Friday, August 1, 2014

Our Love Affair with The West ~ Riding the Rapids with Mountain Waters Rafting

How much do you love The West?
The legends,
the iconic landscape known the world over,
the history,
the perseverance of hardy pioneers forging through
relentless wilderness, across craggy mountains
to their happily ever after?
Though not all of our westward expansion story,
here in the US,
is a proud story.
Not all, by any means.

My family has had a love affair with all things western USA
for quite some time.
A good four decades ago, when my husband and I were growing up,
and many many years before we met,
our families cultivated that love by heading from our east coast
homes to the sites that we all longed to see.

When we met twenty two years ago,
  we discovered our shared
affinity for travel,
but not simply for travel.......
 for the stuff of legend
and  driving, driving, driving
until the peaks and the glaciers,
the valleys and the rivers
magically came into view.
Two decades along and we now,
 with our kids,
continue the journey of discovery.
We revisit our favorites places which lie west,
oh, so far west and so
wrapped in beauty and serenity
that they tempt us each summer.
We heed their call and we immerse in their  grandeur.
Each summer, we relish a different and distinct
part of our nation,
of our culture,
 our natural and historical wonders
 and we become a part of it.
 Oh there are those who adore our landscape,
who flock to our shores.
And there are sites a short drive
 from our own front door
which are sought after the world over.
But what we seek  can't be found  here.

This past July, we spent a large chunk of time
reveling in the American Southwest and the adventure
and the magic that
these sites offer.
Whie Seas divider
We decided one way to experience the wonder
 of the Colorado Plateau
(which encompasses not only the state of Colorado,
but parts of Arizona, Utah and New Mexico, as well)
would be rafting!

We'd hiked on glaciers 
(Glacier National Park, Montana)

...into fairyland canyons (Bryce  Canyon, Utah)

....descended into one  the world's seven wonders
(Grand Canyon, Arizona)

.......explored caves
(Jewel Cave, South Dakota)

,,,,,,,ran like Forrest
(Monument Valley Navajo Tribal Park Utah/AZ)

 and forged rivers ( Zion's Narrows).

So why not ride the rapids?
It's all part of the get-to-know-your-country experience, right?
Especially a "lazy" river, not the stuff of movies!
Think Kevin Bacon and Meryl Streep when you hear
"rivers," and "rapids"?
Yeah, me too.
Only this wasn't that....
And that's a good thing, because although
my husband is a former  athlete 
( I mean, really an athlete, we're talking
 a  4:13 mile and  3 hour 19 minute marathons.......! )
the rest of us are, well......... not.
So here's what suited us:
A class 2 river experience that enabled us to
see "Colorful Colorado" in a way that
one simply cannot from his vehicle,
or even from the  river banks.
And yes, class 2  is that very mild,
"some rough water" level.
Choosing a rafting company.
Honestly, they're a dime a dozen.
Search any large town out west for a river outfitter and
you're inundated with names and  info.
How are you to tell one from another?
Fortunately, folks, I did the research for you.
Mountain  Waters Rafting is the company to book.
You're not just searching for fun, 
for friendly guides,
for economical packages, 
for a variety of offerings
and  for location convenience.
You're also looking for safety.
Sure, it's all in the name of good times and making memories.
But you need to feel secure that those who are behind the scenes
running the office and securing the equipment,
as well as your guides,
 are knowledgeable,
intuitive and aware 100% of the time...
on the river or during a break.
When my 11 year old fell out of our boat, 
(well, it almost seems as if "ejected from the boat"
or "jet propelled from the boat"
 is more suitable here. the way he seemed to fly out.....
but then again, I'm the nervous Mommy,
so I'm sure that's just my take.......)
our guide, Anna, instructed him clearly, calmly, but loudly enough
 as to what to do in a way that reassured him
 until we( she, really)
maneuvered so he could literally be  pulled by her,
and forcefully, out of 
<seemingly> whipping rapids.
That's care and that's capability.
Mountain Waters Rafting offers all that. 
And more.
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The high caliber of MWR's 
services and expertise, is evident by their
association with these agencies:
U.S. F.S. Dept. of Agriculture
Colorado Parks & Wildlife
MWR is a member of:
The Colorado River Outfitters Association
The Durango Chamber
Pagosa Springs Chamber
Silverton Chamber
Vallecito Chamber

Let me tell you about our trip down the river
and  all that MWR offers~

Mountain Waters Rafting is located in 
Durango, Colorado
at 303 West College Street,
in the southwest corner of the state.

 An easy to reach  location,
even if you hail from 2,150 miles away as we do~!

