My Deliverance

Looking Upstream Midway through the Five Falls at Very Low Water
At the top is Entrance, Midway to the right is Corkscrew

There is a mystique about the Chattooga River that is embedded in the subconscious of the American psyche. The most popular whitewater rafting t-shirts being sold today carry the slogan: “Paddle Faster, I Hear Banjo Music.” These shirts sell just as well in Maryland as they do in West Virginia. They sell just as well in Colorado as they do in North Carolina. But they owe their sales to a story written and made into a movie in 1972 called Deliverance, and to a river known as the Chattooga.

The Chattooga River, born in the highlands of southwestern North Carolina, rushes south from its headwaters to form the border between northwest South Carolina and northeast Georgia. Meandering through the Sumter and Oconee National Forests, the Chattooga is a mercurial creature. One of the first rivers to be added to the United States’ Wild and Scenic River System as a Wilderness River, its emerald-hued vistas are worth a drive to this remote southeastern locale and the hike to the river to behold. But the sight you will behold one moment can be dramatically different the next.

The Chattooga is a free-flowing river, and as such, its level and speed and rapids depend on rainfall. Its level is usually measured in tenths of feet. One foot is a normal summertime level. 1.1 is more intense. And so on and so on. Above two feet and the high water experience you’ll receive may be more than you wanted to take on. Below one foot and the river slows down, but the drops become bigger and steeper as they are no longer padded by water filling in the pools between the rapids.

There are two sections of the Chattooga River that are commercially rafted: Section III and Section IV. Section III is mostly a Class III section of whitewater, suitable for beginners and children as young as eight years old with one Class V rapid, at higher water levels, at the end. Section IV is a Class IV section of river, but it’s noteworthy because the last five rapids compose the Five Falls. In the Five Falls, the river drops 75 feet in one quarter mile through massive boulder gardens with hazards such as undercut rocks, potholes and sieves everywhere. This section is composed of five major rapids—Entrance, Corkscrew, Crack in the Rock, Jawbone and Soc ‘Em Dog—hence the name “Five Falls,” and the rapids range in difficulty from Class IV+ to Class VI—which is a mandatory portage. More than a few people have died boating Section IV.

My first rafting trip down Section IV took place in March, 2001. It was just six months after my first trip down the Upper Gauley in West Virginia. It was a cold, late winter day. The river was at 1.3 feet. The rapids would be big and swims would be consequential as the cold would quickly suck the energy of anyone that fell out of the raft and into the water. I had done my homework, and I was warned to be careful. The Five Falls were notorious, but there were other rapids and hazards to watch out for as well: Seven Foot Falls, Woodall Shoals, Raven’s Chute.

Well, those rafting with me had never rafted before. They had a hard time paddling together. We couldn’t get in sync. But for the skill of our raft guide, Jamie, I shudder at the thought of flipping in Corkscrew or Jawbone. Still, we had made it and I left the river triumphant.

The following March, I was back to raft Section IV again. This time the level was 1.5 feet. But before we got to the Five Falls, we had difficulty. We flipped at Seven Foot Falls. By this time, I had enough experience on the Upper Gauley and the Upper Yough in Maryland and other rivers to be able to judge a raft guide’s skill. The kid taking us down Section IV, although he might have had the skills necessary to take guests, he wasn’t on his game this day. The other rafters in my boat were on their first rafting trip, the guide could not get them to listen or to work together, and right up to the flip at Seven Foot Falls, I felt like we were out of control and I was dreading the Five Falls.

Well the rest of the run was no better. We kept hitting rocks we shouldn’t have and the Five Falls were sketchy, but at least we made our way through them without flipping over or losing anyone from the boat. But I had had enough of Section IV and in March of 2002, I had had no desire whatsoever to go back to that dangerous piece of whitewater or to put my life in the hands of the somewhat arrogant guides with God complexes who work that river.

Since March of ’02, however, I’ve racked up quite a few miles of whitewater rafting. I have over 100 runs each of the Class IV-V New River and Class V Gauley River in West Virginia at all kinds of water levels—including many high water edge-of-the-seat runs. I’ve run the Class V Upper Youghiogheny in Maryland a dozen times. I’ve rafted Class V Cherry Creek in California—the most difficult nine miles of commercial whitewater in the entire United States—and I’ve become a river guide in my own right working for the Nantahala Outdoor Center.

In 2007 I was invited to go raft Section IV with some of my coworkers, however, we were in a drought for most of 2007 and the river never really came up. It was always at super low water and I didn’t feel like dragging a raft over rocks most of the way down the river. In 2007 I also got to meet quite a few legends in the whitewater world.

Back in 1971 when they were filming Deliverance, the film crew quickly found themselves in trouble when their boats and cameras kept succumbing to the power of the river. The Director decided he needed help, so he called upon some locals who were canoeing the river and asked if they wouldn’t mind being stunt doubles and technical advisers on the film. Turns out one of those men was Payson Kennedy, who founded the Nantahala Outdoor Center in 1972, and he is actually in the film as a stunt double for John Voight.

Well, last June, we had a staff trip to Section IV, and because I had become pretty well-known as a ducky master on the Nantahala River along with the Nolichucky and the French Broad, I was invited to join Payson Kennedy, his daughter Cathy Kennedy, his granddaughter Jennifer Holcombe on a Ducky Trip of Section IV along with one of our Board Members, Karen V’Soske, our IT director Kevin Sisson, and our Food and Beverage Director, Ron Mitshke.

Well I couldn’t say “no.” If I had said “no” I never would have been able to live it down from my coworkers. Although I certainly wanted to. But Payson, Cathy and Jennifer are all world-class boaters. They all know Section IV better than the back of their hands. They know where every rock and hole and sieve are. The water was at a pretty reasonably low level as well considering the drought that had carried over to 2008, AND I had become a pretty darn good boater in my own right—and during the course of 2008 I had led and instructed numerous ducky trips down the Nantahala River. I figured, if I was going to ever ducky Section IV, I was going to do it with a technical adviser from the movie Deliverance and his family. Besides, Cathy kept taunting me. She kept telling me “Evelyn did it. And if Evelyn could ducky Section IV, so could you.” You have to know Evelyn. There was no way I could say “no.”

So the day of the trip dawns warm and sunny and we’re leaving NOC and driving down to Section IV. And what happens? In the van I get sweaty. I get nauseous. I’m nervous as hell and I think of backing out. I just can’t figure out how I’m going to finesse it. God has given me an out in the form of my nervous sickness, but somehow, I just can’t quite chicken out. I guess I just looked down at my balls and realized that I couldn’t do that to them.

We pulled over in the parking lot of a grocery store in Clayton, Georgia, just about fifteen minutes from the river. We go inside. I buy a banana and two quarts of Gatorade Rain. I eat the banana and drink the Gatorade. I feel better. I had made my decision.

Bull Sluice

We continue on to the put-in. There’s a parking lot where Highway 76 crosses the Chattooga River just below Bull Sluice. We unload our gear. We carry it to the river. The water is warm. The sun is hot. It’s a beautiful day. The water is at 0.8 feet. Low enough where you have time to collect yourself between rapids, but still high enough that the run will be exciting with plenty of consequences along the way if you’re not on your game.

