Monday at BayCon 2013

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There are fewer options on the final day, and the available time is short, so opportunities for plans to stray from reality are fewer.  We’d expect less divergence…here are the results of our field test:

Time Frame What the Plan was What really happened
Monday morning Sleep in a bit, then go to session on James Bond vs Dr Who, and finally pick up art if I win any auctions.

One of Patricia McCracken's Little Dragons came home with me!  Find your own here http://www.patriciamccracken.com/miniprint.html

One of Patricia McCracken’s Little Dragons came home with me! Find your own here .

Did sleep in.  Fed horses & scooped manure, too.  Didn’t arrive until close to noon.Trekked to the Art Show first to pick up the two pieces I’d bought, but then also discovered my single bid on the dragon-butterfly print was the winning bid.  So paid and went to look for that panel talk.  JB vs DW still ongoing, but after a half-hour I figured I’d had about all I needed on the topic.  So no regrets about turning up so late. 

My next move was to get my art safely into the car, though I did make a detour to make sure there was no boffering available today.  Dang.  Just another panel talk going on in what had been Boffer Central.

 

So I betook myself down to the Gaming Room to buy a coke and eat lunch.  Two older teenagers who had joined in on the dancing last night were there playing some form of D&D.  The one thing I haven’t done at this convention is play games, and it looks like that will have to be another time.  For now, I just have to settle for having spent some time hanging out in the Gaming Room.

Monday afternoon Go to session on “how to build a spaceship.”  Go home!

First firing of the Falcon 9-R advanced prototype rocket. Via Elon Musk on Twitter. Read more: http://www.universetoday.com/102692/spacex-tests-falcon-9-r-advanced-reusable-prototype-rocket/#ixzz2WVt42LYG

First firing of the Falcon 9-R advanced prototype rocket. Via Elon Musk on Twitter.   At least there is a good place to read about the topic I skipped:  start here.

 

MKB's latest novel in the Star Wars universe

MKB’s latest novel in the Star Wars universe

 

 

California Autism Foundation

California Autism Foundation

 

diy

 

 

 

 

 

It was easier to walk to the media tie-in panel from the Gaming Room, so that’s where I went.   I hadn’t actually looked at the list of panelist, so it was a pleasing surprise to see Maya Kaathryn Bohnhoff  there, in her capacity as a leading author in Star Wars novels.  Her panel partner, Kevin Andrew Murphy, works also in gaming tie-ins and had a much more positive spin on the quality of that literature than the board-game guy in yesterday’s panel.  Overall, I gained a much better picture of life as a tie-in fiction author.  And an appreciation for authors who can face intense fans in the middle of a panel.    Btw, about half the people in the audience are people I recognize.So things were winding down, including the dealer’s room.  So I went on up to the closing ceremonies.  In between that and the “hiss and purr” session, there was some dead time.  I poked my head into the Art Room to see how the art auction had wrapped up.  One of the women I remember from dancing last night was clutching the steampunk flamingo.  Turns out it hadn’t had any bids, so the artist had offered it to her at a lesser price in order to avoid hauling it home.  Good for her! 

Next stop:  the Gaming Room, for one last donation to the California Autism Foundation (the beneficiary of the Charity Vending machine) from which I gained a Coke for myself and an accidentally-vended ginger ale which I could donate to one of the nearby volunteers.

 

I was determined to stay for the critique session because I wanted to praise the DIY idea.  The downside was having to sit through a huge laundry list of facility complaints and an equally lengthy recitation of praises for hotel staff.  However, managed to retain my nerve enough to actually participate in the “programming” discussion.

 

After that subject was concluded, I took off for Nob Hill.  Not the SF landmark, the grocery store.  Got home before the guys and even fixed dinner for everyone.  Does tacos count as dinner?

 

It’s All About the Sand

OK, Time for Our First Entry in SECRETS REVEALED!!!

#1  It’s All About the Sand

Approaching a Grand Canyon rafting trip, all you think about are those thrilling rapids, the blazing sun, and the electrifying/drenching thunderstorms. Your packing list is heavy on waterproof gear, quick-drying clothing, sunblock, and hats.  But at least half of your time is spent in the Kingdom of the Sand Demon, and you will be reminded of that for weeks to come, as you find sand in yet another impermeable item.

Think of it this way:  the glistening white sand beaches along the Colorado River are formed of particles eroded from a mile of rock—much of it sandstone, no less, and almost all of it the product of eons of marine sedimentary deposition—with the grinding-down happening over five or six million years.  All those thousands of thousands of years of tumbling in the river yields sand so fine that it blows right through your tent walls.  Yes, really.  You will snuggle down to sleep in your little tent with the windows and doors zipped tight (because you did notice all that sand out there and were even sharp enough to notice that the wind tends to shift its direction and roar turbulently down the canyon every evening).  And you will wake up with a layer of dust-scale sand all over your gear, your sleeping bag, your mat, and your face.

Yes, beautiful sandy beaches!

Yes, beautiful sandy beaches!

So—once you think about it, there is no mystery.  Ultrafine sand plus forceful winds equals sand in everything.  Most of the time it is a minor annoyance, an opportunity to bond with your travelmates: “Yep, I have sand in my beer/cocoa/coffee/soda/water, too.” Sometimes, it’s just another technical chore, such as brushing the sand out of your waterproof camera housing.  But sometimes, it’s a way to mark yourself as a seasoned river-runner:  the clean, safe water supply at Phantom Ranch was “turbid” (nanoscale sand, yes?) when we stopped by—so Billie advised the crew to pump water through the team’s super-filters for refills, instead of simply using the Park Service’s ready-to-use water, in order to avoid giving the new arrivals an unpleasant surprise on their first day.  We old hands merely filled our bottles at the tap and chugged the wetness gratefully.

On occasion, it’s more than annoying (see my Day Two Morning whine-session).   To quickly recover from the more-than-annoying times, bring the following:  an eye cup and a tube of liquid tears.  If you have any dry-eye issues, make sure to bring your medication.  If your weight allowance allows, tuck in a bottle of pH-balanced eyewash.  If you don’t need these supplies, fine.  But if someone else does, you will make a friend for life!

And to save those supplies for being a hero, apply an ounce of prevention.  If you’re a side-sleeper, face away from the tent walls.   Tuck a headband in your gear—if you find yourself waking up with sand in your face, use the headband as a night-time eye covering and wash your face in the morning.  Shake the sand out of your sleeping gear before packing it away in the morning.  Try to keep your hands reasonably clean—humans are always putting their fingers in their eyes, but you sure notice it more when you rub sand into them!  And if you must sleep under the stars, tent-free, choose a less-comfortable spot out of the sand-blow.  (You’ll realize the guides don’t concern themselves with tents—but they are usually bunking down on their boats.  On the water.  Away from the sand.)

