Did you enjoy the Fireworks? I had a spectacular time watching France's artistic firework performance thanks to my friends Sleimen and Iva, whose apartment on the 20th floor right at English Bay has a world class view! It was super fun to meet all of their international friends, and snack on yummy home baked herb potatoes, while drinking organic raspberry lemonade. July has been a month of adventure and fun, from the rugged outdoors to fancy dress up parties. For those who live in Vancouver, please come out on Aug 22 to support the launch of BLISS in Kits! If you were not able to get away to any summer festival this year, this is a mini version of that in an alcohol/drug free environment.
2 Days White Water Rafting on the Thompson River
I was so excited about the 2 day white water rafting on the Thompson river provided by HYAK coordinated by Ricky Shetty of YVR Bloggers, I was awake until 3am. Then I woke up at 6am, jumped in the car and listened to the CBC talking about the forest fire that is raging around Lytton, evacuating 48 homes. The GPS said it will take 3 hours to get there and it was pretty much right on the money. Being that early in the morning, there was no traffic at all, so I got to enjoy the beautiful scenery of trees, mountains, tunnels, etc.
I arrived at their office around 8:30 am and met some of my fellow bloggers, whom I know via facebook and twitter. Meeting many of them in person for the first time was exciting. We got our wet suit and paddle and jumped on a big yellow school bus where our driver Dennis put on some old time rock and roll for the 1-hour drive.
Jim was one of our white water rafting guides and told us stories about his lifelong career as a paramedic as well as being a mountain rescue operator. A part of the hiring process for rafting guides seem related to how well they can tell sarcastic jokes. The first thing he told us when he picked up the mike was “How can you tell if a rafting guide is lying? When sound is coming out of his mouth”. Jim told us about his 2 grown sons, one just finishing University and another one in his first year. His wife of 24 years probably only spent 12 with him due to his job. He really loves rafting and was happy to report if you can make money doing what’s fun, all the better for it. There were 17 of us in total, split into 2 rafts, so Jim and Sebastian went through the safety procedures.
Besides the bloggers, there was a young couple who works for UFC selling showing rights to pubs, two girls who got the deal on Social Shopper, and a couple Kirk and Karleen. They were from Kelowna whose grown children all left the nest so they’re free to pursue their adventures. Everyone was in such a good mood, not sure if it was the sun, or the fact we’re on vacation, everyone was sharing jokes and just being playful, so time flew by.
I embarked onto the raft with Lauren (a miss Tall Universe contestant, and blogger for tall people), Kirk and Karleen, and another blogger couple Christina and Dominic. Christina is from Germany and writes a mommy blog about the funny situations adapting to Canadian culture. Dominic is an American from Tennessee who is a sales trainer, who also writes about sales and leadership. Our crew might be the slower raft, but funny commercials, jokes and plenty of cultural exchange happened with the beaming sun. Just before lunch, we got sucked into a small whirlpool that spun us around 3 times till we paddled hard to get out. OH YEAH, this is not a trip for the lazy. Paddling is SURVIVAL and not an option.
Sebastian, our young 25-year-old Australian raft guide was quite soft spoken. I ended up repeating his commends with a much louder yell or else the front of the raft would not respond. Our lunch was on a big black rock, I was surprised to see a picnic table with full on lunch including veggies, fruits, lemonade, dinosaur gummies in addition to the tuna or bologna sandwiches. They even had chocolate cookies and pickles!
But honestly, it was the fresh air, the rugged black mountains surrounding us, and the odd stuff animal we found before the lunch that makes you feel like a lost character on an epic Western movie. Where danger is just around the corner and everyone’s joyful, eating, and laughing is a prelude to something dramatic.
The rest of Saturday was very peaceful, we blew up two kayaks so the more adventurous people could paddle their way down the river in it by themselves. It was very windy, which for the area is unusual. We did smell smoke and heard stories from Diana and her husband Ed as well as Kirk and Karleen how they arrived to Lytton the night before. They witnessed the giant forest fire engulfing the trees along the mountain as an incredible sight to witness, until they heard about the homes being evacuated.
Myself not usually an outdoors person, but being on the raft was a check out for the brain. 100% of my focus was perking my ears to hear the next commend, and paying attention to the rapids coming at us. The muscles in my arms and back were working hard to paddle!
