"On the first part of the journey
I was looking at all the life
There were plants and birds and rocks and things
There was sand and hills and rings
The first thing I met was a fly with a buzz
And the sky with no clouds
The heat was hot and the ground was dry
But the air was full of sound

I've been through the desert on a horse with no name
It felt good to be out of the rain
In the desert you can remember your name
'Cause there ain't no one for to give you no pain -"

lyrics from On a Horse with no name - from the band called America

Leon and I returned recently from an amazing canoe journey down the Green River through the Canyon Lands in Utah. We have been to this amazing part of the world 3 times. 20 years ago, Leon and I had our first kiss in nearby Ruby Canyon on the Colorado River and we drank cold beer at Woody's Pub in Moab, 19 years ago we returned to do a down river run on the Green River in sea kayaks, and 18 years ago we drove through the Canyon Lands camping and exploring Arches National Park with our cat Hatteras.

So it seemed appropriate to go back to the Green and our beloved desert after getting engaged this summer, but this time we took our red Esquif Canyon tandem canoe. The perfect craft for a trip down the Green! We knew that a canoe would afford more ease with loading and unloading, and more storage in general for things like crazy creek chairs and extra beer and produce. We weren't exactly sure how a trip in a tandem would be for the two of us, it really could have gone either way - extremely badly or extremely well. Luckily, it all went well in the tandem! Maybe it went well because Leon acquiesced a lot to paddling the bow position, with me stubbornly remaining in the stern.

We traveled together with 11 other friends - Erik and Megan Schorr from Anacortes Kayak Tours and their two incredible kids Taiga (7 years old) and Tashi (4 years old). Tashi kept me company while I painted with watercolors on our days off. Taiga and Leon worked on the art of jumping off sand bars. Asher and Blake who worked hard this past season with AKT came along and kept us all young. It was mind boggling how quickly Asher "ran" up the canyon walls and Blake shared some of his secrets to photography along the way. Our Orcas friend Wendolyn Michnay joined us as well whom never had been to this part of the world. Wendy saw her first petroglyph on this trip and got stuck in the mud a few times more than she bargained. Dan Moos and Pat Peacock, veterans of interesting paddling trips joined us and added their lovely light hearted spirit to the adventure. Nikki Rekmann and her husband Mark both tried and tested canoe expeditioners from B.C. joined us and showed us how to really pack a canoe! Nikki is a rep for Kokatat, Werner, and Esquif canoes...and a very dear friend. Thanks everyone for your company and fun on the river!

Being on the river helped keep things calm and relaxed for everyone. As you paddle you find your mind drifting off and marveling at the huge scale and the myriad of ochre and red clay colors of the canyon walls. You can't help but think of the history that surrounds you - the layers of sediment representing millions of years passing by with each stroke and the evidence of ancient peoples and creatures that once lived there. It was so quiet that you could hear the wing flap of a raven coming long before you saw the bird. Beaver slides and coyote tracks were found everyday in the mud. Ant hills, lizards, spiders, beetles, and butterflies were around everyday. Great Blue Herons somehow looked even more dinosaur like out there. It is a place rich in culture, history, and wildness. The desert is alive and dead all at the same time. In the desert most plants have spines, thorns, and strong musty smells and most have some weird adaptation to hold moisture in.

A slow 3 knot current carried us effortlessly downstream everyday. We enjoyed lunch in the sun most afternoons playing on the sand spits and found the red mud hard not to embrace as it got onto and into just about everything! 11 days in hot sunny weather, and 10 nights under cool clear star filled nights. Taiga and Tashi requested to sleep outside under the stars most nights! We talked about the origin of the universe, drank cold beer, warmed our toes by the fire lit in the required small fire pan, ate great food (because you can bring just about anything in a canoe!) and had time to hike, paint, explore, play, and sleep in. We could not have asked for a better vacation.

We highly recommend this trip to anyone who has a spirit of adventure and doesn't mind getting mud between your toes!

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