Our neighbor Mike used to be a raft guide.
He still goes out when he can get away and invited us and some other neighbors to do a trip down the Middle Fork of the American over by Coloma on Father's Day 2009.
Drove to Coloma Saturday night, dinner and live music at the Sierra Nevada House then off to some friends of Mike's who live near Coloma and have a great house with a big lawn we crashed on for the evening.
Up sort-of near the crack of dawn, breakfast, drop a car at the take-out and head up to Chile Bar. We know nothing, but Mike is a pro and his kids have been doing this all their lives. Get all the gear sorted, pump up the boat (Dex and Bobby supervising). It is a perfect day. Sunny, not too hot.
Launch the Boat, get some instructions and off we go.
Captain Mike reads the river like a book and shouts out instructions: "One forward", "Left side two back". We do what he says and slide miraculously through waves, past rocks, around underwater obstacles--some kind of zen thing between him and the river.
We had lunch after dropping through a great wave and watched other rafts and kayaks run through.
6 hours later and we're in the slower, lower river, then packing up to head home. Great day!