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| July 18, 2013

Ok Western, here it is! My "Dear Western" letter that we sat around discussing late into the evenings at camp.

I went on the Grand Canyon whitewater rafting trip with my family because it was something my mother had always wanted to do and my siblings and I are always up for an adventure. The trip turned out to be so much more than I was expecting. Each day continued to get better and better than the one before. Our Western River guides, Mark, Scott, Wren, and Kurt made this trip unforgettable.

We started out day 1, unaware of what we had signed ourselves up for. Our first fire line to load the boats with the other trip goers was pitiful. But by the end of the trip, we could form a fire line and load the boat within a few minutes. Our group really began to bond after that first night in camp with a rousing game of pterodactyl. We were even able to get a faceoff between Wren and my brother, Jonathan, who was the winner of the vacationers. The Western guides were able to teach us a lot over the course of 7 days, but hopefully we were able to give something back to them like our pterodactyl game.

One of the amazing things we did while on the Grand Canyon whitewater rafting trip was hike to gorgeous destinations. Several hikes were to waterfalls like Elves Chasm or Deer Creek Falls. We also hiked to see the turquoise waters of the Little Colorado and Havasu Creek. One hike we were surprised by a concert from Scott. The guides were always great trail leaders and offered several hiking options to meet the needs of everyone on the trip. They were always patient and willing to offer a hand so that everyone could see what beauty was ahead.

The food on the trip was very impressive and exceeding my expectations for a rafting trip. The first meal of chicken curry wraps and a steak dinner on the first day set the stage for other wonderful meals to come. Who would imagine ice cream and bananas foster on day 3 of a rafting trip? As we came to the end of our trip and were sitting waiting for the helicopter, we talked about what our favorite meal was from the trip, which was extremely hard to narrow it down to one meal. Breakfast was amazing with items like French toast, dutch oven muffins, eggs benedict, and pancakes. Lunch included tasty options like chicken curry wraps, tuna salad, and other "meat cones"! No one could decide on a favorite dinner with entrees like steak, bbq chicken, fajitas, brats & burgers, spaghetti, or fish. There was always enough food and variety that everyone spent the evening doing a little belly rubbing before bed.

On the night of the fajitas, Scott brought out a new toy to keep us entertained for hours, which we named the "Diablo Stick". The next morning, my brother was brave (most would say stupid) and made a bet with Wren that he could get the Diablo Stick in one try or he would have to finish all the food left over for dinner that night. Surprise, surprise! Jonathan did not get the Diablo Stick on the first try and had to try to finish off all the spaghetti that night. It didn't even look like he made a dent in the pasta but it was entertaining to watch him try.
Riding through the rapids was awesome! Nothing wakes you up more in the morning like a cold splash to the face of 50 degree 

Colorado river water! Day 4 was the day that we were going to hit several big rapids throughout the day. A few things we learned from Kurt, our swamper:
1. when he yells "suck rubber!", do it
2. if he changes from his expensive sunglasses to his cheap pair and takes off his hat, it is going to be a big rapid
3. when he says he will be on you like white on rice if you fall, he means it
When we went down Hermit, we hit it at the perfect time as it was crashing. It threw my brother off the boat and Kurt was there just a second later already had a hand extended to him in the water. Getting him back into the boat was another struggle because he got caught up in the straps across the front. Jonathan ended up losing both his shoes when he fell off (one was recovered later). It was something we joked about for the remainder of the trip. That wasn't the only time Kurt had Jonathan's back. Since Jonathan lost one shoes by going overboard and one of his flip flops broke, he sported a unique mismatch pair of shoes (5 finger shoe & a flip flop). On our hike to Havasu his last flip flop broke and Kurt came to the rescue again by wrapping/taping the sole of the flip flop to Jonathan's foot! (I think our Western River guides sympathized with Jonathan's bad luck because on the last day, Kurt lost his sandals on Lava Falls. And Wren lost a water gun duel and fell off the side. We couldn't ask for better guides!)

Our group spent the evenings talking, telling stories, and planning our "Dear Western" letters. Our group definitely bonded and are keeping in contact after the trip. After 7 days together taking "smile breaks" and showering in river, you really grow close to one another.
A huge thank you to Mark, Scott, Wren, and Kurt for an amazing trip. You guys made it an unforgettable trip and made it really hard to leave. I wanted to stay and start my river guide training right then. I will definitely be back to do the trip again with Western River Expeditions (and see if river boarding is a possibility). "Those canyon walls keep calling me" like in Scott's song so you guys will see me again!

So, "Dear Western", thanks for such a memorable trip!
Lindsey - Huntsville, AL
Arizona - Grand Canyon Rafting 6 & 7 Day
Western River Rafting Trip
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