June 1, 2011

Family River Rafting: The Story of Dwight & Susan Burdick coming Full Circle w/ Holiday River Expeditions

After two rising water Yampa trips and another on the Green River in May, our youngest son Tim “TBurd” Burdick, guiding for Holiday River Expeditions since 2009, will launch another, maybe even higher water, Yampa trip this morning. In a few weeks, our eldest daughter, Allegra “Legs” Burdick, will start another season guiding part time for Holiday’s Idaho operations.

This marks the continuing saga of the more than 33 years association of the Burdick family with Holiday.

It all started back in May 1977

A much younger Dwight Burdick cajoled two Park City pals, Frogg Stewart and Dave Bodner, both guiding for Holiday, into helping him get a seat on the annual spring Holiday training trip. Building on that experience, and on a couple more Holiday trips that summer, Dwight bought a raft, built a knock off Holiday frame, and set it up for private trips, using planning, packing, and menus all “borrowed” from Holiday.

Then followed something exceptional on July 1, 1978

With a private Yampa River permit in hand and a kit of Holiday inspired equipment, Dwight and another pal, Mike Wilson, headed off to Vernal, UT, to meet up with a couple of Salt Lake City kayakers Mike had invited to join the trip. Mostly it was those skills learned at Holiday which impressed one of the kayakers, Susan Philpot, enough that she sat on an ammo can watching while Dwight prepped a stuffed baked salmon for dinner, and then joined him on a silver space blanket for one of those fantastic evening river socials, on the beach at TeePee Bend.

The river romance that followed encompassed two exhilarating seasons kayaking and rafting on the big rivers of Utah, Colorado, and Idaho. There is something unique about river romances. Stripped of most of those aspects of urban romances which may tend toward the superficial, and forced to expose weaknesses along with strengths in a demanding and generally unforgiving environment, a couple courting on the river might arguably learn more about each other than in a year or two of marriage. Thus it was with Dwight and Susan, who built bonds which are stronger today than they were more than 32 years ago.

Which leads us to September 15, 1979

It seemed only natural and appropriate that this romance, begun on the river and nurtured on the river, should be formally consummated on the river. Although there had been kayaking and rafting trips on the Yampa, Green, Colorado, San Juan, and Snake rivers, one trip predominated as the couple returned again and again to the Colorado River and Westwater Canyon which remains even today their favorite.

Dee and Sue Holladay graciously agreed to help secure the necessary permits and supply the rafts and guides for the charter wedding trip. Maybe seventy guests, guides, members of the Deseret String Band, and a Mormon Stake President, filled a bevy of Holiday rafts and headed on down

With the beautiful black Vishnu Schist of Hades as base and backdrop, the wedding party assembled, the Desert String Band played on, the Bridesmaids and Groomsmen lined up, and the Bride and Groom walked down from their favorite perch high above the river below.

The most incredible setting possible for the beginning of a life sentence of shared love, shared pain, and shared pleasure for Dwight and Susan, now happily married for almost 32 years, proud parents of four, two of whom continue the family tradition of association with Holiday River Expeditions, guiding for Holiday.