Keep in mind, this is no excuse to Avoid The Trip.  Just one of the Secrets they don’t tell in the literature.  To paraphrase one of Clark’s favorite poets, Robert W. Service, “It isn’t the river ahead that wears you out; it’s the grain of sand in your eye”.

Want to read the real quote, and more?  A good place to start is Goodreads.  Yes.  Pun intended.

And remember, add $10 to your budget for:

A proper eye cup.  Bring your old glass version if you have one--this the the best out there now.

A proper eye cup. Bring your old glass version if you have one–this is the best plastic one.

adforeyewash

Kinder than water and sand-free.

liquidtears

Helpful dose for irritated eyes…not the stinging “red out” stuff.

 

This is just a gallery of photos from the first day in the Grand Canyon.  Not in any particular order, either.

To see the photos in full format (and, in the case of vertical images, the full view), double-click on any one image, then use “previous” and “next” buttons to move around.

Yes, of course, the images are copyrighted.   Says so at the bottom of the page AND in the image IFTC’s.  Trip members–read the details, though.  You got  rights!  And if you can’t figure out the who’s-who, just email me, OK?

 

Sunday at BayCon 2013

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The last full day of the convention is truly the moment when plans and results can be expected to diverge the most.  One must combine shifts in plans from the ORIGINAL plan with adjustments in expectations resulting from events of the first few days.  Here is how this instance worked out:

Time Frame What the Plan was What really happened
Sunday morning See if there’s something different to do in the Arduino II workshop and if not, go to the Dr. Who birds-of-a-feather (BoF) get-together.  Sit in on the panel discussion on how to differentiate among various dragons–if that is boring, go on to the live podcast of Poe’s “The Raven”.

Trish Henry's Butterflytastic Arduino Organ Housing

Trish Henry’s Butterflytastic Arduino Organ Housing

And My Own Finished Arduino Project

And My Own Finished Project

 

 

Costume Swap find, ready for Regency dancing.

Costume Swap & Dealers’ Room finds, ready for Regency!

 

Actually made it to the Arduino workshop at 9:30.  They were still getting things organized for the second session, so maybe that counts as being on time.  It was the same projects, but with fewer participants (it being 9 a.m. on Sunday), so there was plenty of room for me. 

I joined a table where two others had chosen the same project–a master-crafter who put together her project in half the time I needed and an astronomer from Reno who had watched the annular eclipse not far from where I had been.

 

In time, I got my software downloaded, wiring connections made, taking advantage of help from Arduino Labs’ Larry Burch & his friend Tim Laren & the soldering wizard whose name I failed to get.  Got all my decorations done and even sort of got it working.  The mapping of the connections isn’t quite right on the scale, but I can reprogram at home.  Yay!

The costume swap took place in the back of the DIY room while we were hot-gluing our hardware.  When the swap was over, the person-in-charge called out, “Last call!  If you want something, take it!”  We tech DIY’rs were stalled waiting for turns to get software downloaded at the time, so several of us rummaged through the pile.  I found a long dress that was part of someone’s costume for something & one of the other women encouraged me to give it a try.  Hey, I could squeeze into it—so now I have a dress to wear for Regency dancing tonight!

 

And by the time we were all done, it was after noon.  I carried my prizes out to the car and ate lunch.  More peanut-butter-or-jelly, but with salad today.  Forgot to pack chips.

 

Next:  plenty of time for a purchasing visit to the Dealers’ Room.  Found a piece of jewelry (a necklace in a vaguely steampunk style) within my budget and bought it.  Sweet.  Finally feel “dressed for SF”.

Sunday afternoon Go to session on getting the “swords” right in Swords and Sorcery, then to the Cassini Mission panel–the ONLY real science panel at this con.

American 1890's belly-dancer "Little Egypt"

American 1890’s belly-dancer “Little Egypt”

 

 

NASA-CassiniTitan

Cassini at Titan? Missed this panel!

 

 

 

What the youngsters don't know about kaffeeklatsch

Can you believe what  youngsters don’t know about kaffeeklatsch?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Remember WorldCon 2002?

Remember WorldCon 2002?

 

 

 

 

 

 

LMB signs my copy of her first appearance in Analog! Yesss!

LMB signs my copy of her first appearance in Analog! Yesss!

 

And Installment IV--signed, too.

And Installment IV–signed, too.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Ewww.  The Swords presentation turned out to be extremely in-your-face (literally) factual, with photographs of people with cuts and blood and so on.  Double-icky.  I exited swiftly and dashed to Mary Cordero’s belly-dance workshop.

 

Oh, now, that was so much super-fun!  Learned basic belly-dance techniques, picked up some dance history, practiced and played with movement, and had fun in a roomful of women.  Well, let’s be honest, two of the drummers were  guys and one brave man was trying the dance himself.

 

Most people think belly dance is only for women, but clearly Mary is not one to put up barriers–and there’s a strong tradition of men (and not just gay men) involved in the art form.  Check out “Whose dance is this anyway?”  I have also since learned about Tahtib, which is stick-fighting, like Eskrima, and would be a totally cool addition to this con, as it blends boffers and belly-dance.

 

This “women’s dance” is real exercise, so I pulled off my overjacket and scarf, to discover I’d put on my butterfly shirt backwards.  Oh, well, I pulled my arms in and switched it around.  We’re all “girls” here, right?  Mary kept the workload light, so we ended up a little sweaty but not exhausted.  She passed out random badge ribbons and encouraged us to come to her party later.

 

Luckily, I was already prepared for my first change-in-plan, which resulted from my stumbling into signing up for the Guest of Honor Kaffeeklatsch.  The deal is “bring your own coffee” so I took time to cool down from belly-dancing and then sought out a cup of tea (using my Inner Gail to persuade the store clerk to rummage in a drawer for more English Breakfast teabags). Others brought drinks, but coffee was not a popular choice.  While waiting to begin, the key discussion item was whether “kaffeeklatsch” is  a real thing (from which I discover I am now on the “other side” of the generation gap) and whether the activity should be renamed because no-one brings coffee.

 

It was a pleasant group “visit” with Lois McMaster Bujold, though likely it was on the torturous side for our hostess.  My suspicions that she is a member of our society of introverts was confirmed, even as she was peppered with questions about the Vorkosigans and the culture Chalion and her other novels.

 

We were a very mixed bag of folks…but we had more in common than admiring “LMB”.  One guy went to ConJose for his first SF con and he described the line I was standing in to get Bujold to sign a book for me at my first con.  The “girl” across from me was also in the Arduino workshop with me–she tried to get Lois to accept her glowing Arduino badge as a gift, and succeeded in getting her to keep it for the session.

 

Bujold had already announced that she’s rather tired of working in the “Vorkoverse” but attendees were brimming with ideas of stories they’d like to hear.  Near the end of our allotted time, however, the talk ranged more freely, and the participants chatted more among themselves about television and science and child-rearing and books, so at least Bujold had a chance to not talk a little.

