Colorado River through Cataract Canyon SUP

“You should do it. I asked last time.”

“No, I think it’s your turn.”

Kate and I are arguing about who will ask Lauren to borrow a sleeping pad for our upcoming camping trip. Oh, and also a headlamp. And, maybe, if Lauren doesn’t mind, an extra tarp. When we are getting ready for a camping trip, I approach Lauren like I approach my father, deferent and slightly intimidated. Lauren has the plan, the equipment, the best way to camp. I am a helpless child.

But I’ve always rebelled against my father, even (and maybe especially) when I have most needed him. Don’t tell me what to do. Similarly, I find myself pushing back against Lauren. Sure, I need to borrow your gear, but do we really need hit the road so early? Do we really need to pack the car so neatly? Can’t we just go with the flow?

But, alas we pack the car like we are playing tetris (rather than stuffing a sleeping bag: my regular method of packing anything). We leave early. Lauren drives. And, we get there on time. And, we have everything we need. And, of course, I feel thankful that Lauren made the proper arrangements, despite my complaining. We have time to enjoy the day. We actually have the time to go with the flow.

The flow will swallow you if you don’t have a fully-rigged raft. The flow can be full of rapids and weather and unexpected hunger. Thankfully, Lauren has the snacks. Lauren has been training for this.

Seriously, Lauren has been neck deep in the ‘Holiday Way’ since she was just a little river-pebble. It’s a layer of skin, a dimension of her soul, a special extra coil in Lauren’s brain that always asks, “could this be done better?” It’s actually in her DNA.

Dee Holladay, Lauren’s grandpa and the founder of Holiday River Expeditions, was an innovator. He started out by working alongside Jack Curry, Georgie White, and some of the other old-time river-running masters of his day. And then he asked himself, “how can I do what they do, and how can I do it better?” Maybe “better” is not the right word (he had a big personality, but not an arrogant one), but it was the result. He took what he could find and made it smarter, whether that was the triple-rig or his own employees.

Lauren describes Dee’s way as “safety, comfort, and elegant efficiency.” What does that mean in practice? It means “never go down to the boats without at least one item that you need to put away, and never return from the boats without at least one item you need at camp.” It means that Holiday has taken their four burner “partner” stoves, split them in half, and then welded new stands for them. This way, they can fit both a griddle and a dutch oven on the flames at once.

An efficient breakfast means a timely departure. Going with the flow means, first and foremost, getting into the flow!

The ‘Holiday way’ is not a set of rules, but a mentality, a way of being on and around the river. Okay, well, there are a few rules. But they are for your own good (said every father ever)! The rules have come from over fifty years of experience guiding these same rivers. And like any good rule, they evolve as times and needs change. The banks of the river are defined by the flow of the water, not the other way around. Even a rule-breaker like me can see the logic in that.

There’s a reason I write the blogs for Holiday rather than running the rivers. I don’t have the ‘Holiday Way’. I like to write because I can dive into the work unprepared and make it up as I go. And because I can eat breakfast at 10am. When I plan the camping trip, we get lost, which usually fine because there are no rapids or boats or paying customers. But when things are higher stakes, I let Lauren take the reigns. The fact that she practices the ‘Holiday Way’ means that I don’t have to (sorry Lauren).

As a participant on a Holiday river trip you can be like me: lay back and let the professionals tell you what to do, be a helpless and happy child. Or, you can jump right in, become a disciple in the ‘Holiday Way’. Either way, you will get to run with the legacy of Dee Holladay. You will get to go with the flow in elegant efficiency, from the morning bacon to the class three rapids.

 

Easton Smith is a Local Wasatch Front resident and writer.   He spends his time community organizing, rock-climbing and playin’ some mean banjo.  For more writing from Easton, check out his organizing collective’s blog “Brine Waves” here or stay tuned for future loggings in River Currents.

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