About the background photo
You may be wondering where I got the photo I’m using for the blog’s background, or you might not. No matter. I’m going to tell you anyway.
One of the activities Toni introduced me to is kayaking – specifically, kayaking (or canoeing, depending on the size of the group) the Green River in Utah. We met in November, 2006. In May, 2007, she paddled the Green with a couple of her friends and missed me terribly. In August, 2008, we took our first trip down the Green, along with members of her family (she had been doing this trip annually for 10 – 12 years and it became her “decompression” vacation). From the first day, I knew I wanted to go back the next year – and the next, and the next, and the next…
In 2009, Toni and I paddled 120 miles in a week or so, from Green River, Utah, where I-70 crosses the river, down to the Confluence, where the Green joins the Colorado. It was just the two of us – nobody else, no electronics, no contact with the outside world. It was awesome.
In 2010 we planned to paddle 52 miles (from a put-in point called Mineral Bottom down to the Confluence), and we again invited her family (including her then-78-year-old mother!) to join us. The night before we were all scheduled to leave our homes, the outfitter called us to tell us there had been a cloudburst that day and the road from the rim down to the river at Mineral Bottom had been washed out. Would we like to cancel, change our put-in point on the Green, or paddle the Colorado? Toni huddled with her family and we collectively decided to change our put-in point. Unfortunately, the next upriver put-in added 45 miles to our trip! So instead of 52 miles in 5 days, we had to paddle 97! It left us precious little time for anything but paddling, but we *did* reach our rendezvous point on time. (Afterward, we saw some pictures of the washout – it wasn’t visible from the river – and we understood why we couldn’t use the road that year. “Washout” could have meant a gap maybe a foot or two deep by several feet or yards wide – it wouldn’t have taken much to stop the outfitter’s buses from using the road. Nope. What “washout” really meant was no road left at all for several hundred yards. It took nine or 10 months to rebuild the road, and in the meantime several vehicles were stuck at the bottom with no way out.)
In 2011 the Mineral Bottom road was repaired, so four of us (Toni, two of her brothers, and I) paddled from Mineral Bottom to the Confluence – a much easier trip than the previous year.
In 2012 I persuaded Toni to do another trip by ourselves. It ended up being the last time we went there together. The best part of the whole week, although also somewhat the worst, was the full day (yup, 24 hours) of rain we had while on the river. It was the worst because we couldn’t take our planned hike (or do much of anything), and it was the best because we spent a day huddling / cuddling under a rock overhang and watching the waterfalls come off the canyon walls. The river rose about 6 inches that day.
I took the picture during our 2012 trip. The location is somewhere in Canyonlands National Park, on a sandbar along the river’s edge. The sand has been above the water long enough to grow grass on it, which also meant that it was dry enough to camp on. The view is to the north just before sunset (the sun is setting to the left in the picture). That’s our tent at the left, with our camp chairs and gear nearby. The views in the canyon are breathtaking – no photograph can do them justice.
I paddled the Green again last year (2013), on a solo journey to remember, honor and say goodbye to Toni. I put in, again, at Green River and paddled for nine days. I stayed at each of the campsites we had used in 2009 and spread some of her ashes at each one, as well as a few other select locations we frequented on our trips. I’m not planning a Green River trip this year, as I have another “expedition” in the works. I know I’ll go back again eventually, but right now I want to remember that river as hers.
I miss you very much, Toni, and I will love you always and forever. “jm”
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