By Lauren Wood

Whitewater Rafting1. Comfy clothing options:
Kicking your feet up on a raft while you float beneath Grand Canyon-esque cliffs requires a different kind of attire. Much like fencing requires a mask and rock-climbing requires a harness, river rafting necessitates lounge attire. When I pack for my river trips, I always pack my softest t-shirts, some baggy shorts and flip-flops. At night I slip into a cozy down-jacket. You won’t get any points with the paparazzi but luckily you left them back in town.

2. You can justify eating whatever you want:
Being so far away from computers to accurately calorie count, on the Colorado River you are forced to adhere to the #1 rule of vacations. What is eaten on the river stays on the river. With so many opportunities to paddle, hike and play, justifying seconds on lasagna or an extra cinnamon roll is easy. And as my mom taught me, food always tastes better in the middle of nowhere, (especially if you didn’t have to cook it).

3. The power of silence:
Working in a city all off-season, I become so used to the sounds buzzing around me, sometimes I forget there is such a thing as true silence. The cars, computers, furnaces and cell-phones become normal and it takes pushing off the boat ramp on my first river trip back for the season to remember that’s not how it always is, that’s not how it has to be. The sounds on the river are there, but they are a comfort for your ears not a source of stress. Birds, wind and whitewater are a surprisingly large change of pace.

IMGP18434. Blissful ignorance:
The whole world had already mourned the death of Michael Jackson by the time I had said goodbye to the last guest. Finally calling a friend and getting clued in to the global news was surreal but also quite satisfying. For the past 4 days I wasn’t caught up in the news-headlines and shocking stories that generally take up so much space but really don’t affect my life much at all. Instead I was on a family rafting trip, explaining the physics of water moving over rocks, observing the migratory patters of Big-horn Sheep and marveling how very old the canyon walls are compared to my very short life. Michael’s death, as tragic as it was, seemed a bit less important.

Doug's mom 25. A river trip could save your life:
Even when booking a vacation and figuring out the travel logistics sounds overwhelming, that’s just your perpetually long to-do list talking. Study’s show that vacations could actually be beneficial for your health. Not only are regular vacations associated with lower mortality rates across the board, they are particularly correlated with lower rates of Coronary Heart Disease. The ever-present anxiety and stress brought on by our hectic modern lifestyle is stripped away so far from those thoughts weighing down on your shoulders. A change of scenery and a bit of whitewater provides a powerful change of pace that puts all of your worries in some perspective, and reminds us all what the most important things are. Let us help you lift that weight, if only for a few days, it will make you happier and in the long-run, more alive.

Lauren Wood on the Oars

Lauren Wood

I have been a river runner my entire life and ever since my first river trip at age two muddy water has run a current through my veins and into my heart. It was learning from the boatwomen and men of the 1990′s that led me to find my own oars. I have been a guide for Holiday River Expeditions since 2009. In the off-season I  volunteer as an member of Peaceful Uprising and work on national climate justice campaigns with Rainforest Action Network.  I find that the lessons from the river inform  my climate justice work and truly all aspects of my life. I love investigating the way natural cycles could work with our cities and influencing the currents that direct and shape our communities.

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