Skip to main content


My business mantra for the past three plus decades has been --- "Well. . . it could have been worse. . ." You might say it is 'out of necessity', but I don't think so. It is just my natural inclination toward cynicism and pessimism. I prefer to think of myself as an 'ossimist'.

This 'ossimism' has helped me navigate dozens of trials and tribulations.

For instance:

Example #1 "What was that? You dragged 50 brand new top-of-the-line Extrasport lifejackets 5 miles down the highway? Destroying most of them?"

Example #2 "Our wetsuits were stolen from our van on the Methow River and tossed on a lady's lawn where? In the next county? One lawn or more?"

Example #3 "You put diesel in a gas engine, and the bus, which is full of the day's river gear, is stranded on which Pass?"

Example #4 "'Someone forgot to check the oil in the bus and the engine blew up where outside Gold Bar?"

Example #5 "You mean to tell me that the bus we are driving to Central America from the Pacific Northwest caught FIRE on the way home?"

Example #6 "The main lunch course is our famous tuna salad and we are missing which ingredient? Tuna? But we still have relish, sunflower seeds and apples?"

Example #7 "A raft is wrapped on a bridge pillar, the river is rising, we deflated a tube by shooting it with a .22 rifle, and it is STILL stuck on the pillar?"

Example #8 "You are telling me the bus is blocking what highway? The Mountain Loop Highway? What the hell?"

Example #9 "Can't you see I just sat down to eat dinner? The bus is stuck in a ditch, and blocking what highway? The White Pass (Highway 12) Highway?"

Some people like to look at the glass as half full. I admire that tendency. But my preference is seeing it as half empty. I think either philosophy is just a means of coping with the situation at hand. Neither necessarily better than the other.

I am thrilled with incremental improvements. I never expect miracles. I am never letdown because I anticipate the possibility of negatives. This does not prevent me from flipping my wig, either overtly or covertly, when I get those calls at 3 a.m. or 3 p.m. But it tends to even my keel quickly.

I am comforted with the notion that we have elected a man as president whom I believe sees the negatives, is tinged with cynicism but still has the audacity to hope. How could Barack Obama not be tainted with cynicism having grown up black in America?

No drama Obama. I am certain that during his presidency he will appear to casual observers like the proverbial duck gliding back and forth on the placid pond. On the surface --- cool, calm and collected. Beneath the surface? Duck-paddling like hell.

His temperament is upbeat and positive, yet pragmatic. He is going into this wide-eyed knowing that the possibilities of what might unfold will lie all across the continuum. But no matter what, he will be able to even his keel quickly and say, "Well, it could have been worse. . . "

Popular posts from this blog

Spring River Guide Training

Time to sign up if you want to be a guide, or if you just want to feel comfortable on the river on your own.
Only a few weeks away from our annual seven day guide training odyssey on the Deschutes River in north central Oregon and - as the senior instructor - I am beginning to feel the undertow of another river season.

Orion's guide training course kicks off every whitewater season and is comprised of seasoned and salty veterans, women and men, wide-eyed whitewater neophytes, those who revel in the adversity and those who are challenging their ordinary state of being, whatever that may be.

It is a time for ditching cellphones and the comfort of our creature habits.  Sharing and laughing and looking one another in the eye.  Being physically present have to be to deal with the circumstances of being out amidst the elements.  Setting up tarps in windstorms and cooking over fires.

It will be a memorable trip.  Even for those of us participating in it for the 40th time.

River Rafting is Good for You

I have been rafting for a long time.

My first rafting experience was in the fall of my first year in college.  As a matter of fact, after matriculation, it was the very next thing I did.  The river rafting trip, regarded as my wilderness orientation to Prescott College, was a month long affair.

One month in the wilderness after having spent the majority of my life in well-ordered suburbs where my primary contact with the outdoors involved sports.

You can imagine it was an eye-opener in a number of ways.

My wilderness orientation, which took place over four decades ago, brought me serendipitously to this place.

Overnight raft trips are the single easiest method to 'leave it all behind.'  The 'behind' we referred to leaving used to just mean the traffic and the stressors of modern day life, ringing phones, the hustle and bustle of humanity and bills coming due, responsibilities to uphold.

Now, we are saddled with the ubiquity of always being connected to what is going o…

The Phenomena of People

I do not have a river story for you this week, but I had a visit from a good friend from Bellingham and our reunion reminded me of one of the other reasons I have persevered with this little cottage industry.

I wrote a story a few years back titled "Why I (Continue to) Raft" and the gist of that column was that I realized how much I enjoyed getting people out on the water and watching the transformation.  It ended with the brief tale of my very young nephew from Dallas who floated the Skagit and - at first - was terrified of the moving, darn-cold-if-you're-from-Texas water.  And, despite being on a trip surrounded by a large Y group of boisterous Northwesterners who could not get enough of swimming, it appeared he would endure the trip and be ecstatic to see the takeout and a warm, dry car.

When we were halfway down the river, his entire attitude did an about face.  And by the time we hit the takeout he WAS ecstatic, but not about being finished and back to dry land.  …