Democratic Halloween



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Spreading the Wealth Around





"Spreading the Wealth Around." Obama was serious. Don't doubt it for an instant!

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Almost Wordless Wednesday: Earflaps


I don't care who you vote for, this is funny:

You've got to love our older Veterans.

This man, 73, wears a protective flap over his ear while Senator Ted Kennedy, Barack Obama, and Hillary Clinton address the Veterans of Foreign Wars.

I just want to know where he got it....?

UPDATE: Create your own Bullshit Detector HERE

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The Irish Look at US Politics


An email from Ireland to all of their brethren in the States...a point to ponder despite your political affiliation:

We, in Ireland , can't figure out why you people are even bothering to hold an election in the United States.

On one side, you had a pants wearing female lawyer, married to another lawyer who can't seem to keep his pants on, who just lost a long and heated primary against a lawyer, who goes to the wrong church, who is married to yet another lawyer, who doesn't even like the country her husband wants to run!

Now...On the other side, you have a nice old war hero whose name starts with the appropriate 'Mc' terminology, married to a good looking younger woman who owns a beer distributorship!!

What in God's name are ye lads thinkin over in the colonies!
I find it hard to argue with this logic.

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Clear Fall Day on Wayah Bald

Franklin, NC from Roundabout atop Wayah Bald

Saturday, October 25th, the Nantahala Outdoor Center was the host of the Tour de Nantahala Cycling Event. The event consists of an Octoberfest Carnival at the Nantahala Outdoor Center with Beer, Bratwurst and Fixins, a Sale at our Outfitter's Store, Pumpkin Hunting on the Nantahala River, Whitewater Rafting, Kayaking and a Band; but the highlight is the bicycle road race. There are three events: a 45 Mile ride; a metric 100 ride, or 65 Miles; and an English Century, or 100 Mile Ride. I was stationed at the last refueling station on the Metric and English Century Route before the steep climb up to Wayah Bald.

Yours Truly with Franklin, NC in the Backround from Wayah Bald

Wayah Bald is a high-altitude treeless open area in the Nantahala National Forest, north of Franklin, North Carolina. The area takes its name from the red wolves that used to lived there; wa ya is Cherokee for wolf. The Wayah Bald Observation Tower is located at the area's highest point at 5,385 feet. The stone observation tower was built by the Civilian Conservation Corps in 1937 for fire detection. The Appalachian Trail (AT) and Bartram Trail cross at Wayah Bald, so Wayah Bald is a popular destination for hikers, especially during Spring, when the rhododendron and azaleas are in bloom. And this time of year, some of the last AT hikers that started at Mt. Katahdin in Maine in late spring are passing through the area on their way to the southern terminus of the AT Trail at Springer Mountain in Northern Georgia.

Franklin, NC from the Observation Tower atop Wayah Bald

These photos were taken with my Blackberry atop Wayah Bald. The photos are reduced for the web as the originals are 1600x2000 pixels. However, if you look closely, you can see the white splotches of the town of Franklin deep in the valley in these photos. That's where my refueling station was on the Tour de Nantahala.

Franklin, NC and North Georgia from the Watch Tower

From the top of this Watch Tower, there is a view of almost 360 degrees of the high mountains and valleys that make up the landscape of this southwestern part of North Carolina.

Oak Leaves and Sky--Looking Straight Up from atop Wayah Bald

The day was perfect for the road race, cool and clear. It was in the 60's most of the afternoon down in the valleys, but on Wayah Bald at over a mile up, it was in the upper 40's. The cooler and drier climate at the top of the ridge line is ideal for hearty oak trees. While they appear slightly stunted from the poorer growing conditions, their wind-blown twists in their trunks give the impression that the trees enjoy dancing when there aren't any people around to catch them in the act.

Clingman's Dome in Great Smokey Mountain National Park from Wayah Bald

It's kind of strange how distances are twisted in this area with all the mountains. Clingman's Dome, at over 6,000' is the highest point in Great Smoky Mountain National Park, and from the top of Wayah Bald, is only 23 miles distant. However, to drive there from Wayah Bald takes the better part of four hours as you descend Wayah Road to Highway 19, go east through Bryson City and the Cherokee Indian Reservation, north into Great Smoky Mountain National Park along Hwy 411, and travel the various switchbacks and roads inside the Park to Clingman's Dome. The view was more stunning than the picture shows, but again, it's a highly compressed shot for the web; and in the picture the peak inside the National Park blends in easily with the clear blue sky.