 

When it looked as though the session was ending, she agreed to a photo with Ruth (my fellow Arduino-ist) and to sign my Analogs. Mysteriously, (or not-so, with Analog’s mid-month issues), I was missing an issue.  But, as she puts it, I could choose to make my life mission to find that last issue and get it signed.  Or not.  I’d only asked her to sign one, and she offered to do them all.  Like me, she regrets doing the three-name routine, as it makes her name soooo long to sign.

 

But six o’clock rolled around and the last few deep fans were still reluctant to set her free.  I made my exit hoping that would provide a route out for her.  She’d taken the head-of-table chair, which left her with a difficult path to make a graceful retreat.  I nearly knocked down a one-year-old who was toddling about right outside the door, but her mother was reassuringly calm for both of us.  I have to mentioning this, as she’s one of the people I have kept meeting all weekend!

 

When the rest finally emerged, I walked along with them and we exchanged some info, as we clearly have some interests in common.  I met Ruth’s sister and daughter and the daughter’s friend.

 

Oh, well, time to go get dinner and go to boffers.  It’s a bit of driving, but I made it to a Subway and scored a tuna salad.  I was so hungry it was a challenge to not tear into the salad box on the drive back.  And then I nearly left my sword in the car!

Sunday night Go to the Firefly LARP and then do Regency Dancing, and listen to concerts if any run that late.

Who's Boffer, eh?

Who’s Boffer, eh?

 

 

 

 

Why "Lena" is already so good--this is her dad!

Why “Lena” is already so good–this is her dad!

 

 

 

 

 

 

Mary Cordero (right), shares the fun and treats at her Belly Jam Party

Mary Cordero (right), shares the fun and treats at her Belly Jam Party

 

Tech meets Tambour at Belly Jam

Tech meets Tambour at Belly Jam

 

 

 

 

Regency dancers take over

Regency dancers take over

Representatives of PEERS turn out in the best costumes.

Representatives of PEERS turn out in the best costumes.

Our Dance Master takes a turn at the waltz.

Our Dance Master takes a turn at the waltz.

 

 

Thirteen--original artists...on Amazon.

Thirteen–original artists…on Amazon.

Well, the kids were at boffers.  That is, Ruth’s daughter and her friend.  Or their clones, anyhow.  I ate furiously, anxious to get in on the action while there were still some kids around willing to teach me how to play.  There was also an older tween-aged girl there with her mom, impatiently waiting for her dad or one of her dad’s friends to come and battle with her.  She clearly felt not well-matched with the younger kids.  So I said I’d play as soon as I finished.

 

“Lena” gave me a basic lesson and then thrashed me soundly.  So the other girls’ main battle became over who had dibs on playing the newbie next.   If memory serves, I did manage to beat one of them once.  Maybe twice.  There was absolutely no way I could have won against my tutor.  It is a very energetic game and not as violent as it might be.

Here are the rules, as taught by the Kids of Boffers:  1) No trying to hurt the other person 2) No head shots, at least not on purpose 3) If you’re hit on the arm or leg, you’ve lost that limb and have to do without it, so hop if you lose a leg, kneel if you lose both, switch hands if you lose your sword arm  4) Hits to hands or feet don’t count.  5) Torso hits are deadly.

 

I did my best performances when killed, of course, as death scenes are generally fun to do.  They all knew the old Monty Python Black Night routines and a few random Shakespeare quotes were tossed about.  These people were all around the age of 10-13.  The first girl’s dad (aha!  He’s a professional sword-fighting instructor!) finally appeared and played a couple of rounds with her.

Another of the skilled adults gave one of my smaller opponents a good lesson in using her dagger-and-shield.  She was a lot fiercer after that!  There were older (bigger) people there, kindly not taking me on.  Two members of the Silicon Valley Screwts, the quidditch team, spent the hour bashing one another.  And several were more eager to play boffer baseball.  When the kids who were battling me headed out, so did I.

I had intended to go to the Tucker and Tinney concert, but then remembered about the belly-dance teacher’s party.  She’d be disappointed if her students didn’t come.  So I found my way to the “Party Floor” (another first) and stayed a while.  She had snacks and drinks and music and drumming.

 

It was another hour of re-meetings.  The professional-swordfighter family was there–their daughter is also good at drumming.  Turns out the family is from the town next to mine.  And the Arduino guys were there.  And a writer from one of the panels I went to….whose reading I missed because I had to leave early.  And another woman from the class.

 

We all did some dancing.  Mary handed out some “Bellyrina” ribbons.  The swordfighter dad used me as a demo model to describe to the writer how traditional dance positions matched up with swordfighting moves and also how he and his wife would act out dramas in which the lady would join the fray and surprise the opponent.

 

I finally slipped out with my shoes and dress and boffer, explaining that I really wanted to do some Regency dancing, now that I even had a dress to wear.   And so spent the next three hours doing country dances.  The dance master would teach one set, guide us through the full dance, and then announce a brief waltz for a break.

 

There were plenty of people to ensure we could all appropriately switch partners around each time and, given the predominance of women in the group, to allow the women to switch genders from gent to lady and vice-versa.  We did a half-dozen or more dances before the dance master called “time” at 12:30 after his group’s signature piece, the Congress of Vienna waltz.

 

There was supposed to be open filking in the main music hall, so I slipped in there just as they were starting a new song.  The Bohnoff’s sang a couple of pieces, someone sang something I can’t name but which went up very high indeed while accompanied by Betsy Tinney playing “the flute part on the cello”, and someone else did the old silly song about writing a science paper and stuffing it with drivel to get published.

 

There was a request for something within the theme, so Maya sang Vixy & Tony’s “Thirteen”.  Someone’s daughter jumped up to sing one her own favorites from the same album (“Emerald Green”) and then two of the adults did their parody versions, one of which was a gentle bit of humor about the Emerald City but the other one upset the first singer as “horrible”, being a song about Soylent Green.

 

The musicians all had their computers and tablets out, pulling up lyrics and chords.  I even got to make a tiny contribution, rescuing from under a chair a small accessory the guitarist dropped under his chair.

 

But then it was nearly 1:30 and boffers would close at 2.  I ducked into a restroom on the way downstairs and swapped from dress to pants again, but the doors to the convention center were already locked–to my disappointment and the sharp dismay of one of the boffer organizers who wanted to get their stuff out of the room.  I followed her back to the lobby, where she sought help from the hotel staff and I added a contribution to the Welcome To BayCon whiteboard.  “Allons-y” has 2 ells in it, kids.

 

Time to grab a Coke from the Gaming Room’s Charity Soda Machine and get home.

