Back in the fall I called Heath and said I didn’t wan to go rafting anymore…not kidding. It sounds insane now, but back then we really had no idea what this trip would be about. I kept picturing us wet and cold for over two weeks straight and it didn’t sound like an ounce of fun. There were so many times on the bicycle trip where you would think “why the hell am I doing this?” I didn’t want to willingly put myself in that situation, with no break, just for the sake of saying I did something. The things I suffer for have to be fun at least part of the time, otherwise what’s the point? When people write me and want advice on how to bicycle across the country, I give them a few pointers, but I always mention that they’d better find some fun shit to do along the way or else they just signed up for a job, a job riding a bicycle. But on this job, instead of getting paid, you work hard every day and at the end you get out your checkbook and write the words “five thousand dollars.”
Well, several weeks went by after the call, I’m listening to a song and all of the sudden I think “Are you serious? Get off your ass and go battle the canyon man!” I love what I do for a living, but at the end of the day, I live for life stories, not work. If I have something to obsess about and look forward to, then every day has a purpose. The song is called “Remember the Mountain Bed” by Billy Bragg and Wilco and it’s almost entirely about something completely different, but there’s this line, and the line basically called me a pussy to my face and said “call Heath and tell him you’re an idiot”
“I learned the reason why man must work and how to dream big dreams
To conquer time and space and fight the rivers and the seas”
When I paid attention to those words, in a song I’d heard so many times, I realized that this trip was the first time that we’d do something that was truly adventurous and I wanted back in. I wanted to not have a good safety net. I wanted to not know what was around the corner, and I wanted to be forced to navigate on my own without a damn iPhone for christ’s sake. Riding a bike for two months is rad, but when you can stop and eat corn dogs at gas stations whenever you want, it takes some of the grit out of it.
Wait, I take that back. Riding a bike 3,300 miles on mountain dew and corn dogs is gritty. Isn’t it?
When I think of the ultimate adventure, I think of things that have to do with with water. Water is the most beautiful thing in the world and also the most brutal thing in the world, so it makes for the most amazing bitter sweet relationship on Earth. There aren’t too many things in life where the same thing that brings you the greatest pleasure is also the thing that can come the closest to killing you. Think Truman and Lt. Dan. (click here or here)
I’ve mentioned how important music was to this trip, and at one point I even filmed my exact viewpoint from the front of the raft for 4 minutes while I listened to my favorite Bob Dylan song, but it didn’t do it justice, it’s just wasn’t the same. Just take my word that when you lie on your back looking at those giant stone walls slowly passing by and listing to “Don’t Think Twice It’ Alright”, it’s right up there with the greatest bed you’ve ever slept in and the greatest steak you’ve ever eaten.
(don’t pay attention to the rat race in this video)
So that was it, that’s all it took, a song. The rest is history now and I can safely say that Timmy was right, it is the best thing on the planet. I don’t think I’ve been so into a trip from beginning to end ever in my life, usually there’s at least a small part in there somewhere where you’re over it and you just want to go home. There was some of the greatest scenery I’ve ever witnessed, some thrill seeking mixed in, good food, shitloads of laughs, and almost no other human beings around to spoil it. I’ve already re-entered the lottery and I can’t wait to go back.
I have no idea of what we’ll do next, or if we’ll ever do this whole thing again, but one day I’m fulfilling my life long goal of sailing across the damn Pacific Ocean if it kills me. Heath is well aware of this idea and is apparently down for it. One day via text he asked me how much a sailboat costs and told me he doesn’t want to cut corners because “if I’m gonna die on this thing I want it to be nice.”
Thanks for reading…
25 thoughts on “Over and Out”
You are pretty much the biggest tease ever.
enjoyed all of this. your writing / photography is top notch and i hope you keep developing and get something big published some day. till the next one. buen viaje
Thanks Zach, see you next time.
Great photos and outlook on life. I travel as much as humanly possible and agree you’ve got to see everything in this life. You should definitely sail across the Pacific…go to Papau New Guinea when you land the boat! Heath looks so happy on the water in that first photo 🙂
loved it brother!
beautiful images, as always.
enjoyed the daily read & the consistent feeling of envy…
can’t wait for the next one!
Thanks for such great writing and photos. It seems like the trip was so short. I like your new trip idea, with all that time just staring at the stars and all that water you will have time to write a book of your previous adventures. I wish I could talk Libby into doing something adventurous, all I want her to do is walk out on the glass walkway above the grand canyon with me. Maybe you can convince her to do more dangerous things. Thanks again for taking all of us on these adventures.
I hope you sail the Pacific! I want to go too! And if you’re looking for inspiring adventure stories about the trip, check out Thor Heyerdahl’s book, Kon-Tiki, in which he describes building a balsa raft and sailing across the ocean on it. Fish jump out of the water during the night, land on the boat, and they cook the fish for breakfast in the mornings.
Such an awesome blog as always, you guys are the shit.. I hope you and Heath find a sail boat worthy of potential death. This blog is a great idea for a tv show, the crazy trips and shit.
You guys are truly exceptional humans; without being overtly explicit, corny or exclusive, I felt the trip was delineated in a pretty perfect manner – through great pictures, insightful narrative, humour, tangents, and just generally random, trivial facts that should pique anyone’s interest.
In a world of bland, diluted bullshit (from Dylan Rieder fashion-blogs to iPhone apps), what you guys presented and experienced is in many ways the essence of what living is and always should be.
I’m not comparing anything I’ve physically done to rafting through the Grand Canyon, but I jumped in a van with some random strangers last summer without any real destination in mind. I heard some dudes were going “south” (in Europe) so I just hopped in with them and “winged it”. We drove halfway across the continent, slept on beaches, rowed out to ships & cruisers in the middle of the Mediterranean-sea and climbed mountains in the Alps. Being out there is the most remunerative feeling of all… fuck iPhones; tumblr; facebook; The Berrics; and inhibitions.
Thanks for sharing.
I was one of the people you gave advice to about a cycling trip and I’m still thankful for the response. Your blog has gotten to be one of the highlights of my year. My friend that I rode cross-country with and I would always talk about the sailing trip we want to take someday. It’s good to know that I will see your version of it as well. Thanks for sharing this trip with everyone.
Jeff Vallee – Well lived.
Onward! Great blog. Thanks for sharing.
I really enjoyed reading this. Thanks for being awesome and sharing it.
Thanks for letting all of us share your adventures
I love your sense of adventure. I look forward to hearing what comes next.
Next trip, John Muir Trail or Appalachian trail?
Always inspirational. Thanks Jeff
Nice to know someone’s living. It’s sounds corny and what not but you’re all very inspiring in your own way!
Thank you so much.
Your tales of adventure and just the fact that you guys are getting out and doing it is such an inspiration. It is so rad to see people go out and challenge themselves and have an adventure for the sake of adventure. I also love seeing you guys try stuff that is so different to what you would usually do. Your tales of adventure really inspire me and i plan to create a trip for myself in the same spirit as you guys.
Thank you again and i look forward to seeing your next adventure.
Loved reading your blog, fantastic writing and an amazing trip. Can you point me in the direction of the company that organised your rafts? I’m really interested in giving this a shot myself.
Canyon REO was the company, they are amazing. have them do your food for sure.
what’s next?! really enjoyed reading all of these.
Just days away from the next one. Subscribe.
I can’t wait for the next adventure. The blog is nice, probably my favorite but this content is too good for a blog, I’m ready for the book.