Horror Film Director

A FATHER/SON ADVENTURE, and a few pulled teeth…


Posted on June 20th, by Darren Lynn Bousman in blog, general, opinion, Ramblings, Rants and Ramblings. No Comments

This past week, I jumped off a waterfall, swam in turquoise water, rode in a plane, helicopter, raft, and bus… I battled snakes, faced fears, got blackout drunk.  I hiked the Grand Canyon, rafted the Colorado, played football, beat the camp in horseshoes.  I slept outside for seven straight nights and removed sand from cracks in my body I didn’t know existed…  I was the hottest I have even been, and moments later, the coldest I have ever been. I thought I was going to die, almost did a couple of times, and had an infection so bad that I had to have a tooth removed…

Dearest readers,

Let me paint you a picture if I can… The blazing sun beats down on 32 vulnerable people. It’s hot, but hot doesn’t do this type of heat justice.

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It’s sweltering… The temperature at any given time is well over 100 degrees. We sit, latched on for dear life, white knuckled, sweat dripping down our face and then we hear….

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“OH GOD, here it comes! Hold on!!!!”

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SUBLUSSSSH!!!! A wave of ICE COLD water pummels the boat. A liquid so cold that it sends immediate shivers all over your body. The chattering of teeth suddenly replace the complaining about heat.

Simultaneously the hottest and coldest you have ever been mere seconds from each other.

This is the life of a river rat. This is the price we pay to battle the Grand Canyon and the Colorado river.

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On June 11th, my father, brother, uncle, nephew and niece headed out to Page, AZ to embark on a 7 day raft trip. This was to be my second, completing the first back in 2012.

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Our mission is simple. Start at Mile Marker 1 and Raft to Mile Marker 188.  188 miles at the bottom of a canyon formed some billion years ago. No cell service. No electricity.

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No one to call when all hell breaks loose. It is as roughing it as roughing it gets. Well, except for the food, the food is out of control good.Little Colorado River and Arch

Every few years my Father arranges some outdoor excursion, sometimes it’s fishing, sometimes it’s hiking. This year we would return to Grand Canyon and once again disconnect ourselves from technology and all things binding us down and float. Float for 188 miles.

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To be honest, when you describe it to someone, it might sound horrendous. Extreme heat, freezing cold. No tents, no communication with the outside world, and the grand daddy of them all, you have to shit in a bucket… That’s right a bucket. The same bucket the other 34 travelers are using. As horrendous as this may sound, by day two, you and Oscar will be the best of buds.

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When you arrive on the expedition you are given three bags.

1. Bag for your bedding
2. Bag for your clothes
3. Day bag to have easily accessible to you while on the water

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Whatever your intentions are… No matter how carefully you pack. By the end of the first night you will be carrying as much sand in your bags as clothes. It’s the reality of the journey.

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Every night you sleep out under the stars, lying atop dunes of sand.
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When night falls, we explorers pull up some chairs, crack open some beers and talk about the day. What is so insane about this trip is the diversity of the passengers. Surgeons, Prosecutors, Hollywood Directors, School Teachers all united by one place and one event.

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The sun begins to set and the group splits up… Some continue to talk, others drink, I, personally, play horseshoes…

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There are no words that I have the ability to write that can accurately describe the night in the Grand Canyon. Millions of tiny stars shine down on us. No light pollution dilutes this magical sight. After spending the night in the canyon I realized I have never truly seen stars before. Not like this.

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Every morning at 5:30 we are woken up to the sounds of, “FRESH COFFEE, COME AND GET YOUR FRESH COFFEE!!!” By 7:30 the rafts are packed, and down the river we go…

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Our days are broken up by arduous hikes in 100 degree heat, at the steepest incline you can possibly imagine. Some of the hikes are so dangerous that one misplaced foot could send you plummeting down 200 feet to your gruesome death.

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As much as I would like to consider myself an adventurer, this in and of itself is not my idea of fun… It’s hard… It’s rough…

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That said, if you ever have the chance to do this, DO IT… The guides were fantastic and fun…

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And the entire operation is top notch. I cannot say enough great things about Wilderness River Adventures.

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But, going away meant spending seven nights away from my wife and six month old son, Henry…

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Henry has consumed my life… He is my every thought.

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So, knowing that I was willingly allowing myself to be completely isolated and unreachable was a hard pill to swallow. Anyone who knows me, knows my addiction to technology – do the math… By day two I was going through massive withdrawals… From my phone, yes… But more from Henry.

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However, the purpose of this adventure was not about roughing it… Or isolating ourselves from bright lights and big city… This was a trip of reconnection… Family. Sons and their fathers.

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This was a trip with my father…

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The man who raised me, and taught me how to be a man…

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And continues still today.

Living in Los Angeles, thousands of miles away from Kansas changes you… Your ideas, your viewpoints, your entire way of communicating. It’s easy to get lost, or distant… One morning you wake up and realize you have drifted apart…

These trips we do bond us, anchor us into remembering… Not only where we came from, but who we are to each other.Darren36

I have always looked up to my father. His strength, his conviction, but more importantly, his ability to stand by me, and hold my hand when I felt the world was turning away.

It took going back to the Grand Canyon to remind me that while I am now a father, I am still very much a son who needs his dad.