By 6 pm, we arrive at a very normal looking island that is the much mythologized place called “Fantasy Island”. This was our over night campground. We discover there are outhouses as well as a BBQ set up, and even a fire pit with seating around it. Everyone disbursed after we all worked the assembly line to unload all our stuff to set up our tents. Then we helped Jim and Sebastian set up the big yellow HYAK tent over the kitchen area before they began to cook dinner. While we’re waiting for dinner, is when we learned a bit more about each other. Jennifer, who is a mom with 2 kids, and she’s writing a book titled “Flipping your sexy on” to which everyone got into a conversation about female empowerment and the role of seduction. Then Karleen was venting on how people don’t hug anymore and how our culture has moved totally online and she really doesn’t get social media. If she wants to socialize, she will just visit her friends or get on the phone, and only checks her facebook once a year at her mother’s urging. Dominic told us years back while he worked in financial district in London, he dedicated one day to smile and say hi to strangers. Out of 130 people he approached, not one person responded back. Some people even thought he was weird and walked around him. Most had no facial expression and just walked away. As a response to all this, all the women came in and had a hug group hug love in.
Kirk and Karleen asked me what exactly is blogging, and why do we do what we do. I took about 10 minutes and gave her a run down about the changing media climate and the rise of citizen journalism. We’re all commenting how funny she is and encouraged her to have her own youtube channel.
We were stunned by the delicious pork chop and brown rice dinner our charming raft guides prepared for us, and gobbled up the fluffy chocolate cake for dessert which I helped with icing. That dinner was the only time all of us were quiet, then the chatter resumed with a small fire watched carefully by Jim’s hawk eyes. I had never felt so tired, and even though I was mesmerized by the slow sunset and the beauty of this early human village like environment, my eyes were shutting down. I soon crawled into my sleeping bag and passed out on the air mattress.
I woke up the next morning to Karleen outside my tent telling me that Jim is asking us to leave by 9am so we must get up and get breakfast. It was 8:30 am, so I got out and greeted my lovely neighbours Kirk and Karleen. I washed my face and brushed my teeth by the river and went check in at the kitchen area. After speaking to most people, found out I was the only one who slept like a log. Most people heard the multiple trains going by, and Karleen told me there might have been a deer outside our tent based on the bird’s protective squeaking in the morning.
For breakfast, Jim cooked french toast, sausages and provided some fruit. Everyone seems to have a good appetite and drank coffee, tea and hot chocolate. It felt like we’re glampin in style with good company. After learning Christina and Jennifer are both seasoned professional aerobics instructors, I encouraged Christina to give us a morning exercise class after the big breakfast. To everyone’s delight, she smiled brightly and got moving. Our class consisted of 4 people, including her husband Dominic who has never taken her class, and Diana, who hilariously would repeat and embellish her commends. We felt much better after this 15 minutes morning exercise. We gave both Christina and Diana a huge around of applause for their enthusiasm and bright energy to kick off our day.
We hit the waters at 10:30 am, 1.5 hours later than the time allotted for us to leave, and we’re told the rapids would be a lot more serious. Everyone had to be very cautious not to fall into the water. We hit a pit stop 30 minutes in, and dropped off all our gear to a HYAK truck, and our raft gained a more senior rafting guide Mike. He looked like a California surfer dude with his deep tan and super blonde hair. Like all the other HYAK rafting guides, he’s hilarious as well and told so many jokes about the different rafting guides and the stories about river sharks. Girls, if you ever fantasized about a mountain man, Mike would be the modern version of it. He sat across the raft from me, even during our practice of ducking (as in when a big rapid comes, everyone jump into fetal position holding on our paddle and the middle metal bar to push the centre of gravity of the raft lower) I smelled his very potent manly body odour. Slightly different from the sweaty gym guy smell as it is blended with the wet smell of the life jacket. As I look at his shiny golden leg hair glistening in the sun, my mind immediately goes to our early human ancestors who explored new land and took extreme dangers. My inner voice said, if all our ancestors were like me, we still be in Africa or be an amoeba since we’re so lazy.
Poor Sebastian got a blister from paddling so hard on Saturday so Mike took over the command during the really dangerous rapids. Sections with names like Jaws of death, Witch’s caldron of death, and Mother in law of death. It was rather comical since every time Mike would introduce a new section, the whole raft will say in unison to complete the “of death” in boxing announcer voice. Sunday was much calmer as there was no wind and the sun peaked out from overcast clouds intermittently. The geography was breath taking, some part looked like Mordor from Lord of the Rings, full of raggedy edges of burnt yellow and orange, then suddenly sections that is RED. Turns out it’s the iron in the rocks that makes them change colour.