The Auto Roundabout atop Wayah Bald with Franklin, NC

This area and these awesome views are accessible to anyone. You can drive up here. You can ride a bike up here. You can hike up here following either the Bartram or Appalachian Trail. And if you're in the area and interested, the hike up to Wayah Bald from the Nantahala Outdoor Center, is 25 miles long and usually made in two days. There are great camp sites at the top of the ridge, restroom facilities, picnic tables, and above ground metal grills ready for charcoal and lighter fluid. I have been to a lot of scenic places in the United States, but I wasn't prepared for how beautiful this spot was with its 360 degree views so close to home, especially this time of year with fall color just past peak.

Nantahala Lake

Heading back down along Wayah Road, you will pass Nantahala Lake. It's not really a lake, but a dammed reservoir. Daily releases from the reservoir just below the headwaters of the Nantahala River allow for reliable family rafting from March through the beginning of November deep down in the Nantahala Gorge. Because of maintenance on the dam, today will be the last release of 2008. I'm getting out there in just a couple hours. I wish you all could join me.

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Bad Evan's Halloween Costume Contest


You could win $500 cash by entering BadEvan’s Halloween Costume Contest. Because they love BadEvan, BuyCostumes has put up all the prize money for this mega event. Since BadEvan loves Halloween, almost more than his own birthday, he’s made it easy for you to win. All you have to do is get out there in your best Judy Garland, rotting zombie, disco duck, or whatever you kids are into these days. Then strike a pose for a picture. Then email it to BadEvan at, by November 3rd (**File can be no larger than 1MB and can not contain nudity**). That’s it! BadEvan and the other judges will pour over all the photos that you guys and gals send in. Then he’ll send the person who gets the most votes from the panel $500. Pretty simple, huh?

These are the judges:
Wisdom Hypnosis
Ken Armstrong
Odd Vantage
Diet Pulpit

Also, be sure to visit BuyCostumes for great quality costumes at very reasonable rates. And don’t forget to visit the judges, sucking up is allowed.

**This part is Optional, but yields a second entry**

Bloggers, if you write about this contest you will be entered to win $250 cash, 5,000 EntreCard credits and a 125×125 ad from BadEvan. Find out more, HERE.

That’s it. Good Luck every one.

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Almost Wordless Wednesday: Bridge Day

Jumping off the New River Gorge Bridge during Bridge Day

As most of my readers know, last weekend I was in West Virginia for Bridge Day. Bridge Day is the third Saturday in October of each year, and it's the only day of the year when it is legal to BASE Jump 876 feet off of the New River Gorge Bridge to a landing area on the left bank of the New River.

BASE Jumper Landing on River Left

Personally, I can't think of a good reason why anyone would want to jump off of a perfectly good bridge, and since I'm a whitewater rafter, I go rafting instead. On Bridge Day, you raft the New River just like you would on any other day. But the cool thing is you get to hang out in the bottom of the Gorge and watch the jumpers taking off, deploying their parachutes, and landing--either in the river or in the designated landing area, depending on the jumper's skill.

Bridge Day Rafting Costumes are Traditional Fun

Bridge Day is pretty much a carnival. In addition to the 80,000 spectators on the top of the Bridge with all the booths and Funnel Cakes and Corn Dogs like any other circus or fair, raft guides usually dress up in some outrageous costumes. So it's a circus on the river just as much as it's a circus on the bridge.

Two of North American River Runners' Finest in Costume

And because Bridge Day brings so many tourists, spectators, jumpers and rafters to the area, the day after Bridge Day there is always one additional release on the Gauley River, which means one more spectacular day of Class V rafting to close out the rafting season.

A jumper alongside others who rappel down from bridge and who have to climb back up. No thanks.

This year, with my company's (The Nantahala Outdoor Center) partnership with North American River Runners, I had the privilege of experiencing Bridge Day in style, along with some of my coworkers. In addition to rafting the New River Gorge for Bridge Day, NARR threw a party for us Saturday night, and then hosted us on the Gauley River on Sunday.

Shane and Mel on the New River

As you can see from all the pictures here, it looks like we were having fun. Trust me: we were. There's nothing like the Dynamic Duo of the New and Gauley Rivers. If you've ever wanted to go rafting, you won't find a better experience on the entire planet than the New and Gauley in September and October. Throw in Bridge Day, and you can't beat the bang for your buck.