We start down the river. I keep looking for the constriction of the river valley that heralds the first major rapid 7 Foot Falls. That just tells you I wasn’t paying attention. Never in my wildest dreams did I think about Class VI Woodall Shoals. At levels above 1.1 feet, this death trap is always portaged. We approach this rapid and Payson Kennedy decides it’s runnable. The hole is still quite intense, so as we paddle over the seven foot drop, we’re advised to stay right of the hole. Great. No problem. I’ve never attempted a Class VI feature on a river before, nor have I ever wanted to, nor have I expected to. Here I was. We were here. No place to go but down.

Grasping my paddle so tightly my knuckles hurt, I followed Cathy down Woodall Shoals. Perfect line. “Yeaaaaaaaah!” The scream of triumph that erupted from my lips was so loud I think the Canada Geese honked in alarm. I didn’t care. By the time I reached the pool below and the others joined me, we were all smiling, high-fiving, and feeling much relieved. In the aftermath of running Woodall Shoals, I kind of forgot about Seven Foot Falls and just started to enjoy the experience.

The Chattooga River is beautiful in June. The South Carolina Shore is on the left as you go downstream. The Georgia Shore is on the right. Both shores were covered in thousands of shades of green. It was lush. The water was cool and clean. The air smelled of wildflowers. And the only sounds to be heard were those of insects chirping, our conversation, and our paddles as they propelled us through the water.

And then, Seven Foot Falls was in front of us. We lined up. I was gripped. This was a seven foot vertical waterfall and I was gripped. Now that I’ve run it, I can’t really understand why. I’ve swam the rapid before…no big deal, really. But staring over the precipice, waiting for my turn to run the drop, I felt sick and the enormous sense of confidence I had gained from running Woodall Shoals was gone just like a snap of the fingers. Well, it was my turn, I paddled forward. My boat dropped. I stayed in and upright. “Yeaaaaaaah!” I screamed. The high fives followed for each of us in turn.

Running Raven's Chute

This is where we caught up to the staff rafting trip that had put on the river before us. We stopped and ate lunch before continuing on down the river. Next up was Raven’s Chute. Piece of Cake, and fun.

Running Class IV Entrance

Well, we continued down the river and we finally arrived at the Five Falls and I was nervous again. At the top of Entrance my boat got a little far right and momentarily got stuck on a rock, but I righted the boat and went over the drop fine. Next up was Corkscrew. Even Cathy says that Corkscrew is the rapid that usually makes her a little uneasy. Okay, if Cathy Kennedy was uneasy, I was terrified.

Corkscrew is a Class V rapid that you enter from the right side of the river. You move over to the left side of the river. The river makes a sharp right hand turn. You make the right hand turn. But as the river is turning to the right, there’s this massive wave that resembles a “corkscrew” that you have to run. According to Cathy, you want to run just to the left of the wave before making the sharp right hand turn and driving hard down the rest of the drop and through the waves. I followed Cathy about fifteen feet behind her. I watched her run the drop. I waited for her to set up safety below Corkscrew because if you end up out of the boat, you have to swim hard to avoid being swept into Class VI Crack in the Rock which was just downstream. Deep breath. Then I went. I paddled hard. I hit the wave. It jostled me and I fell on my back. I heard Cathy shout: “Nice, Matt!” but I didn’t have time to think about it because I kept paddling and made the right turn, even though I was lying on my back. I thought I was going to end up flipping, but I ran the rapid clean. You should have seen the wide smile on my face.

Cathy later said I was the only one of the group that had the “A-line” through Corkscrew. Yes, I was on my back, but I had the cleanest run of that rapid. Such praise from a legend in whitewater as Cathy Kennedy. I could have died happy right then.

We portaged Crack in the Rock and I was confident going into Class V Jawbone. Jawbone was fun. Steep, fast, and a rush. And then Soc ‘Em Dog. I ran it clean. And in my celebrations at the bottom of the infamous Five Falls, I floated into a rock and flipped over into the warm water of the pool at the bottom. I had been Delivered by the Chattooga River and reminded in a friendly way that I had still owed the river my attention at all times—right up to the very end of the run.

Running the Bottom of Class V Soc 'Em Dog

There wasn’t much left to paddle after the Five Falls. Just Class III Shoulder Bone and then the two miles of lake paddle to the take out. It got hot. I was glad I had the second quart of Gatorade. But the paddle was one of those life-changing experiences. I had faced my fears and had matched my adrenaline with my mind and the skills I had acquired in my 13 seasons of whitewater boating. And I exchanged the last of my fear, as irrational as most of it was, with respect.

Whenever I get out on the river, I always respect it. Fear hasn’t been in the equation since my first run of the Upper Gauley—except for on the Chattooga. For some reason, the Chattooga River had worked its way into my psyche and evoked fear. No longer. This river trip changed me the way my swim of Insignificant on the Upper Gauley changed me. It changed me the way my high-water Hurricane Isabel run of the Upper Gauley changed me. It changed me the way Cherry Creek changed me.

The river runs through me, and I through it. I feel exhilarated. I feel humbled. I feel privileged. And at peace.

Thanks for reading.

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Upper Gauley Class V Carnage

Today's my 4th and last day in a row on the Upper Gauley. Here is some classic Class V carnage video from the river for your viewing entertainment. Enjoy!

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Wipeout at Class V Pillow Rock!

This video is pretty typical of what happens when your raft flips at Class V Pillow Rock Rapid. It's highly entertaining, but don't worry, the swim is long and deep, but pretty safe.

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Sweets Falls Chaos

The chaos that ensues in this video taken at Sweets Falls in 2003 is mostly induced by the High Water Mayhem following Hurricane Isabel.

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Lost Paddle Carnage

This is an example of something going way wrong. Lost Paddle is the biggest and longest Class V Rapid on the Gauley River. Kids, don't try this at home, raft with a professional. Try North American River Runners or Class VI River Runners.

I'm out there today. I've never swam Lost Paddle--it's the one Class V on the Upper Gauley that I really do NOT want to swim. Knock on some wood for me.

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Gauley Roads

Sweets Falls with Barb and Joey, 2001

Gauley Roads
with apologies to John Denver

Almost Heaven, West Virginia
Blue Ridge Mountains, New and Gauley Rivers
Holes are sweet there, keeper ones that tease
Unsuspecting swimmers, thrashing on their knees

Gauley Roads take me home
to the place, I belong
Take me home Gauley Roads

All my memories gather round them
Skillful guides no strangers to white water
Bright and cheerful painted on the sky
Misty taste of moonshine laughter in their eyes

Gauley Roads take me home
to the place, I belong
Take me home Gauley Roads

I hear a voice in the morning how she calls me
The Room of Doom reminds me of my life far away
Drivin' down the road I get a feelin'
That I should have left home yesterday yesterday

Gauley Roads take me home
to the place, I belong
Take me home Gauley Roads

Gauley Roads take me home
to the place, I belong
Take me home Gauley Roads
Take me home Gauley Roads
Take me home Gauley Roads

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Almost Wordless Wednesday: My Favorite Rivers

Canyon Doors--Gauley River, West Virginia

Mushroom--Tuolumne River, California

New River Gorge, West Virginia

Colorado River, Arizona

Wenatchee River, Washington

Upper Animas River, Colorado

Salmon River, Idaho

Merced River, California

Yellowstone River, Montana

Columbia River, Washington

Bull Sluice--Chattooga River, Georgia & South Carolina

Nantahala River, North Carolina

Pillow Rock--Gauley River, West Virginia

Youghiogheny River, Maryland

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Take Me To The River

Gods of the Tuolumne
Headwaters of the Tuolumne River in the Sierra Peaks of eastern Yosemite National Park

It's officially "River Week" here on MTMD, folks. It's not that I'm refraining from writing about politics--there's a very important debate happening this Friday night and with the economy in crisis and a $700 Billion major government bailout just announced there's a ton of important issues to write about--but life does go on, and this week, I head to the Gauley River in West Virginia for some much needed R&R.

