Back from our incredible film tour, we’re now heading into the states to experience the Owyhee River again with a new group of young adult cancer survivors. Thanks for joining in our adventure and being a part of our story! We pick up on day two of our drive…
Greetings from the rental car! We’re making our way through beautiful Idaho right now after a night’s stop in Dilon, Montana.
After lots of rain, gray skies, and redeeming rainbows on our drive yesterday, we woke up to a beautiful sunny morning, textured clouds hanging like puffy cotton balls in the sky. It was incredible to walk outside and feel the sun on our skin – it still feels like it’s been so long! Before checking out in the a.m. we dined on a lackluster “free hot breakfast.” Mine: oatmeal topped with a bowl of “fruit” (is it bad when you can’t tell what different colored cube is what type of fruit?!) with some silver dollar sausages and egg patties; Mikey’s: a waffle (topped, of course, with said mystery fruit) and a baby cinnamon roll (okay – I had one too). Ahhh, the breakfast of champions! No complaints in reality though – it’s great to not have to spend money on food while traveling and save that money for a “real” coffee – a quick Starbucks stop before heading out onto the open highway.
As we drove, we reflected on all the different trips we’d taken down I-15 through Montana and Idaho. First there was a trip to Salt Lake City during Mikey’s chemo treatments with our good friends Steve and Deona for a Coldplay concert which was incredible! After that we drove all the way down to San Diego, essentially for a weekend, with our fun friends Craig and Mandi for her birthday and some Switchfoot concerts and beach time. Now that was an epic road trip! Then came our very first Survive & Thrive kayaking expedition with survivors (which resulted in some great friendships, wonderful experiences, and of course the FILM!). Last year we road tripped down with a new group of young adult cancer survivors, mainly women, and watched them conquer the river (a main difference in this trip? Copious amounts of bathroom stops ). This drive holds a lot of significance for us, and since we love long road trips, we always have a great time and rarely dread the long days in the car.
This year, however, we’re trying something different as the rest of the participants are flying into Boise, Idaho and meeting us down there. This has given us the chance to talk a lot about the trip, pray together, and have some quiet time before putting on the river. As much as I miss the bonding that happens between two car-fuls of people over two days of driving, I’m grateful for this unique experience this time around and we’ll see how it goes as far as gelling the group together on the first few days of the trip.
Typing notes while sharing headphones and listening to a podcast for our trip!
I thought it’d be fun to help you see a glimpse of what happens on a typical day on a river trip rather than simply post photos and talk about how rad it was after the fact (because it always is!). So, put your PFD (lifejacket!) on, hold onto your paddle, and get in your boat as the morning begins…
- Wake up: Normally slow, and to breakfast waiting (seriously, these guides are the BEST! Always working even when they don’t need to be!) and some mandatory hot drinks.
- Quiet time: Anywhere from 30 min to an hour to grab your camping chair and be off on your own to reflect on the theme for the day, write in your journal, and just start the morning out with a time of reflection, breathing, and space.
- Pack up: This usually takes a while. Stuff the sleeping bag, roll up your tarp and sleeping pad, grab your gear for the day, and head down to load your own kayak. Make sure you know before packing if you have today’s lunch – keep it on the top of your bag for easy access at our lunch stop to feed the inevitably famished group members! (not quite fork n’ knife, but delicious nonetheless!)
- Put on the river: Everyone in their boats, the day’s paddle begins. Before more serious rapids or those with greater consequences, we have a guide meeting to scout out the best route possible and position guides in the rapid to help participants as they make their way down. Enjoy the floating areas, jump in if you’re boiling, keep drinking water, and get used to manoeuvring your boat.
- Lunch break: Everyone’s ready for it, hopefully the sun is warm on the beach we pull up to, and no matter what it tastes great because of all the calories you’re burning! Don’t you love working up a good appetite and fully enjoying your meal because you “earned” it?
- More paddling: Keep going, getting better at the rapids and have great conversations on the calm spots on the river.
- Make camp: We’re done for the day! Now comes time for setting up camp: tables, group gear, group tent up if needed, and personal sleeping sites after a beach sweep for rattlesnakes and scorpions. Whoever’s on dinner duty cooks with a guide, learning to use the stoves while on-lookers chat and get ready for dinner.
- Dinner: Ohhh yeah! Noodles, rice dishes, anything that packs easy and lasts a while (and again, tastes great because we’re all hungry!).
- Evening discussion: An elaboration on the morning’s quiet time around the theme for the day, often coupled with a game or activity and moments to share, write, and dialogue together.
- Bed time: Sleep under some of the clearest, most beautiful stars you’ve ever seen and let your body rest up for the next day, where we do it again!
It’s an incredible trip where these new daily moments become routine and soon become habitual. Using the great outdoors as your bathroom? Hard for many at first, but by the end of the trip it’s normal. Not showering but feeling clean in the river? Totally normal. Fueling up on GORP (good o’ raisins and peanuts, aka trail mix) and kids’ fruit snacks? Awesome. Bonding with a group you’ve only just met and sharing some incredible experiences over a week together? Incredible. We look forward to this trip every year and love how every trip is different because of the different people who come and different elements they bring to the group. It’s a beautiful thing to stay outside in God’s creation for several days and connect with a group of people while overcoming some physical obstacles as a unit.
We’ve still got a while to drive and tonight will be celebrating one of the guide’s birthdays (Happy Birthday, Susan!) and spending some time in a guide meeting tonight. Tomorrow we do the airport pick ups and the group arrives, and then Friday morning we put on the river! Here’s to another new adventure and to what we know will be a life-changing, new, hard but beautiful experience for everyone.
See you after our trip! Until next time, live well and be well,