I have let this blog slide! It has been a super busy year of adventures and work (both which have sent me traveling all over the world) and I have struggled to keep posts coming onto the blog, despite half writing a bunch. So I am now getting back to my old ways , to the “sketches from the road” concept, That is ......publish it as I write it in the field, full of errors and for real, not worrying too much about spelling and Grammar and just posting. Hopefully some good pics will make it tolerable.
Project Grand Canyon New Years Day 2013 (more on the trip here)
This year in a nut shell: New years day had me and a group of kayakers coming off the Colorado river after successfully paddling self supported with sea kayaks (and other paddle craft) through the Grand Canyon, soon after I was in Costa Rica kayaking around the Osa Peninsula, hiking into the heart of its Tropical forests full of monkeys big cats and crocodiles, and helping run a client trip. By May I found myself in Norway kayaking the snow lined coast with Jeff Allen from Sea kayaking Cornwall in the UK, for two weeks, then straight from there I flew to Namibia to run two Client overland adventure trips for World Wild Adventures Ltd. I will write more on these adventures soon.
Playa Carate Costa Rica Jeff and Jaime Norway
Stars of the Southern Hemisphere, Nye Nye Namibia
Scattered through this “world travel” there was much paddling in great destinations near home in the Pacific Northwest, Jordan River BC, Surge Rapids BC, Pacific City Oregon,Deception Pass and of course flat water paddling and Greenland rolling. I learnt some new rolls, under the deck sculling roll. Forward finishing hand roll and the elbow roll, Surfed some epic rides and I also re discovered K1 paddling which has lead to a new joy in flat water paddling because of it.
Chris Bensch Paddling out at Pacific City in the TRAK Seeker.
Upside Down at Surge Narrows BC Greenland Night Ninja Paddling with James Manke
Amongst all of this my work with TRAK Kayaks has also sent me on many journeys around North America to work paddle expos, the Chicago and Vancouver boat shows, Canoecopia, Vancouver and Victoria “MEC” paddle Fests, and the epic OR Summer Market in Salt Lake City. All these journeys have lead to meeting some great people, many of who have become good friends; they have also lead to struggles with my life, struggles with balance and energy.
I write this as I sit on a plane yet again, this time bound for Phoenix Arizona; I am returning to run the Grand Canyon for second time in 9 months, this time in the summer for 16 days and this time with rafts and 16 people. I feel exceptionally lucky to be able to indulge in adventure like this, to have it part of my work and after waiting since I was a kid to run the grand to get to run it twice in 9 months is unfathomable; though as this last week has built to this moment I got wrapped up in stress and a loss of direction. This week I had to pack up my room (my first rented room not tied to work contracts in 8 years) and move everything into storage (yet again), on top of this I had to pack for the Grand Canyon and I had to organise the coming months of work and finish what I could of work obligations before flying out. Through all this my emotional self required down time, social time with friends and “brainless moments”, plus indulging in my sports and passions.
Through this week (and due to the last year and a half, and possibly because I am maturing with age) I have come to appreciate a base, down time, time with friends, and I have always appreciated doing nothing and indulging in whims. Much of this has struggled to exist in my life this year it feels, I question the benefits of how I now live my life (compared to my simple guiding days) and I now explore the thoughts and feelings of what is sustainable in my life and what new objectives I wish to shoot for.
Looking forward from here I know I will always travel and always explore, though I need more time to slow and appreciate. I reflect on one of my Business’s core pillar motto’s “time to slow, time to grow” and I know I need to find this again in my life and not get so wrapped up in possibility and wanting to do it all, all the time. I can hardly remember individual trips I have taken this year, they all merge, and I desire more time to digest them, and more time to share and process the film and imagery from them. Yet at the same time I release attachment and burden I find myself piling on myself, yes I have chosen a different life than others choose and this means I need to do things differently to be productive; So now to find the balance and to find the base (emotional and physically) to explore from effectively.
Greenland Fun with James Manke and Kayak Ways
After the Grand Canyon, I am home (living in my bus) for a week, I then fly on to Nova Scotia for the Bay of Fundy Sea Kayak Symposium, from there I head to Germany with TRAK Kayaks for the Kanumess expo. Shortly after that I head to the UK for Jeff Allen and Simon Osborne’s Sea Kayaking Cornwall Symposium, Calgary beckons on the way home to work on TRAK’s new prototypes. Then with the same objective in mind end of November looks to find me in the Philippines working for TRAK, and as I am in the southern Hemisphere I will head back to NZ for Christmas (after all it has been three years since I was back).
So adventures still beckon and I still travel, yet now I am really seeking to slow and grow through them, not bite off to much (it helps now I know how big my mouth is) and practice un attachment to stuff and more attachment to great people in my life and the quite time with them. The best thing about this upcoming Grand Canyon trip is.... I get to share it with my dad, and with some old university friends from New Zealand, and with some good paddling friends from USA, Sweden, and Canada, this will be a very nourishing trip in spectacular place I am stoked to be able to share with them.
My Dad and I in Arizona
I am blessed to live this life and to have the opportunities and ability to act on those opportunities that I have, I have worked hard to get to this point and have made many sacrifices. Thank you all who are a part of it and have tolerated my vagrancies, and the large amounts of time that can go by without spending time with me, or even hearing from me, thank you for those who have opened their hearts to me, dared to share their dreams with me, have indulged in a laugh or ten over a bottle of beer or wine (or while simply gazing across a wilderness landscape), and mostly thank you to the ones who accept me when I am down, when I am at my worst and most vulnerable and have helped me talk myself back onto my feet again.
Any way stay tuned for more “Sketches from the Road Less Travelled” and Keep dreaming everyone, for what are we without dreams?