Saturday, May 26, 2012


My big sister has been writing a travel blog here which is being published on, about her travels in the States and Europe etc. I was reading the first few posts the other day and it struck me the massive differences we have in our travel experiences. Obviously my literary skills are not quite as eloquent as hers but I thought I'd have a go at laying out some of the experiences I have had in the first week of my travels this year.

First job - Fencing?? Helping Nick and Harmony deer proof their garden. (photo - Lou Urwin)

As coincidence would have it we happened to be in San Fran at the same time - she was looking around the city and I'd just flown in. The logical end to this story is that we would have caught up for coffee or some bohemian experience (being in San Fran and all) etc etc. Not so. Not only was I traveling with a 20kg, two and a half metre long piece of unwieldy plastic which is not conducive to getting around a city, I was on a very specific mission with said plastic. San Francisco airport happens to be the closest international airport to a little town called Coloma. Comprised of three eateries, a bar and 20 odd rafting companies, Coloma has little in the way of a downtown but serves a slightly different purpose. It is basically the epicentre of whitewater kayaking in California.

So as I arrived into the international terminal of SFO, I knew (or hoped) the esteemed Mr Neilson was en route to collect me. Sure enough, half an hour later and we were on the three hour drive North to rendevous with the 15 - odd other kiwi paddlers who are in Cali for the same reasons as me; It's summer and it has some of the best kayaking in the world.

The crew doing some solid not kayaking (Photo - Josh Neilson)

So the last week has been a whirl of kayaking, heat, cramped cars, and hectic freeways. After a couple of day runs around Coloma, a huge colonial crew of mostly kiwis, aussies, canadians, an englishman and a token Euro made the long drive six hours south to the Sequoia National Park. We were staying in another tiny little town called Three Rivers which has a super cool campground which we basically commandeered for three days.

We went back up to Moro Rock - a huge granite dome which looks over the whole Kaweah valley 
for the sunset and had the first meeting of the Sierra wine and cheese appreciation society  (Josh Neilson)

The put in for the East Kaweah, one of my favourite day runs. (Jess Matheson)

The three rivers hideaway - and the scumbags which inhabit it (Josh Neilson)

No tents in Cali...

 Sleeping on the ground, kayaking every day and driving up into the amazing Sequoia trees in the evenings, Three Rivers is one of my favourite places in California. It's about as far away as you can get from the hustle and bustle of the cities. Time feels like it has slowed down since I've arrived and it has highlighted just how hectic my summer in New Zealand was - working two jobs takes its toll on your leisure time. So as we lived and played in the dustbowl that is Three Rivers - and thoroughly enjoyed every minute I thought I'd put up some highlights of what we do when we travel.

Oh, and we went kayaking sometimes too. Little Niagra on the Hospital rock section of the middle Kaweah. (Tyler Fox)

 East fork love (Tyler Fox)