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Every year I post my schedule, so you know where to look for the
Jackson RV and family. There are some broad items in here, like :New
England/Mid Atlantic Tour. Kristine will fill it in with specific dates
and locations, like Zoar Outdoor, or Washington, DC, etc.. As the season
progresses, look for additional stops and fun events.

There will be some deletions and substitutions from time to time as well.
While I like to know what I am doing, so I can optimize the fun factor on
the way, it has to be flexible enough for us to follow the water, weather,
or fun.

I am already getting excited about the tour. Here is the basic concept,
which has been evolving since 1997 when we first moved from a house in
suburban DC (Bethesda, MD, Brookmont to be exact) to a 32 foot Coachmen
Mirada with my 4 year old Dane, my 7 year old Emily, Kristine, and two
Dalmatians (Target and Pebbles).

This year, 2009 we’ll be launching the RV from the side of our first house-
a log house in Rock Island, TN. This year the RV will contain lots of
kayaks, a 2007 Mini-Cooper S on a flatbed trailer, Kristine, Dane (now 15),
KC (will be 7 months old), and two Dalmatians (Rocksey and Tilly). Emily
and Nick will be doing their own tour, traveling in a car that they still
don’t have yet. Along for the ride will be various team members that will
be hitching along from time to time. Our RV is a 1998 Georgie Boy
Landau, that had some engine issues in the last tour (it has now had three
engines in it, and the latest one seems to be doing awesome and only has
about 20,000 miles on it now!)

So the concept is this: My theory in 1996 that I put into action in 1997
with Kristine is: "there is no such thing as the perfect place to be 12
months out of a year." As a kayaker, there are so many cool places to be,
and each place has a special time of the year where the kayaking tends to be
the best, the water flowing, the weather great.

The Southeast is where we start the tour off- in March, usually in Alabama,
TN, NC, GA. This isn’t that unusual, as I remember back in the 70’s when
Merrimack Valley Paddlers (NH kayak club) would have trips to the Southeast
in March. To this day, clubs from all over the east coast can be found
just a few miles from my house running rivers that flow off the Cumberland
Plateau, and in the Smokey Mountains. Why should I leave this place
then? Warm weather and lots of rain make for a great season (highest
average rain month for this region).

April is a tough one as New England is typically thawing out and getting
rain, while California is warm and the low elevation runs are cranking.
The playboating is the best in California then as well, but the high
elevation stuff tends to be still snowed in. The Kern River Festival and
the American River Festival are two events that make it hard to not want to
go to CA, however. The Kern River Festival doesn’t draw the crowds it did
in the 90’s since they stopped doing the Freestyle competition in town, but
the Brush Creek Race is a favorite for the kids, so we try to make it a
stop. Kern River Brewing Company (the Giddens) and Sierra South are the
ones that make this event awesome. This year, Emily and Nick get married
in Mexico, and in good form, we need to hit up the some creeks down there
with Nick before his big day. We will be going down a week early to run
some sweet stuff, Vera Cruz or Chiapas? Rafa will make sure we hit the
right stuff! Nick will be hazed into submission!

May- Since we’ll miss April in CA- we’ll hit up the American River for a
clinic with California Canoe and Kayak before the Reno River Festival. Did
I say Reno? Oh yea, what a unique paddling experience that has become a
staple of the Jacksons, and Team JK. Downtown Reno, casinos, dancing girls
handing off the champagne and awards for the competition, and a great event
with live music blasting in the eddy during your rides. The RV has a
special parking spot right on the water that really makes it a great week
for us. As the month of May progresses, we start heading back east to

June- Colorado comes alive in June. Flowers are blooming, and the snowy
mountains start to melt and drop tons of water in the rivers and creeks.
The weather not predictable; in fact they say, "if you don’t like the
weather, wait 15 minutes." It will be sunny and 75 and then in 15 minutes
it is snowing! What makes Colorado so fun in June is the high water, and
back to back fun events across the state. CKS paddlefest and BV rodeo on
the same weekend this year! That means, video premiers, parties, and tons
of people showing up to break the winter ice and get back into paddling, and
then the big competition at the new BV Whitewater park right in town (walk
from the store).

This year the USA Team Trials for the World Championships is in Glenwood
Springs on the Colorado River. No pressure, but get top three and you get
to compete in the World championships, get 4th and you don’t. Luckily for
both Emily and I, we are pre-selected because we won the previous World
Championships, which is a tradition since 1993 by the International
community. This event will have Team JK, and the Jackson RV becoming event
central and focused on doing the best we can in the competition. Many of
our team members have been training for this event for a long time, and some
have never made the USA Team for a world championships yet. Under any
condition, if you want a "Ticket to the party" you have to perform on that
day, or wait two more years for the next one, and then hope that one goes

After USA Team Trials we go straight to another big event- the Teva Mountain
Games. This event combines many sports, like Mountain Biking, climbing,
adventure racing, trail running, and kayaking. The Freestyle Kayaking event
has been the central event of the games since it started, as it is easy to
see (if you can get a seat close enough to the water or from a hotel
balcony.) and it is right in downtown Vail in their new whitewater park.
Last year they unveiled a new hole, that is made with 8 bladders that have
full control. Dan Gavere and Clay Wright created the hole and will likely
do it again this year. TV, prize money, and a fun event for all makes
for a fun event we don’t want to miss.

