Say “YES!”–River Rafting on the Colorado River in Moab, UT

Since we have been on this road trip, I’ve faced several moments of decision where I had to say “Yes, I will” or “No, I won’t” to new and different things that were far out of my comfort zone (some of them were downright scary, terrifying in fact!). For most of my life I automatically said “NO” to something unless there was a compelling reason to say “YES”. That made for a safe, but boring, life.

I never camped in places like this setting safely inside my four walls!

I never camped in places like this sitting safely inside my four walls! Moab, UT

The problem was, life was safe but it was also monotonous, hollow and soul-sucking; a drudgery I was only trying to endure and survive. It made me miserable! Being forced into vandwelling brought some excitement and adventure into life and opened my eyes to the possibility of a whole new way of living. In the last 5 years I’ve opened up to new possibilities, but really, it was writing for this blog that has been the final nail in the coffin of a life-time of playing it safe.

The more I said "NO!" the more I cut myself off from these places.

The more I said “NO!” the more I cut myself off from these places. Colorado River, Moab, UT

In a recent Sunday post I wrote about developing a life of adventure ( I said that every human was born with an adventurous spirit as evidenced by children’s endless curiosity and exploration, but that society beats that wild hunger for adventure and exploring out of us. It might seem that in my Sunday Sermons I am preaching to you, the readers, (and some of you are offended by them) but the truth is I am preaching to myself! I am the one who needs those pep-talks and inspirational messages; you are just eves-dropping!

I see this view every day from my camp in Moab, UT. But only because I said, "YES!"

I see this view every day from my camp in Moab, UT. But only because I said, “YES!”

So after a year of being forced to formulate my thoughts and feelings for this blog in such a way that you could all understand them, they are finally sinking through my thick skull!! That Sundays post (especially the chart I developed for it) about adapting a “childlike” attitude of “YES” has become my motto in life. And not just as an “idea” in my head, but a feeling in my heart and actions I take!

Follow the list on the right and say "NO!" and you will be safe and boring. I am choosing to follow the list on the left and say "YES!" I'm very glad I did!

Follow the list on the right and say “NO!” and you will be safe and boring. I am choosing to follow the list on the left and say “YES!” I’m very glad I did!

It began with the decision to do this trip. I could think of some good reasons to just stay home and not go at all. Would I follow the safe, logical course, or say “YES!”?

These were some reasons not to go:

  1. It was expensive,
  2. It would mean a lot of work getting the van ready to live in and transferring my daily living things from the trailer into it.
  3. I might hate living in a low-top van
  4. I wouldn’t have TV for a month or two (and I love my Satellite TV!)
  5. I’ve been to all those places before
  6. It’s getting cold and we were going into cold country
  7. My knee might not be up to some of the hard hikes I wanted to do.

Those were pretty compelling reasons to not take a road trip, and in the past they would have won the argument. But ultimately that Sunday Sermon swayed me, I simply need to say “YES” to a life lived to its fullest. I have totally come to believe that a life dictated by the rules of safety, logic and reason is not a life I want to live. A big factor was when I saw Forrest’s and Beth’s pictures from their Jeep tour The trip would be as much about seeing friends again (and helping them out with their new business) as well as seeing some beautiful country I had never seen before. I knew I had to go, and I am so glad I did; this has been one of the best times of my life!

And just think, this photo was taken just a 3 hour drive away from the photos of the Jeep trip. Moab, UT

And just think, this photo was taken just a 3 hour drive away from the photos of the Jeep trip. Moab, UT

To pick up where we left off; after the Jeep Tour we spent a few more days in Ridgway, but a big winter storm was in the forecast so we said goodbye to Beth and Forrest and left for Moab where it was much warmer.

I love Moab!! It is one of my favorite places, certainly in my top 3 places in the country. It might well be my number one favorite place anywhere! People come here from all over the world with only one goal in mind: adventure and fun! So the whole town is just full to the brim with Jeeps, Off-Road vehicles, motorcycles, ATVs, mountain bikes, hikers and vans and RVs of every kind and description to house them. Each and every one of them with the single purpose of having fun or getting hurt trying!