All Dressed Up and Ready to Go!

Mulitple Jumpers in the Air at the Same Time

Beginning the Apres Raft Party at NARR at Sundown

The New River Gorge Bridge from Above at Sunset

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Why Did the Chicken Cross the Road?

BARACK OBAMA: The chicken crossed the road because it was time for change! The chicken wanted change!

JOHN McCAIN: My friends, that chicken crossed the road because he recognized the need to engage in cooperation and dialogue with all the chickens on the other side of the road.

HILLARY CLINTON: When I was First Lady, I personally helped that little chicken to cross the road. This experience makes me uniquely qualified to ensure right from Day One that every chicken in this country gets the chance it deserves to cross the road. But then, this really isn't about me.

GEORGE W. BUSH: We don't really care why the chicken crossed the road. We just want to know if the chicken is on our side of the road, or not. The chicken is either against us, or for us. There is no middle ground here.

DICK CHENEY: Where's my gun?

COLIN POWELL: Now to the left of the screen, you can clearly see the satellite image of the chicken crossing the road.

BILL CLINTON: I did not cross the road with that chicken. What is your definition of chicken?

AL GORE: I invented the chicken.

JOHN KERRY: Although I voted to let the chicken cross the road, I am now against it! It was the wrong road to cross, and I was misled about the chicken's intentions. I am not for it now, and will remain against it.

AL SHARPTON: Why are all the chickens white? We need some black chickens.

DR. PHIL: The problem we have here is that this chicken won't realize that he must first deal with the problem on this side of the road before it goes after the problem on the other side of the road. What we need to do is help him realize how stupid he's acting by not taking on his current problems before adding new problems.

OPRAH: Well, I understand that the chicken is having problems, which is why he wants to cross this road so bad. So instead of having the chicken learn from his mistakes and take falls, which is a part of life, I'm going to give this chicken a car so that he can just drive across the road and not live his life like the rest of the chickens.

NANCY GRACE: That chicken crossed the road because he's guilty! You can see it in his eyes and the way he walks.

PAT BUCHANAN: To steal the job of a decent, hardworking American.

ALBERT EINSTEIN: Did the chicken really cross the road, or did the road move beneath the chicken?

COLONEL SANDERS: Did I miss one!

SARAH PALIN: The chicken crossed the road because it wanted to see Russia, doggone it!

THE CAST OF MAMMA MIA!: Mamma Mia! Here we go again.

Thanks for reading.


1. You have to be against capital punishment, but support abortion on demand.

2. You have to believe that businesses create depressions and governments create prosperity.

3. You have to believe that guns in the hands of law abiding Americans are more of a threat than Nuclear weapons technology in the hands of Iranians and North Korean communists.

4. You have to believe that there was no art before Federal funding.

5. You have to believe that global temperatures are less affected by cyclical documented changes in the earth's climate and more affected by soccer moms driving SUV's.

6. You have to believe that gender roles are artificial but being homosexual is natural.

7. You have to believe that the AIDS virus is spread by a lack of federal funding.

8. You have to believe that the same teacher who can't teach fourth graders how to read is somehow qualified to teach those same kids about sex--in the face of all the cases of teacher sex abuse of children in the news.

9. You have to believe that hunters don't care about nature, but loony activists who have never been outside of New York, Boston, San Francisco, or Portland do.

10. You have to believe that self-esteem is more important than actually doing something to earn esteem.

11. You have to believe that Mel Gibson spent $25 million of his own money to make 'The Passion of the Christ' for financial gain only.

12. You have to believe the NRA is bad because it supports certain parts of the Constitution, while the ACLU is good because it supports certain parts of the Constitution.

13. You have to believe that taxes are too low, but ATM fees are too high.

14. You have to believe that Margaret Sanger and Gloria Steinem are more important to American history than Thomas Jefferson, Thomas Edison, and Alexander G. Bell.

15. You have to believe that standardized tests are racist, but racial quotas and set-asides are not.

16. You have to believe that the only reason socialism hasn't worked anywhere it's been tried is because the right people haven't been in charge and not enough money was spent on its programs.

17. You have to believe conservatives telling the truth belong in jail, but a liar and a sex offender belonged in the White House.

18. You have to believe that Hillary Clinton is normal and in a normal marriage.

19. You have to believe that homosexual parades displaying transvestites in drag should be constitutionally protected, and manger scenes at Christmas should be illegal.

