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  • August 6, 2006

    Rafting The American River Trip – August 4, 5 and 6, 2006

    Another trip up North for one whole day of rafting down the American River!

    This trip’s participants were John, Joseph from John’s work, Jeff W., my girlfriend Jane and me.

    The Farmers Catfish House Outside Of Modesto

    We drove the entire day up North, stopping by the Farmer’s Catfish House in Modesto for dinner – The Catfish House is a tradition for these rafting trips.

    We rented an additional vehicle at the Sacramento Airport that we could leave down river for our ride back.

    We stayed at “The Comfort Suites” that was about an hour away from the river; it was actually cheaper than the Super 8 motel that we stayed in the year before.

    John inflated the boat while Joseph supervises.

    John inflates the boat while Joseph supervises.

    John gives the rafting safety talk.

    John gives his safety and procedure lecture to all in the boat.

    For insurance purposes, we took a group shot - John, Joseph, Jeff W., Me and Jane.

    For insurance purposes, we took a group shot – John, Joseph, Jeff W., Me and Jane.

    This was a newly purchased used raft of John’s – the same make and model as the one we used last year.

    However, the previous owner used the boat as a rental and bathed it in Armor-All which made it very slick.

    On the first rapid, Joseph slid out of the boat.

    I grabbed him by the life vest and fell back, pulling him back into the boat.

    Approaching Troublemaker Rapids, John prays, Jane smiles and I hold the camera steady…

    Approaching Troublemaker Rapids, John prays, Jane smiles and I hold the camera steady…

    Troublemaker!

    We navigate the Trouble Maker Rapids

    We navigate the Trouble Maker Rapids

    We navigate the Trouble Maker Rapids

    We navigate the Trouble Maker Rapids

    We emerge victorious, with all in the raft!

    Two macho guys - me and Joseph

    The front of the boat has two macho guys – me and Joseph.

    Jane and I enjoy and expensive pizza.

    We rested for lunch under the bridge at Chile Bar enjoying an expensive pizza.

    After the bridge is a long stretch of calm water.

    Proving once again that the old wives’ tale about “you shouldn’t swim until an hour after eating” is wrong, Jane and I went for a voluntary swim…

    Jane takes a voluntary swim.

    I hold the camera still while taking a self portrait.

    Now for Satan’s Cesspool…

    We navigate Satan’s Cesspool

    We navigate Satan’s Cesspool

    We navigate Satan’s Cesspool

    “Jane! Look terrified, don’t smile at the camera!”

    Another victory!

    Bouncing Rock approaches…

    I said to Jane, “There’s a photographer on the rock; act terrified so the rest of us guys will look macho.”

    We navigate bouncing rock.

    We navigate bouncing rock.

    “Jane! Don’t smile!”

    We navigate bouncing rock.

    We navigate bouncing rock.

    Most commercial rafting companies break this river trip into two days; it was getting late.

    As we approached the Hospital Bar Rapids, John briefed us on how to get through…

    “We have to approach that big rock just right!”

    The raft hit the rock, the nose of the boat spring boarded up and, probably thanks to the Armor-All coated raft, we all slid off into the water.

    It happened so fast; I saw the front come up, Joseph’s back hit my face, I held my breath, and everything got really silent and really wet.

    I surfaced in the air pocket under the capsized raft that was caught in some kind of a whirl pool; the raft sloshed violently as the swirling water beat the underside like a drum.

    Then, it was silent; I was moving down the river.

    I held on to the side as I submerged and dunked under the side of the raft to daylight.

    “Where’s Jane?” I yelled.

    “Over here!” she responded directly behind me.

    I was the only one holding on to the raft, everyone else was on the surface collecting oars – all were accounted for.

    I slowly towed the raft to an eddy about 40 yards short of another approaching rapid – not having swim fins made it a chore that I was not used to.

    I believe Jane was on the other side helping me.

    Dumped at Hosptal Bar

    Everyone else was able to swim to the eddy.

    We turned the boat over, right side up.

    Everything except the paddles were tied into the boat,  so nothing was lost.

    We were soon off again to the end of the river.

    We were soon off again to the end of the river.

    I remarked to John that my half filled water bottle was now full!

    John opened the water bottle and dumped it all out.

    “I’d rather you be thirsty than get dysentery,” he said.

    The raft train home.

    After a relatively quick trip down the rest of the river, we were soon tied to a train of rafts to be pulled to dock by a jet ski – after paying a $10 fee.

    It was well worth it!

    Returning home with five!

    We were exhausted and had a hard time finding eating places that were open by the time we got back.

    We left the next day, returned the other rental car and drove 13 hours home.

    The van we took was equipped with a DVD player; I think I watched eight old black and white Dragnet episodes.

    Another great vacation of cheating death!

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