Because I had already spent quite a bit of time here, my main goal was not to take scenery photos; it was to take adventure trips. There are so many different things to do here its hard to decide which ones to take advantage of:

  • River Rafting the Colorado
  • Horseback Riding
  • Jeep Tours of the Red Rock Country
  • Flightseeing Trips
  • Balloon Rides
  • Rappelling off Mountains
  • Skydiving

With my new-found sense of saying “YES whenever possible, there wasn’t a question of IF I would do any of those things, but only of WHICH ONES would I do? The first one we decided to do was go River Rafting on the Colorado with Canyon Voyages Judy was interested in doing that as well and the prices were very reasonable. So we started there. We decided on a ½ day mild raft down the Colorado. The rapids were easy and the price was low. It only cost $52 each and we had a coupon for 25% off the second ticket so Judy’s was only $40. That was a great price for a raft trip including lunch! If I did it and wanted more of a challenge I would do another full day raft that included some very rough Class 4 and 5 waters (on a scale of 1-6 with 6 being essentially non-navigable with extreme risk of injury or death).

Putting in the boats.

Putting in the boats.

Now, as you read this, you must understand that I don’t know how to swim!! If I fell out of that raft without a life-preserver, it meant certain death. I know it’s odd that I can’t swim, but I grew up in Anchorage, Alaska where for 8 months of the year water is solid in ice form. And for those few months when it is a liquid it is miserably cold! In the 1960s, when I was a child, there were no public-pools in Anchorage so I never learned to swim and I do NOT associate water with fun in any way.

Our wonderful (and attractive!) guide Mariah teaching us everything we needed to know to be safe on the water.

Our wonderful (and very attractive!) guide Mariah teaching us everything we needed to know to be safe on the water.

But I was determined to experience all that life has to offer and this is a wonderful part of it for most people so I said “YES” to it and off we went. As soon as we got to the put-in point I had to make a decision. Besides the main raft that holds 12 people they also bring along a small 2-man inflatable kayak that we could take turns riding. If no one wanted to use it, they would leave it behind. Remember, I can’t swim and I have never been in a kayak before but that chart kept flashing before my eyes and I knew I had to take risks, be spontaneous and bold and say “YES”. After all, what’s the worst thing that can happen?

Mariah launching the boats.

Mariah getting everyone in the boats.

The only risk is it that will roll over and I will float in the water in my life-vest and I can pretend to swim while I try to climb back in the kayak!” If the worst thing that can happen is I will have even more fun, what’s not to love!!? So I told our guide, Mariah, “YES” I’ll do it! And I did.

I don't have any pictures of me in the raft, just the ones I took from the raft.

I don’t have any pictures of me in the raft, just the ones I took from the raft.

Another fellow and I went in the 2-man kayak and tagged along behind the main raft until we put in for lunch, and then two other people took over the kayak for the rest of the trip.

Here is the couple who took over the kayak after me. Their doing just what I did, being awestruck by the scenery!

Here is the couple who took over the kayak after me. Their doing just what I did, being awestruck by the scenery!

The rapids were surprisingly difficult in the little kayak. What made it worse was our near total inability to handle the crazy thing. Since it was both of our first time in a kayak, we had some problem just going in a straight line; we under-steered, then over-steered, then under-steered again. Mariah said to hit the waves straight on or they could flip the boat if we got sideways. Our first waves we messed up and hit them broadside, but fortunately they were the easy ones so we didn’t flip. By the time we got to the next two rapids we had figured it out and hit all the waves square on–so we were at no risk of overturning. But, in an inflatable kayak they seemed like some pretty big waves! I was totally soaked after the first rapid.

This is a shot of the waves I took from the big boat. They threw the little Kayak around plenty for me!

This is a shot of the waves I took from the big boat. They threw the little Kayak around plenty for me!

But it was fun and I am really glad I did it. Unfortunately I didn’t expect any excitement from these “mild” rapids, so I left the GoPro behind and I don’t have any pictures for the rapids—I was too busy trying to stay in the boat to take pictures!

Here's where we stopped for lunch and we all took off the PFDs and relaxed. Only the folks in the kayak had to wear the helmets. Mainily for fear we would get hit in the head with an our!

Here’s where we stopped for lunch and we all took off the PFDs and relaxed. Only the ones in the kayak had to wear the helmets. 

All in all it was a great day with a wonderful guide and a simple but very good lunch; and the scenery from the river was amazing! I’m really glad I did it! We are still in Moab and I’m not sure if I will do the more dangerous raft or not. I slightly sprained my knee doing another adventure and I’m not sure it is going to let me do anything else or even continue the trip. But, that is a story for another day: to be continued!

Mariah putting out a great spread for lunch. There is something about being out in the beauty of nature that makes food taste so much better!

Mariah putting out a great spread for lunch. There is something about being out in the beauty of nature that makes food taste so much better!

Can't have enough pictures of me!

Can’t have enough pictures of me!

Being out on the water, you just had to smile!! There was a wind for much of the trip and Mariah really got a work out on those oars keeping us moving. It made me tired just watching her.

