Music's Like a Snuggie for Your Soul


Saturday, March 26, 2016

Spring Sprang Sprung


It was a beautiful weekend. We rang in the first day of the season in vibrant, springish, dare-i-say glorious fashion. I love my boys.

And then, of course, there was kayaking. I'm hoping to whip up a post about additional safety measures to allay some of the risks for seizure-having kids and people like me partaking in sports like kayaking. But later. For now, just know they exist (and are undergoing continual development). 

It's runnin' at a friendly level, and it's a 'pool-and-drop' river, so after the rapids there's a nice calm pool to regroup and collect any swimmers, boats or gear. By our best accounts and figures, 3 or 4 minutes' warning should be adequate on this stretch to find a spot to stop on shore, or at the very least eddy out and hope for the best... (My guys are the best is what is boils down to, not to mention my buddy Marissa who joined on day two and kicked ass on her first Lochsa lap ever!)

Behind that awesome clump of cedars was my
very favorite pee spot of the weekend.

How rejuvenating right?! You could almost cure a venereal disease just looking at that emerald green water. 

Well, despite the auspicious beginning, i had about three more posts i'd hoped to get to, ('Fun at the Idaho Caucus', for one), was supposed to play three hockey games last night in our end-of-the-season tourney, then venture out afterwards to catch up with my good friends visiting all the way from Corvallis. But instead my plans have been supplanted with feeling like dogshit. I'm dragging ass, even though by my recollection i've been sleeping and doing everything else as usual. 

I went to donate blood, (It's been scheduled for months, and i need all the easy karma i can get.) and even though i forgot to eat my cream-of-wheat, my iron was good. So i was stoked. Then of all damn things, i was deferred because my pulse was too high. I'm not at my peak swimming fitness, i'll admit, but my pulse was over 200. Ten minutes later, despite my best attempt to deep breathe and open a six pack of calm, it was higher. (How i hadn't noticed my heart was racing sooner, i haven't a clue.) In the days since, it's lower three out of four times i checked but still zooming intermittently. (Not quit my normal baseline, but 'WNL'. My pulse is usually mid 50's while marinating in the hospital setting.)  

Is it the VNS? The maude reports are full of weird cardiac problems and events. Maybe the battery is starting to shit the bed? I don't really want to go all the way to Spokanistan to be told i'm being a ninny though if it really isn't anything. I'm in between GP's right now as mine has gone off to specialize in bariatric patients exclusively. She's fabulous. I'm ready to gain a hundred pounds just so i can see her again.

Anyhow, that's a pretty shitty ending to what started as a niceish post. A roller coaster week for lack of a more inspired analogy. When the hockey schedule was posted i'd hoped to sneak a morning lap on our local river before our first game today, but i'm going to re-up on NSAIDs and go back to sleep instead. Little crab fork headaches, nothing compared to the kind post seizure, have accompanied this weird, unprecedented malaise. And does 'nothing grows in anger' apply to everything except seizures? Or do i feel angry on account they are imminent? Even small ones that may or may not have definitely not happened this week...foof.

Saturday, March 12, 2016

Salt Mine Tour with O-town

Do you ever send things back? (I don't, not because i don't intend to, but because i'm a terrible adult.) Have you ever thought about the automatons who open that shlonk, slang the refunds and return anything suitable back to the shelf? Well that's our jam now. Olive and i moved from picking after a year and a half and i'm now co-managing the Returns/Warranties and Repairs Department. 

I used to repair rafts for a different raft manufacturer, so i had previous skills to draw from there. As far as training/coordinating and supervising other people, well, if i had the option to take the pay cut and not be in charge of anyone, i'd leap at it like a Jack Russell after a peanut butter bacon Frisbee. (I'd known this about myself, but alas!)

The returns detail can be both entertaining and challenging. Even though talking on the phone and negotiating sometimes marshy warranty territory doesn't play to my strengths exactly, (I didn't get the phone-talking gene; i was not that teenager.) it's nice to be able to wear more than one hat.

And people are nuts, there's that. Most days i'm reassured maybe i'm not the nuttiest nut brain out there, or i'm amused at the things people say or do. (Maybe river people are a particularly quirky subset of the population.)

Here's where the repair trolls hang out. We fix drysuits and drysuit gaskets, manual pumps, electric pumps, inflatable SUPs, inflatable kayaks and sometimes rafts. We just got a new shiny hood so we look all legit now. (We sort of had a hood before, but it was really a couple of no-longer-functioning computer fans that used to vent fumes up to an upper mezzanine. In the heat of the summer pickers would have to go up there for merchandise and get blasted with Tolulene and 100°+ F/40° C heat.) So grateful that has improved.

The chartreuse Medusa mess coming out of the trash can is masking tape. (I'm a dirty hippie, so i save and reuse it until the stickem's all gone.)

See how lucky? Getting paid to play in a magical box castle is quite prossibly all my wildest dreams come true! The racks are suits in the queue. We're pretty inundated right now with all of the fire departments and boaters gearing up for spring runoff. (Each suit takes about 2 hours and there are probably 70 suits hanging in waiting with more arriving daily.) There are a few college students who come in for a glue fix a few times a week so that's generally helpful.