Both Sebastian and Mike were very manly and authoritative on Sunday. They yelled out the commends loud and clear and we really saw how much care they put into making this trip a safe and enjoyable experience for all of us. Having warmed up with us, Mike joked “You maggots, paddle harder” to a big howling laughter from all of us. When asked what is the worst group of clients they had to deal with, Jim told us he has a group of 8 guys who are all 300 lbs or heavier, and they didn’t paddle hard. He thought for sure they’re doomed to flip, and only made it through because of the weight. While Mike told us about a bunch of Shanghaiese fresh of the plane tourist teenage guys that came a week before who did not know English nor cared to paddle. He just prayed, and thanked God that he survived the trip without flipping. Mike explains that the guide directs the raft, but the power comes from each rafter so paddling is essential.
When we paddled through a section that looks like a tunnel, Mike told us the story about one of HYAK’s life rafting guides named Big Wave Dave. He fell in love with a woman and proposed to her one time by the tunnel of love wearing a tuxedo after his wet suit. The couple lived happily for a year before the wife cheated on him with the air conditioning repairman, and for revenge Big Wave slept with her sister so now that spot is called tunnel of doom. We really wondered about Big Wave Dave, as he’s described as a really decent guy who walks like a duck from too much smoking, drinking and years of rafting. We found out that there is about 8-12 rafting guides that all live together in a house that services the Chilliwack River as well as the Thompson River. They’re mostly young fellows who love the outdoors and travel or become ski instruction during the off months, and come back for the summer.
We had a nice lunch along the edge, again with full service from HYAK team, this time even with bright tablecloth. Same as Sat, with the addition of crackers and Philly cheese, and wrap in addition to bread for the tuna and bologna sandwich.
Our raft constantly had laughter, and we learned about alcoholic apples that’s a tradition in German, Australia’s outback is called the outback (the front is the ocean), and how much Japanese girls love blond guys. Lauren who sat in front of me was the only one that got knocked into the raft 3 times during our Sunday run, everyone else stayed put. We did all get wet at different points, and during a calm part, everyone jumped into the water. Watching them get pulled out like a beach whale was really funny as Christina landed 100% on Mike as she got pulled out.
By 3pm, we safely arrive in Lytton in the glorious soft sun. Our group thanked our charming guides and gave each a hug gathered for a group photo before our 5 minutes bus ride back to the HYAK office. A truly memorable experience, of nature, physical challenge, community and great fun. It’s the perfect experience for team building. I trusted my rafting buddies with my life and was prepared to do CPR if the opportunity arose. Nothing like having your life on the line to develop trust with a complete stranger. After we returned the wet suit and paddle and tipped our guides, all of us took a million pictures and exchanged our contact infos with one another. It was bittersweet as so much love developed among our little community. I came back home with a deep tan, followed by the best night of sleep ever. This particular 2 day trip is $339 per person on the Thompson River, but they have plenty $99 1 day trips as well. Money well spent.
About HYAK River Rafting:
Hyak offers a variety of river trips from May through September on British Columbia's Best Rivers. From our popular Chilliwack and Thompson White Water River day trips to our world classChilko/Chilcotin/Fraser 6-Day River Rafting Vacation, Hyak has the perfect river adventure for you. Call them at Tel: 604 734-8622, or visit their website www.hyak.com
QUALITY RAFTING ADVENTURES SINCE 1980
Since 1980, we've entertained thousands of guests on river adventures that have earned us a reputation for quality, service and safety. With state of the art rafts and equipment, the finest guides in the industry and the best food on the river, we are committed to offering a first class, all encompassing outdoor experience. Whether you're 8 or 80, the thrill of the Whitewater Rafting In B.C. and the spectacular scenery will make this the Best Day of your Summer! Our rivers are easily accessible and close to Vancouver, with overnight and camping packages available.
Taylor Scragg, Multi-platform artist & Realtor
Photo courtesy of Taylor Scragg
A: You submitted a video for a reality TV show "Real Hipsters of Vancouver". Please explain to those who don't know, what “hipster” means and why they're cool? And how did you become one?
T: The producers wanted to see taped auditions so we decided making a video would be a fun thing to do that day and we wanted to see if we could get on TV. Our video got a lot of attention because it’s well made and there was a lot of hype surrounding the show at the time. From what I know a series is still set to take place, unfortunately (or fortunately) for me I was not selected to participate.