I figured you--my readers--need a break as well. So to celebrate, this week I am going to share with you some pictures, video, music, and perhaps a story as well about the river.

I invite you to take this journey with me, even if it's just vicariously from your desktop. To get you in the mood, please check out a recent guest post on MTMD, The Current Within Us from Ken Armstrong. And crank the volume on the following video from The Talking Heads.

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Using Favorites on EntreCard to Increase Traffic and Readership


Last weekend I was asked to write a how-to post on using the Favorites Feature of EntreCard to increase traffic and readership to your blog. It's worked for me and I encourage you to read the post and let me know what other ways you have used the feature to get more out of EntreCard.

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Dear Mr. Obama

Thanks for reading.

Sarah Palin: Her Principles & Voting Record

Sarah Palin's Voting Record. Her record form the Anchorage Daily News shows she won't compromise the rights of all in favor of her personal beliefs.

And just in case you missed it, this is one of the greatest skits in Saturday Night Live History. It's worth another mid-week viewing, so go on, click play. You know you want to:

Few of us are single-issue voters. Take the following issues quiz to see who is aligned best with the issues you care about.

Your Issue Profile: 36% Obama, 64% McCain

When it gets down to it, you tend to best match John McCain.

But he's not the perfect candidate for you, and you may not be sold on him yet.

Obama shares a good number of your views too, so you might want to give him a second look.

It all comes down to which issues matter to you the most.

Thanks for reading.

Attention Taxpayers: I Need A Bailout-AIG Style!

UPDATE: Sarah Palin Interview on Economy, Energy, Economic and National Security. Please watch the three videos that will play in sequential order.

With the US Financial Markets collapsing all around us, and AIG the latest recipient of $85 Billion from Taxpayer Generosity, I'm all tapped out. I don't have any more money to give to Uncle Sam to help our corporations that can't manager their own finances.

I'm struggling to pay my bills, put gas in my car and give it an oil change every 3000 miles. That weekly carwash? History. And it's hurting too because the spiders are moving in and setting up house with their webs.

I'm resisting spending on Credit Cards, and I've essentially stopped dining out. I might not even be able to make it home for Thanksgiving this year! Something's gotta give. I need help. I miss the good life!

I'm not asking for $85 Billion, just a few thousand will do just nicely. If all of my readers would be kind enough to send just a dollar or two to my paypal account, I can return to the life of leisure!

My Paypal address is . Whatever you can send, I will be most grateful.

And from the AP, here's the latest on AIG:

WASHINGTON (Sept 17) - The U.S. government stepped in to rescue American International Group Inc., one of the world's largest insurers, with an $85 billion injection of taxpayer money. Under the deal, the government will get a 79.9 percent stake in AIG and the right to remove senior management.

The government steps in again to save a struggling U.S. company. This time, it's the world's largest insurer AIG. In exchange for a 2-year $85 billion loan from the Federal Reserve, the government will receive a 79.9 percent equity stake in the company.

AIG's chief executive, Robert Willumstad, is expected to be replaced by Edward Liddy, the former head of insurer Allstate Corp., according to The Wall Street Journal, citing a person it did not name. Willumstad had been at the helm of AIG since June. A call to AIG to confirm the executive change was not immediately returned. It was the second time this month the feds put taxpayer money on the hook to rescue a private financial company, saying its failure would further disrupt markets and threaten the already fragile economy.

AIG said Tuesday it will repay the money in full with proceeds from the sales of some of its assets. Under the deal, the Federal Reserve will provide a two-year $85 billion emergency loan to AIG, which teetered on the edge of failure because of stresses caused by the collapse of the subprime mortgage market and the credit crunch that ensued. In return, the government will get a 79.9 percent stake in AIG and the right to remove senior management.

The move was similar to government's seizure on Sept. 7 of mortgage giants Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, where the Treasury Department said it was prepared to put up as much as $100 billion over time in each of the companies if needed to keep them from going broke. The Fed said it determined that a disorderly failure of AIG could hurt the already delicate financial markets and the economy. It also could "lead to substantially higher borrowing costs, reduced household wealth and materially weaker economic performance," the Fed said in a statement.

The decision to help AIG marked a reversal for the government from the weekend, when it refused to use taxpayer money to bail out Lehman Brothers Holdings Inc. Lehman, which filed for bankruptcy protection Monday, collapsed under the weight of mounting losses related to its real estate holdings. The White House said it backed the Fed's decision Tuesday.

"These steps are taken in the interest of promoting stability in financial markets and limiting damage to the broader economy, " White House spokesman Tony Fratto said.
After meeting with Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson and Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke in a late-night briefing on Capitol Hill, Congressional leaders said they understood the need for the bailout.

"The administration is approaching an unprecedented step, but unfortunately we are living in unprecedented times. Hearing of these plans, you have to stop to catch your breath. But upon reflection, the alternatives are much worse," said Democratic Sen. Charles Schumer.

In a statement late Tuesday, AIG's board of directors said the loan will protect all AIG policy holders, address concerns of rating agencies and buy the company time to sell off assets. "We expect that the proceeds of these sales will be sufficient to repay the loan in full and enable AIG's businesses to continue as substantial participants in their respective markets," the statement said. "In return for providing this essential support, American taxpayers will receive a substantial majority ownership interest in AIG."

New York officials said the deal helps stave off a fiscal crisis for the state. AIG is based in New York. "Policy holders will be protected, jobs will be saved," New York Gov. David Paterson said Tuesday night. The Fed's move was part of a concerted push to help calm jittery markets and investors around the world. On Tuesday, the Fed decided to keep its key interest rate steady at 2 percent, but acknowledged stresses in financial markets have grown and hinted it stood ready to lower rates if needed.

The central bank also pumped $70 billion into the nation's financial system to help ease credit stresses. In emergency sessions over the weekend, the Fed expanded its loan programs to Wall Street firms, part of an ongoing effort to get credit flowing more freely. The stock market, which Monday posted its largest point loss session since the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, recovered Tuesday after the Fed's decision on interest rates. The Dow Jones industrials rose 141 points after losing 500 points on Monday. AIG's shares swung violently, though, as rumors of potential deals involving the government or private parties emerged and were dashed. By late Tuesday, its shares had closed down 20 percent - and another 45 percent after hours.
The problems at AIG stemmed from its insurance of mortgage-backed securities and other risky debt against default. If AIG couldn't make good on its promise to pay back soured debt, investors feared the consequences would pose a greater threat to the U.S. financial system than this week's collapse of the investment bank Lehman Brothers.