20. You have to believe that illegal Democrat Party funding by the Chinese Government is somehow in the best interest to the United States

21. You have to believe that this message is a part of a vast, right-wing conspiracy.

22. You have to believe that it's OK to give Federal workers the day off on Christmas Day, but it's not OK to say 'Merry Christmas.'

If you believe more than half of these statements are true, you are a Democrat and should vote democratic in the election November 4. However, if you believe more than half of these statements are false, then you should vote Republican in the election on November 4 as you have more in common philosophically with the Republican Party.

Thanks for reading.

Almost Wordless Wednesday: Weekend Edition

Dancing with the Stars!

So, which dance do you think Obama and Palin are dancing? It doesn't quite look like the Tango.

All, it's been a busy two weeks and I'm heading up to West Virginia for Bridge Day and one final trip down the Gauley River for the year. My blogging will return to normal next week.

For all of my EntreCard visitors, I apologize, the recent slowness of the site has affected my card dropping habits. Hopefully EntreCard server issues will be worked out soon.

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Time for Some Campaigning...

Look for my cameo in this video at the end.

Try JibJab Sendables® eCards today!

All, please don't believe what you hear at face value.
Fact Check

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The Truth Is Out There

I have debated with many of you regarding various issues in this election. Watch this video. The truth is out there. Find the truth yourselves. IGNORE the Media!

Fact Check

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RAFTING: Your Comments, My Answers

Reaching out to "tap" Pillow Rock during a perfect run with Tasha

Last week, as most of my readers know, I took five days off from work and spent it rafting the Upper Gauley River in West Virginia. While I was gone, I used the "Post Options" feature of Blogger to schedule new posts each day I was gone. I thought I would entertain you with some YouTube Videos I found of each of the rapids, but more than that, I figured I'd entertain you with what we call "Carnage Video," otherwise known as highlight reels of wipeouts and crash and burns. While rafters enjoy watching video of clean runs, video of the misfortune of others on the river is even more entertaining. Okay, maybe we're sick, but it's still fun to watch.

Some of you actually thought these videos were daily shots in real time of what was happening to me on the river. I apologize if I scared some of you, but your comments were great, much appreciated, and now, I'm going to use them to give you some insight as to what actually happens on a Class V River, and to dispel some myths of the dangers of rafting in general.

At the bottom of Class V Sweet's Falls

As you can see from the above photo, we made it down 14' Sweet's Falls just fine last Monday. And the same was true of each of the three previous days on the water. The following comments (in bold) were left on each of my posts as indicated, and below them in normal type will be my response.

Karen said...

Oh wow! That looks exciting and scary.
September 26, 2008 11:37 AM

Yes! It's definitely exciting, and if you're swimming Lost Paddle, you should be scared. But normally fear doesn't enter into the equation. The swim happens so fast it requires all your concentration to stay in the current away from hazards like undercut rocks, strainers (tree branches or other obstructions in the water), and other hazards. Lost Paddle is the only Class V rapid on the Upper Gauley I have not swam, knock on wood, and hopefully it will always stay that way. Lost Paddle is my favorite rapid on the river because it is the longest and most challenging. It's also the most consequential. But I minimize my risk by rafting with guides I know and trust from companies with a reputation for safety. Those poor rafters in the video--they weren't rafting with the most reputable of companies that day, and watching that swim on the video is indeed a scary experience. Fortunately, they all made it out okay.

Empty Streets said...

that looks scary Matt, good luck and am knocking on a lot of wood for yah :) but am sure you'll have a hell of a time out there :)
September 26, 2008 11:25 PM

Hey Empty Streets! See the comments above regarding the scariness. Thanks for knocking on the wood, that is much appreciated. I had 4 clean runs at Lost Paddle the four days I rafted the Upper Gauley last week. I DID have a helluva time.

Shinade said...

Oh wow literally up the river without a paddle. I have only been whitewater rafting once.

And I got dumped. But, I hung onto my paddle for dear life. But, alas, I still had to jump back in and float down the rapids to get back to our canoe.

Thank goodness the river was not too bad!!

Hope you made it!!
September 27, 2008 6:29 PM

Shinade, thanks for sharing. Do you remember what river you were on? On most rivers the swim is very safe. You just have to remember to keep your feet up, otherwise known as your "nose and your toes" in the air. That prevents foot entrapment, the most dangerous hazard on any river and the usual cause of death. If you are reading this, you know I made it just fine. Thanks for thinking of me.

tashabud said...

