The V Wave
Stay connected to the river...
October 2013, - Vol 7  Issue 2
In This Issue
Images of the Canyon Contest
New 2014 Hiker's Trip
Guide Portfolio: Howie Usher
Pazole River Recipe
Reservations: 2014, 2015 and Beyond
Celebrating an Independent Life
End of the Year Retail Sale
Government Shutdown Update
Sign Up
Join Our Mailing List!
Links picked just for you!

Photo by Hailey Hagerty
Hello and welcome to the Arizona Raft Adventures' bi-annual e-newsletter. Now in the seventh year of publication, The V Wave,(named after the legendary wave in Lava Falls rapid) keeps you connected with AzRA Discovery, the river community, and the Canyon. If you have trouble viewing this email, please follow the link at the top of this message to view a web version. 

This issue features our new motorized Hiker's Discovery trip, a portfolio on guide Howie Usher, a river recipe and an article about a very unique trip AzRA did last summer that pushed the boundaries of accessibility. We are also excited to announce our fall contest where you can win $500 toward your next Grand Canyon rafting trip!   

Lastly, don't forget the links to the left. These Grand Canyon related sites were chosen just for you.
Images of Grand Canyon Contest
Pumpkin Springs, 2012 Contest Winner Rebecca Wilks
This year the contest is open to ALL GRAND CANYON IMAGES. If you are a painter, sketch artist or photographer, collect your artwork and digitally submit your entry by 11:59 P.M. November 3, 2014.   

The Grand Prize image will be featured on AzRA's holiday card and the winner will receive $500 off a future river trip.
CLICK HERE  for contest submission rules. 
New Trip in 2014 for Hikers
Ralph Hopkins Hiking
Photo by Ralph Hopkins
The hiking opportunities in the Grand Canyon can offer some of the most rewarding and memorable moments of one's trip. Although all of our trips offer hiking, we have created the "Hiker's Discovery" trip for the hiking enthusiast seeking the ultimate hiking experience. 

Over the last several years, the Hiker's Discovery two week oar trip has been exponentially increasing in popularity. Therefore, we decided to add a hiking trip to the motor division. Join the 10-day Hiker's Specialty Motor Adventure on April 17-26, 2014.   

Strategically placed in April, this date allows you to take advantage of the moderate daytime temperatures. The Canyon is also blanketed in wildflowers that don't bloom any other time of year. The Hiker's Discovery is two days longer than our standard Motor Adventure, which designates more time to hiking.

Read more or reserve now by calling 800-786-7238 or emailing Mention that you saw  The V Wave and receive 10% off a new reservation on this trip.   
Guide Portfolio - Howie Usher
Photo by Jerry Sue Bassalleck

Howie Usher is one of AzRA's most experienced Grand Canyon river guides. He's been working as a guide with AzRA since 1986 and is primarily an oar guide. He likes to preface his river talks with "never let the facts get in the way of a good story...".  And one of his favorite adventures is the Jungle Cruise at the Little Colorado River. His favorite rapids are Hermit, Upset and Lava Falls; and he explains the Vishnu Schist in the Inner Gorge as the Mordor section from The Lord of the Rings.  


He was born in Pennsylvania and graduated from high school in San Diego. After high school, he went on to study at the University of California, Santa Barbara, where he graduated with a Bachelor of Arts in Environmental Studies. A few years later, he received a Master of Science in Biology from Northern Arizona University.  


Howie was a teacher at Mingus Union High School in Cottonwood, Arizona for over 24 years, where he taught Earth Science and Biology. He was also the track team's head coach for many years. He was presented with the Yavapai County High School Teacher of the Year award and the Verde Pride Educator Award before retiring.   


In the winter of 2012, Howie suffered a stroke that severely limited his physical strength and abilities which required him to take a hiatus from guiding. Howie is committed to his recovery, and he credits his recovery thus far to the support and concern of the community, his family and friends. He remembers waking up at the hospital after the stroke and seeing his wife, Amy, and several friends from AzRA. He said he received a lot of cards and emails from concerned AzRA guests. This season, Howie was scheduled on several trips in an assistant space so that he could test out his physical strength and endurance. His long term goal is to row his own boat again someday.    