Fibark is next- in downtown Salida- everyone’s favorite! The RV parks
right on the boat ramp in front of the hole, with a view from on top of the
RV or the front windows! One of the best holes on the competition circuit
each year, where every hole move is available, and some of the wave moves at
higher water. Last year I was getting 7 move combos in practice, the most
I have ever done, and haven’t found a hole since that offers up that kind of
ride. A nighttime finals made things interesting last year, as well as
the carnival that goes on in town. This is all part of a kayaking event
that has been going on for over 60 years, non-stop!

Animas River Days- Durango, CO. It has been a few years since I have been
there. Once the premier event in Colorado, it slowed down a little as
they dropped the freestyle event a number of years ago, which meant that
many of kayaking teams didn’t have a good excuse to show up and paddle this
super fun river. In 2009 they are adding freestyle again, and getting
back to their roots. Slalom is their true roots, and I look forward to the
slalom race there. The upper animas is a long, fun, wet, but cold run
worth hitting up and Vallecito Creek tends to be going off then as well,
which is, one of Colorado’s best creeks. 4 corner’s marine is the store
there that makes so much of the scene happen. Also a very involved
paddler base and especially strong group of kids and parents that are always
creating fun stuff for everyone.

July- You can drive West or East. Oregon, Washington, and California are
usually going off. In past years I always went to the Gorge Games next, in
Hood River for the extreme races, and boater-crosses. From there creeking
can be done in any direction, and depending on the snow pack, it can be
epic. The past number of years I have headed east, to Canada, to teach
clinics on the Ottawa and train there. With the Gorge Games being
resurrected, I will likely choose differently next year. This year it is
a long cross-country drive from Colorado to the Ottawa River in July. July
tends to be a dry month for most of the country, but not the Ottawa river!
Flows that will be at a minimum of 15,000 cfs, this is one of North
America’s gems. I’ll be at Wilderness Tours (at Ottawa Kayak School)
teaching two clinics, and coaching the Keeners for a week. This is also
my final training spurt for the World Championships. After my last class,
it is "blackout time". This means, unless the factory is burning down,
don’t call me, I’ll call you. I need at least two weeks to get my groove
on and make sure my mind is fully committed to being an athlete and not
distracted by a zillion things that I have going on.

Outdoor Retailer- since 2004 Jackson Kayak has not had a booth (on purpose)
at O.R., the biggest trade show in the World for outdoor sports, like
kayaking. In 2005, other whitewater kayak companies (I won’t name them)
complained to the OR management about me competing in the pool rodeo for
Patagonia in a JK boat when JK didn’t have a booth. They decided that I
couldn’t compete without a booth to appease the other companies. Instead
of not being able to compete, Patagonia got me a very small booth, which we
kept our boats in before competing, and showed them off to anyone who walked
by. This year, 2009, we are actually getting a booth, to show off our
new product! The goal is primarily to get in front of the dealers we
don’t get a chance to see during the season, and new dealers for our new
Touring and Rec boats that we are making. We are flying from Canada to
the OR show, and back for a 6 day break from teaching and training. I
will be fun to have a booth there finally!

World Championships- yes- this is the highlight of my year. I am going for
my 5th World Champion Title and my 8th World Title overall. Emily is
going for her first World Championship title in the senior women’s class.
She won the Junior Women’s class at the World Championships in 2007 and the
Senior class in the World Cup in 2008. Dane has a silver in the 2007
World Championships in the Junior class, and is still a junior, and will
turn 16 right before the Worlds this year. There are so many top JK
paddlers that have a shot at the title! Right here at Rock Island you
have Nick (won the world cup final at the world’s site last year), Stephen,
who was second there at the same event, Clay, Billy (2nd in the 2005
worlds), Ruth (current world champion), etc. etc. Wow, that is a lot of
talent and a lot of hungry athletes ready for the big event! The event
being in Switzerland is awesome for the culture and quite a bit different
from Canada. The wave is smaller than Buseater, but very high quality.
It is in the middle of town, where you can watch from bleachers, or from a
wooden bridge with flowers adorning every few feet, over-looking the
centuries old town in the Swiss Alps.

Coming back from the World Championships we’ll come back to Rock Island and
stage mini-tours out of here to places in the Southeast and Mid-Atlantic
again. The entire tour will wrap up in October and I’ll be ready for some
home time! The Green Race is the first weekend in November and I have
only done that race one time so far. I am usually not ready to stay on the
road then, and to race well in that race, you need to know the lines well or
you won’t win. While I won the short boat class in my only race there,
after 5 practice runs, I would feel much more comfortable racing after 10
or 15 runs and that would take a good two weeks of taking your time down the
river to learn the lines. We’ll see. I’ll probably be at the factory,
paddling here, and enjoying the fall at Rock Island. I can’t think of a
better place to be in late October and in November than Rock Island, TN.
Oh yea, December, January, and February at Rock Island can be pretty sweet
too. I would go as far as to say, in the USA, there is no place I would
rather be in the winter.