Gather round the campfire, kids… time for a story…

Deer Creek Upper Falls in the Grand Canyon

I’m a 36 year old man. I’ve had success in my life… Had my share of failure, too. I like to think that I am strong and can handle whatever is thrown at me. But like everyone I have irrational fears… Things that scare me… Chill me to the bone. One of those fears happens to be a fear of heights…

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Not heights so much as falling… Part of the rafting trip as I mentioned was hiking… These hikes aren’t jokes… They involve careful planning, and steady feet. One particular hike called DEER CREEK almost sent me into a panic ridden shock last time I did this trip…

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After an hour hike at a steep incline, you have to maneuver your body down a VERY narrow ledge that has a 100 foot drop.

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Deer Creek Grand Canyon 9

That in itself is scary, but is not what caused my panic… In the middle of this narrow walkway is a HUGE boulder sticking out blocking a clear path… The only way through is to latch onto the boulder, and then inch your feet from side to side… One misstep and bye bye…

Hikers walk along Deer Creek Narrows in the Grand Canyon outside of Fredonia, Arizona November 2011.  The 21.4-mile loop starts at the Bill Hall trailhead on the North Rim and descends 2000-feet in 2.5-miles through Coconino Sandstone to the level Esplanada then descends further into the lower canyon through a break in the 400-foot-tall Redwall to access Surprise Valley.  Hikers connect Thunder River and Tapeats Creek to a route along the Colorado River and climb out Deer Creek. Model Release(s): Agnes Hage and Cameron Martindell

Hikers walk along Deer Creek Narrows in the Grand Canyon outside of Fredonia, Arizona November 2011. The 21.4-mile loop starts at the Bill Hall trailhead on the North Rim and descends 2000-feet in 2.5-miles through Coconino Sandstone to the level Esplanada then descends further into the lower canyon through a break in the 400-foot-tall Redwall to access Surprise Valley. Hikers connect Thunder River and Tapeats Creek to a route along the Colorado River and climb out Deer Creek.
Model Release(s):
Agnes Hage and Cameron Martindell

The mere thought of returning and doing this hike made my stomach drop… But I’m a man… and I would man up…

At least that is what I thought… The morning of the hike, I found myself sick to my stomach… Practicing excuses.

Maybe reading “Death in the Grand Canyon” a documented account of every death in the Grand Canyon since the late 1800’s wasn’t the  greatest idea before embarking.

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My dad looked over at me… “I can’t do this,” I said to him.

“You can do it… You might not want to, but you can…” he responded.

At this point, my 13 year old niece and 15 year old nephew were both doing it… as were my uncle and almost everyone else on the boat…

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I weighed my options…  Hide on the boat, or face my fear.

As I approached the narrow ledge I almost threw up… This was so built up in my head, there was no way I was going to manage to do this… My palms were sweaty, and my legs were shaking… I looked down, and glanced at the place I would land if I fell.

I turned around and saw my dad. He smiled and nodded. “You got this,” he said.

I closed my eyes and used every ounce of strength in my trembling body and somehow managed to inch forward…

His presence there made this important. Something I had to do… At this point letting my dad down would somehow be worse than stumbling and falling to the bottom of a rock quarry… Step by step I managed to scoot my fat ass around the boulder and make it to safe ground…

Jesus… My heart was beating so damn fast… I looked back at him and he grinned…

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He was there for me now as an adult, in the same way he was there for me as a child. Still pushing me to be my best, and not let fear stand in the way of accomplishments.

The next day after many more miles on the River I started to feel a massive migraine coming on… No words that I write here can begin to explain the severity of my headache.

A recent root canal had become infected midway through the trip, and the infection had moved to my gum line and upwards into my sinuses… Of course this happens while I am HOURS from the nearest cell tower – – so I had to cope with this growing infection like a man… With Jack Daniels… and a lot of it…

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By the last night I was in so much pain I was taking any over the counter pain pill offered me… Including a night time sleep aid… Like an asshole, I passed out in the middle of the campsite… Too much sun, booze, and sleep aid. I wake up to find my dad carrying me to my cot…

I was so groggy and out of it… I looked over at him, and all he said was, “You’re gonna be okay.”And at that moment, those were the only words I needed to hear…  ***Upon returning to Los Angeles I was informed by my dentist the infection was so bad that TWO teeth would have to be pulled.***

The entire trip I found myself reverting to asking my old man for his help on almost everything… It felt good knowing he was there… Knowing that whatever stupid shit I forgot he had somehow managed to pack. Even at night I didn’t mind hearing his catastrophic snores.  I was lucky to be here.  To be having this experience with him.  36 years since my birth and I was still going on adventures with my old man, and even now he was teaching me new things.

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Spending this time with him in the Grand Canyon however began to worry me.  Will I be half the dad to Henry that my father is to me?

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There is NO way to explain the Grand Canyon adventure to anyone who hasn’t been there…

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But to me, this wasn’t about the white water rafting, or the sleeping under the stars, this was about disconnecting from technology and reconnecting with the people who shaped me to become who I am.

My brother who I only see a few times a year…

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My niece and nephew who I see far less than that, and more importantly with my dad… A role model who continues to teach me what it takes to be a father…

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This is the first year of my life where I too get to celebrate Father’s Day… I look at Henry every morning and my heart breaks… This little man lays in his crib and looks up to me in the same way I continue to look up to my dad… I only hope that I can be the same inspiration to him that my father is to me…

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I hope in 36 years he and I are going on adventures the same way my father and I do now…

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Happy Father’s Day, Dad…





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