Howie is a huge San Francisco Giants fan and often times wears a signed baseball cap on his river trips (hopefully he never loses that one!); he collects baseball cards; and one of his favorite books is The Hobbit.

River Recipe - Pazole
By Jean Adams. Pazole over cornbread topped with jack cheese and sour cream
What better way to warm up and reminisce about the Grand Canyon than with a delicious river recipe? Pazole is a traditional Latin American soup widely popular in Mexico and the American Southwest.

There are many variations of this recipe but the basic foundation of all pazole is hominy. Hominy is dried corn soaked in water and lime to  loosen the outer shell and germ. You can buy hominy at any grocery store, usually located near the salsa.

3 cups Chicken Broth2 27oz cans Green Chili's, Diced
5 lbs Chicken Fajita Strips6 Yellow Onions, Diced
1 10lb can Hominy2 Garlic Heads, Diced
2 27oz cans Herdez SalsaJuice of 2 Lemons
3 15oz cans White BeansOptional toppings: Jack cheese and sour cream.
The ingredients above yield dinner for 24-28 people. Sautee onion, garlic and chicken in a pot until fully cooked. Then add all remaining ingredients and let simmer for 30 minutes.  Add salt, pepper, oregano, cumin, cayenne and chili powder to taste. Serve warm with cornbread and sit in the sand!

Want more recipes? Check out the archived newsletters for other river recipes.

Reservations: 2014, 2015 and Beyond
By Todd Shapera
Were you planning to go on the river in 2014 but haven't made a reservation yet? The 2014 season is over 80% booked so don't delay, call to check availability and secure a reservation. If the trip you want is currently booked, join the waiting list and we will contact you if space opens up.

Are you thinking about going in 2015 or 2016? If the answer is yes, call or email to get placed on our "interest list". We will keep you apprised when it is time to view  dates, prices and when to make a reservation.  


View current trip dates and prices. 
Celebrating an Independent Life - by Bill Peckham
Bill Peckham
Photo submitted by Bill Peckham

This is my favorite photo from my trip down the Colorado last July: it's July Fourth; we are beached for the night below the Nankoweap granaries. You have probably noticed something odd about this photo - the answer is down there by my foot: I'm undergoing hemodialysis, the first of three treatments I received over our eight day trip. This photo shows my ultimate Independence Day celebration.


Hemodialysis (HD) is a medical procedure that can do a lot of the work normally done by healthy kidneys. My kidneys stopped working in 1988, at the age of 24. Initially I tried to replace my sick native kidneys with a kidney transplant from my brother but unfortunately, my kidney disease (a particular type of FSGS) attacked my brother's kidney too. I needed to start using dialysis in 1990, and I've been using HD ever since.


HD requires the blood to circulate outside the body and through an artificial kidney. A special fluid, dialysate (the large, clear bags of fluid) circulates next to the blood, separated by a semipermeable membrane inside the artificial kidney. Running the blood and dialysate past each other allows diffusion to move waste solutes, from the body into the dialysate and from there down the drain, or the Colorado, as the case may be.   


Over two million people use dialysis worldwide; of the 400,000 people in the US using dialysis over 90% travel to a dialysis center three times a week for a 3 to 5 hour treatment. I dialyzed at a conventional center for 11 years. Dialysis did not keep me from traveling as long as I was close to a center. In 2007, I began using a transportable device called the NxStage System One (my foot rest in the photo). My dialysis provider, Northwest Kidney Center in Seattle, is a leader in providing dialysis outside of the conventional dialysis center. The more I used this system, the more I began to realize... maybe I could raft the Grand Canyon after all?