The worries were heightened Monday after Moody's Investor Service, Standard and Poor's and Fitch Ratings lowered AIG's credit ratings, forcing AIG to seek more money for collateral against its insurance contracts. Without that money, AIG would have defaulted on its obligations and the buyers of its insurance - such as banks and other financial companies - would have found themselves without protection against losses on the debt they hold.

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Almost Wordless Wednesday: Castlebar, Ireland


Castlebar (Irish: Caisleán an Bharraigh, meaning Barry's Castle ) is the county town of County Mayo, Ireland. A campus of Galway-Mayo Institute of Technology and the Country Life section of the National Museum of Ireland are two important local amenities. The town is connected by railway to Dublin and the neighbouring Mayo towns of Westport and Ballina. The town has several small satellite villages around it, such as Breaffy. The main route by road is the N5. Its economy is primarily service based. The population at the 2006 census was 11,891 (including environs).


The modern town grew up as a settlement around the de Barry castle in the 12th century and was later the site of an English garrison. A military barracks operates in the town to this day. Armed conflict has been the centerpiece of the town's historical heritage. French forces under the command of General Humbert aided in a rout of the English garrison in the town during the failed Irish Rebellion of 1798. This was so comprehensive that it would be known as "The Races of Castlebar". A shortlived provisional Republic of Connaught was declared following the victory and John Moore, head of the Mayo United Irishmen and the brother of a local landowner, was declared its president. His remains are today interred in a corner of the town green, known as the Mall, previously the cricket grounds of Lord Lucan, whose family, the Binghams, have owned and own large tracts of the town and county. The town received its charter from King James I in 1613 and is today governed by an urban district council, a subdivision of Mayo County Council. The Lake in Castlebar is also known as Lough Lannagh.


Castlebar is the location for important festivals and traditions, among which is the International Four Days Walk. A well-established blues music festival in venues across the town takes place on the weekend before the first Monday in June each year.

Castlebar is also home to The Linenhall Arts Centre which exhibits visual art throughout the year, as well as hosting live drama and music performances. The Linenhall also organizes a children's arts festival (Roola Boola) annually. The Royal Theatre, with a capacity of two thousand, hosts larger-scale productions and popular music concerts.


Castlebar is traditionally a market town, and it is still a major destination for shoppers from all over the west of Ireland. It boasts an increasing number of national and international chain stores, and several new shopping areas have been developed in the past 10-12 years on what were considered the outskirts of the town. The modern shopping precinct along Hopkins Road is now the commercial heart of the town, surpassing Main Street.


Castlebar is the second biggest retail center in Connacht, after Galway city. A survey by consultants Experian showed that 284 million euros is spent by shoppers in Castlebar every year. The Irish Retail Centre Rankings ( show Castlebar is the 12th biggest retail center in the Republic of Ireland in terms of retail spend, and 20th on the island of Ireland overall.

However, the survey counts many major shopping centers separately from the cities they are situated in. If the euros spent for several major shopping centers in the Dublin area are included with the Dublin figures, Castlebar moves up to the seventh-biggest retail center in the Republic. It is surpassed only by the Republic's five main cities, and the town of Tralee. Who knew?


Battle of Castlebar
The Battle of Castlebar occurred on August 27th during the Irish Rebellion of 1798 when a combined force of 2,000 French troops and Irish rebels routed a force of 6,000 British troops in what would later became known as the Races of Castlebar.


The long-awaited French landing to assist the Irish rebellion begun by Theobald Wolfe Tone's Society of United Irishmen had taken place five days previously on August 22nd, when almost 1,100 troops under the command of General Jean Joseph Amable Humbert landed at Cill Chuimín Strand, County Mayo. Although the force was small, the remote location ensured an unopposed landing away from the tens of thousands of British soldiers concentrated in the east in Leinster, engaged in mopping up operations against remaining pockets of rebels. The nearby town of Killala was quickly captured after a brief resistance by local yeomen; Just south, Ballina was taken two days later following the rout of a force of cavalry sent from the town to oppose the Irish march. Following the news of the French landing, Irish volunteers began to trickle into the French camp from all over Mayo.


The Lord Lieutenant of Ireland, Lord Cornwallis, requested urgent reinforcements from England but in the interim all available forces were concentrated at Castlebar under the command of General Gerard Lake, the victor of the Battle of Vinegar Hill. The build-up of the British forces at Castlebar had reached 6,000 soldiers with dozens of artillery pieces and huge caches of supplies by dawn of the August 27th.


Leaving about 200 French regulars behind in Killala to cover his rear and line of withdrawal, Humbert took a combined force of about 2,000 French and Irish on August 26th to march on and take Castlebar. The obvious nature of his objective presented the reinforced British there with the apparent advantage of being able to deploy their forces to face a head-on attack from the Ballina road and their forces and artillery were accordingly arranged. However, local rebels advised the French of an alternative route to Castlebar through the wilds along the west of Lough Conn, which the British thought impassable for a modern army with attendant artillery train. This route was successfully taken and when Lake’s scouts spotted the approaching enemy, the surprised British had to hurriedly change the deployment of their entire force to face the threat from this unanticipated direction.


The British had barely completed their new deployment when the Franco-Irish army appeared outside the town at about 6:00 a.m. The newly sited British artillery opened up on the advancing French and Irish and cut them down in droves. French officers, however, quickly identified an area of scrub and undergrowth in a defile facing the center of the artillery line which interfered with, and provided some cover from, the British line of fire. The French launched a bayonet charge, the ferocity and determination of which unnerved units of the militia stationed behind the artillery. The militia units began to waver before the French reached their lines and eventually turned in panic and fled the battlefield, abandoning the gunners and artillery. Some soldiers of the Longford and Kilkenny militias ran to join the rebels and even joined in the fighting against their former comrades. A unit of cavalry and British regular infantry attempted to stand and stem the tide of panic but were quickly overwhelmed.


In the headlong flight of thousands of British soldiers, massive quantities of guns and equipment were abandoned, among which was General Lakes personal luggage. Although not pursued a mile or two beyond Castlebar, the British did not stop until reaching Tuam, with some units fleeing as far as Athlone in the panic. The panic was such that only the arrival of Cornwallis at Athlone prevented further flight across the Shannon.

Although achieving a spectacular victory, the losses of the French and Irish were high, losing about 150 men, mostly to the cannonade at the start of the battle. The British suffered over 350 casualties of which about 80 were killed, the rest either wounded or captured, including perhaps 150 who joined the rebels. Following the victory, thousands of volunteers flocked to join the French who also sent a request to France for reinforcements and formally declared a Republic of Connaught.

Why all this information about Castlebar in the County Mayo of Ireland?


Just to find out a little more about the place where one of my favorite bloggers, Jaws-Fisherman and Swimmer with Sharks Ken Armstrong of Ken's Writing Stuff calls home.


