Chances are that you’ve been to a Costco, a church, or eaten at a nice restaurant. Maybe you don’t see a difference between the three. Regardless, when you first arrive on a ROW trip, your guide will greet you with a warm hand and a friendly smile. Welcome to ROW. What’s your name? Where are you from? Was the drive/flight/camel ride nice? It may seem that your guide’s greeting is bordering interrogation but the truth is, as guides, we are excited to meet you. We’ve already read about your medical concerns and food allergies, and now we are looking to make a genuine connection. It turns out that adventures are fertile ground for growing relationships, and your guide’s enthusiasm at the start is a sign you’re in for a treat.
2. A Mother
Remember the days when your mother would hand you clothes and tell you what to wear? Quickly after orientation, your guide may begin pulling out an assortment of gear you’ll end up wearing. Your guide could have you lifting your arms to get you in a vest, jacket, or wetsuit. We might even wrangle your melon into a helmet if we need to. On some of our trips your guide will need your clothes to be functional over fashionable so we may make a few suggestions on your wardrobe. But don’t worry, just like your own mother, we will dress you for success.
Similar to the days when your mother used to dress you, your guide is going to cook and clean for you three meals a day. Don’t worry though, we wont be making you grill cheese and PB and J (not that there is anything wrong with those options...). On our trips we eat like royalty regardless if we are in the heart of Havana or in the heart of the Frank Church River of No Return Wilderness. I promise your guides will wine and dine you. Some of our guides joke that a part of training is going to French culinary school, and at times it definitely feels that way. You’ll be amazed at the quality of food and visual presentation our guides can conjure up; and don’t worry, we can still cut the crust off your sandwich if you’d like.
Stepping out your front door may be a dangerous business, but we’ve prepared for it. Whether it’s a splinter or something a bit more serious, our guides are trained in wilderness first aid. And a bonus - if you do end up scraping your knee, we’ve got a superman bandage to make it better.
Don’t worry; we aren’t just here for your physical needs. We are also here for your emotional needs. This is your vacation, and we want you to relax, kick back, and enjoy yourself. On our trips, we’ll encourage you to turn off your cell phone (because you likely won’t get much service anyway), immerse yourself in your surroundings, and make lasting memories. Although we aren’t going to make you lie down on a couch, we may still ask you how the trip is making you feel.
6. Drill sergeant
Sometimes things get real. If your guide thinks that your safety is even close to being compromised (as can be the case on any river trip), they may start barking orders. Usually you can tell how much danger is around based of the inflection of your guides voice. A friendly “follow me” versus a screamed “GET TO THE CHOPPER!” could be the difference between a fun vacation and a horrible memory (don’t worry; it’s usually the former, but it’s good to be prepared!).
7. Super Hero
When guides aren’t deflecting danger they are fulfilling dreams. Sometimes it can be easy to forget that your guide can provide so much more than simple trip itinerary. If there is something that you would like to get out of your trip, our guides will do their best to make it happen. Whether you ran out of toothpaste or you want to celebrate an anniversary in a unique way, we will try to get you what you need faster than a speeding bullet.
8. Adrenaline Junky
Because of our guides’ can do attitude toward life, they tend to gravitate toward adventure. When they regale you with stories of their exploits it may seem that your guide is always chasing the next adrenaline high. I can assure you that these tales from the trail are often highlights from years of embracing an adventurous lifestyle, and that the majority of guides still find great pleasure in the quieter moments. On every ROW trip, our guides will periodically pause to describe the historical significance of your surroundings. While we can get your blood pumping, we also realize that it doesn’t always need to be on an adventure.
I often say “my parents live in Idaho; I live in the moment.” Although this may be a clever deflection to the question of where I live, I think it holds true for many guides. Usually we live a nomadic lifestyle calling home anything from a tent, to a car, to the bed of a truck. Some may not understand this alternative lifestyle, but for many guides it simply comes with the territory.
The best trips end in tears and hugs. Chances are that your guide has dressed you, cooked for you, and may have even bandaged you. Your adventure is going to provide a few stories back home, but ideally it also provides a few lasting connections. As you can tell, guides wear many different hats but regardless of our headgear, we’ll always be your pal.