 

Day One, From Paria River to Soap Creek

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Gulls at Water's Edge, Below Vermilion Cliffs

Gulls at Water’s Edge, Below Vermilion Cliffs

Red & White (Moenkopi & Shinurump)

Red & White (Moenkopi & Shinurump)

 At this point we are beginning our Grand Canyon geology lessons.  At the outset, back in those early times when we thought it a struggle to manage a simple footwear change, we were sitting just above the Kaibab formation—the same mostly-limestone layer that forms the tough, weathering-resistant rim of the Grand Canyon.   And for the first stretch, we glide along in the shadow of the formation that lies above the Kaibab—the Moenkopi, a formation which is recent enough to offer up dinosaur bones to patient and industrious paleontologists.   Our journey will take us much further back in time than the dinosaurs, deep into the pre-Cambrian, a thousand million years ago, when our most ancient ancestors were just beginning to try enough cooperation to form multicellular life.  Today, though, we will just take a dive into the top of the Permian period.  By the time we camp, we’ll be down in the Hermit formation, where the rocks date back 280 million years.   Just Google “Grand Canyon Layers” and you’ll find a hundred diagrams of the geology of the Canyon.  One of my favorites is this one, by Professor Charles Cowley  of the University of Michigan’s Astronomy Department, because his essay does a super job of explaining the terminology and relationships…and also links to off-Earth “geology”.

Layers of the Grand Canyon (Cowley)

Layers of the Grand Canyon (Cowley)

Shortly after we set off, the Kaibab limestone shows up at the shoreline (Kaibab).   By the time we stop for lunch, at Three Mile Camp, we’ve already dropped below the Kaibab Limestone into the Toroweap Formation (composed of mostly limestone and sandstone).

Toroweap Formation first appears below the Kaibab

Toroweap Formation first appears below the Kaibab

 

 

 

And we’re getting our first look at the variety of shapes to be seen in the rocks.   I keep seeing faces and Clark keeps seeing assemblages that look like built structures.

I see faces:  Big Giant Head

I see faces: Big Giant Head

 

Clark sees buildings:  "masonry" cliff

Clark sees buildings: “masonry” cliff

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

It may seem early to stop for lunch, as we pull in to shore after just under an hour on the water, but keep in mind that we started the day at 6 a.m.  and everyone is ready to practice off-boarding if it leads to serious snacking.  Remember the Guest Uniform described at days’ beginning?  Here Lois & Lana model these fabulous costumes.  Well, maybe not exactly fabulous in appearance, but just you try to find an outfit that keeps the sun from frying your skin and also keeps you from succumbing to hypothermia when it turns cold and wet.

Lois and Lana Rockin' the River Style

Lois and Lana Rockin’ the River Style

 

 

 

Check out the elegant lunch service, with the bottomless Blue Jug of Water prominently featured.  But lunch is a quick meal, and we’re back on the water in no time, heading off to see the famous Navajo bridges.   This will be our last glimpse of modern structures until we reach Phantom Ranch.  Eliza and Todd graciously take the back seats, so Clark & I get to ride up front and take photos of the rest of the group

Boats on the way to Navajo Bridges

Boats on the way to Navajo Bridges

The bridges are just a mile downstream.  I’m torn between admiring the elegant designs  (there is just nothing like a beautiful bridge) and spotting the first appearance of the Coconino Sandstone layer.

The Navajo Bridges pass overhead

The Navajo Bridges pass overhead

 

 

First appearance of the Coconino Sandstone

First appearance of the Coconino Sandstone

 

Over the next couple of hours, we’ll enjoy a whole sequence of firsts:

1)       Our first California Condor sighting!

 

Condor! Condor!

Condor! Condor!

 

 

Condor!!!

Condor!!!

2)      Our first real rapid, Badger (Sorry, no photos from me.  I was too busy hanging on. Oh, how I will laugh at myself in just a few days!)

3)      Our first bighorn sheep sighting!  Well, our first back end of a bighorn, anyhow.

Bighorn sheep in hiding

Bighorn sheep in hiding

4)      Our first bonafide landmark—Ten Mile Rock.

They call it "Ten Mile Rock"   Why?

They call it “Ten Mile Rock” Why?

Whatever is it named after, we wonder?  It’s not even close to ten miles across.  Did someone think it looks like the number ten?  Or the Roman numeral  X?   If anything, it looks like the letter Z.   So why is not not called “Zorro Rock”? But most importantly, this landmark is what our Trip Leader is looking for, as she is aiming for…

5)      Our first camp!  We pull in at Soap Creek Camp, where we receive in short order, the Lecture on How to Assemble Tents,  The Lecture on How to Use the Bathroom, and the Lecture on How to Know When to Show Up for Meals.   (The secret there is:  listen for the conch.  Yes, a blast on a conch shell.  As if we are rafting down a river on Lord of the Flies Island.  Luckily, the minimum age for this trip eliminates the risk we’ll be attacked by a tribe of feral boys.)

Soap Creek Camp is just upstream from Soap Creek Rapid, which makes Badger look like a couple of kids splashing in a wading pool.  The last of the day’s sunlight gleams across the river, making it glow golden.  Irresistible!

Clark at Soap Creek Rapid

Clark at Soap Creek Rapid

 

Big Shadows and Soap Creek

Big Shadows and Soap Creek

Standing Wave at Soap Creek

Standing Wave at Soap Creek

Clark and I ramble about for a while after tent set-up, skipping the “hors d’oeuvres”.   Dinner is a fabulous service of grilled salmon, asparagus, and salad.  (Poor Clark!  He didn’t ask for an alternative to salmon, but doesn’t care for seafood. )  And dessert is a humongous cheesecake, which disappears in short order.

Each person is responsible for washing-up his or her own dishes.  Critical item for anyone considering taking this trip—bring a pair of dishwashing gloves!  After a few days in the desert dryness, all the hand-washing and regular river-soakings will leave hands dry and cracked.  Alternative—con your travel partner into doing your dishes for you.

Night comes quickly when you’re tired.   I find myself following my flashlight beam along the trail to our elegant bathroom well after sunset.  But I need not be anxious about being in such a vulnerable situation, in the dark, on my own.  Because I’m not alone.  Peeking around the edge of the rock there  is a tiny translucent scorpion.   Hello there, little guy.  Don’t worry, I won’t tell the others you’re here.

Bark Scorpion (copyright Noah Charney, licensed under Creative Commons)

Bark Scorpion (copyright Noah Charney, licensed under Creative Commons)

Saturday at BayCon 2013

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In this exploration of theory and practice of bayconning, the divergence between plans and reality appeared to be diverging after only two days.  Will this trend continue?  Or will it stabilize?

Well, what can you expect?

Time Frame What the Plan was What really happened
Saturday morning Attend either the panel on how cultural norms affect people with autism or the one on how masquerade works.  Then go to the panel on Fans of Color.  About time.

QueenOfHunger by LEHLight

Queen Of Hunger by L. E. H. Light

 

Tankborn, by Karen Sandler

Tankborn, by Karen Sandler

 

Griffin's Daughter by Leslie Ann Moore

Griffin’s Daughter by Leslie Ann Moore

 

 

 

Remembered I have my first 5k run in exactly one week.  Did a training run, helped with horse chores for the morning, made sure my goldfish got fed and cat got his meds.  Got to con about 11:30, squirreled around to find the room for the Fans of Color panel.

