FRIENDS, Big Bang Theory, Jersey Shore, these shows and many more like it entertain you by giving you a look into a group of friends that laugh, joke, comfort and play. Most people in life will have a close group of friends where you can pretty much do anything or say anything off the wall around them, hell, most the time they will join in. But the one single thing these crazy groups of friend do is be there for each other and lift each other up when you are down. 

This summer has been full of up’s, I can’t deny that. My wife and I started a SUP rental business, we got to spend our weekends on the water, camping and of course paddling. But, with those up’s came many down’s. As a start up business your first year “typically” will be the hardest. This was hard for us because we started a new business in stand up paddleboarding in the Midwest. Our biggest mentors in this new chapter of our lives were our parents and our very good friend Shane. Shane is the entire reason I wanted to start this business and he told me it would be hard, it would be a struggle and that I would get pretty down at times. He was right! it was a tough first season but it is only going to make us bigger and better next season. 

Sensing a little depression Shane and my wife had a plan. get as many of our river family “SUP Hooligans and paddlers” to come to the 11 Point river and just have a weekend of fun. Little did I know how far Shane and Nicole and everyone involved would take it. They were able to get our friend Bailey to drive from Memphis and our kitchen bitch “Ron” to drive ALL the way from Wisconsin. 

Sneaky Bastards

So, about a month ago my wife asked me if we could go camping together “just us” before summer was completely over. I said of course and she said how about Sept 22 after our season would be done for the year. I said, sure. As the past month went by I asked where she would like to go, she said, how about 11 Point river. I said perfect, it’s beautiful and peaceful and the river is amazing. Fast forward to two weeks ago and I was at the kayak shop working and Jason asked if I could work on the 22nd of Sept. I told him that my wife and I had a camping trip planned could I ask her if it’s okay to work and get back to him, he said sure. So, I went home that night and told Nicole that Jason asked if I would work on the 22nd, Nicole got a little bummed and said well, there is something I need to tell you. Shane and Elissa and I want to take you camping and I was suppose to keep it a surprise. I was floored, and I got a little bit emotional for a minute on how sweet her plans were. Little did I know the shit show they had planned. 

The day came, we left town in the early evening and drove the 3 hours over to Hufstedlars in Alton Mo. I was excited to go camping and super excited to see Lis and My “man husband” as Nicole call’s him. As we got close to the cabins I pulled into Hufstedlars parking lot and seen a bigass new truck, I look and see Wisconsin tags on the truck. I was like “what the hell”, I get out of my truck and around the corner walks Ron, I could not believe it, our kitchen bitch drove from Wisconsin to go floating with us. Right after Ron came up, Bailey came up and gave me a hug, holy shit what was going on, then Daren, Jessica and Teresa came up to me. These sneaky bastards kept this plan a secret and surprised the hell out of me. I was damn glad I made a gallon of apple pie that’s for sure. I am not gonna lie, I almost teared up a little bit. 

Just a day before I was a little bummed that the chance of rain was 100% and temps in the 60’s. I mean, it would not bother me to hang out in a cabin all day with Shane, Lis and Nicole but it would be nice to be able to float. Once I seen everyone that came I literally did not give a shit if it rained or not I knew it was going to be a crazy weekend with a cabin full of SUP Hooligans. 

Friday night got off to a crazy start when I broke out the Apple pie, Bailey broke out her spiked lemonade and we all started hanging out. Things start to get crazy when we are all together. As the evening went on we cooked out and built a fire and broke out the Care Bear Pajamas. I mean we are the group that built a 4 , 6 and 12 man paddleboard and took them down the Missouri river in the longest non stop paddling race in the world. It takes a special kind of people to even think on that level of insanity so, Care Bears are nothing to us, or are they. 

As we woke up on Saturday, we were greeted by a chilly morning and rain, lots and lots of rain. We were kind of bummed but, it really didn’t matter we would make it fun. Lis made us all an amazing breakfast, we hung out on the patio and sipped our coffee in the woods, life was pretty good. As the morning went on the rain started to let up and we decided to say screw it and we went floating. We were not going to let sprinkles keep us off the river. Mike the owner loaded us up and bused us up to Whiton access where we would float 7 miles back to Hufstedlars. 

The 11 Point river is easily one of the most beautiful rivers in the Ozarks and to me the country. The spring fed water is super cold and crystal clear and full of trout and bass. On the section we floated we were able to stop at Boze Mill, an old mill built back in the woods against a giant cold water spring. This giant spring pumps millions of gallons of water into the river every day and the teal green and blue water is amazing. The moss covered steps on the trail and beautiful water makes you realize how lucky we are to live in such an amazing part of the country. The best part was some of our crew had never seen a spring that big so it felt pretty cool to show them what we get to see a lot when we float these rivers. 

I have had a pretty good life, especially growing up. My parents were surrounded with good people and in turn I grew up with good people. I was a lucky kid growing up. After moving to Springfield I met some amazing friends, some of which don’t eat breathe and sleep paddling like I do but they are amazing friends and I am lucky for that. But, after my mother passed away three years ago I began to dive into the paddling world pretty deep, it was a way to get away from things for a while, keep active and explore some of these beautiful rivers. It’s been in the past two years that I have found a family in the paddling world. No clicky attitudes, not snobby personalities, just goofy good people that bend over backwards to life each other up. Shane, Lis, Bailey, Daren, Jess, Teresa, Ron “Kitchen Bitch”, I would consider my close family in the paddling world. But, there are hundreds more that just lift you up when you get to paddle with them. During our races and float trips we get together and act like kids again, we forget about “Adulting” for a brief moment and get to enjoy life with good people. 

What Shane and Lis and Nicole did for me was beyond amazing and I can’t begin to thank each and every one of you enough for coming together and just having a weekend of fun and friends. Wendy, Karlie, and Mike at 11 Point Canoe and Hufstedlars also get my deepest thanks just for being them, a good-hearted and fun family that I feel lucky to call friends. Every time we go to the 11 Point we feel like we are welcomed into their homes and treated like family. 

It’s hard to write this post and not type page after page of rambling because there is so much to be said about this weekend so I will finish with….. 

I love you all very much and the river gods sure as hell blessed me with some amazing river family. 

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