Monday, July 9, 2018

Montana Firsts

Maybe you already know about the Grand Prismatic Spring?

We're back from our Montana vacation. This is our third summer in a row venturing west. We did the Rocky Mountains of Colorado, the Badlands and Black Hills, and now, the Rockies of Montana. These trips suit me. I like the hiking, the adventure, the ceaseless vistas.

I know I saw all this terrain and natural beauty as a young person, but it's all seemed new to me on these recent sojourns. Of course, I distinctly remember refusing to look up from my book as we crested many a snow-capped mountaintop in our family van. My own children similarly fail to take it all in. I can tell by the way they slap at each other in the back seat and made countless off-topic jokes about balls. In any case, we accumulated many "first" experiences and, I'm quite certain, precious family memories on this Montana trip. I'll provide a list of these "firsts" now:

  • First multi-mile family hike. We did the famed Beehive Basin hike in Big Sky, often referred to as one of the forty most beautiful hikes in the world. It was six miles long and stunning. At the outset of the hike, I was very clear about my expectations. "I plan to complete this hike," I said. And everyone complied with very little complaining. In fact, the children ran the final three miles, leaving Dan and me in the dust.
  • First whirlwind national park tour. We spent eight hours in Yellowstone. Obviously, we barely scratched the surface of this American treasure. We were awed by the amazing geothermic marvels and tried not to think about the supervolcano under it all that might end the world someday. 
  • First time in a broken down taxi. On the way home, our cab driver's miniature van emitted terrible sounds and then started smoking copiously from the hood. He dropped us off in the parking lot of a gas station, and we called an Uber to make the final leg of the journey. Good problem solving to end the vacation.
We're thinking Banff or Utah for next summer. More vistas, por favor.

Friday, July 6, 2018

Not My Job

You can see the river guide here is responsible for ten lives, including his own.

I've been whitewater rafting a few times in my life, and although I really enjoy this activity, I've been thinking about it and have come to an important realization: there are, I'm convinced, few jobs I'm less suited for than "River Guide."

Although I'm pretty outdoorsy, which seems to be a trait the river guides have in common, the truth is I do not understand paddling and/or levers. Perhaps I could be trained, and yes, I was a marginally competent canoeist at one point in my life. River guiding, however, requires a level of technical precision I might find hard to achieve. There are boulders and sharp turns and also, as my crew demonstrated yesterday, the people in the boats don't always heed river guides' paddling direction with accuracy and/or alacrity.

Another issue with river guiding is that most professionals live a nomadic lifestyle, sojourning from river to river in search of both sustenance and adventure. Mike, our guide on the Gallatin River yesterday, currently lives in the back of his Toyota Tundra and will do so for the next eight weeks.

I like camping and all, but living in a truck at this point? I'm not sure I'm up to it. I already wake up sore most days, and I don't even sleep on aluminum.

A third reason I'm not suited for river guiding is that river guides must be immediately ready to handle life-threatening emergencies. The truth is, I'm rather skittish in the face of danger. And, although I once-upon-a-time became a certified lifeguard, I'm not sure my swimming and rescue skills can stand up to class IV rapids. Or class III or class II rapids. Let's not even imagine foot entrapment or whirlpools.

As you can see, I've given this a great deal of thought. Although I appreciate the opportunity, I'm going to have to say no to river guiding.