Last door on the hall.  What a great panel, wish I’d been there the whole time.  Highest concentration of folks-of-color ever–on panel and in the room.  Great discussions.Especially interesting to hear real people—not canned advice-mongers–talking about how to deal with multi-ethnicity and whether or not any individual should be expected to represent their ‘race’ (or really, culture, since race is technically meaningless) to others.  There seemed general agreement that if one is uncertain about another’s background, it’s much preferred to be asked than pigeonholed in the wrong category.  As well as some shared amusement at turning people’s expectations upside-down.

All of the published writers in the group complained about the difficulty of marketing their work when the standards in cover art lean strongly to picturing characters as white, regardless of how they are described in text.  At the same time, they were each somewhat philosophical about bending a bit in that regard if it could get someone to pick up the book in the first place.

 

Self-published authors have more control over cover art but need to make their own choices to draw readers;  Leslie Ann Moore chose cover art in which her lead character is pictured from the back, but directed the artist to be sure the character’s hair was like her own natural African-American hair, so the observant reader looking for books with “people like me” in them would be quickly clued-in while the casual browser would be first attracted to the scenery the character is contemplating and by then have the book in hand, ready to purchase.

 

Afterwards, chatted briefly with Heidi Stauffer, a Ph.D. candidate at the UCSC Earth Sciences department who happens to be Singaporean-American as well as female.  She also sees a dearth of women in her field and is politely exasperated by people assuming she’s Mexican-American.     I got her card to share with my Berkeley Earth&Planetary Sciences son.  It’s a relief to talk to someone who isn’t characterizing climate change as something that is “controversial”.

Saturday afternoon Eat lunch, then go build something in the Arduino workshop, then stop in to the Bujold autograph session and, if time, go to a panel on self-promotion for writers.

Donate!

Donate!

 

 

 

 

 

Arduino Labs Workshop--Organ

Arduino Labs Workshop–Organ

 

 

 

 

 

Sandra SanTara is also Windwolf Studios

Sandra SanTara is also Windwolf Studios

Daniel Cortopassi does more than Cat Art

Daniel Cortopassi does more than Cat Art

 

 

On the way to the parking lot (where my lunch is hiding), spotted sign for the blood drive.  Well, why not?  The Stanford Hospital van was parked in front of the hotel, cookies and juice prominently on display.  “Is this where the free cookies are?” I kidded.  And up into the van, for filling out electronic forms which repeatedly want to know if I might have BCE or HIV.Fortunately, the blood transfusions I had for surgeries in the 1960’s don’t count, so I was declared qualified to enjoy having a needle in my arm for fifteen minutes.  Felt dizzy partway through, but helpful nurse-in-charge had practical suggestions to get rid of that feeling.  Got more than cookies, too.  As a first-timer, was awarded a cool key-chain and a brag sticker, plus they had badge ribbons, pretzels, juice, and…wait for it…ice cream!  Ice cream was so solidly frozen, I ended up eating a snickerdoodle and a bunch of pretzels and taking the ice-cream to go.And just in time, too…barely made it to the Arduino workshop.  This was totally great, but we only had time to get most of the way through building and decorating our boxes, collect our electronic parts, and pay, before time is up.  Have to come back in the morning to finish during the second workshop.I’d forgotten to bring any Bujold books with me today, so no point going to the autograph session.  And sign-ups for tomorrow’s Kaffeeklatsch with Bujold  had been at 9 a.m., so, oh, well, at least I got to listen to her reading.  Stopped at info desk to pick up a newsletter.  And there was the sign-up sheet, with only 5 people signed up so far.  Weird.  I put my name down, fast.  Then read the form.  Oh, ah, they moved the session from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., and so the sign-ups had only just started.  Woo-hoo.

 

Feeling lucky for the moment, I turned back and sought out the Art Show, signed up as a bidder, and took a serious look at the offerings.  Found two small pieces with “direct sale” prices I could afford and paid for them.  And placed a minimum-bid on one of the butterfly-dragon prints, positive I’d be outbid, but enjoying the feeling of taking part.

 

Finally, decided it was time to retire for a delicious “lunch” of a peanut-butter-or-jelly sandwich and some chips, in the quiet of my personal car.  Plus, it being late afternoon, I was able to move the car close in.

 

Back into the venue, for a stroll through the Dealer’s Room.  Not too overwhelming.  Maybe worth coming back later.  One of the people from the Fans of Color session was reading upstairs, so I ducked into that session.  Dang.  Her name was last in the list, but she had read first, instead.  I listened to two readings and started to feel faint in the hot, stuffy room.  Out again.  Time to sit a bit and review the program for the evening.

Saturday evening Play Through the Looking Glass Croquet, then go watch the Masquerade and go next door to give my sword a try-out in the Boffers room.  Take in some music.  Maya and Jeff Bohnhoff are playing.

BayCon 2013, Triskaidekaphobicon

The Two Alices setting up croquet

BayCon 2013, Triskaidekaphobicon

Wonderland croquet team in action

 

 

 

 

 

BayCon 2013, Triskaidekaphobicon

Tops! Amazon Warrior, Katniss, Knit Klingon

 

 

BayCon 2013, Triskaidekaphobicon

Strange Synergy–My Favorite

 

 

BayCon 2013, Triskaidekaphobicon

Songs of Chalion

 

 

Keepers of the Gongs--Klingon Auction

Keepers of the Gongs–Klingon Auction

 

BayCon 2013, Triskaidekaphobicon

Top-Earning Merchandise

The first step was to wonder (pun intended) where the croquet would be happening.  The Pocket Program says,  “Other 4.”  What???I continued my Dealer’s Room stroll out the back door of that room, and there encountered Alice.  Actually, Double-Alice.   Two of them, that is, one a traditional blue-dress Alice, one a scarier white-pinafore-with-blood-on-it Alice.  There were no Flamingoes.  But they did have handmade (yes, made by Scary Alice) PVC wickets, proper mallets, and rather bouncy croquet balls.The hallway turned out to be problematic for croquet, as it was also the hallway for the dealers and shoppers exiting the Dealers’ Room, as the stores close down for the day, AND it was also the hallway in which participants and audience were queuing for the Masquerade.    There was an issue with Scary Alice having left her petticoat in her hotel room. One does NOT play croquet with no petticoat on.  But, in due time, we were set up, we had seven players and a patient Gofer guarding the end wicket, and the game was conducted.Traditional Alice forged swiftly into the lead, I had a lucky break and overtook her, coming to a turn-end at the entrance to the final wicket, but Green came up behind, knocked me clear, and won the game!  Naturally, we had agreed to continue until all completed the pass.  It took a couple of turns, but, yes, I came in second, so have time to take some pictures while the rest finish.  Yay!

