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April 9, 2006

Say goodbye to Rock Island, TN and say hello to the open road and RV life! While I believe there is no place like Rock Island, TN and it is my first choice among anywhere in the USA to live, I also believe that there is no place in the world that is the best place to be everyday all year. Instead, I feel that the way to truly love home is to travel, and the key to love traveling is to spend enough time at home. For me, 50/50 is about right. 50% on the road, and 50% at home. The RV was our life full time for 5 years and it took about three years before we even began to feel like a home base was worth looking into, probably because we had been couped up in DC for 8 years. When we started looking at a home base, Rock Island stood out as the best spot for what we wanted; land, warm weather, awesome boating in our front yard, affordable cost of living, little government/law enforcement involvement in daily life, and a mix of rivers to run and playboating. We had that all winter, and now it is time to see the rest of the country, do competitions, and get west.

Yesterday, Clay took the kids to Kentucky while Kristine and I packed, said goodbye to the Jackson Kayak staff, and got under way to the Cheoah. Emily did a presentation to a school in KY on her project in Uganda. I wasn’t there, but apparently Dane was a hit with the 6th grade girls, waited in his first ever lunch line and ate his first school lunch. Emily said that at least 10 high school boys told her they loved her. I don’t think she minded much. I wish I could have seen it though. Emily hasn’t been in a school since 2nd grade that I know of and Dane has never been in school. The school called up Emily and asked if she could come. Someone that was at the National Paddling Film Festival told the school about her project and they are always looking for a worthy project to get behind. Who knows, perhaps they will help Emily implement her project in Uganda. On the way home Clay asked if the kids could stay at Rock Island and run the falls and surf Brave Wave while I drove with Kristine to the American Whitewater Board meeting at the Tapoco Lodge on the Cheoah River. That was interesting, uncle Clay is keeping the kids for two more days so they can paddle together while we are here at the meeting, cool stuff. Clay and I got to run the Falls on the mill side two days ago on the way down to some fun 8,000 cfs Brave Wave surfing, sweet!

Tomorrow we will run the Cheoah River, a recent American Whitewater Achievement. While there are only limited releases on this river, it is way better than a dry river bed. It is a super fun creek/river combo in the Smokey Mountains. Some steep stuff and some playboating too. Take a Rocker, Super Hero, or Fun.

Sunday we make a U-turn and head straight out to California. Our first stop will be at the Kern River Festival and Brush Creek Extreme Race. Both kids are super excited about both events. They first ran Brush Creek two years ago. They are stoked to go back and see what they think of it after two years of improvement in their paddling. From there we head to the American River Festival, where there will be lots of water in those drainages. Last year I had the opportunity to join Charlie Center and Scott Lindgren down the North Fork of the American on a record high run of 20,000 cfs.. There is more snow in the mountains this year so perhaps we’ll get to hit normally unrunnable creeks or some high water runs on the standard stuff. Then we head up to Oregon and Washington States to paddle with Kayak Shed, Alder Creek, Levinworth, and Seattle Raft and Kayak folks. I am also doing a TV show in Seattle that should be cool.

After the North West it is Reno River Festival with Freestyle, Extreme Race, Boater Cross, and clinics, and let’s not forget the Blackjack! They are filming a TV show on the event again this year. Head East after Reno to Teva Mountain Games in Vail, Colorado where there is a Freestyle competition, an Extreme Race on Homestake Creek, a Boatercross on Dowd Chutes (Eagle River) and lots of concerts and other fun activities. They will be making a TV show on this one too and they announced that Dane and I will be competing head to head in some kind of freestyle event, that should be interesting, I hope he doesn’t beat me.

The Jackson family will then head to Europe and meet up with my partner Tony, and his kids in Lyon, France. Toon, the owner of Kayak Session puts on a huge event there, that I have never attended, and it is about time. We will spend a few weeks in Europe, heading to Bremgarten, Switzerland after Lyon for the “Wave and Wheels” competition and festival. Concerts and parties, along with great paddling, and friends, make this time of the year special for us.

That is enough for now. I take one thing at a time and try to enjoy where I am at the moment before I start thinking about where I am going next. The funny thing is that when I return home, I will have my new log house finished and ready to move into! That is huge for me. I have wanted to own my own house on my own property, that I built to suit our lifestyle since I was in college. It just wasn’t in the cards since I spent 100% of my money on kayaking or taking care of necessities for the family. When I finally got in position to build the house in 2003 I quit my job at Wavesport and lived on savings and then I started Jackson Kayak. Now, at age 42 years old, I will build my house that will be my primary residence, most likely, until the day I die. How cool is that. Kristine is taking care of the details on what lights go where, etc. etc. while I took care of other aspects, like how to pay for it.

The RV is in good running order, it has 50,000 miles on it, and we bought it two years ago for $24,000 (sweet deal on it). It has a good generator so we have electric, a heater, A/C, stereo, TV, microwave, oven, stove, fridge, good coffee maker, bathroom, and plenty of roof racks. Currently we have 3 Ricochets, two Heroes, 1 Super Hero, 1 Rocker, 1 Star, 1 All-Star, 1 Super Star, 1 Fun 1, 1 2 Fun, 1 Fun, 1 4 Fun, 1 Super Fun, 1 Mini-Cooper S on the back of it, 187 Jackson Kayak promo videos, more stickers, hats, shirts, posters, and clothes, a few board games, 1 football, 1 frisbee, 1 Dalmatian, about 200 DVDs, two Ipods (I lost Kristine’s 80 GB one she got for Christmas, oops. Oh yea, three laptops, no printers, 1 external hard drive, and a good camera, and Dane’s video camera. Did I forget anything? Two Kids, one mom, and one dad.
½ a tank of gas, Dark sunglasses, “hit it Jake, we’re on a mission from God.”…

🙂 EJ