It is March 30, 2009 and I am in Atlanta, Georgia preparing to embark on a journey to another world, and another time in the lives of my family.     At 7pm tonight Dane, Nick, Clay, Trevor, and I leave for Mexico City, Mexico where we will celebrate the last 10 days of Nick’s Bachelorhood by re-enacting the Alseseca River Expedition seen on Hotel Charlie: River of Doubt, but this time knowing what to expect.    Kristine, Emily, and KC will meet us on Monday at the Blue Bay Esmeralda Resort south of Cancun where the wedding will take place, along with about 50 other friends and family members.

We have our creeking gear in the RV, and plan on using Rafa’s Hero, Rocker, and Mega-Rocker for Clay, Nick, and I.  Dane is bringing his Sidekick, and Trevor is bringing his Hero.    We have a Scotsman who moved to Mexico about 10 years ago, a friend of Rafa’s to pick us up in his van, and bring us around to Veracruz and then possibly Chiapas.     Our paddling goal is to have a great time running some incredible Class V.    It will be the first time for both Clay and Dane.   Nick is very excited to finally be on rivers with Clay, that he knows, but Clay doesn’t.    My partner and friend Tony Lunt was almost on the trip but can’t make it, which is a shame since he was in charge of the bachelor activities.  I doubt any of us could match Tony’s ability to create such festivities for Nick’s last week as a single guy.     We’ll miss you Tony!   Once we return from Mexico, our paddling lives will be staged out of the RV once again, as we head to New England for the first time in three years to kick things off, before heading to the West Coast, then Colorado, etc. etc..      We are back in Fun Tour mode, with events, clinics, traveling in the RV, seeing dealers, and living the gypsy lifestyle.

Another big change is the final stage of Emily’s flying the coup.    She will be married to Nick, has her own car at home to do the Fun Tour in, her own house when she gets back from the Fun Tour, and makes her own money.    Have I really gone from having a young girl and boy to having an adult daughter who is married, with a house and on her own?   Who would have imagined that it really happens!    I will miss her terribly and hope her Fun Tour schedule is as close to mine as possible, so I don’t miss her as much.

KC is another big change for me right now.  Our RV life started when Dane was 4 and Emily was 7.    KC is only 6 months so now we have a little baby on tour with us.   He travels like he was born to do this.   He was born while I was in Switzerland for the World Cup final (two months early, oops!).   He will experience a whirlwind of travel in the next 9 months, learning to walk on the banks of a river somewhere before we get home to Rock Island again.

Jackson Kayak, like most businesses in the USA and worldwide is a part of the new world economy and has the same kind of financial, sales, banking, and other issues that you read about in the news.     We are having to adjust in a big way and make changes, grow and improve out of necessity, not just out of desire for improvement.    This is bringing out the best in everyone so far, as we are all lucky to have jobs right now, and are intent on doing well so we can continue to employ great people.    No rock left unturned, no opportunity left unchallenged, and no dollars wasted.    My partner Tony has been instrumental in teaching me on this front, as well as our top management all united in being efficient, and conservative, while doing what we need to in order to succeed in this new economy.  Whew, that is a lot!   Tough, challenging, but we are up for it.

April is a pivoting point for me and many involved with me.  We are wide awake, and aware of our surroundings, which is changing like the seasons in fast forward.   Easy to see, but a lot to keep up with.

Meanwhile- the past three months has been 7 days/week at work, zero days off.     The next 13 days will be family.   I am lucky that Dave Olson, David Knight, Tony Lee, Marty, Carman, Lorraine, Brad, John Ratliff, and more are covering for me during this time.   Thank you!