Being out on the water, you just had to smile!! There was a head-wind for much of the trip and Mariah really got a work out on those oars just keeping us moving. It made me tired just watching her! You can see a rapids coming up.

A view I found near out lunch-site.

A view I found near out lunch-site.

Judy taking off her vest for lunch.

Judy taking off her vest for lunch.

This is where we took the boats out of the water.

This is where we took the boats out of the water. It was right after the last rapid of the day. You can see they are really pretty mild.

Judy and I enjoying the ride.

Judy and I enjoying the ride.

53 comments on “Say “YES!”–River Rafting on the Colorado River in Moab, UT
  1. Rafting is a blast, isn’t it?! I wouldn’t trade being a raft guide for anything.
    Cyrus A Palmer recently posted…What is slacklining?My Profile

    • Avatar Bob says:

      Cyrus, I though about you when we were on the trip. What a great life you have made for yourself as a vandwelling rafting guide. You are working at a job you love and living in the van lets you live so cheap you can get away with it.

      I envy you!

      • Thanks Bob! Be sure to hit me up when you’re going through Washington if you want to raft on some of our beautiful rivers up here!
        Cyrus A Palmer recently posted…What is slacklining?My Profile

      • Looks like they used an oar frame. Did the customers paddle the raft at all? In my company the customers paddle and the guide steers in the back. No oar frame. It’s more of an experience for the customers, doing the work. It’s more fun than just being along for the ride. I’m glad you tried the IK too, those seem fun. I’ve never used one yet. I’m planning on getting a hard kayak for myself. The only difference is you have to know how to roll it because you can’t just fall out and climb back in like with an IK.
        Cyrus A Palmer recently posted…What is slacklining?My Profile

        • Avatar Bob says:

          Cyrus, yes she was the only one with oars on the 12-man raft. That’s the only way I would want to do it because I want to take photos while we are floating along. But i was the one so most people don’t care about photos.

          • Avatar Cyrus says:

            My company is a little different. We’re more of a whitewater adventure kind of company. Even our easy rivers have 5 or 6 class 3 rapids. And our harder ones have class 4 and 5 rapids. And the customers have time to take pictures and whatnot during the flatwater, but they are usually paddling through the rapids and pictures are the last thing on their minds. Although we do have photographers taking actions shots during the best rapids. Companies that use an oar frame as opposed to paddling seem to be more tour oriented than whitewater adventure. So if you want to say ‘yes’ to another new experience, try a class three river sometime! They are the entry point for white water adventure. Class 4 and 5 rivers require a bit more experience and the risk goes up, especially if swimming skills are weak. But I took people out on the Wenatchee all the time who couldn’t swim and they had a blast, even if they fell out. It’s a great class 3 river.
            Cyrus recently posted…What is slacklining?My Profile

          • Avatar Bob says:

            Yeah, we chose an easy one for our first raft trip. They have a trip here that is all Class 4 and 5 and I have been trying to take it but the season is almost over and no one has enough people to put together the trip. I found one for next Sunday but we are leaving tomorrow and I don’t want to wait.

            So a Class 4-5 raft will have to wait for another time.

  2. Avatar Land of Hope and Dreams says:


    You and I are about the same age, and I truly admire what you’re doing and certainly live vicariously through your travels. I hope your money holds out, so we can see your adventure. Keep up the excellent blog.

    • Avatar Bob says:

      Thanks land of hope and dreams! I hope my money holds out too!! I’m spending it now like a druken sailor.

      • Avatar Land of Hope and Dreams says:


        Saw a great quote that speaks to much of what you’ve been blogging about recently….

        The tragedy of life isn’t that it ends too soon. The greater tragedy is that we wait so long to begin it…

        Kind of sums it up.

  3. Avatar Nicole says:


    I don’t think I would be brave enough to go rafting if I didn’t know how to swim. Good for you. Talk about taking a giant step.

    I hope your knee doesn’t force you to stop your adventures.



    • Avatar Bob says:

      Nicole, it turned out to be a very minor sprain and is already much better. But we don’t know what we are doing next. I don’t like to make decisions till we are forced into it and we are just about there.

  4. Avatar Joni says:


    What an excellent adventure! You are starting to climb my particular hero ladder. My Dad (awesome here type!) didn’t know how to swim and we owned a big raft like that and did rivers! I did not know my Dad couldn’t swim until I was grown…I just thought he a a big meanie for ALWAYS making us wear vests and the only reason we kids didn’t revolt was because he always wore one too!

    Thanks for saying YES!, and for letting us share it!


  5. Avatar Joe S says:

    Congrats on overcoming your fears and pushing outside of your comfort zone. I truly believe this is the best way to feel ALIVE!

