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A Million Little Pieces Of My Mind

Grand Canyon Sampler

By: Paul S. Cilwa Viewed: 2/23/2024
Occurred: 7/29/1998
Posted: 9/23/2015
Page Views: 2692
Topics: #GrandCanyon #Rafting #WhitewaterRafting #O.A.R.S. #Travel #Arizona
All about my 1992 Grand Canyon rafting trip with my daughter, Dottie.

Grand Canyon Sampler

Leaving on a jet plane.

Call it a mid-life crisis…for both of us.

In April of 1992, my wife of twenty years decided to "find herself"; and she decided to start the search without me. Our separation was a mutual choice and led me to two conclusions. One: I could do stuff I never could before, like take extended camping trips. And, two: I should make these trips with each of my kids. Previously, everything had to include everyone; and, since I had four kids, this was usually a prohibitively expensive proposition. One kid at a time, on the other hand, was often do-able. I decided to kick all this off with a three-day rafting trip through Grand Canyon. The company I chose is called O.A.R.S., which stands for Outdoor Adventure River Specialists.


Originally my son, John, was supposed to go on this first trip. As the youngest, he often wound up going last; so I thought, this time, I'd let him be first. But the dates I had reserved, which were perfect for him when he lived in Florida (where my ex-wife moved when we separated) conflicted with his summer school in Virginia (where she moved after Florida). So my oldest daughter, Dorothy, "lucked out" and became the grand prize winner.

She arrived in Manchester, NH, where I lived, from Virginia on Tuesday, July 28th; I picked her up and went back to work. The next afternoon we left Boston and flew to Las Vegas' McCarron Airport. We didn't have to change planes but the plane we were in did land at Philadelphia to drop off and pick up some other passengers. The good part of that was that we got two dinners. The bad part of that is that Dottie didn't like either one of them. But I did! (I have this odd trait of loving airplane food. Hey, it's a dirty job but somebody has to do it, right?)

Arrival at McCarron Airport

We got to McCarron airport a little later than planned, after 11 p.m. Las Vegas time—about 2 a.m. by our internal clocks. And then we had to wait nearly an hour for the motel shuttle to arrive to take us to the Westward Ho. There was a guy and his wife also waiting for the shuttle. He couldn't relax. He paced back and forth, back and forth, muttering about how long it was taking (although the motel told him what time the shuttle would arrive when he called). Finally he suggested that he and I share the cost of a taxi to the motel. He seemed quite miffed that I wasn't as upset over taking an additional twenty minutes to get to the motel slot machines as he was.

But, in time, the motel shuttle did, indeed arrive to pick us up. This being my first trip to Las Vegas, actually an incidental stop on a trip that was focused on Arizona's Grand Canyon, I was amazed at all the lights. It seemed like night in Las Vegas is like, well, day.

Who could sleep amid all the lights?

Dottie and I agreed to let Desperate Man and his wife to exit the shuttle and check in ahead of us. I kind of knew that Las Vegas hotels contain casinos; but I did not expect the hotel lobby to be in one.

The lobby of our hotel IS a casino

The motel only cost $29.00 a night. It was clean and adequate, and the beds were comfortable enough.

The beds were comfortable. Dottie

But we were both still wound up from the trip, and spent far too long discussing what we expected from rafting and Grand Canyon, which Dottie had never seen. (I'd seen it just once, when I was 10.)

We did finally drift off, however. Our 5:30 AM wakeup call was going to come all too soon.

1992 Grand Canyon Sampler: Day 1

By: Paul S. Cilwa Occurred: 7/30/1992
Posted: 9/23/2015
Page Views: 1363
Topics: #GrandCanyon #Rafting #WhitewaterRafting #O.A.R.S.
Photos and narrative our our first day rafting the Grand Canyon Sampler.

We landed at a beach called Whitmore Wash. Besides OARS' five yellow rafts, there were two large, blue, motorized rafts belonging to another company. All the raft tours run the entire Canyon, about a two-week trip (less for the motorized rafts, of course). Not everyone can spend two weeks on the river; so OARS offers a variety of trip lengths. On several of them, the rafts stop at Whitmore Wash, send their previous passengers to the Bar-10, and receive a new batch. This time, the new batch included ourselves.

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1992 Grand Canyon Sampler: Day 2

By: Paul S. Cilwa Occurred: 7/31/1992
Posted: 9/23/2015
Page Views: 1452
Topics: #GrandCanyon #Rafting #WhitewaterRafting #O.A.R.S.
Photos and narrative our our second day rafting the Grand Canyon Sampler.

You've never seen the stars shine with such brilliance. There were so many of them, they actually drowned out some of the usual constellations. The Milky Way spilled across the sky like real milk. The stars were even brighter than they are in Vermont. They were so thick you could see them occluded by bats, swooping and flitting to get their fill of insects. Flying insects never bothered us, though, although I did get one red ant bite at Pumpkin Spring that hurt for days.

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1992: Grand Canyon Sampler: Day 3

By: Paul S. Cilwa Occurred: 8/1/1992
Posted: 9/23/2015
Page Views: 1560
Topics: #GrandCanyon #Rafting #WhitewaterRafting #O.A.R.S.
Photos and narrative our our last day rafting the Grand Canyon Sampler.

The next thing we knew it was morning, and time for eggs, bacon, English muffins, and melons. Mike had had a better night than the previous one, but he still wasn't happy. He didn't like the sand. When I suggested that he wash off in the river, he said he didn't like the river water. He also didn't like sleeping on the ground, being exposed to so much sunlight, sitting in the raft, or hiking. I asked why he had come, and he said his wife "made" him. She, incidentally, was having a great time, except for having to listen to her husband complain.

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