the family. My dad was a very busy professional and didn’t have a whole lot of time to spend with my sister and I. When he was home, he was exhausted and spent a good deal of time watching sports and resting. However, he had the good sense to know that he’d lost touch with me and made a point to spend extra time together, and wisely chose the outdoors as our venue. I’d never been whitewater rafting before and had the best day ever! Good good wholesome fun, and simultaneously an important bonding experience for my dad and I.
I’d like to say that I cleaned up my act and became the ideal daughter, student and young citizen. I’d like to say that but it wouldn’t be true…but the first raft trip WAS a pivotal moment in my appreciation for paddling and stuck with me until I graduated high-school and eventually chose to move to Bend, Oregon where’d I’d grown up visiting. Once living in Bend I worked for, then, Inn of the Seventh Mountain at the best young adult’s job ever—the recreation office. We had rafting and canoe trips from that office, in addition to activities every hour from soccer to water volleyball to nature hikes. Add about 20 seasonal staff of college-age kids and you have yourself a summer full of amazing fun. We’d jump on open raft spots, but we could also take equipment after work to run various sections…laps on Big Eddy, lower Benham, etc. We also had the opportunity to run the guests on “dog floats” which included various responsibilities but essentially was a BBQ dinner, scenic float above Dillon Falls and shuttle. I worked that wonderful job for 5 or 6 years, although the best fun was the first two before I had any real responsibility to speak of. Central Oregon is where I really fell in love with the outdoors and shaped how I live today. However, this blog is supposed to be mostly about my dad though, so back to him…
I have chosen to live in cool areas–Bend, Missoula, Hawaii–where my family could come visit. After I got out of my teens, my dad and I grew closer again, and he frequently came to see me. We have hiked the trails of Glacier National park, paddled the Snake river, discovered the beauty of the Tetons, explored the limitless views of Yellowstone and body surfed in Maui. He became one of my favorite travel partners because of his zest for life and willingness to try anything. Like me, he wasn’t an expert at these sports, but what he lacked in skill, he made up for in athleticism, enthusiasm and just plain go gettum-ness (that’s totally a word). So I suppose you could say I get my
“Frisky Ripples” approach from my dad. It’s a GREAT way to live, and I enjoy my life each and every day.
My dad now faces the biggest challenge of his life, living with Alzheimers. It is a horrendous disease and I wish with all my heart that this wasn’t the case. However, we try to get him doing things that he would have enjoyed as a younger man. I’ve taken him horseback riding, paddleboarding (now several years ago when his disease wasn’t so progressed) and most recently whitewater rafting. He really enjoyed himself and even picked up his paddle and took a few strokes (backwards, but go dad!). The memories are in there somewhere; I just don’t know how often and when he can access them. Hopefully we’ll have some more adventures like back in the day, albeit modified. I’m grateful for what we’ve shared, and the path he has put me on. Thanks to the moon and back dad.