Has anyone died on this particular event? When the raft tipped over, did all the occupants able to get out from underneath? I'm afraid that somebody got trapped and drowned. I don't think I'd like to go on a whitewater rafting if it looks this dangerous.

Sadly, yes. People have died on the Gauley River, just as they have died on almost every river. Fortunately, there hasn't been a commercial rafting death on the Gauley River in many years. Basically, if you go with professionals, you seriously minimize your own risk. In fact, whitewater rafting is safer than flying in a plane or driving in a car, and the odds of death are far less than being struck by lightning. When people die on whitewater rivers, it's normally because they get out there on a cold day, without proper clothing, without PFDs (life jackets), and in rafts they purchased at a Walmart instead of the highly durable and quality rafts professional outfitters use.

As for when rafts flip over, normally people "wash-out" from underneath the raft in a matter of seconds. The current of the river is usually flowing very fast in places where rafts flip. That current pushes anyone underneath the raft out from underneath it almost instantly. Usually, a swimmer--someone out of the raft and in the water--pops up from underneath the raft right next to the raft. They grab hold of safety straps around the edge of the raft and climb right back in or are helped back in by others in the raft.

As for danger factor, you choose a rafting experience based on your comfort level. I enjoy Class V rafting and I have over 100 runs down the Upper Gauley. There ARE easier rivers. Class I and II for beginners, Class III for intermediate, Class IV for advanced, and Class V for experts and highly experienced rafters. I'm sure you would enjoy a trip on a Class II or III river and with that experience under your belt and the fear of the unknown behind you--or not knowing what to expect--you'd be in a great position to know if Class IV or beyond would be something you wanted to try.


tashabud said...

How come that raft is staying in the same place? Is it anchored, or is it trapped within the vortex of the water currents? This sport is too dangerous for my own liking.

That's a great question, Tasha. That raft is caught in a hydraulic at the bottom of Sweets Falls known as 'The Energizer'. It's a keeper hole. What that means is that without help the raft, or a person, might stay in that spot indefinitely.

What you are seeing is that feature at very high water. Normally, rafts don't go out on the river when it's this high, but this was after Hurricane Isabel and the river came up fast while rafters had already put on. I was out there that day. Some of the scariest shit I've ever seen or been a part of.

Ken Armstrong said...

The swim wouldn't be pretty safe for me. I swim like a brick! :)
September 28, 2008 4:35 PM

Actually Ken, the swim there is fun, kind of like a ride at a water park. It's safe. You're wearing a PFD (Personal flotation device). And in whitewater like that, you really can't swim. You're just kind of swept to where the river wants to take you. When you fall out or flip at Pillow Rock, you go down deep, like 5-10 feet underwater. Then the current grabs you and sweeps you downstream. You're wearing a flotation device, so you pop up right at Volkswagon Rock, but there the river drops like ten feet, so you're pulled under water again, ride the Green Highway under water, and then pop up 30-200 feet downstream. It all takes about 3-10 seconds. You just relax, hold your breath, and when you pop up, swim back to your boat in relatively calm water. I've taken that swim 4 times. Each time I come up smiling. If you're going to swim anywhere on the Gauley River, I recommend you do it at Pillow Rock.

If the Gauley River were an amusement park, you could probably sell tickets to people, have them climb on top of Pillow Rock, jump in, and enjoy the swim along the Green Highway. On a warm day especially it's a lot of fun.

Purpled Sky said...

i don't think i'd ever float back to the surface. :-)
September 29, 2008 3:58 AM

Yes you would. You'd pop up pretty quickly. That's why you wear a Personal Flotation Device (PFD), sometimes referred to as a life jacket.

tashabud said...

Geez, Louise, if this is all that's what's going to happen to all the rafts, why even bother? I'm holding my breath, hoping that none of the participants got hurt seriouly from hitting rocks down the the rapids or getting trapped underneath the rafts.

Tasha, this is a highlight reel of crash and burns. It doesn't happen all the time, in fact, it's the exception. I've rafted the Upper Gauley over 100 times. There are five Class V rapids on the Upper Gauley, so I've rafted over 500 Class V Rapids on this river. I have fallen out only 13 times, or about 2.5%. And I've only flipped five times. Two times at Pillow Rock, three times at Sweets Falls. Flipping at either rapid is pretty safe. I've described the experience of flipping at Pillow Rock above. At Sweets, you flip at the bottom of the rapid after you have gone over the 14' drop. So you're just in a deep pool of fast moving current that it's easy to swim out of. The water is very deep at both of these rapids, you normally don't go anywhere near rocks that can hurt you.

