In the summer of 1990, my mom was a second-year guide at Western River Expeditions training the season’s newbies on Westwater Canyon. She met a guy a little full of himself but cute enough to give a second look. After the involvement of matchmaking management and a few trips run together, they went on their first date to a moonlit Delicate Arch. Seeing that I’m here, it all eventually worked out. My parents went to school and got engaged in the offseason, then came back to work another summer. They spent those months driving, hiking, and rowing across rivers to see each other, then the day after my dad got off a Grand Canyon trip they were married.
Flash forward 20-some years and I am leaving my first year of college to live the summer in Moab and work for the same company that brought my parents together. I was leaving behind my new friends from school who were headed off to their separate corners of the world. I hadn’t seen my family in a few months and wouldn’t for two more weeks. I didn’t know much about Moab, and I didn’t know anyone that I would be working with. Driving alone in my car I didn’t feel nervous despite all the things I was missing because I was driving towards a place that I knew would feel familiar.
Growing up, rafting was always a part of my life. My mom was introduced by her older brother who worked in Moab and met his wife down there. My dad grew up a river boy, rafting with his dad and four brothers. Two of those brothers ended up working for Western as well, so as a big family we would go on trips with all of the cousins, grandparents and their lifetime buddies that forged their friendships on the rivers. At nine years old I went on my first real rafting trip, a four-day excursion down the Yampa. This was a life I had gotten small tastes of up to that point, with day trips around our home and from hearing family stories. When we pushed off that first day, I was immediately enchanted by it all. The mingling of man, canyon, and water snatched my soul and I knew from that day that I wanted to become a river guide. Before I left for college we went on a few more river trips surrounded by our family and friends where my love for the river grew ever deeper. I found a sense of belonging there that I hadn’t found anywhere else. Before I ever applied for a job rafting already was a part of my identity.
As I anxiously anticipate the arrival of summer, I think about how my life was wed to the river before I was even born. The love my parents had for and found on the river seems to be in my blood. Moab area and all its adventures has become my favorite place on earth. I am making my own lifelong friends that share my same passions, and we always joke about the days where we will be taking our own kids on trips. Until then I plan on rafting my summers away and am unsure of exactly where life will take me, but I always know that all rivers lead to home.