Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Rafting reinvented: Cookie gets "back on the boat" after two times "bucked" into the waters

The cliffs leading up to the beautiful Beehive Canyon are enjoyed on the river with Absaroka River Adventures.


A family suits up at the Absarokee gathering with life preservers\. 

CALL ME a coward.  Water scared. Battle scarred. A sissy. Pansy. It's true. It WAS true.
But now I'm a recovering rafter.
Two rafting accidents decades ago prevented me from "getting back on the horse" -- or hosting myself back on the raft -- until last weekend.
I've been twice "bucked outta the boat" -- once in Mystic Lake as it fed into the raging West Rosebud, and once on Oregon's Rogue River as we tried to transit five-star rapids.
My "rafting chutzpah" was way low.
Rafting the river with young, athletic rowers is a plus, and Absaroka
River Adventures carefully selects each raft's occupants for balance.
SUNDAY however, Absaroka River Adventures restored my faith in the river raft adventure and in  my ability to transit a spirited river.
THE CONTEMPLATIVE Matt Holtz, manager and owner of the enterprise, assured me that I would be safe with him and the crew. We brought along our San Diego friend, Tom Giamonco, and we all felt comforted and protected from the beginning.
Families may bring children at their discretion.-
Thrills, no spills, plus scenery mark
 the trip down the Stillwater.
After a 25-mile ride from Absarokee, we put in near Nye, Montana, a small town on the Stillwater River. We would take the Stillwater half way back toward Absarokee, via the "Upper Half Day" tour.  It was thrilling, because normally the "upper" Stillwater doesn't have enough water to buoy the rafts. LOTS OF snow melt and spring rains boded well for us.
We paddled through Class III rapids and floated the beautiful Beehive Canyon, spending time observing blue heron and eagles, enjoying the moments of calm before Matt gave us orders, "okay, we need to paddle."
As the afternoon ends, rafters amble up to land again.
We were six, plus Matt, in our raft, and five other rafts took off in this gorgeous stretch of river, long the domain of kayakers and offering beauty at every turn.
At the helm:  each raft has a
leader, a skilled captain.
We gathered in Absarokee, at the Absaroka River Adventures headquarters, and received our life jackets and encouragement.  Brent listened to my "raft accident stories" and encouraged me that this
Splashing and a few wet moment in the raft are part of the thrill! 
would be spirited, fun but safe.
SEEING BLUE heron and red-winged blackbirds thrilled our rafters, but the three high school athletes were mostly thrilled by the splashes and "wet" parts.
Cookie and Tom safe, out of the raft! 
Kudos to Matt, who described each turn of the river, pointing out rock formations and historic landmarks.  Also delightful are his right-hand man, Tim Hedin, Julie our congenial  driver, Brent, who gave me (the "Cowardly Lion,") ample courage and the whole Absaroka River Adventures crew of a dozen plus. There's a tour to fit your itinerary and needs, from half-day to full-day, gentle and spirited, family reunions and more.
We'll be back! We met rafters from Iowa, Alaska and New Jersey, all enjoying Montana's splendor.  Europeans and Asians also love the Absaroka River Adventures' offerings. sI'm riding the rapids again. Call 1 800-334-RAFT, 1 800-334-7238 to book a
Boats, beauty and water life mark the California hotel tour.
raft tour. If you're coming to this part of Montana, you won't go wrong.
COMING SOON: Favorite hotels along the California coast and why we picked them. Plus Old Town Sacramento. Remember to explore, learn and live, as we travel with a sense of fun and adventure. Visit us Wednesdays and weekends at www.whereiscookie.com

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