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Sarah Palin's National Security Credentials


New Info On Palin from The Washington Post. The following is an email I received from a reliable friend. Anyone care to Fact-Check and Snopes this info?
Just picked up some little known info on Palin's National Security Credentials. Some have shrugged off her position as Commander of the Alaskan National Guard, but see this:

TRUTH! Alaska is the first line of defense in our missile interceptor defense system. The 49th Missile Defense Battalion of the Alaska National Guard is the unit that protects the entire nation from ballistic missile attacks. It's on permanent active duty, unlike other Guard units. As Governor of Alaska, Palin is briefed on highly classified military issues, homeland security, and counterterrorism. Her exposure to classified material may rival even Biden's.

She's also the commander in chief of the Alaska State Defense Force (ASDF), TRUTH! a federally recognized militia incorporated into Homeland Security's TRUTH! counterterrorism plans. Palin is privy to military and intelligence secrets that are vital to the entire country's defense. Given Alaska's proximity to Russia, she may have security clearances we don't even know about.

According to the Washington Post, she first met with McCain in February, but nobody ever found out. This is a woman used to keeping secrets.

She can be entrusted with our national security, because she already is!

Thanks for reading.

Stuck in My Head

Lately there have been a few songs I can't get out of my head. You know what this is like. You just keep humming/singing them over and over and over again. Well, here are the three that have been on my mind--I strongly suggest you watch the videos, they're actually pretty awesome songs! And if you wouldn't mind, could you suggest three different ones I might try listening to to get these three out of my head? I would be much obliged!

What About Now by Daughtry
Sorry all, Youtube has embedding disabled for Daughtry, but it's worth a click.

Conociéndome, Conociéndote by ABBA
Many of you already know that Knowing Me, Knowing You is my favorite ABBA song....In Spanish it sounds even better, if you can believe it. Mostly because it's got a stronger background track recorded especially for the Spanish version released in 1979. Go ahead and crank it!

Sisters of the Moon by Fleetwood Mac
Sisters of the Moon has rather innocuously become my all-time favorite Fleetwood Mac and Stevie Nicks song. I "discovered" it rather late. I've been a huge Fleetwood Mac fan for years. Rumours was the first album I ever bought, but somehow as I collected Fleetwood Mac recordings over the years and attended their concerts, I somehow overlooked this song. Well not any more. I record it on every CD mix I create for road trips and play it all the time at work. What a song!

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McCain Calls Palin for Help

Saturday Night Live Opens Strong with a Sketch All Americans Can Laugh At

McCain Calls Palin For Help

Mike Gravel Interviewed on Sarah Palin

Sarah Palin Clearly States in ABC Charlie Gibson Interview that her personal opinions are her personal opinions and not necessarily reflective of what the policy would be in a McCain/Palin Administration.

Further, Sarah Palin stated that in an election the lives of the candidates are an open book and it's important for the public to know what the personal opinions of the candidates are, but it's important to understand that personal opinions are different from a government's policy.

Sarah Palin has demonstrated as Mayor of Wasilla and as Governor of Alaska that:
1. She did not ban books in Wasilla. She inquired into the policy should a parent of a child in the Wasilla schools want a book banned.
2. She did not propose a curriculum of intelligent design and creationism in Alaskan Public Schools when she had an opportunity to do so.
3. She did not seek to pass an Alaskan law to ban abortion.

This demonstrates an ability of Sarah Palin to differentiate between personal beliefs and dictating those personal beliefs to the constituents she governs and serves.

ABC's Charlie Gibson Misquotes Sarah Palin in Interview
From Fox News

Millions of TV viewers who watched ABC News’ interview with Sarah Palin Thursday night never saw her take issue with a key question in which she was asked if she believes that the U.S. military effort in Iraq is “a task that is from God.”

The exchange between Palin and ABC’s Charlie Gibson, in which she questioned the accuracy of the quote attributed to her, was edited out of the television broadcast but included in official, unedited transcripts posted on ABC’s Web site, as well as in video posted on the Internet.

But in the version shown on television, a video clip of her original statement was inserted in place of her objection, giving a different impression of how Palin views the Iraq war.

In the interview, Gibson asked Palin: “You said recently in your old church, ‘Our national leaders are sending U.S. soldiers on a task that is from God.’ Are we fighting a Holy War?”

Palin’s response, which appears in the transcript but was edited out of the televised version, was:

“You know, I don’t know if that was my exact quote.”

“It’s exact words,” Gibson said.

But Gibson’s quote left out what Palin said before that:

“Pray for our military men and women who are striving to do what is right. Also for this country, that our leaders, our national leaders are sending them out on a task that is from God. That’s what we have to make sure that we’re praying for, that there is a plan and that that plan is God’s plan.”

The edited televised version included a partial clip of that quote, but not the whole thing.

Gibson’s characterization of Palin’s words prompted a sharp rebuke from the McCain campaign on Thursday.

“Governor Palin’s full statement was VERY different” from the way Gibson characterized it,” read a statement circulated by McCain spokesman Tucker Bounds.

“Gibson cut the quote — where she was clearly asking for the church TO PRAY THAT IT IS a task from God, not asserting that it is a task from God.

“Palin’s statement is an incredibly humble statement, a statement that this campaign stands by 100 percent, and a sentiment that any religious American will share,” Bounds wrote.

In the rest of the segment that aired, Palin told Gibson that she was referencing Abraham’s Lincoln’s words on how one should never presume to know God’s will. She said she does not presume to know God’s will and that she was only asking the audience to “pray that we are on God’s side.”

A promo posted on Yahoo! News Friday continued to misrepresent the exchange. It displays Palin’s image next to the words, “Iraq war a ‘holy war?’” implying that Palin — not Gibson — had called the War on Terror a holy war.

ABC News did not respond to requests for comment from

ABC’s mischaracterization of Palin’s words was not the only one in the media. The Washington Post also did some last-minute clean-up in one of its articles on Palin — a front-page story Friday with the headline “Palin Links Iraq to Sept. 11 in Talk to Troops in Alaska.”

As pointed out by The Weekly Standard’s Bill Kristol, the original version posted online used harsher language than the one that hit Beltway newsstands early Friday morning.

The original passage, written by staff writer Anne E. Kornblut, read:

“Gov. Sarah Palin linked the war in Iraq with the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, telling an Iraq-bound brigade of soldiers that included her son that they would ‘defend the innocent from the enemies who planned and carried out and rejoiced in the death of thousands of Americans.’

“The idea that the Iraqi government under Saddam Hussein helped Al Qaeda plan the attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon, a view once promoted by Bush administration officials, has since been rejected even by the president himself. On any other day, Palin’s statement would almost certainly have drawn a sharp rebuke from Democrats, but both parties had declared a halt to partisan activities to mark Thursday’s anniversary.”

But in the print version, and the version now appearing on the newspaper’s Web site, the article softened its claim a bit by swapping in the last line with this: “But it is widely agreed that militants allied with Al Qaeda have taken root in Iraq since the U.S.-led invasion.”