    New experience + element of danger = joy and personal growth.

    Moab is my favorite place on earth but I’ve never rafted there. Next time I will.

    • Avatar Bob says:

      As you know Joe, there is a rafting outfitter on every corner of town and all the competition keeps prices down. I think it is one of the best places anywhere to raft because not only does the Colorado River offer any kind of water you want, the setting is so phenomenally beautiful!!

    • Avatar Bob says:

      Thanks Joe, I agree 100% with your formula!!!

  6. Avatar Desert Rat says:

    Glad you guys did the rafting – looks like you had a blast.

    I can’t swim either – I think it makes water trips even more adventuresome. Great post!

    • Avatar Bob says:

      Desert Rat, we really did have a good time! It was a real pleasure to get to meet you and I sure hope our paths cross again this winter in the AZ desert. See you then!

  7. Avatar Kim says:

    I commend your bravery! Even small rapids can get dicey.
    Kim recently posted…Kitchen Renovation UpdateMy Profile

  8. Avatar Lois says:

    What a great trip, Bob! I’ve enjoyed your updates and this one makes my heart smile. I love rafting and I’m glad you and Judy enjoyed this trip. Your photos are spectacular! Thanks for sharing with us!

    — Lois
    Lois recently posted…Easing Back into Blogging + a Big, Huge “Thank you” from MeMy Profile

  9. Avatar Myddy says:

    Ohh the pictures make me so jealous!!! I need to start living in the now more- I am such a workaholic that I don’t get out into nature as much as I should right now.
    Myddy recently posted…A community havenMy Profile

  10. Avatar Wayne (Wirs) says:


    When I’m asked advice about the spiritual path, I tell everyone, the first step is to live like a Soul (without fear of death). Your “Live like a Child” is pretty much the same thing… it opens up a whole new world. 🙂
    Wayne (Wirs) recently posted…The Mystic DrifterMy Profile

    • Avatar Bob says:

      Thanks, Wayne, and I have to agree! Confronting death–I mean really looking it in the face and not cringing or hating it, but embracing it instead–is the single most important thing a human being can do. Many primitive societies have a rite of passage from adolescence into adulthood where the person comes close to actual death. Only once a person has made friends with his “worst enemy” can he really live. That may be why Elizabeth kubler-Ross is one of my favorite people to quote.

      I have a post that has been waiting to burst out of me for awhile now, I will call it “Today is a good day to die” It may get written soon.

      Thanks for writing!

  11. Good for you Bob, saying yes to kayaking. I’m not even sure I’d want to do those rapids in an inflatable. They are much more difficult to handle than my kayak… and also, with no previous experience. You were very brave. I’m proud of you.
    Charlene Swankie recently posted…Desert TortoisesMy Profile

  12. Avatar Diane Overcash says:

    I can’t wait to bring along my paints and brushes when I head out West. I see some some beautiful painting ops.

    • Avatar Bob says:

      Diane, Moab is an artists paradise! The colors here are like no other place and the rock formations are astounding. The Cottonwoods are just starting to change good and it is just fantastic.

  13. Avatar Linda Sand says:

    I think that helmet was in case your kayak rolled you onto some rocks. We used to canoe that type of water but two accidents in a row left me with a water phobia. Can’t get on anything much smaller than a cruise ship now.

    • Avatar Bob says:

      Linda, you are probably right, but her explanation is that since most people who took it were first-timers, their main concern was that we would accidentally get hit in the head with oars. I now that sounds silly but it was actually a real possibility. The fellow who I rode with and I had little coordination with each other so it could have happened. Not only that but the kayak was faster than the raft so we were all the time having to scramble to keep from running into it. I could see getting hit by her oars pretty easily.

      Oh well, I’m just glad I didn’t have any bad spills like you did. My ride was basically uneventful. That little kayak was hard to maneuver, but VERY stable!

  14. Avatar Linda Barton says:

    I did the white water rafting with 2 of my teenage grandsons at Yosemite 2 years ago. It was a trip of a lifetime.I loved every second. We signed up for a whole day but the rapids were so fast and the water level so high they ask me to take the half day because the boys were 14 and 16. I will never forget that day but better than my memories is the ones they have with old granny lol.I always say yes when I can.I no longer take vacations. I go on adventures.I love all the places you are showing me. I will get there someday.One question how is your dog these days?

    • Avatar Bob says:

      Linda, I am sure those are some of your most treasured memories now! When I get old I may not have a pot to piss in, but I am going to have a head full of memories that will more than make up for it!