180° From Repairsatopia is Return Central


This is my station. That table behind the chair is the one i smashed my face into a few weeks ago. We have a really nice climate-controlled call center on the other side of that wall, but i'm content being out in the box fort with rest of the riff-raff.

It's a good place to work. (It could be a great place to work, but i'm a toad and we won't go there now!) We're sort of the Wal-mart of paddle sports. We've outsourced almost all of our production. (Our raft frames are made here and most of our rafts are made in Mexico but most everything else is manufactured overseas.) Thankfully all of our customer service and marketing has yet to be contracted-out elsewhere and likely never will. 

One neat thing is that we're employee-owned. Though it's easy to wonder, after seeing defective things day in and day out, if you only have a stake in a ship that's actively sinking. Yet we seem to grow every year, and my understanding is we've almost paid off a huge debt to the bank that was incurred for some reason in the employee-ownership transition.  

Welp O-town is pooped. Admittedly i've only photographed a fraction of the whole she-bang. Looking beyond Olive is only about a third of our main facility. There's heaps more warehouse not pictured behind me, a half dozen pack stations, more bay doors, rows and rows and rows and rows of shelves and boxes, a rope and material cutting station, our admin offices and a small front retail room where people can shop locally. We have one more huge warehouse in town and a big aluminum-sided frameshop building across the street with big drill press-a-ma-jigs, saws and metal-bendy tools and things.

Some days my job can be tedious and doesn't allow for much in the way of artistic license. Thankfully i get to listen to music! By all accounts and figures i should be totally sick of First Aid Kit, but i can't get enough of them: 

If you have more time on your hands:

Sunday, March 6, 2016

If I had a Heart, it Would Probably be Here on this River...

We have an awesome PBS program here called Outdoor Idaho. This episode features a few of the places i've had the joy of working over the years along the river (China Bar, Buckskin Bill's, and also rowing a few trips for Mr. Johnson and many other outfitters over the span of 13 summers [that makes me feel old]). I spent a majority of my time at Shepp Ranch which is featured around minute 44 and my cameo is at minute 48. (The embed code might be kind of wonky, so it might work best to watch it on their website.) I'm a total dork and a ninny and i really hate my recorded voice! (I don't think i up-talk in real life. <egad> I hope not!) But i'm heartsick for this place right now. I'm scheming how to get back there this summer... Happy Sunday you beautiful people.

Edit: Alright, who's coming with me?! For reals, i probably can't coordinate a full lodge-to-lodge, but we'd camp on some beautiful white sandy beaches, and there are no mosquitos. Some years we have a few yellow jackets late in the summer, but for reals. It's delightful.

Also, if you watched the whole video, Steve Gale speaks a few times, and i just have to tell you, he is a gem to guide with. He sleeps on a cot under a table cloth. He brings along fairy-sized tokens and implements on trips with kids and leaves them out near their tents and around camp to stir their imaginations. 

When we get off the river we spend about an hour or two at the ramp unloading boats and gear and loading them onto a trailer. Then we go for one last swim, sardine into the pickup and drive 9 hours back to headquarters. (If you come, we'll hook a ride back on a jetboat.) We usually don't pull in til 1 am. We all stumble out in the dark and hope our sleeping pads and personal bags haven't sifted themselves too deep in the pile. Once we find a flat spot we pass out until reconvening at 8 am for the de-rig, de-sand, sanitize, etcetera. (<< is that really not a word? My spellcheckermabob is underlining that shit.) 

One of these mornings we all coffeed up and slowly ushered our tired bones and steaming cups down to the boathouse through the grass wet with morning dew. Confusion. The trailer was empty. (We have a kitchen box over 250#s and rafts that are about 220. And that's no wild exaggeration because they're weighed routinely for flights into the backcountry.) Anyhow, that sweet, teddy bear, crazy SOB, Steve had unloaded the whole thing by himself while the rest of us were scratching our posteriors and Moe, Curly and Larry'ing it up at the house trying to find coffee.

I don't think they show Heinz' wife Barb, but she spent a winter all by herself on the river in a teepee. Heinz had gone back to Germany, and they wouldn't let him return to the states with his current visa.  They're legendary.

We pulled a dead body out of the river near Mackay Bar. She'd floated nearly 300 miles down from where she was swept away a week earlier. (Alcohol was a factor in the tragedy.)

On that note (jk), you make it to Idaho any summer with a week to spare, and i will take you down the riv! Generally trips are 5-6 days, but there are other sections we could do in fewer. You'll love it, i promise; it's awesome.

Also, i can't speak more highly for the folks who create the Outdoor Idaho show. We didn't know they were coming, and hay hauling days are some of our busiest. All of our cabins were occupied with guests. We initially told them we weren't going to be able to give interviews. I can't remember if they stayed in our bunkhouse or if they camped on the beach, but i know they stayed an extra day so they could find times to track down the harried cast of the incredible Shepp Ranch.