For Further Information, Please See:
Full Transcript of Interview
ABC Transcripts Excerpts

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Hurricane Isabel and the "Perfect Storm Wave" on the Upper Gauley

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As Hurricane Ike is about to pound the Gulf Coast somewhere in Texas or Mexico, my thoughts turn back five years ago to an incredible, yet somewhat terrifying, experience rafting the Upper Gauley River. This story was originally posted on an online boater's forum called Boater Talk, but since my blog wasn't in existence yet, I thought I'd share that experience with my loyal readers.

If you thought reading about Swimming Insginificant was interesting, you'll enjoy this. Cheers!

Michiganrafter's Date with Isabel Gauley Fest Weekend and the Perfect Storm Wave, September 22, 2003.

Hey all,

Just wanted to recount the most amazing whitewater week of my life and spread a little love to those who made it possible. You guys are the best.

First, for those who stayed away from the Gauley for fears of Isabel, I'm sorry that you made that choice because the water was incredible! It was warm, it was big, it was the stuff of legends, and for me, it was a hair away from not happening.

I had four Upper Gauley trips booked, Friday-Monday. Friday/Saturday was scheduled to be an Upper/Upper overnight with Class VI River Runners and one of my favorite guides: Kim Constans. Sunday and Monday were single Upper Gauley runs with North American River Runners and two of my other favorite guides: Brian Jennings and Bobby Bower. And halfway through the rafting Gauley Fest was scheduled with a BoaterTalk meet and greet. ON PAPER, everything was set for an epic week of great whitewater, great fun with great people and lots of free beer. But then there was Hurricane Isabel. Would she rain on our parade? Would she spoil all our fun? How bad would she blow? And whom would she blow? These were critical questions that needed answers and my fun and happiness depended on it.

So Thursday morning I left Akron and headed south down I-77. Akron was warm and sunny with not a cloud in the sky. But as the Cherry Creek-mobile ate up the miles the sky gradually began to cloud over and get dark. In Marietta the sun was peeking out behind the clouds. In Parkersburg it was overcast. In Ripley it began to look like rain. In Charleston the sky brightened a bit and the dome of the Capitol was gleaming gold. Bob Wise must have given it a spitshine. But by the time I got to Fayetteville it definitely looked like rain, and sure enough, I ran into tons of friends and strangers in the Kroger stocking up on supplies for a hurricane party, including Liquid Logic's and Pies and Pints' and Class VI's own videoboater Harriett.

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Class VI River Runners Base Camp

After Kroger, I headed up to Class VI and hung out at Chetty's with Bobby Bower and some of the VI guides and awaited my first hurricane. Finally, a little after 4 pm, the rain came. Just a light drizzle, really. No wind. It was eerie, and I could finally appreciate why so many people die in hurricanes, especially before the Weather Channel. Even though a hurricane is coming, it's a very slow and gradual process. First the sky clouds over over a period of many, many hours. And then it begins to rain. It seems innocuous. Maybe by 9:00 pm the wind started to blow in very light gusts. How could anyone perceive a light rain and light wind as dangerous when it creeps up on them so slowly? But then, BAM! The eye hits and everyone is dead and carnage abounds everywhere. It's kind of sudden, you know?

I was sitting outside in Chetty's with Class VI's River Manager Randy Dotson and I noted that I couldn't see the New River from the overlook deck. Randy says: Well you see, Matt, we're in the middle of a hurricane. It's a little misty in the Gorge now. And I said: Oh yeah, if I look closely, I can almost see the leaves moving on the trees--no, wait! That's just me wobbling a little from the beer.

And with that, Bobby Bower invited me back to his house to wait out the storm. He wasn't going to allow me to camp in a hurricane in my new Mountain Hardware Skyview lest I get washed away. After all, if I got washed away in the hurricane, I wouldn't be able to raft with him on Monday and tip him well. So I spent Thursday night at Chez Bower on Beauty Mountain.

I wake up early and head to the Cathedral Café for breakfast and a last check of BT before disappearing into whitewater nirvana. On BT I learn that cr@vingw@ves is channelling BT posts from his car. After a great Sun-dried tomato bagel with veggie cream cheese and a hot chai served by the waitress with the mostess--Angie--who knew my order before I did because it was what I always ordered for early morning 7:30 breakfasts at the Cathedral all year long; I headed back to Class VI to find out whether or not Isabel had rained out the Upper Gauley.

I run into Randy and he says the Meadow is pumping in 300 cfs. Ch-ching! It's an Upper/Upper Overnight. Isabel had virtualy no effect.

I get a cup of Starbucks at Smokey's and get my gear all packed for the overnight to load into the Class VI Uhaul for carriage to the Canyon Doors Campsite. I change into my river gear. It's two hours later and the Meadow is now at 1100 cfs and on the rise. I figure cool! The dam can cut back to 1500 so as long as the Meadow stays below 2500 we're golden. Around 11:00 am we're driving over the Meadow and we all look down. The Meadow is raging. We guesstimate it's at 2000 and suddenly, if you listen carefully in a bus full of excited rafters talking loudly, you can hear some of the guides saying: "It's ON now, baby," and some of the guides whispering quietly: "Oh shit."

We get to the dam and Julie, our videoboater, has her pink magic 8-ball out and goes around videographing all the rafters and guides and getting predictions. She's at BobbyJo's Boat and asks if anyone will be swimming today. The Magic 8-ball says: It is certain. Julie gets to our boat and recognizes me as the veteran of the group and asks for my prediction. I say it will be smooth sailing all the way through Iron Ring and then Kim is gonna flip us at Sweet's. Kim laughs nervously, and there's a reason for it. We have a little bit of history at Sweet's. If you recall, I posted a Trip Report about a month ago where I got violently ejected in Sweet's and swam on down the river collecting everyone else's paddles? This was the day when our two Class VI boats were the only boats on the Gauley. It was a sweet day, but Sweet's Falls is Kim Constans' personal little nemesis. She got recirced 4 times in the energizer that day, and it's still the one rapid that plays a few mind games in her head.

So, on that note, we put on the Upper Gauley at about 2100 cfs, expecting about 2000 more at the Meadow, and whatever the little tributaries add along the way. No problem, I rafted the Upper Gauley (UG) at 4000 in 2001 the week of the world rafting championships. But Kim has never seen the UG above 3500. I have no worries at all. Having rafted with her, I know Kim is an awesome guide. She tore up the Lower G at highwater with me in a tiny boat, and my previous trip with her on the UG was flawless right up until the violent ejection at Sweet's. I consider a flip at Sweet's to be no big deal, so I'm good to go.

First up: Insignificant. We pick our way through the entrance and then get into the meat. Three other experienced paddlers and one first timer with us. No problem, the line is good.

Second up: Pillow Rock. No problem, we're good to go.

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Rafting Pillow Rock with Brian Jennings at normal river levels.

First sign of trouble, right after Pillow Rock, Ronnie dives out in a nothing rapid somewhere after Pillow. He's a big man. He was a little shaken up. And this was an unnamed little nothing.