Empty Streets said...

that looks wicked fun :) wahhh i want to do that toooo:)
September 29, 2008 7:58 AM

Empty Streets--email me. Anytime you want to go, I'll point you in the right direction. Whitewater rafting is tons of fun.

tashabud said...

This and all the previous videos are definitely heart-stopping and awesome videos to watch. However, I don't think I can do this kind of sport. Are you crazy Matt?! This is madness. Hope your mother is not seeing what you're doing. It's a good thing you don't have a wife or kids. Can you imagine what you must be putting them through, worrying about you? Sorry Matt, I'm sounding just like a concerned parent here. I know you're a big boy who can take care of yourself. Anyway, do stay safe out there.
September 29, 2008 10:39 AM

Tasha, thanks for the concern. Really, it's not all non-stop heart-stopping thrills and spills. Although, the first time I ran the Upper Gauley I fell out and swam the first Class V rapid, Insignificant. I had a post on that a few weeks back that describes the experience pretty much as it happened. There was video of it. I showed the video to my Dad. All he could do was rewind the video and advance it forward in super slow motion, rewind and watch it again. Let's just say making him watch the video was a nice way to get back at him for something he did to me long ago. Hehehe.

Grandy said...

Oh that looks fun and scary. Not sure I could do it.

Sure you could. There's lots of rafting out in California, Grandy. Book a trip out on the Tuolumne or Merced; or South or Middle Fork of the American. You'll have a great time. All four of those rivers are easier than the Upper Gauley. Get out there, see what's it like. You'll have a blast. Everyone should have a Class IV or V River on their Bucket List.

NathanKP said...

Very beautiful blog. I love all the pictures of water a rapids.

NathanKP - Imagination Manifesto
September 30, 2008 10:40 AM

Thank you Nathan, that's very kind.

Jeff said...

Hi Matt,

I love reading your stories and seeing your rafting pictures and videos. Really, it is tough to find the adjectives to describe these things. 'Beautiful' and 'scenic' just don't cut it. 'Majestic' gets a little closer.
The question that always comes up with me is, 'Don't you guys get hurt doing this stuff?' I mean seriously hurt, not just a bruise here and there.

September 30, 2008 11:34 AM

Jeff--thanks for the kind words and all the compliments. Those are much appreciated. In short, the answer is no. Usually the worst anyone gets hurt out on the river is scraped knuckles from paddling or a broken nail. The most common injuries are twisted ankles or knees from walking on the rocks on the shore. The most common hazards are bee stings or spider bites. Rafting is safer than driving a car. I hate to say this because I don't want to curse or jinx myself, but in 13 years of Class V rafting, the worst that's ever happened to me, knock on the wood, are scraped knuckles and a sore knee from hitting it hard on a rock while swimming a rapid once. The knee wasn't broken or dislocated or anything. I just got a bad bump and it was fine after a couple weeks.

tashabud said...

I am able to traverse the rapids and take all in the sounds and sights with you as I read your post. Very interesting read. Thanks for sharing your whitewater rafting experiences. So good to know you're back home safe and sound.
September 30, 2008 4:59 PM

Actually, I wasn't home safe and sound when this post appeared and you commented on it. Before I left for the Gauley River, I made five posts and scheduled them to automatically post on each day I was gone. This one posted on Tuesday before I woke up and began to drive back home.

hope said...

Wow! I am amazed at what you are capable of..and can still call fun. :) And the whole time I read this, I heard "Dueling Bangos" playing in my head.

Life is interesting simply because people view the same thing in such different ways: you respect the river and it allows you to have a helluva ride. I respect the river...and stay on the bank because to me, Hell isn't cold, it's really, really wet...with large waves.

Thanks for allowing me to have the fun without the fear.
September 30, 2008 5:59 PM

It's my pleasure, Hope. I'm glad you enjoyed the read, but I really, really recommend the waves!

Shinade said...

Wow this makes the one time I went rafting look like child play. And it wwas!!