And am starved.  And it is still some time before the masquerade, so I stop at the little store and buy a sandwich.

 

I got myself back at the Masquerade hall a few minutes after 7:30, but, uh, it was over bar the judging.  Wow.  Fast.  Probably they started at 7 instead.  Oh, well, I could sit and watch the robots from RoboGames dance about while the judges finished and watch the awards and take some pictures afterwards.  My personal fav–the group of women dressed as Dr. Who villains, plus K-9.  Today was my day to wear my Tom Baker Dr. Who scarf.  In fact, during the croquet game, a passer-by awarded me a “Jelly Baby?”  ribbon for my Whovian-ness.

 

I peeked into the boffers room briefly, but the Stanford nurse had been very firm about “no strenuous activity for 24 hours”, so instead I hiked to the music room.  There was a Bujold-themed performance coming up.  When I arrived, a harpist and a guitarist were in the middle of their last piece.  Then Diana Paxson and friends arrived in Chalion costumes, explained the concept–she wrote songs using the themes from Bujold’s book, and with the help of the previous pair, Margaret and Christoph, they performed five songs to the “Chalion” gods.  Then they forced Bujold to stand and be applauded, too.

 

Enough music for now…there was supposed to be a panel discussion on science fiction down the hall.  I’m kind of dozy in the small room, but Altoids help and the discussion is relatively lively.  I’m annoyed to be embarrassed when the response to my question about fiction related to games (one panelist had said he works in gaming) was “it’s sh***”.  Great place to find a closed mind.  Good questions from the one young teen in the audience did get some reasoned responses.  Still, kind of relieved to head back to the music room.

 

However, on the way, I heard gongs and laughter from another room and stopped in to watch the Klingon Slave Auction in progress.  It’s fun for a bit and nice to see people bidding each other up to donate to the Make-A-Wish foundation.  But there was a concert I wanted to see!  And I just barely caught the last few songs from the Bohnhoffs and feel sorry I didn’t get to hear more.  Maya K.B. has always been one of my favorite Analog short-story writers, but I’ve only just learned what a good singer she is.  Darn, should have skipped the panel talk.

 

 

Friday at BayCon 2013

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As exemplified by Thursday evening’s brief exposure to the timesense-warping effects of Triskaidekaphobicon, clearly the theory of attending BayCon is direct and clear, albeit a little boring, while the practice thereof is circuitous and exciting.  Here we will continue our study of these contrasts by once more comparing plans and realities with a half-day experience on Opening Day:

Time Frame What the Plan was What really happened
Friday afternoon Arrive early, go to opening ceremonies, then “Irreproducible Results” panel, then to a reading by Lois McMaster Bujold. Just couldn’t get out the door.  Forgot reading glasses, then key, then left door slightly ajar while trying to find my sunglasses (for driving), then became convinced (older/medical-issues) cat had sneaked out, so searched out front and called out back and looked under furniture.  Finally discovered cat hunkered down behind a chair.Arrived halfway through Irreproducible Results panel, but got a front-row seat & enjoyed panel, from nuts and bolts revelations such as that the staff of JIR are unpaid to the audience teaching JIR’s editor the song “There’s a Hole in My Bucket” and locating for him several online sources for flexible rubber with which to make graph paper.

I took a quick look at the Art Show, where they were nice enough to take care of my bag for me.  Theresa Mather‘s dragons were there.  Which one is it that I bought for Tirion?  I wondered, Should I bid on one of these dragon-butterfly prints?  I decided to come back later and sign up as a bidder.

All of the cat-oriented artwork reminded me that I was worried about my cat (not to bore anyone with a pet’s medical issues, but no-one was home to check on Manta that day), but didn’t want to miss the reading.  So stayed put for that.

Bujold read a piece she doesn’t really plan to publish at present, a work-in-progress that may or may not become part of something, but it’s a “Miles” story, so she knew it would please her fans.  The humor bits got big laughs.  And she was good about doing a little Q&A while waiting for late-comers to arrive. Turns out that one intellectual goal for “Curse of Chalion” was to work out a society in which religion had a basis in physical reality.

By then, it was after five, but decided to drive home to check on the cat –through Memorial-day weekend traffic.  The freeway was a parking lot from San Thomas Expressway to, probably, LA.  So, enjoyed elaborately costumed Fanime fans thronging streets of downtown San Jose on the unfreeway route home.  Made pretty good time, actually.  Oh, yes, and the cat was fine.  Time for a quick freezer-cleanup dinner and half an episode of “Castle” before evening sessions.

Friday evening Find out what a “boffer weapon” is and make one in the new DIY Room.  Then go upstairs and learn some Regency dancing.  Maybe get in to panel on talking to people. Boffer-making was not in the DIY room.  I had to go alllll the way to the “Ballroom” and creep past the big room where they were having the “meet the guests” reception.  Way too scary in there.   In the farthest room, kids were whapping each other with foam objects.  Aha, that’s boffing.

But no one was making weapons.Wandered about. Became “brave” and strolled nonchalantly through the reception.  Darn, there had been food.  Extroverts were  happily chatting each other up.

Wandered back to boffers room to watch the swordplay.  Maybe the “make your weapon” thing is over?  I wondered.  The program said they started at 6 and it was already nearly 8.  Suddenly, someone called out, “Who wants to make a weapon?”  Apparently, I had arrived at exactly the right time.

Two hours later, I was working on the trickiest duct-taping tasks on three swords at once, after two teen sisters frantically realized they must dash off to what they described as “Mom’s Concert” and begged for coverage while they were away.   Another hour later, and they were back in time for adding the blade tape and the final decorations.  Clever girls.

So finally 11:30 rolled around and I had myself a lovely PVC and pipe-insulation and duct-tape sword.  But not prepared to wield it yet–too exhausted.  Parked my sword in the car and wandered about a bit.  Regency dancing was already up to a lesson on the Congress of Vienna waltz, which I can’t do with my broken shoulder yet, and which they use as the final dance.

Oh, well.  Time to go home.  Big plans for tomorrow.

 

There are anime fans at BayCon, too.

There are anime fans at BayCon, too.

Day One: Lees Ferry to Paria Rapid

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In this installment:  Secrets of Survival and Our First Grand Canyon Rapid

The process of putting-in took a long while with us rank amateurs.  We fumbled with water bottles and backpacks and struggled with the technique of squeezing warm sweaty sandy feet into neoprene booties.  Some of us rummaged in bags to find sunblock and carefully coated exposed skin and just as carefully adjusted hats and sleeves to cover as much as possible.  We waffled about whether to pull on the waterproof pants and jackets, given that no really fierce whitewater was in sight and that it was already getting rather warm.  Meanwhile, all the crew had to do was shift those little white bags with our tiny collections of supplies onto the boats and sort of arrange things and then stand around telling people to fill up their water bottles.  On top of everything,  Billie kept making us stop our preparations and listen to instructions.