      Homer is doing much better. I finally got him to a vet and he is on several medictions that seem to be really helping. I have a post all written and ready to go about him, but I can never seem to get a chance to post it!

  15. Avatar Lynnzie says:

    Glad you found your inner child!

    I was in Durango for the Cowboy Poetry, and the Apple Festival, Did the Crawl to the Ball in Silverton, The Million $ Highway, Ridgeway and Ouray the same weekend you were there! It was lovely and the touch of snow really set off the leaf color. This summer I stopped twice in Moab on my way to Moon Lake, UT above Duchesne,UT and again going back to Colorado. With all the rain in the 4 corners Utah was so alive with greenery like never before. All that rain probably allowed for some good rapids that you usually only get in the spring. I want to do a week on the Colorado thru the Grand Canyon, Its top on my bucket list and its quite expensive. Money is only for fun Right? Keep saying Yes to the unknown!

    • Avatar Bob says:

      Lynnzie, you live in one of the most fantastic places anywhere!! You choose well!! And now with your little trailer you don’t have to spend your winters there when it is not so nice anymore!!

      You are a very lucky woman!

  16. Avatar Mario says:

    Bob , this trip must have been the biggest pay off with tons of fun and excitement for a simple 3 letter word “YES” ! Great scenery , great photos , it was a very wise decision to follow what you preach!
    I must say, you are a brave man not knowing how to swim and choosing to get into the IK (or Mariah’s sight robbed you of the ability to think straight ! LOL and who can blame you ?)
    It seemed great fun and the scenery is FANTASTIC !
    I think you would love a regular one man kayak , it is a lot easier to paddle , the wind does not blow it off as much as the inflatable.
    I’ve owned my kayak for 26 years ( I had a canoe before that for another 10 years) I don’t do very rough rapids as I’m more interested to be covering long distances while touring on water, it is a small 13’ touring kayak , I like it’s speed and agility paddled by one person and I have really enjoyed it a great deal. You can go fast in calm waters and if you are in a good shape you cover great distances fairly quickly. When I was married I had a canoe and with 2 people paddling, the effort was acceptable but after I got divorced it was a natural decision to continue enjoying the lakes and rivers solo with a light ( 35 pounds) and easily portable kayak . . . and I’ve never looked back.
    Although what you just paddled in Moab is not really a conventional kayak as it has a much more stable and flat bottom for safety , an actual kayak can be very challenging for the first timer , I remember myself getting in my kayak the very first time, I thought I would drown right there , but it is much like learning to balance the bicycle ,the first few minutes are the difficult ones and after you get the hang of it it feels like second nature. Of course you need to be learning fast so you can avoid seriously dangerous events as the water conditions change pretty fast , but overall it is great fun . It gives you the ability to get away from the crowds and into secluded areas pretty quickly, even in very shallow waters where even a canoe would be stuck.

    • Avatar Bob says:

      Mario, while I am really glad I went rafting and kayaking, I really am not a water person. It jut doesn’t hold much appeal for me. But I know I am the exception and most people are like you and love the water and being on it. It sounds like it has been a wonderful hobby for you! I know quite a few vandwellers who carry their kayaks with them in their vans or RVs,

  17. Avatar Patrick says:

    I had been there last year and it’s extremely beautiful like heaven on Earth. Who say there is no
    heaven on earth. Here and Now is most important than living for tomorrow heaven.

  18. Avatar Karen Abbe says:

    Great post Bob! 🙂 I haven’t kept up with all your adventures, but it sounds like you’ve really been living life to the absolute fullest. You are (still) an inspiration to the men and women who read your blog. Keep going, and don’t stop, O.K.?

  19. Avatar Wheelingit says:

    Outstanding Bob! Way to get out there and seize the day!
    Wheelingit recently posted…Boondocking & Bumming In Bishop, CAMy Profile

  20. Avatar Blars says:

    It’s been years, but I did a 3-day trip where every person had an inflatable kayak to themselves. (Deluxe version where we stayed in cabins.)
    Blars recently posted…collierMy Profile

  21. Avatar Life Jacket says:

    You have explained a great difference between a child and an adult.Whenever you ask from a child about river rafting in dangerous river, he will always says “yes” to it but if you ask the same thing from an adult he will say “no”.Adults have fear of death but child do not.A child think only about present but adults think about future.Finally,I must say that a child is brave than an adult.Thanks for sharing this post with us.

  22. Avatar Trenton says:

    Wow, river rafting on the Colorado River looks like an amazing experience. The scenery is amazing on its own so I can only imagine the rafting. I’m looking to have my first rafting experience on an upcoming trip. Thanks for sharing.

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