Many of their offerings, including, of course,
their river rafting adventures,
take place on the Animas River.
The  details of all  their  services
 are outlined right here on the website 
You can click through the event 
 you're interested in here, too:
 Family Raft Trips  
Kayaks (IK) 
Adventure Rafting 
 Durango Silverton Train 
Zip Line Tours 
 Rock Climbing 
 4×4 Tours 
Sounds awesome, no?
There's something e-v-e-r-y-o-n-e at MWR!
Okay, so if you click right here under the
  Family Raft Trips  tab, you can read about  
the variety offered as well as the times.
We booked the half day trip, which you can read about 
in detail at MWR's site

Whie Seas divider
After piling onto their  bus, which left  at 1:30
for the entry to the Animas River, we received a safety talk, 
from a lovely and knowledgeable guide,
including how to sit in the raft, 
how to securely don our life jackets and
what to do if you fall out of the boat
(namely, Don't Panic and
 Don't Stand Up In the River or 
Your Feet Might Get Lodged Under Rocks.!)
This last piece of info was sorely necessary for us and
 it's a darn good thing my
 little guy is a good listener!
He took her advice, for sure.

I know, I know, the shorts are hideous.
Don't make fun) 

We then met our guide, Anna, who is  the 
epitome of kindness, as well as capability.
Anna hails from Minnesota and is a 
student at a local university.
She explained, thoroughly, to us inexperienced rafters,
everything from paddling techniques to securing ourselves
as we encountered rapids.
And can I tell just how much FUN the afternoon was?
In addition to our raft, there were about four others, plus a handful of kayaks running the river with us.
There were smiles, encouragement,
water paddle  fights ( ! ) between boats
and a delightful snack break at a local park half way through the trip
which included chips, salsa and fresh fruit slices.
Anna's caring nature extended to being sure that we were comfortable,
 that we  took a snack
and that we  were aware of the  location of the restrooms.
Seriously, how great is that? The Best  River Guide Ever.
Really, what a sweetheart.
But a hard working and hardy individual, as well.
The other guides?
Funny, light hearted, caring, capable and 
super on -  top  - of  - things.
And right before we arrived at the disembark spot?
A huge, perfect rock in calm waters
 which Anna, 
my kids and  a few other rafters climbed and jumped.
I won't tell you what one of the guides did here
because IF ( and I hope you DO)  book a MWR river trip,
that will spoil the end-the-river fun! 
Whie Seas divider
I wish wish wish wish I had been able to take my camera along
in order to capture so0000000 many moments.
But, obviously, camera+white water=disaster.
Here are a few shots, though,
 that Jeremy, the company photographer 
beautifully captured from the river bank~

Jeremy did an amazing job capturing the rapids,
 didn't he?

If YOU find yourself planning the southwestern adventure on which
you've always wanted to embark,
friends, without a doubt, 
your itinerary should include
Mountain Waters Rafting of Durango, Colorado.
In addition to MWR's wealth of 
outdoor event offerings,
there are numerous historical  and natural things to do and see 
 in and around Durango
which you can peruse right here
as well as a variety of dining and lodging establishments.

All of us with Anna, after the trip.
The only negative about MWR?
They're so darn far away!
I feel like the office staff and guides became friends that day!

Whie Seas divider
Additionally, when you contact
 MWR for info and to book your river trip,
you'll be courteously and patiently 
greeted by Colleen, Alix or Katie,
who will offer you time and answers.
Here's how you can easily get in touch with the
awesome and helpful people of Mountain Waters Rafting
to schedule your river adventure
at their site and on social media.: 

Trip Advisor

So, go ahead and make that call or send that email.

Whie Seas divider
I HOPE you enjoyed a trip down the Animas River 
with us today and as always, 
I thank you for  stopping over and 
spending some of your precious time here at my home on the web!

Don't forget to subscribe to Campfires and Cleats
 by scrolling to the subscribe button at the  top left sidebar.
I'd love to stay in touch regularly.

Until next time,


Post dividers courtesy of Plumrose Lane

My family was offered a complimentary river excursion on
the promise of a write up here on my blog.
Our experiences with MWR was so wonderful that I truly and honestly
endorse their company.
I whole heartedly  recommend the staff for their courteous,
friendly, fun, caring, knowledgeable manner and 
I have no doubt that anyone on any of their excursions is 100% safe.



  1. This looks like it was so much fun! I would of loved to tag along.

  2. Monique~
    Would LOVE to have you and your family there as well, friend! What a great afternoon!

    Thanks for stopping by~!! xoxox

  3. Now this is a trip I would love to go on with my boys when they're older. I need a Forrest Gump running shot!

    1. Yes, you DO need that running shot down the main road in Monument do! I have no doubt you'll trek out west with them before too long!

      Thanks, Cristina, for stopping over!!

  4. Chris, I LOVE Glacier. It's a fantastic park, isn't it? I'm from Oregon, and while I'm uber-proud of my beautiful state, I'm willing to admit that Western Montana has it beat.

    1. Yes, Rhonda! We simply love the west, esp the Pac NW. It's just So different ---like nothing at all here in the east.

      Thanks for stopping in!


  5. Replies
    1. It definitely was, Shecki!!

      Thanks for stopping by. "See" you soon!


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