For instance, there is the life vest lecture.  Vest will be worn at all times on the river.  Life vests need to be snug.  Yes, that makes them uncomfortable.  If you insist on sneaking around with a loosened life vest, you’d better snug it up tight when the guide announces whitewater ahead.   There’s some delay at this point while vests are distributed and made tight.  Like the daybags, the vests are named, so that we don’t need to repeat the adjustment process every day.  Clark draws one with two names:  “Western Fence Lizard” in faded marker and “Hot Pants” in darker ink.  Mine is “Lily”.  Actually, I drew “Oro” (named for an actual rapid) first, but the guy who is here on the trip with his teen son was standing there with “Lily”, looking awfully disappointed, so I offered a trade.

Reconvening on the topic of vests, we receive the safety-on-the-river lecture.  The most critical advice, naturally, is Listen To The Guide.  Like most Grand Canyon rafting trips these days, the passengers do not paddle;  instead, the oarsman (who is just as likely to be female as male) is in control of two large oars and the passengers are ballast which can move when told to do so.  In the ordinary course of events, the ballast may simply be asked to move from the rear to the front of the raft to improve the boat’s balance on the rapid.   The sentient ballast is expected to take care of tying itself down—by holding on with both hands—when necessary.  All of the ballast may be called upon to shift together when the raft may be getting in trouble, generally moving towards the big scary wave or the big scarier rock, as the point is to move the mass to the high side of the raft to force it back to level flight.  Ergo, the command to listen for is “High Side!”

And here is where the vests come in—should the ballast be unsuccessful in its assigned group task, the raft can flip, spilling the ballast (and the oarsman, too) into the river.  In that event, having a snug, well-fitted vest can be a true life-saver.  In the first place, a properly-fitted vest will help the person float through the rapid—whether they are conscious or not.   An alert floater can aim feet first through the flow, tuck in those arms and ride the waves like a piece of driftwood.  Not exactly relaxing, but it makes the adventure survivable.  On another day, we heard guide Christian tell of working on a film re-enactment of the Powell exploration trip where the filmmaker wanted the authenticity of having the oarsmen do their runs without vests—and the guides (and the Park Service) nixed that idea.  Bright idea #2 was to disguise life vests under wraps of burlap.  Christian tested out this kluge—a vest encased in soaking wet burlap failed to provide flotation.  So he wore two vests, a real one underneath the faked-up one.

Once through an unexpected swim of a rapid, Billie tells us, our job is to look for her (and we’ll see as the days go by that she is the first through every rapid and waits at the first eddy to make sure everyone comes through).  And at that point we’re advised to set aside “listening”, because the waves drown out any voices.  Instead, look for what she calls “positive instructions”.  That is, she won’t be signaling “no, no, don’t do that”.  Instead, she’ll signal “do this, go there”.  So all information is direct help, not useless warnings that would not mean anything to us.

And finally, once reunited with a raft, the vest has a final job to do.  It’s a handle.  A person aboard a boat can pull another person aboard using the vest as a handhold—but only if the vest is firmly snugged.  Otherwise, the person will slip down in the vest and be too hard to grasp.  It might seem this is only important if the person being rescued is unconscious and can’t help him/herself, but in fact it’s very difficult to climb onto an inflatable raft from the water level.  Even with a full-able floating person, it’s easiest to get them onboard by hauling them in from the back, using the life vest.

All of this information makes us understand the necessity of the tight vest.  It does not in any way make it comfortable.  Huff-puff, I feel I can’t breathe!

Now that we are all safety-conscious and sure that we are all on the verge of danger, it’s time to board.  We have six boats here.  Two are for gear and they are piloted by one guide-in-training, James (aka Jimmy) and one emergency backup oarsman, Will.  Guides Billie, Curtis, Christian, and Erika are stuck with passengers.  Billie’s friend Krista, who signed on as an assistant, rides with Will.  We try to sort ourselves out in groups of four passengers per boat, and end up with two groups of four, one trio, and one set of five.   Clark & I are on the “sweep” boat, with Eliza and Todd.  They hop on first and claim the front seats.  Christian’s boat is distinguished by a duck decoy tied behind it, bearing the surprising moniker of Mr. Duck.  The sweep boat is the last boat in the group, so we watch everyone else launch and then follow on down the river.

Yes!  We finally made it onto the river!

Mr. Duck follows the Sweep Boat

Mr. Duck follows the Sweep Boat

Around the first bend is Our First Rapid!  And it’s also our first lesson in how rapids are formed. Most of those we’ll encounter on this trip are the result of outflow from tributary creeks.  In this case, Paria Riffle arises at the mouth of the Paria River.  At this junction, the Paria is a sedate, open creek.  But if we travelled up that drowsy creek for a few days, we’d find ourselves in a fabulous slot canyon , one which rivals Zion for depth and beauty and also is the access to Buckskin Canyon, the longest and deepest of the slot canyons of the Southwest.   But we are ignorant of this uphill wonder and eagerly fire off our cameras at the waves and troughs formed over the rocky outwash of the Paria joining the Colorado.

Our first "rapid", Paria Riffle

Our first “rapid”, Paria Riffle

 

Thursday at BayCon 2013

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There’s a theory about attending a science fiction convention.  It starts with studying the program, noting who the guests are, and planning out a strategy to participate every day and not get too worn out.

Then there’s the practice of being immersed in a con.

There is some similarity.  One can see the relationship between theory and practice.  But they are by no means the same.

What is important to remember is that this is just fine.

Take, for example, BayCon 2013, the San Francisco Bay Area annual convention.  This year is dubbed Triskaidekaphobicon.  Largely because this event houses the highest concentration of people who already know what that means.

For an eager preregistered participant, the event began the day before, on Thursday night.  Last Thursday night, to be precise.  So, for starters, consider plan and execution for this simple task.

Time Frame What the Plan was What really happened
Thursday night Go to Hyatt on the way home from softball, at around 8:30,  and pick up badge A phone call delayed departure for my weekly session of cheering for the NASA Ames softball teams.  By the time Great America Parkway was my next freeway interchange, it was just about 6 o’clock.  So took a detour & stopped off at the Hyatt, which is sort of on the way to softball.  Was the TENTH person to pick up my badge.  Cool.  They planned to put the first thirteen in the newsletter, and asked if that would be OK.  “Of course,” I said.  Double-cool.  Asked if they needed “gofers” still, but the pick-up team didn’t know & couldn’t locate the Head Gofer person.  (Hint about future:  never did get signed up, and that was all for the best for Baycon and for the family Wray.)

 

BayCon participants embellished the welcome sign profusely.

BayCon participants embellished the welcome sign profusely.

Day One: From Flagstaff to Lees Ferry ( Mile 0)

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Redbud at dawn, Flagstaff

Redbud at dawn, Flagstaff

Patience, patience.  It will get better.  There will be pain, terror, comic interludes, amazement, all that.  Soon enough.

