Dam it. Twice!
Between the Parker Dam and Headgate Dam is a calm section of the Colorado River, lined with state parks, campsites, RV resorts, short-term rentals, groomed sand beaches, restaurants, the famed (or infamous) bars of Parker Strip, Bluewater Casino hotel and marina, and the Venice-like canals of the Moovalya Keys.
Toward the base of the deepest dam structure in the world - not to be confused with the deepest damned structure in the world - the Parker Dam, is the quiet of River Lodge Resort, where ADR has staged its race start since its inception over ten years ago. A visit to anotherdamrace.us and a perusal of its posted video will give you a great sense of the immensely positive energy that everyone brings to the event, as each start is graced with an announcement of gratitude, prayer, and Polynesian ceremony.
Our DIG crew, comprised of team members, family, and friends competed/participated in a variety of categories, SUP, iSUP, surf ski, and kayak. Many of us paddle a few to several times per week, and some paddle once a month. All of us love the water, and a good party. :)
For our family, as return participants, there were few surprises. The event was well-organized, and the sponsors are great. The course was adjusted this year to be an out-and-back run with a combined start/finish. That format is typical of most coastal and inland reservoir/lake events that we’ve seen and hosted, but it was a departure from the usual 10.5 mile downriver hustle that typified previous ADRs. The upshot was that we didn’t have to orchestrate the usual elaborate staging and recovery efforts to move with the event toward the finish line area, once it was over with awards, prizes, and lunch being served.
Of course, as parents, Michelle and I felt a great deal of satisfaction to watch our sons compete. Michelle paddled a new SIC Okeanos 14’ x 26” hard board, Dane paddled an Old Town Cayuga 160 (16’) kayak, while Ferrell took the almost-identical Cayuga 14’. I paddled a tandem Necky sit-in kayak with Linda Schmal riding shotgun. We all opted for the shorter 6.5-mile course. Tamra Stephenson, our Events and Programs Director, took the trusty SIC X14 out for her first race (nicely done). We were joined by the 76 year-young George Schmal on a 14’ Riviera race board, good friends and ADR first-timers Nick (SIC 14’ Bullet) and Rebecca Guillen (SIC Mangrove 10’ 6” touring board). Zion Paddlers (zionpaddlers.com/ZionPaddlers) Laurie Harper, Jerry Sabaitis, and Steve put the effort in with recreational sit on tops. Another Zion Paddler, Grant, joined us in a beauty of a touring kayak. Judy Stumpus competed with both hips replaced on an SIC Okeanos Air Glide 14’, while husband Bob went the distance on the long course with an SIC X14 Pro Lite, a speedy board that takes a steady pilot. Pat McEwen also chose the lengthy grind with a Perception sit-in 14’ kayak that proved to be a fast solution.
Most of our group placed in their categories. Everyone finished without assistance. Michelle wrote about it in her own entry, and between our Instagram feed and Facebook page, there should be hundreds of images that help tell the story. I’ll include a few here, but we don’t want to bog down the site too much with large images. ;)
A few highlights for me were, one, having such a great group of friends join us for the event. We also ran into friends we’ve made over the years from California, Nevada, and Arizona. The paddling community is one of undeclared inclusion, true inclusion. Cultural differences are celebrated, all subsumed in the love we share for canoe, SUP, and kayak.
Another unexpected gem was running into Quickblade Paddles’ founder Jimmy Terrell, an Olympian paddler and legend among paddle sports. He was nice enough to chat with our group, including the young guys. Jim’s approachable and insightful.
We also met with ARE Outrigger World’s Joey Alvarez and look forward to working with their brand to get our Utah paddlers into OC1. The 6-man outriggers were impressive, as were the 12-man and 18-man OCs - WOW!
Post-event, we headed over to the DIG house in Moovalya Keys. It looked like we were one of many that saw value in grabbing a canal-side home for the trip. You can drive up to the house, park, walk to the back and hop in the canal off of your own dock. It’s incredible. Split between three families, we hosted a barbecue potluck, followed by a night paddle through the canals. The evening silence and water’s still was only interrupted by the occasional “Hello” from other evening-time neighbors enjoying the post-sunset twilight and colors of landscaping lights. The current was almost indiscernible among the channels. Tamra’s husband, Eric, did not compete during the day but did bring his own touring kayak, which he joined us in. Pat motored his wife, Joanna, around in that tandem Necky, and I was glad to be the fast Cayuga 160 that Dane used earlier in the day. Exhausted, it was invigorating to cut the quiet.
Eric remarked how interesting it was that, there we were, in an incredible environment, and as we passed the homes we could see that some were socializing on their terraces, but many were simply watching an evening television show. Perhaps familiarity makes it easy to slip into mundane habits. There’s one perk of traveling: One man’s “mundane” is another’s “magical”, and the traveler sees the magic.
The next morning, the women were ready to explore the neighborhood. Tamra won an SIC Tao Air Glide touring board, and Michelle took out one of our fleet Glide Lotus fiberglass pieces. The morning calm was almost intoxicating. They wrapped it up with some yoga and pilates, all from boards!
Join us at ADR in 2022. Let’s make some magic!