This is simply incredible!! and wow the pictures are great too!! thanks for sharing with us!!
October 01, 2008 4:57 PM

Shinade, my pleasure! If that one time you went rafting was the time you were describing above, I think your swim was a little safer than maybe you let on. The thing about rafting and moving water is that the first time or two go through it, you're dealing with the fear of not knowing what to expect or what will happen. After that fear gets diminished by experience, you come to the realization that it's really not a big deal afterall, and then you can begin to really enjoy the experience, swimming and all.

crazy working mom said...

Wow, what a rush! I've never been rafting before. But, I would sure love to go.
October 01, 2008 11:33 PM

Any time. Just let me know where you are and I can probably recommend a great first time experience for you!

Kim said...

a terrific story Matt !!!
sounds like an awesome experience..
Deliverance was one of those films you never forget .....
October 02, 2008 5:37 AM

Thank you Kim. It really was an awesome experience. Of all my hundreds of rafting experiences, this was one of the highlights.

Empty Streets said...

WOW matthew this article is like a wiki article :) I think you should start submitting some of your work to them your becoming quite the expert on the topic :)
October 02, 2008 12:19 PM

Empty Streets--thanks for the praise and the kind words. Actually, I've been considered a bit of an expert on commercial rafting for quite a few years. As for submitting this to wiki, well, it's a story. Maybe I should be submitting it to Outside Magazine though, eh?

Ken Armstrong said...

This is a great post Matt. I really fancy one of those Tee Shirts, maybe we can arrange a Paypal deal sometime :)

Ken, thanks for the praise! Did you get the link I sent you? If you need help ordering the t-shirt, just let me know, mate.

Thanks for reading.

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Waiting for William Nealy


Saturday evening, October 11, 2008, six months of my work comes to fruition as the Nantahala Outdoor Center hosts the International Whitewater Hall of Fame 2007 & 2008 Induction Dinner and Event. It's been a privilege to work on this project, but it's been even more of a privilege to correspond with and meet some of the world's greatest explorers, pioneers, kayakers, rafters, and human beings and their families.

One of these individuals that I never got a chance to meet was 2007 Honoree William Nealy. According to the IWHOF Biography:
2007 Advocate William Nealy, widely regarded as “Whitewater’s Poet Laureate,” was one of the best known ambassadors of the sport. He brought a self-deprecating sense of humor and wealth of practical knowledge to all of his work. He captured the essence of whitewater paddling and whitewater paddlers. The quality of his work transcends its subject, and remains an art form all its own.
However, I DID get a chance to meet his widow, Holland Wallace; and last year I was entrusted with his complete archives to inventory, category, and display here at the Nantahala Outdoor Center.


As a whitewater rafter, the above cartoon has found a very special place inside me as part of my identity. But William Nealy was about so much more than whitewater. The first cartoon in this post, Waiting on Godot, is as much an example of his wry wit, his sense of humor, his cultural literacy, his politics and his intelligence as any of the brilliant whitewater river maps he drew or his kayaking or inline skating or mountain biking illustrations in his instruction manuals.

While William won't be with us to be physically inducted into the International Whitewater Hall of Fame, his life's work will be. And as the nobility of the Whitewater World arrive for this great event, not only will it be a pleasure to welcome them, but it will be my distinct honor and privilege to open the William Nealy Archives and to display not only the originals of the above two cartoons, but all of the works that earned William's place in the International Whitewater Hall of Fame.

Thanks for reading.

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Pulsar Award


Every once in a while you come across an individual who is friendly, kind, supportive, witty, intelligent, humorous...pretty much just an all-around great guy. Well this past week, I came across a blogger that fits this bill. His name is Oyvind, and he writes the Øblog, and he's from Norway and he happened to enter a quick contest I held on a Blog Promotion Site called Entrecard. It's kind of funny how you meet other people sometimes.

We live in difficult times. The world economy is tanking. Countries are at war. Human rights are being violated, and George Bush is still president of the United States. Okay, that was a cheap shot, but it's true. In times like these we need to find the beauty and the brightness and the lights of hope that are out there.

It didn't take much finding Oyvind. Just a few lines of repartee. But he brightened my day enough where I decided to create a new blogroll. I'm calling it Pulsar Honorees. It's intended to honor those who add a bit of brightness to your life. If bloggers everywhere can find pulsars, other beacons of hope and friendship and display them on their blogs, then we all can make this world a better place together.

There are beacons of light out there to guide us in the darkness. Pulsar Honorees are one more beacon of light.

Oyvind, you are the very first Pulsar. Congratulations!

Thanks for reading.