So today we think we are getting up early.  How naïve we are, believing ourselves totally on-the-ball as we deposit our overstuffed drybags in the lobby at 6 a.m., first ones ready.   And first to the breakfast buffet as well.  I have a strong hankering for a lovely waffle, but we all decide on the no-waiting buffet.  So.  Well.  There is a great big pan full of sausage.  English muffins.  Hard-boiled eggs.  This could work.

The other folks filter into the dining room.  We don’t know each other yet, one meeting with the trip leader last night was not enough for bonding.  And with my personal brand of dysnomia, we’ve been together far too little even for adequate identification.  At least some people make a bit of an effort to be memorable.  Isn’t that the wise-cracking guy who made sure to poll the group to establish he’s the oldest among us?  But who are those people he’s with?  Thank goodness we are only a group of sixteen.  And I already know three of us.  Of course, that’s counting myself.

We are all in our carefully assembled river-rafting outfits, so we are now instantly recognizable to the hotel staff as Those OARS Guests.   What’s that uniform like?

Quick-drying pants—seems to me pretty much all the passengers are in long pants, and those of us with new gear are sporting the sun-protecting fabrics.

Quick-drying shirts—experienced types have layered short- and long-sleeved shirts.  Me, I’ve structured a Nerd Look, with a white long-sleeved “base layer” (ultra-comfortable, some fancy brand, UPF 50 fabric, and snagged off the REI heavily-discounted Outlet page) under the polo-style shirt I had on yesterday.  (Already counting days.  Each shirt gets 4 days.)

Everyone has a hat.  Shade is the name of the game on the water, anywhere.  Doesn’t matter if you’re revving one of those horrid Personal Watercraft across a reservoir or balancing the outrigger on your 20-foot ocean-going catamaran, the brain requires protection from Sol.   Most everyone has gone for the wide-brimmed Ranger Rick hat.  At least one has chosen the Sahara-style cap with the side-drapes to protect the neck and ears.  It looks comfy.   I debate.  Should I dig my backup cap out of my bag or stick with the wide-brimmed one?

Footgear is a mix.  Some of us are wearing our hiking boots;  others are already in their boat sandals, anxious to get their toes wet in the Colorado River.  Most of us have purchased Teva-style water shoes, some have added neoprene socks, a few have simply packed neoprene booties—a low-mass choice, but requiring a shoe change for even a short hike.  Again, I am full of myself for having found a pair of Keen sandals for 25 bucks.  There are some benefits to knowing one’s size in children’s shoes.

And, given it’s 7 a.m. in Flagstaff on the first of April, virtually everyone has layered on a fleece jacket.  A few have their rain jackets on top of that, too, serving double duty as a windbreaker.  The raingear is mostly tucked in our “day” drybags, as suggested at last night’s pre-trip meeting.  Later on, when we are all tucked into our rain-suits, it can be difficult to tell each other apart, as most have gone with basic black.

The 14-Day Five: Clark, Lois, Lana, Eliza, Todd

The five of us who will be taking the full 14-day trip: “Clark, Lois, Lana, Eliza, & Todd”

So, as we gather in the lobby, stuffing last-minute additions into our daybags and packs, the river-guide crew begins to appear.  Either that, or there’s a new robbery scheme in which people dressed in shorts, tee-shirts, and flip-flops drop by hotels and make off with fully-packed drybags.  Which brings us to the uniform of the river guide:

Pants?  Nay, shorts are the required day wear.  In the event of actual severe weather, say, a cold day with heavy rain, neoprene pants may appear.  And a very cold early morning may prompt a brief stretch with an outer layer, but not likely, no.

Shirts?  Optional for the men. (Well, keep in mind that on the river everyone, absolutely everyone, wears a life vest every minute.)  Most of the time, it’s a short-sleeved shirt or a tank top.  Our wise Team Leader previewed her clothing choices by advising us (at last night’s briefing) to choose clothing over sunblock whenever possible, will be found wearing long-sleeved shirts and fingerless gloves on sunny days, but this is the choice of a nonconformist.

Shoes?   Optional, though often sandals are chosen.  Well, not really  sandals, but flip-flops. It is rumored that the guides own hiking boots.  More on this topic later, when hiking becomes a factor.

Coats?  Well, maybe a shirt for a little while on a chilly morning.

In short, there is no chance that one would mistake a guest for a guide, or vice-versa.  In each party, we will have one person who fits in rather well with the guide class, but attire keeps them distinct no matter what.

While we are staring at one another and fiddling with our backpacks and daybags, the crew have arrived and are lightly tossing our lumpy twenty-five-pound drybags up to the top racks of a pair of white passenger vans.  One van also has a trailer with a big yellow thingy on it.  So we have our first glimpse of a raft.   We all sort of wallflower-it, clumping around the benches in front of the hotel, taking pictures of each other.  But eventually we have to wriggle into the vans.

Our van and raft, at Cameron Trading Post

Our van and raft, at Cameron Trading Post

So it’s a long drive to the put-in at Mile Zero, aka Lees Ferry, so we are promised a “rest stop” at Cameron Trading Post.  This is a wonderful combination of a tourist trap, an art gallery, a grocery store, hotel, church, and post office.  Basically, it’s a town.   Cameron’s perched on the edge of the gorge of the Little Colorado River, where the original founder of the trading post launched the business by building a bridge over the Gorge.  Now, there’s a standard highway bridge, but there’s still also an older suspension bridge (no, not the original one).  At this hour we have the place pretty much to ourselves.   I find a bracelet and a couple of T-Shirts in the shop before stopping in the grocery for a tub of Vaseline.  But first, of course, I have to run down and snag a photo of the bridge.  The older one, of course.

 

The old bridge at Cameron Trading Post

Old Cameron Bridge, over Little Colorado River Gorge

The rest of the drive is longer and affords a chance for naps.  Billie’s friend Krista is sitting in front of me.  She spends the time carefully braiding her barely shoulder-length hair and tying off the ends with colorful yarn–all without being able to see what she’s doing.

A peek at our first rapid, Paria Riffle, from the Lees Ferry Campground

A peek at our first rapid, Paria Riffle, from the Lees Ferry Campground

Finally, we pull in and stop at the campground above Lees Ferry.  We learn that a traveler with another group which had used the campsite facilities down at Lees Ferry had turned out to have rotovirus, so we’re going to avoid those places.  The Campground has a set of restrooms we can use before we go on down to the put-in spot.  While we wait for one another, we can take some photos of the the Colorado river below us and Vermilion cliffs glowing above us beneath the deep blue sky.

But we are finally rounded up and pile into the vans for the half-mile drive down to the water.  Finally, we’re at the River.  Time for more lectures!

Gearing up at Lees Ferry

Gearing up at Lees Ferry

 

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