EDITOR’S DESK: January is a special month, because it sets the tone for a new year. We are very proud of the tone Dirt Bag Paddlers set for 2017 with the collection of #DBFamily stories we delivered to you throughout the month. We hope we’ve inspired you to get out there with your loved ones and enjoy the wonders that the rivers of the world hold for us all!
We finish out the month with our usual photo spread, with a twist… We lead off with two short tales, following up with some other quick vignettes in our typical “Take Out” format, highlighting the wide variety of formats that #DBFamily takes around globe. From the USA and Brasil: enjoy!
This past fall I was lucky and humbled to join the DBP Family. Any DBP Admin knows that’s exactly how it feels to be a part of this special, fun focused community. Shortly after on October 15th I felt the same way as I took the ultimate rafting plunge and married the most incredible woman I’ve ever known, Sonia Kudalsky Glassman. (Cheesy I know, but also truth!) My only requirement for the wedding was for the ceremony and reception to be on the river. My then fiancé and now wife was stoked with the idea and picked the river that we felt our relationship truly was built upon, the Upper Colorado River.
Our first year of dating we lived 2 hours away from one another and would meet every weekend at the Pumphouse on the Colorado, rafting all weekend long. Sonia would shout in the rapids to me, “I don’t want to swim, I don’t want to swim!” and my reply would always be, “It’s gonna go how it goes!”, and luckily so far with her in the raft it’s gone Wallace free. From high-water to low we found excitement, peace, trust, and an unbreakable bond for one another through the currents and rapids of the river.
Fast forward 4 years later and we found ourselves sharing vows in front of family at our favorite beach campsite nestled tightly in the head of Little Gore Canyon. The ceremony went smooth with lots of river flare, from an “oar arch” to a crab boil lunch. Watching Sonia float down to the site on our friend’s raft with her family, I knew the greatest adventure of all was just beginning and we had picked the perfect place to start a river family. We met up with all our rafting friends at the next put in and formed a killer party barge down to the take out, followed by a epic party on the banks of the Colorado. The entire wedding was unique and filled with love and fun just like we try to live everyday.
As we start planning for more additions to our river family we are stoked to show and build the same bonds the two of us have found with all the incredible times that each river holds. Now our family motto will always be “ A family that rafts together, stays together!”
Being a Dirt Bag Paddler parent has taught me patience, offering opportunity when I can but understanding that I don’t want to push and control my young children. I want to offer, to expose through my example, and guide them to the best experience when they do express interest in going to the river. A couple things that I have learned through this process is the following, hopefully this can help other dirtbags starting the journey of parenting and exposing kids to the river.
1. Bring your dog! Having a dog on the trip calms kids. It gives them someone to care for as we care after them. My kids love watching our dog swim in the river and are concerned about her in the raft. Also, her energy and happiness to be with us on the river is contagious.
My son’s looking after our dog Minnie in 2016.
2. Snacks: You have to bring your river snacks to keep the kids’ energy levels up. Be flexible on time. More often than not it is logistically the worst time when they ask for food 500 meters before the take out or 5 minutes after shoving off.
Mateus counting crackers on Whale Rock.
3. Friends: As the kids get older if they can bring one friend or maybe another family on the trip with you, they seem to feed off each other and bring an excitement level that old pops just can’t get out of them. The last couple of trips where I have done this, I have also noticed my kids turning into mini guides for their friends, letting them know about the rapid coming up, how to paddle and sit in the raft, or how the jump rock works.
4. Clothing: I am constantly surprised how often my kids ask for splash jackets or neoprene socks even on what I would consider hot days. I mean who says they are cold on an 85-degree day in a river with rain water temperature? …My kids are truly Brazilian. I just pack all of it regardless of how hot it is. I found one of the best ways to ruin a trip is have them complaining about being too cold and not having anything to give them.
In Maine, DBP Admin Beth MacKinney and husband Scott are true lifelong dirtbags who met and fell in love with the river and each other as raft guides back in the day. They’ve raised their children Maddie and Connor with love for the river and their #DBFamily. Connor is fighting cancer with all of his might, and all of DBP sends out love and strength to him and all the McKinneys. #ConnorStrong!!
In Brasil, DBP Admin Fabiana Cordeiro and her husband Marcos also met as raft guides and fell in love! Now they are sharing that love with daughter Cecelia! One day soon we will watch as this #DBPrincess leads Team Brasil to a IRF championship!
In Wisconsin, DBP Co-Founders Nick and Dale #danewho Guarniere were raised on the river with youngest brother Austin by their dad Tony, owner and 25 year river guide at Kosir’s Rapid Rafts, original home of Dirt Bag Paddlers. Tony had the boys out on the river at an early age, and all three followed their father into guiding, as these throwback photos attest. Dale and Nick still work full time at Kosir’s, where Nick is mowing raising his son Cam in the family business.
In Oregon, Co-Founder Jason Flannery met and fell in love with the future Mrs. Flannery out on the river. He knew it was love when he and DBP Admin Cairo went R2ing! They took their vows on the side of the Deschutes River, and two of the biggest dirtbags were off the market for good!
And here in Illinois, yours truly “Chicago” Mike Toughill is celebrating the 12th year of love with my wife Nikki. We first met on a raft trip I was guiding on the Peshtigo River at Kosir’s. We’ve weathered many rapids over the years, like any #DBFamily, but she still trusts me to lead her down the river. (Although I think she prefers it when we go on a paid trip in another country, like Costa Rica! Hahahahah!) And yeah I didn’t end up in the middle of the river in that last pic without the help of my dear friend #Wallace!!