Sep 12, 2013

Rio Juan

The last time Manny and I did a San Juan River canoe trip was 13 years ago! We were young, handsome and adventurous with nothing to lose. Now, in our 40's... well, at least we are still handsome.

August 7th I drove 3 hours up to Window Rock (where Manny lives) in time for some barbecue fajitas for dinner, to load up the jeep, and make the trip to the Gallup Wal-mart for supplies before getting our last shower and good nights rest. 

The next morning at 7am (actually about 11) we drove over to Shiprock, NM to launch the boats. We had a friend drive the jeep to Montezuma Springs, UT where it was waiting for us after 3 days on the river. The monsoons had been causing record rain and the river was high and flowing fast so we had no problems getting there in time. There were some new unmapped rapids, evil trickster beavers, and high power winds and rain that made the trip interesting. What made it memorable was the bro time, the one-liners, and the inside jokes that will live on in random text messages to each other while at the grocery store or during high power "Big Snake Meetings"* keeping us going and giggling like little girls and getting us through till the next adventure.

*Inside joke—you had to be there

The San Juan River. A mostly mellow river with a few little rapids here and there.

We took out in Shiprock and paddled about 65 river miles through 3 states! Click on this map to see the enlarged version.  
Manny: "Don't worry, she'll hold together! Come on baby, hold together."

Had to stop at the Navajo Dept of Fish and Wildlife to get a valid watercraft permit.

It's tradition to put a new sticker on the canoe on every trip. We sort of forgot so I got us this Bevis and Butthead sticker out of a vending machine at the grocery store.

Manuelito cyphering.

Me suckin' it in. Note the gold mining pan.

The river was full of silt from all of the rain. Last time I was on it it was clear and I could usually see the rocky bottom. Those telephone wires were the last bit of civilization for quite a while. The great thing about this river is that no-one goes on it for recreation. Except us. We had it all to ourselves. We didn't see a soul for three days.

That's not a kite surfer. It's a Great Blue Heron. They were abundant. I even managed to find a tail feather.

Aside from the invasive Tamarask there were a few remnants of the human world to be found occasionally. The flat screen TV was behind the tree on the right. 

I think beavers stole this guys car.

Our first camp site. We camped in this same spot 13 years ago.

I'm pretty reserved and stoic, but when I get around Manny that guy can make me laugh till I snort and choke. We both started busting up sitting at the top of the bank and laughed sliding our asses down about 4 feet.

Sleeping under the stars has its risks. I found this guy under my bedroll the next morning.

Did I say we "paddled" 65 river miles?

Manny's practicing for his Norse Funeral. He wants his body to be laid on his canoe, set on fire and pushed out on to the San Juan and his bones to be used by beavers for their dams.

Wild horses crossing the river!!! When do you get to see that?

Look away! I'm hideous! While trying to get my camera out and get the shots of the horses crossing I sort of got scraped up under a low hanging tree branch along the banks. Not my beautiful face!

Manny somehow spotted this fort on his last river trip with his sons. 

Being in Utah, Manny thinks it could have been early Mormon settlers. 

The stone work looks hastily thrown together, the builders seem to have been in a hurry.  

Fire place or oven on the outside? Or was this once inside a timbered room?

I asked Manny why he thought it was a Fort. I figured he'd Wikipedia'd it till he pointed at the gun ports.


A beautiful view of the river from the fort. I wonder if the inhabitants enjoyed it or if life was all about survival for them. 

I wondered why our water supply was so low. look close.

It's just not a canoe trip unless someone flips. Read this fast with Eddie Murphy's voice similar to this clip: I seen the whole thing!

Manny is just paddling along mindin' his own bidness right? He's mindin' his own bidness and he sees these two dead beavers right? These two dead beavers are just laying there and Manny thinks, "Why are these two dead beavers just layin' on the ground by the tree?" He paddles over to get a closer look right? Before he knows it... These two dead beavers wake up and go into the water then...BAM!!! Manny's goin' underneath the tree.  He's goin underneath the tree and yells, "Dude!!!" then the boat flips over and Manny's upside down in the river. Then this plane hit him right? Yeah, Thats it! He got all caught up in the propellers and shit. He be sayin', "This ain't my day! This ain't my day!"  I guess he won't be needing those binoculars or those tortillas.  

Good thing Manny bought that gold mining pan. We needed it to bale out the canoe. 

Future artifact?

I'm ok! After Manny's flip I couldn't be outdone so I barreled over a big rock and my Kayak filled up with water. I managed to hold onto everything somehow and get the boat to the shore. 

Idyllic shot.

Storms a brewin'. We paddled right into it. The rain and wind was so strong against us we had to stop and take cover till it passed.

Manny started this little fire out of wet material while it was raining. Are you impressed Amazing Race or Naked and Afraid casting?

Paddling into civilization. According to the markings on the bridge I think we paddled back in time to 1985. 

This is what we think we look like after 3 days on the river.
Still from the Movie Kon Tiki (2013)

This is what we actually look like. Handsome.

Ready for the next adventure!

Bill out.

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