“Hipster” is a subculture born and perpetuated by the youth and influences of the present day. The name acts as a categorization just as “punk” or “hippy” can be used as labels for individuals who dress a certain way, and fill their lives with certain activities, interests, music, and fashion. The essence of hipster is as any other subculture, to be unsatisfied with the status quo.
Your question is loaded though, it’s not dressing or acting any certain way that’s cool. It’s cool to give a f*ck.
A: In that video you said something along the lines of "we need more opportunities to wile out and unwind to rid of the angst of being an urbanite" what angst are you referring to? Is this a physical feeling of compression from the grey architectural city living, or a psychological and emotional state of being? What methods of wiling out do you recommend?
T: Everyone needs a break, call it catharsis, from the oppression of the sex obsessed, capital obsessed society and from the man-made aspect of our lives.
We need to “wile-out” means to let our pent-up energy out. Society keeps us busy getting things done, buying things and behaving. Methods of letting loose that I recommend are to just dance, move your body, get lost in music. Go to a festival or go be in nature for a few days. Expend energy in a celebration of gratitude for what already is, not worrying about how we look, what others may think or about past and future. We need to just enjoy and help others enjoy the world because as my Mum always says: we’re here and then we’re not.
A: As one of the founding fathers of Low-Life.ca what kind of amazing musicians and artists have you met in person and what kind of impact has it had on your life?
T: I haven’t been star-struck by anyone yet, really. Not musicians anyway. I think electronic musicians are more humble nowadays than rock-stars or movie stars.
I am surrounded by people in all realms of artistic expression. Being amongst creative and ambitious individuals allows me to remain creating, via all mediums, for the sake of expression itself.
A: How did you get involved with Low-Life?
T: I helped create the site. My friends and I had begun to delve into electronic music and I was keeping a couple of interest-driven blogs of my own. My friend Wolfey called me up one day in October, 2010 and suggested we collaborate our efforts and hone an audience. That’s how Low-Life was born. Since it’s conception our members have explored and continue to explore various avenues of the music industry including artist interviews, event-hosting, merchandising and festival journalism. Low-Life is now best described as a music journal.
A: What is Chains4Change?
T: Chains4Change is a project that I created with my friend Will at Burning Man last year. We were making pull-tab chains to give away at music festivals and people were so affected by them that we decided to solidify a charitable business plan so that we could perpetuate and catalyze positive change in the real world.
We hand-make chains out of recycled aluminum pull-tabs and sell them to support charitable causes. Our primary focus currently is to help end human trafficking in Canada via a branch of the Salvation Army, thetruthisntsexy.ca.
A: Was it different working in England than Canada?
T: Apart from the accents, and driving on the other side of the road I felt very much at home. Everyone there loves tea. I had a great time living there and I look forward to going back in September — acting training at the Guildhall Drama School awaits!
A: How would you describe your musical tastes? Please name some of your favourite artists?
T: I have no idea what I like until I hear it. Music has to have soul. I enjoy all styles: classical, techno, house, metal, trap, folk… I enjoy tasteful sound and rhythm choices but especially I need music to move me.
Musicians who I keep on heavy rotation are: Bill Withers, Sublime, Frank Sinatra, Bob Marley, Pete Doherty, Eminem, Harrison Brome, Wolfey, Sub Antix, Ornamentality, Bob Moses.
A: As a creative person, how do you express yourself artistically?
T: Doodling mostly.
When I notice I’m in the flow I just sit down and write rhymes or play the piano or guitar and freestyle over that. That’s sort of doodling too. My friend Keith recently showed me how to make beats on my computer so I’ve been exploring that a bit. I usually play piano or guitar and sing or make a beat and write rhymes, doodling. The point is: remember to do whatever you are doing with full attention and awareness, then anything can be an artistic expression.
A: How did you get into acting and music?
T: Acting because I love the detail of a good movie, I also love the way that a great actor’s performance can affect me. As a kid, I never wanted to choose any profession. I wanted to be a pirate, a spy, a superhero, all childish desires and unlikely paths, except for an actor…
I understood from a young age that I wanted to be an actor for it’s universal qualities and that it could afford me experiences in places around the world and training in areas like martial arts, dancing, driving, accents etc to suit the needs of a character. I once envisioned this training would lead to a culmination of skills in the kind of multi-skilled person whom 007 might be proud to know. But truly, the training of an actor is made up of methods for self discovery and self-awareness that refine an actor’s instrument, his body and being. My obsession with the body-brain relationship led me to begin pursuing a degree in behavioural psychology but now it’s an experiential understanding of consciousness that I am after.
