A Middle Fork F5 Mandolin Goes On A Whitewater Rafting Trip

September 13, 2019, 0 Comments

A Middle Fork F5 Mandolin Goes On A Whitewater Rafting Trip

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After sitting in the shop for a while and only being used for demos, Middle Fork F5 14-018 started to feel depressed as he waited for someone to take him home permanently. I decided to take him on a whitewater rafting trip to cheer him up. Here’s 14-018’s story.

Road trip! Yeehaw! I get to come out of my shop for a while, see the sun, get some fresh air, and jam with some guitars and a harmonica. I tried out the front seat of the car but since I cannot get the seatbelt on, I hang out in my Calton case for the ride over to Idaho. I am so excited to get to play with the other instruments on this trip.

“My model is the Middle Fork F5 in the River series of F instruments. I think Gary is naming us after his favorite boating rivers and creeks. There’s definitely a pattern beginning to emerge here…”

Middle Fork F5 14-018
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Day 1:  On the river. 
 The excitement is building.  I was put in a dry bag and then a dry box made for instruments with two guitars in gig bags.  I could not quite see who they were, but I will meet them soon enough. For now, I am safely tucked away.  I do not want to get wet and ruin my French polish finish, so I am in my Calton case in a dry bag and in a dry box.

Even though I am safely locked away, I will be able to feel the rapids. This is my first river trip, so I do not know what to expect.  I just know it will be exciting. The sky is clear blue. The temperature is perfectly warm, not too hot and not too cold. This is going to be a spectacular day.  Woohoo!

I got to come out of my box tonight.  What an amazing day! The rapids were so much fun.  I was in a dry box in the back of a custom cataraft named Kali Kat, so it was very bouncy.  Since I was in the box, every rapid was a surprise to me. I could not see what was coming ahead.  I think that made it more exciting. I could hear the water rushing by and the murmur of conversations.  It made me wonder. Are they talking about me? Am I still going to jam tonight? Will people like my voice?  My tone? Will I be able to project over the sound of the rushing river in the background? I better be tuned up!

When we got to camp, I was anxious to see the camp, meet the musicians, meet the other instruments on the trip.  But today was our day to cook dinner for everyone, so I could not come out to play. I did get out to see the river and the spectacular blue sky with hints of wispy clouds rolling by.  Tomorrow is another day and I will have more rapids. And tomorrow night I SING! I am so excited that I can barely sleep.

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Day 2:  On the river. 
Today was a quiet day compared to yesterday.  There was a lot of gentle rocking and the sound of the waves lapping over the raft.  There was not that excitement of a rollercoaster whip like yesterday. I think all the excitement from the last two days has caught up to me, and I just napped in my case on the river.

The river band got together tonight.  I got to meet RainSong Russ and RainSong Jon and Harmonica Dave.  I had never met a RainSong before. They are carbon fiber guitars; I am wood.  I have a Sitka spruce top, curly maple back, Ebony fretboard, James tailpiece, and a French polished shellac varnish finish.  All of the instruments in my Cedar Mountain Mandolin family are made of wood, so meeting carbon fiber is new to me.

The river band got together tonight.  I got to meet RainSong Russ and RainSong Jon and Harmonica Dave.  I had never met a RainSong before. They are carbon fiber guitars; I am wood.  I have a Sitka spruce top, curly maple back, Ebony fretboard, James tailpiece, and a French polished shellac varnish finish.  All of the instruments in my Cedar Mountain Mandolin family are made of wood, so meeting carbon fiber is new to me.

The RainSongs and harmonica were very friendly. and we blended well together.  I am the soprano of the group. We played a bunch of songs together. Of course, we were a little rusty at first but we got it together quick enough.  We each got to take breaks so we could hear ourselves play. I got my first big break and I could hear my deep resonant tone above all the other instruments.  It was magical. I love being a part of a band. It inspires me to play longer and with more creativity during each break. Best. Night. Ever.

Day 3:  On the river. 
I heard today was “big rapid day,” but I did not know what that would mean for me.  At first when we pushed off the beach, nothing felt different than the prior two days.  There was more gentle rocking and lapping of waves. I was very relaxed and about to doze off again when I heard the loud screech of a whistle followed by someone yelling “FLIP” and then another whistle.  I wanted to jump out of my case to see what all the commotion was about, but I was trapped in my dry box with my new guitar friends, the RainSongs. Soon I heard Gary’s reassuring voice yelling, “It’s okay.  We’ve got you. You’re okay.” I think someone started to flip their raft and went for a swim through a rapid and Gary helped rescue whoever it was.

The rest of the day I was on alert.  I did not want to miss a beat. It was like a wild rollercoaster ride, up and down and up and down until we got to our campground at a place called “Cottonwood Creek.”  I stayed in my box while the people were laughing and swimming in the eddy. Swimming sounded like it would be fun; however, since it involves water and getting wet, I figured I would stay nice and dry in my case and box.  I prefer to be dry and maintain my great tone for when I play. I will leave all the swimming to the people for now.

Playing the Middle Fork F5 with Rainsong Russ

Day 4:  Before the river.  After breakfast we had some quiet time before we put on the river.  It was nice and cool out, so I came out of my case to play a bit with RainSong Russ.  We blend well together and make a great team.

Day 4:  On the river.  Today there was a lot of time for contemplation in my box.  We went through Eagle Creek Rapid, China Creek Rapid, Skeleton Creek Rapid, and Flynn Creek Rapid.  All these rapids have the word “creek” in their names. The only other creeks I have met are the Creek model instruments Gary builds.  They are the Icicle Creek A5 and Pilchuck Creek A4. I did not know there were more creeks out there. I am starting to sense a theme. My model is the Middle Fork F5 in the River series of F instruments.  I think Gary is naming us after his favorite boating rivers and creeks. There’s definitely a pattern here.

As we were floating down the river going through these Class II rapids, I could hear Gary talking about all the animals he was seeing.  There were river otters fighting, bald eagles sitting in trees and flying overhead, a Golden Eagle sitting on the edge of a beach, wild turkey wandering around, Big Horn sheep standing on rocks, and a lot of Chuckers.  I am still not sure what a Chucker is, but it sounds like they are everywhere on the river. They better watch out. I heard Chucker hunting season was starting soon!

It was too hot to come out and play tonight.  Instead there was a big party on the raft. I could hear all the people laughing and talking over each other.  There was more swimming going on.

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Day 5:  Before the river. 
Before the river.  Jam session! We threw a little going away party for ourselves this morning.  It is our last day on the river together. Harmonica Dave, RainSong Russ, and I got together and had ourselves a jam session in the morning.  I love when I get a break and I can hear myself loud and clear in the quiet canyon in the stillness of the morning. What a tone!

Time for me to go back in my Calton case and dry box and get ready to finish up the river and head home.

Today we went through Checkerboard Rapid and Eye of the Needle Rapid.  I really, really liked Eye of the Needle. It was like a long rollercoaster ride.  I think it was my favorite rapid of the entire trip. After that rapid, we lashed the rafts together to make something like a giant barge.  Gary put his motor in and guided us out the last 20 or so miles of the river.

After the river, I got out of my box, said my goodbyes to my new friends and hopped into the car for the long drive home.  As much as I loved playing with my new RainSong friends and I loved the river trip, I hope I have a permanent home before the next river trip and I will be with my new family and I can just read about another mandolin’s adventure on the Lower Salmon River in Idaho.



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