grand canyon

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My dad John Yost is a white water legend (as well as proprietor of Wantok Adventures) and invited me to row a baggage boat with him in the Grand Canyon of the Colorado river — how could l say no.  My sister and brother-in-law would be on the trip as well, as swampers (helpers) . So we worked down to the wire welding treehouses in Nicaragua, finishing up long after dark; then I packed up, slept a few hours, and flew to Las Vegas.  Where l woke my dad up and slept on the floor of his hotel room.  In the morning we picked up my sister Arla and her husband Paul, and drove to Fredonia Az. Where we met up with the rest of the crew and started rigging. My good friend Melinda was rowing the other baggage boat. And three other guides were in charge of other passenger rafts — Jim, who l have known my entire life, and has logged possibly more river miles than anyone else on the planet; Brian who is a long term guide with TourWest (a family run rafting company with a Grand Canyon permit, who graciously charters trips to folks like us) who had worked with both my brother and Father before; and Pat, a new friend and excellent boatman who was in charge of the paddle raft.

Brian had already done all of the shopping, and most of the gear sorting — so all we had to do was stuff it in the truck and drive to put in. Where we met the guests (including my uncle Phil), many of whom had traveled with my dad or Jim before. With so many family and friends on the river with us, it felt almost like a private trip.

Despite not having been in a boat in at least a year, and having to battle some crazy gusts of wind (perhaps it followed me from Nicaragua), I felt good at the oars, and generally had good runs. The wild flowers were out, and this being the early season, we had the river largely to our selves. A lovely two weeks with family and friends in an incredible part of the world.

thanks to Melinda, Riggs and Phil for the photos

spikey trees, and steel beams: a nicaraguan treehouse adventure

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The idyllic sojourn down under was cut short by an entirely different sort of adventure.  My friends at Two Crows Ecological Design Had a sweet gig in San Juan del Sur, Nicaragua — doing site planning for a development called ‘el Encanto del Sur’ including (several) tree-houses. Which I got to design and build! (only the substructures/access — local carpenters will do the rest) So I tore my self away from Mulumbimby, spent a week getting gear together in the USA and flew to Nicaragua.

The flight was an adventure of its own, l’m used to dragging weird gear through airports and customs — but we took it to a whole new level. An expresso machine, and 7 boxes of special treehouse bolts were just the tip of the iceberg, as our luggage included esoteric climbing gear, bicycles, surfboards, and power tools. As well as assorted baby paraphernalia — my brother JJ, his wife Alison, and their (soon to be) 1 year old daughter June were on the mish. We had so much stuff that it was actually cheeper to fly first class (because of the larger baggage allowance) so we had cushy seats and free drinks and all the rest. Other than physically moving the huge luggage pile, it went amazingly easily, no hold up at customs even.

Getting a complicated construction project going in nicargua on the other hand, required a whole lot of learning. Sourcing materials turned out to be the hardest part — to the point that we always felt like rejoicing when things we need actually arrived on site. No matter that it was usually not quite enough, or not quite the right thing. We arrived to a pile of (preordered) bits of steel in the corner of someone else’s warehouse — and set about finding welders, both machines and people to operate them. In order to turn the pile of metal into joists and beams of the required dimensions. By the end of the project, l was managing 4 different welding crews, and the other guys working with 14+ agricultural workers. All in spanish of course.

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dressed for success

my inner tycoon comes out

We were dwaddeling down the coast — just starting to find a rhythm — when we realized that our time was almost up. There were meetings to attend, factories to tour — business to be done. So we took the short way back to Taipei. Stashed our bikes at the house of a friend of a friend of a friend. And took to the fashionable shopping districts in search of a wardrobe transformation.

When discussing this trip (or imagining the eventuality of it) in Nepal we had entertained wild ideas about custom tailored suits and perhaps doing the whole tour of the island so attired. It turns out that bespoke suits aren’t particularly cheap in Taiwan ( as they are in some other asian countries) at least for clueless foreigners like ourselves. So we abandoned that idea, and traveled in our normal, somewhat less-fancy riding attire. Which rendered those few clothes even less suitable for attempting to look respectable.

So with the deadline fast approaching we headed out in search of a respectable facade. Matt, having somewhat of a more conventional wardrobe than l, really only need a nicer shirt. l on the other hand, needed a complete makeover…. And l got one. But we threw our plans to look normal out the window almost immediately. Looking for breakfast (preparing for our shopping adventure) we stumbled across a tailor with a hot-pink suit coat in the window — which was exactly my size.

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