Second sign of trouble: Meadow View. First, a little history. Have any of you seen Finding Nemo? In Finding Nemo, Nemo's Dad has to cross an ocean to Sydney. On his way, he meets up with a band of sea turtles riding the E.A.C. (East Australian Current.) It's a rush, kind of like a roller coaster. If you've seen the movie, you know the sea turtles are like cool surfer dudes with surfer accents. The father sea turtle, explaining one of the rides says: "First it was like Whoaaa, then it was like WHOAAAAA, then it was like whoaa" all mellow and chilled out. You get the idea. Normally when you get to Meadow View, you don't see anything at all. You never even know the Meadow is there until you cross its mouth because usually during Gauley season nothing ever is coming in. So last month when I rafted with Kim and we figured the Meadow was pumping in 1500 cfs and it was all brown, you could see that leading up to the Mouth so I kept saying: "Wowwwwww...WOWWWWWWWW...wowwwwww. And you know, as any raft guide will tell you, they get a little nervous approaching Lost Paddle. It's a true Class V and the biggest and longest Class V on the Gauley. Last month, Kim was laughing along with me, staying incredibly composed.

OK, so Friday, maybe, I dunno, half a mile before the Meadow, we see this raging muddy torrent. Wave trains extending all the way to the far bank. Rapids breaking where I have never seen rapids break before. I'm nervous. I figure we'll now be facing 4800 cfs. That's big water. I start saying "wowwwww", it's a nervous habit, ok? However, Kim isn't laughing. She's not saying anything. She's completely focused on the river. I look back at her and normally we make eye contact. Not this time. She admits later that night when we get to Canyon Doors that she was a little more than apprehensive. Exactly what she said I won't reveal here, but she was a little more than apprehensive.

OK, were ready to run Lost Paddle. The Gauley is raging. The other guys in the raft are talking without a care in the world. I tell them it's ON NOW and it's time to FOCUS. Previously, some of the guys said it was hard to hear Kim's commands. She said it was okay for me to repeat the commands so everyone could hear. We get to first drop and Kim says all forward. I repeat, all forward. No one is paddling. Kim says Dig it in. I shout: PADDLE HARD. We clear first drop.

Second drop. Hawaii 5-0 is a fucking monster. Kim commands all forward hard! I shout; DRIVE! DRIVE! DRIVE! By this time we have caught up with the the trip that left half an hour before us. There's safety in numbers, right? So our trip and the earlier trip join together through Sweet's Falls. We now have two video boaters and twice as many boats and more confusion. We also don't care about the video. Squirrel figures the Gauley is at 5000 cfs--otherwise known as commercial rafting cutoff level, so all the boats get close and tight. We're so close and tight that Mark Schoonemaker pushes us into the eddy on river right just below Hawaii 5-0 while he goes on to run third drop. Six pack / Decision Rock is underwater. We take a minute to catch our collective breath before ferrying back into the current to run 3rd drop. We learn later that our Trip Leader was freaking out: "Where's Kim! Where's Kim!?" he shouted. Mark told him we were alright, tucked into an eddy. No one ever catches this eddy, normally you eddy out after 3rd drop, so you can understand the high-water enhanced anxiety here.

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Rafting Second Drop of Lost Paddle--Hawaii 5-0--with Brian Jennings at normal release levels

Have any of you run the New at 10-12?? Fayette Station and Old Nasty get huge. Tons of fun, 18-20' waves and wave trains. Very friendly. Well, okay. That's the NEW. This is the GAULEY. This is LOST PADDLE. This is 3rd DROP. We ferry back into the current and Kim is shouting All Forward Hard! I again shout: DRIVE! DRIVE! DRIVE! And staring down at us is this massive monster wave that looks like a pulsing muddy brick wall. It towers over us. It's bigger than anything I have seen all year on the New River at high water. I scream: OH SHIT! For the split second I have to contemplate how this is going to end up, I take a deep breath and do the best I can to prepare to swim for my life while at the same time digging my paddle into the wave as deep as I can and bracing as hard as I can. I imagine George Clooney in The Perfect Storm struggling to get up the wave face that is about to hand them their doom. And then our 14' Avon Adventurer is over the wave.

Downstream, Mark Schoonemaker watches in terror, admitting later that he and others ran around the wave and that he thought we were going to have our asses handed to us on a muddy platter. Let me tell you something: Class VI Guides are the shit! Out of all our boats, there was only one swimmer in Lost Paddle, and that happened at Tumblehome. Mark estimated the Gauley was at 5000-5500 cfs because Six Pack Rock was underwater and that only happens above 5000 cfs. KIM CONSTANS, having never before seen the Gauley over 3500, got us through Lost Paddle at a later confirmed 6500 cfs expertly, running The Perfect Storm Wave at 3rd Drop and making it while more experienced guides ran away from it--and even more impressively, while facing her own fears. I LOVE YA KIM!
(Note: Normal release levels on the Gauley Level are 2800 cfs. 2800 cfs provides nice, good, Class V fun. This day, the river was at 6500 cfs. More than twice normal release levels. Think of it: A Class V River on top of a Class V River, and then some.)

OK, So Tumblehome was rather uneventful after The Perfect Storm Wave. We ran it clean, I was quite relieved, and feeling a little cocky. Surely Iron Ring would be a piece of cake after Lost Paddle. And I was right, it was. Sort of.

We got to Iron Ring, all the guides discussed the line. We were right on line, but shit happens. Squirrel's boat flipped. Squirt's boat flipped. Kim dumptrucked and 3 of us went swimming. But you know, even though I swam a quarter mile, attempting self-resuce by swimming to Bobby Jo's boat, only to make it under her stern and have her stern almost come crashing down right on top of my head as she opted to throw her rope to another swimmer while she looked at me with a wide smile on her face and saying: "Self resuce! Self rescue!", the swim was fine. Lots of big waves, but relatively gentle. I knew where to breathe. I even attempted to extend my paddle to another swimmer who was freaking out to kind of help him out, but he was too out of it to do anything but sputter and flail around helplessly. So for some of the others, they had a pretty nasty time at Iron Ring, but I think it was here, at 6500 on the Upper Gauley that I finally became comfortable with big water swimming. To me, this was much more like swimming in Lake Michigan in whitecaps than in a violent rapid on a river. Or maybe I'm just delusional. Anyway...

OK! Play the Jaws theme now in your head. Dun da dun da dun da!...

We were right on line, but Kim made one mistake. She told us to get down when at this flow she really needed us in our seats to paddle. We flipped. The video shows Kim got out from under the raft right away, but the rest of us were stuck under it until we got to Postage Due. (Postage Due is this massive rock about 30 yards downstream of Sweet's Falls that normally other rafters climb up on about six feet out of the water and have lunch on.) I made the mistake of trying to breathe in an air pocket between the thwarts. Didn't quite make it and I swallowed water instead of air. Remind me never to try that again. Water was flowing over the top of Postage Due. We gathered up the swimmers, and we ate lunch downstream, every now and then coughing up the water we aspirated while trying to breathe as we were stuck under the raft.

When we got out of the raft, I embraced Kim for about five minutes. Actually, we kind of stood there in shock, completely glued to each other. That's when George and Julie, the videoboaters came by and confirmed the flow at 6500. The Meadow was approaching 5000 at this time and we were also informed that they were going to dump 15000 from the dam. So after lunch, we booked to the Class VI campsite across from Canyon Doors--the most beautiful spot on the river. Jeff and Nancy cooked the most amazing dinner and the Strawberry and Grape Moonshine, and the Scotch, and the Baileys and the Killians flowed and flowed and flowed.