Music has also been a part of my life since I can remember, I have taken lessons and studied several instruments over the course of my life so far. My parents and school were adamant that I learn music and develop an ear. I didn’t really realize the joy of playing an instrument until high-school when I began to play for myself.
A: Why did you choose being a realtor as your day job?
T: Balance. I needed a milieu to fund my artistic endeavours. Being a realtor provides me a goal-oriented agenda and a schedule of my own design.
My Mum is an interior/exterior designer and multi-medium visual artist and my Dad has been a realtor and businessperson for 40+ years (He developed the Wall Centre). Vancouver has one of the busiest and highest yielding real estate markets in the world and I felt it was essential to know my way around the industry. Initially I had a special interest in gallery spaces, studios, warehouses and venues.
I realized that everyone needs a space to live, space to work and the value of land in Vancouver is only increasing. Eventually, I would like to focus my attention on facilitating sustainable community living on coastal wooded acreages and private islands but right now I’m helping my family and close friends with their personal assets and keeping my finger on the pulse of the live/work studio lofts and warehouse conversion spaces around town.
A: If you met the older version of yourself at age 55, what would that Taylor be like?
T: I have no idea. I’ll have a lot more abandoned art projects under my belt by then and probably a few more certifications. I’ll definitely be sailing more. Hopefully I’ll be graceful beyond my years and a healthy and dependable presence for another 100!
A: Could you share a poem you've written with our readers?
T: I have not written in several months but I will share a song I wrote on guitar and recorded with an iphone.
Some more songs of mine if you enjoyed that one.
A: What are the last few books you've read?
T: I just started reading Nikola Tesla’s autobiography “My Inventions”. I read Rajneesh’s autobiography before that. I always have a few on the go currently including Shakespeare’s “Sonnets” and Patsy Rodenburg’s “The Second Circle”. I also recently finished Krishnamurti’s “First and Last Freedom”.
A: If you had all the money in the world, what would you be doing and where would you be?
T: If money was no object, I would be living in a sprawling self-sustaining home with hidden rooms and secret tunnels on some coastal wooded acreage or island growing fruit and vegetables and collecting rainwater. There would be a semi-contained atmosphere to feature plants from other climates and a sprawling food forest akin to Willy Wonka’s but natural. We would be a self-sustaining entity living in harmony with the land whilst creating beauty and inflicting positive change. I would curate my own world-wide radio show playing only the greatest music and broadcasting a message of peace, health and awareness to all. I would also pioneer stem cell regeneration methods and photosynthesis in humans… and I would have a really nice sailboat.
A: Your bucket list?
- Live everyday as my last
- meditate again
- more yoga
- play music again
- dance more
- know or know not. believe nothing
- travel more, take more photos
- build a home
- write more
- draw more
- paint more…
I could die happy right now. There is nothing I must do or accomplish, other than evolve to my full potential, and that’s happening on its own.
A: What is life's biggest riddle for you? What different answers have you come up with over the time?
T: Existence is a complex mystery, I have no desire to solve it only to be allowed to discover it and to make love to and participate with the mystery and to contribute my gifts to this world.
A: You’re so different from the person in that video, I would say you’re a tall hobbit yogi, since you love to eat, drink and be merry and run around the woods while meditating. ^^
T: I am certainly a tall hobbit. Paradoxical, I like that. I might need permission from Tolkein’s people for that title.
A: Do you believe in any specific philosophy?
T: I don’t need to believe in any philosophy, I don’t need to believe in the sun to feel the sunshine. I trust my path and strive to speak only from my own experience.
A: You come across as someone who really enjoys the present moment
T: I trust the process of growing. Only through accepting what is, can I understand and grow.
A: What advice would you like to share with new entrepreneurs in Vancouver?
T: Enjoy the game for the sake of playing and celebrate often.
A: Any last words for our Social Butterfly Club members?
T: Just another shoutout to my family and huge thanks to you Alice! Thank you for making this happen.
Checkout Taylor’s website for links and info on his latest projects.
Taylor’s curated music stream: soundcloud.com/tscragg
Taylor’s personal music stream: soundcloud.com/tscragg/tracks
Real Estate Specialist for Macdonald Realty Ltd. Kerrisdale
online store: chains4change.storenvy.com
Low-Life.ca : low-life.ca
Deighton Cup 2014 -click on link to see more pix