In 2012, I decided to make it happen. I contacted the National Park Service who encourages accommodation for people with medical needs but really it was the wonderful AZRA team that made the trip possible. The logistics were challenging as we planned for the adventure. Because of the time requirements for dialysis, the only way to do this trip was as a private group trip. AzRA got permission from the Park to bring a generator which powered my dialysis unit. I needed a lot of space for my equipment and supplies so AzRA added a second motor boat to make sure we had plenty of room. The entire crew Randy, Dave, Amanda, Kat and Chris were outstanding keeping us fed, entertained, informed and safe. We had great runs through the rapids and daily fantastic side trips. We had July weather: wind, rain and hail, alone and in combination. I had a dozen moments of a lifetime, besides the moment in the picture.


I will cherish these memories for the rest of my days but I also received something from the trip I cherish even more, something I did not expect, the trip gave me a deep sense of gratitude. Seeing the Canyon was a gift. I am so thankful for this gift. People all along the way said yes. Yes, you can do it. Yes, we will take you. Yes, I will go ... thank you, thank you, thank you. This photo is the perfect celebration of July 4th because I see my Independence from the tyranny of conventional dialysis. In this photo, I see my Independence from the widely held expectations of what it means to need dialysis. I see myself living the life I was meant to live. 


Thank you, Bill, for sharing this experience with the readers! Bill has a blog where he talks about his Grand Canyon experience and features more photos and video clips.  

We are proud to help break barriers and push the limits on access.    

End of the Year Retail Sale
Photo by Rob Elliott

Beginning today and running the entire month of November, AzRA's retail store, Red River Sports, is discounting most inventory for an End of the Year Sale. It's a great time to get that t-shirt you wished you had purchased after your trip, stock up on stocking stuffers for the holidays or purchase gear for your next trip.

for great end of the season deals. 


What a Government Shut Down Means to the Grand Canyon
Photo by John Dillon
Ah yes, the "government shutdown." Not only did the shutdown impact the travel plans of 100,000 Grand Canyon vacationers (including 40 AzRA guests), the shutdown impacted hundreds of businesses and employees in  Northern Arizona (including 12 AzRA guides). In fact, the impact was nationwide and it may have even effected you personally, your friends or family too. 

We are aware that many of our guests composed and sent letters to their
congressional representatives in support of keeping the Grand Canyon open. Thank you to those of you who responded to our call to action last month. This means a lot to us, our staff and the guests to which were directly impacted by the road blocks at the entrance of the National Park and the barricades across the road down to Lee's Ferry.    

If you have not sent a letter yet, it's not too late. It is still beneficial to call or send a message to your congressional representatives because even though the government has agreed to reopen for now, it is only temporary and we might see the government shutdown again as early as February 2014. Let your representative know how important the Grand Canyon is to you, what it means to deny access to future travelers and the economy. 2014 Vacations may still be impacted if there is another shutdown.   

We are available for free Skype to Skype international phone calls during our regular business hours. Our contact name is arizona.raft.adventures.


Want to stay connected between The V Wave Our Facebook page features a Tip of the Week, photos, discussions from guests, announcements, and more. Pinterest and Twitter are great social media resources to keep you in touch with AzRA and Grand Canyon National Park. Our LinkedIn page provides guests with pertinent Grand Canyon information and our Grand Canyon Group page through LinkedIn allows you the opportunity to ask questions, share stories and interact with fellow travelers.  Our YouTube Channel features video clips and AzRA's five promotional clips. Please share these video clips on your social media sites. If you have not viewed AzRA's YouTube channel lately, you might like to visit it again as there have been many new videos from our guests and guides added to our Favorites list.

Once again we would like to thank you for taking time to read our newsletter and for giving us river seasons full of wonderful memories. We hope you will choose to continue receiving this publication so we may stay connected. In fact, we appreciate input; if you have suggestions for future newsletters such as article topics, river stories, photos, poetry, or artwork to share, please email us.


See you downstream!


(Arizona Raft Adventures and Grand Canyon Discovery are concessioners under contract with the U.S. Government and administered by the National Park Service.)
New Logo
Arizona Raft Adventures and Grand Canyon Discovery

phone: toll free at 800-786-7238