The Lower G at 7000 was a pretty cool encore to the previous day's rafting. We had long since abandoned the plan to run the Upper G on the second day of the Upper/Upper overnight. The Lower G suited us just fine, and it was fun and it was big and most importantly, it was uneventful. We even saw Jeff Snyder and one of his proteges striding and rolling and striding towards the takeout.

We got back to Class VI and I'll be damned if I didn't get the jitters watching the video. After saying goodbye to Kim and Mark and my fellow rafters, it was on to?--GAULEYFEST.

Surprisingly, despite all the warnings on BT, there was not a cop or a sobriety checkpoint in sight.

I had a great time. I ran into many friends from BT and American Whitewater and raft guides from all over the country. It was a real pleasure meeting the following Bters for the first time:
Eprincen, GRITS,, Funkmop, Wmu-jeff, K1chik, Claire, Gcanyon, g-dave, PhilU and Dustin, MOONunit, Bradley, okeefe; Along with seeing again Mustangsally, Teekay, Bj, Sutton, Risa, Barrygrimes, and Rattso_del_flatulato.

I also saw Jules, but not wanting to be chided for attending a festival where I was a mere passenger on the bandwagon, I chose discretion and stayed away.

But I had a great time talking with Jeff Snyder and seeing some of his artwork. I'm gonna get together with Jeff, probably early next spring and try striding. He also invited me along for a stride and ride. I think that would be so cool. I also met Lisa with Lotus, and Chris Reider from Timberline Tours in CO at his Mongo Products booth.

Thanks everyone from MountainSurf, LiquidLogic and AW for the free beer and Cliff Bars. Who needs good food at Gauley Fest when you have beer and Cliff Bars? And thanks to all the law enforcement personnel who decided NOT to install sobriety roadblocks up and down and all over Hwy 19.

Well folks, after the excitement on the Upper Gauley Friday, the UG runs on Sunday with Brian Jennings at 4200 and Monday with Chris Esposito at 3500 were a piece of cake. Brian and Chris are two exceptional guides that also deserve being called: The shit! On Sunday, at 4200, I was probably more relaxed than I should have been on the Upper Gauley, but Brian is about as good as a raft guide gets. And on Sunday, Chris had the sweetest smooth line through Iron Ring that I have ever not had to paddle through. (Would have loved to have been in your boat Monday Bobby Bower, but I hope you're feeling better!)

Sunday night I took Brian out to Sedona and got to see our friend Amy, and Monday night I hung out at Class VI and enjoyed Chetty's fine food accompanied by Newcastle.

It was an epic week of rafting and fun. I'm glad I got to meet many of you and can now put a face to a screen name. If any of you had just 1/10 the fun and excitement that I did, I know that you had an amazing and most memorable time.

Thanks for all the fun, and most of all, thanks to you Isabel--I don't think I would ever have seen 6500 on the Upper Gauley, let alone the Perfect Storm Wave in 3rd Drop of Lost Paddle without you. Until next time!

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Doesn't that sound like an incredible four days on the river? Gauley Fest Weekend is September 19-21, and Gauley Season runs through the second week in August. There's still plenty of time to plan your book your Gauley River Adventure! Call the folks at North American River Runners or Class VI River Runners and book your whitewater adventure today!

Thanks for reading.

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Obama Calls Palin a "Pig"

"You can put lipstick on a pig," he said as the crowd cheered. "It's still a pig."
--Barack Obama

Is this really the man we want for our President? A man that has so little respect for his political opponents that he has to resort to name calling? Is this the man that said he would rise above negative ads and be civil? Is this the man that wanted to keep the focus on the issues?

Yes. This is the same man. The same man who also referred to Americans in small towns who cling to their religious beliefs and guns as "bitter."

Questionable associations, questionable views on his fellow Americans, a man who resorts to insults of his political opponents instead of challenging them on their issues and their vision of what America's future should be. A man who has contempt for women who used the same sexist attacks against Hillary Clinton in the primaries--referring to Hillary throwing the China and the whole buffet at him. Referring to Hillary getting her "claws" out.

John McCain is not Barack Obama. He's an honorable man that doesn't take cheap sexist pot shots.

Apparently, there's more to this innocent remark than meets the eye. Apparently, John McCain said the same thing about Hillary Clinton. Apparently, this is an old expression, etc, etc. Well, if it was an innocent expression, I apologize to Mr. Obama for using my blog to say what I think. BECAUSE I had never heard the expression before, and yet, I'm a pretty reasonable person and this is what I interpreted Obama's quip to mean. I'm sure I'm not alone, even if it was an innocent quip. Here are what others in the blogosphere have commented:

It was a stupid set of comments by Obama. He will have to spend the next several days explaining himself instead of explaining why he is better than Bush. I believe that it was deliberate, which further illustrates his poor campaigning, a sin of commission. Can't his political handlers get through to him that he has to rise above all the squabbling and let his surrogates chuck the slime... What a maroon...
The bottom line is that Mr. Nobama needs the white vote and he will only get if on the east and west coasts.He will not get the white vote in middle America. It also appears that Mr. Nobama is running against Mrs. Palin, poor campaign strategy so far. And as far as Joe biden is concerned, he was born with a golden shoe in his mouth.......And he is good at it.
Does anyone remember when Barack put his middle finger across his cheek when he mentioned Hilary during the primaries and he denied that it was intentional.
I think this man has a problem with women.
Does he have any high ranking woman on his campaign staff. I think not.
By the way, I think his mentor Wright's latest concubine could use some glossy lipstick.
I laughed when read that Obama and his campaign now say that he wasn't speaking about Palin when he said his lipstick/pig comment.
Does he expect us to believe he hadn't seen Palins speech or the constant replaying of her hockeymom/lipstick joke?
This is just like him denying that he heard any crazy statments made by his Pastor of twenty years.
NewsFlash Obama!! Despite what your European friends think, Americans aren't THAT stupid.
Okay, the 'lipstick pig' remark can be explained away.

Please expalin the next comment after that one. "You can take an old fish wrap it in paper called 'change'. It still stinks..."

Women (and men) know that sexist pigs have referred to a part of a woman's anatomy as 'fishy'. Obama means "Palin = old fish... still stinks... fishy... stinky...!!!

What next... a lap cat???


Regardless of what you believe on this side of the non-issue distraction that has once again diverted our focus from the real issues of this campaign, if this were not an intentional barb at Palin and McCain, Obama should be a gentleman about it and just admit that he wasn't thinking and he should apologize to Governor Palin. That both campaigns are now pointing fingers at each other accomplishes nothing and demonstrates how those vying for the most important political office in the world are all capable of acting like a two-year old. I really believe our politicians need to rise above all this and start behaving like world statesmen.

Bottom line, Obama should have apologized as soon as it was brought to his attention. McCain should have ignored it without demanding an apology or retaliating. Neither one is acting very Presidential right now, and somehow, both the candidates vying to be President are now focusing all their energy on Governor Palin, the Vice-Presidential Candidate. Remind me, who's running for President again?

For further reading on this continued non-issue, please see Moi is not a pig, Moi is a superstar.

Thanks for reading.

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