A Newsletter By,
About, and For Graduates
of William Allen High School's Class of 1983
Issue 13 - June 2002
Mark your calendar! The plans for our
20th year reunion have been pretty much finalized by the reunion committee. Here are the
Date : July 26, 2003
Time: To be announced
Place: The Masters at Shepherd Hills
Activity: Dinner and DJ (class member Jim Flamisch's company)
A newly refurbished bar in the Shepherd
Hills complex called Krocks Pub holds at least 100 people. It will be open until 2 a.m. on
the night of the reunion. This will provide an option for "night owls" to stay
and socialize after the reunion is officially over.
A letter was sent out near the end of July
to all classmates whose whereabouts are know. If you don't receive a letter, then the
reunion committee doesn't know where you are. To remedy the situation, visit the contact information page on this site and submit your information.
The committee would like to find as many people as possible, so that everyone gets a
chance to come to the 20th year reunion.
A complete history of the 20th year reunion
plans is maintained on our reunion planning page for anyone
interested in keeping informed. (page removed Aug 2007)
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This is part 2 of Paul's kayaking
adventures in New Zealand. Part 1 appeared in the December 2001 issue of The Connector.
July 30, 2001 -- Rangetaiki
River (Geoff's Joy Section, optimum flow: branch at 11 oclock across river from
put-in is just touching the water), Grade 3-4, near continuous, excellent scenery
This was the start of my second New Zealand
kayaking adventure. Once again, I paddled with Andy Rees from Bruce Webber Adventures, and
once again, it was like being reunited with old friends. The rates hadnt changed
since February (about $80 US/day for all gear, shuttles, and personal guiding). The last
trip consisted of two river runs on the Mohaka and Rangetaiki, which were mostly Grade
2-3, drop-pool, scenic runs. This trip was going to be a little more exciting. Two of
Andys friends joined us: another Andy and Ron.
Today, we ran the upper section
of the Rangetaiki. It was nearly continuous Grade 3 paddling from start to finish with the
whole run having kind of a rain forest/canyon feel to it. The whole run is about 15km, but
its the series of drops at Geoffs Joy that made my hair stand on end. It was
also this rapid that convinced me that the Kiwis have a slightly different grading
system. This five drop series looks every bit as intimidating and difficult as running
fish ladder at Great Falls on the Potomac. The lead-in (called Fantail Falls) to
Geoffs Joy is actually more difficult than Geoffs final drop because of the
consequences of swimming through the lower rapids. Fantail is a series of 4 ledges, each
being a 3-8 foot drop, with the third drop being the biggest and having substantial cross
currents and a diagonal wave that are almost guaranteed to result in a tail loop
(end-over-end backwards flip). All four drops are run right of center with your last
chance eddy on river right, above Geoffs Joy. Geoffs Joy is about a 30-40 foot
slide on river left into a huge pillow at the bottom. The move from the eddy is relatively
easy: ferry to river left, drop next to the rock at the top with a 20 degree right angle
on your boat, and brace and brace as you slam into it at the bottom.
Geoffs Joy was definitely the
toughest stretch of river I had ever run, and my run was a little more exciting than I had
planned. I dropped through the first two ledges perfectly, then, as predicted, got
squirted and flipped on the third, and then it got exciting (note: theres about 80
feet and one ledge before the big slide down Geoffs). As I tried to roll up, I
realized that the poor outfitting of my borrowed Dagger Outlaw made the boat near
impossible for me to roll. The boat had thigh braces that were too narrow and no hip pads,
so when I tried to roll, I was only anchored to the boat at the knees and feet. After
three failed attempts, I resided to give it one more go, then Id have to punch out,
so as not to go down the slide inverted. Fortunately, I caught some upward flow with my
paddle and the extra lift let me get upright despite being unable to keep my behind down
on the seat. That last second roll left just enough time to catch the last chance eddy on
river right, so I could follow Andy down the final drop. The last drop down Geoffs
was a hoot! It looked very similar to the final slide on fish ladder except you have a
vertical rock wall about a yard to your left as you descend and a pillow to crash into at
the bottom. I should mention here that the final drop can be run on the right
not by me. That line is about a 15-foot vertical drop into a hydraulic, followed by a
large, but not extremely powerful looking, whirlpool that would drag you a big recess in
the shoreline. The rest of the run was non-stop fun that wasnt real intimidating
(except for my concern about rolling the kayak without hip pads). The day was perfect, and
this was by far the best river Ive ever paddled (its also Andys favorite
of all the north island rivers, which says a lot coming from a New Zealand native that was
paddling local slalom competitions back in the 70s).
I guess I should add a bit about Geoff,
since he is rather legendary in the North Island. According to the New Zealand whitewater
guide book, Geoff was a local that ran down this rapid in a rubber inner tube, was knocked
unconscious during his beating in Fantail Falls, and was revived by his mates at the
bottom of the final drop. As a reward for foolhardiness, the rapid was named after him,
though no one seems to know his last name. Since then, any time some fool runs a crazy
drop in an inner tube, people wonder if its Geoff.
July 31, 2001 -- Tongariro
River (Access 10 Run, normal release of 16 cumecs), Grade 3+, mostly rock gardens,
shallow, cold, excellent scenery
My second day was spent with just Andy and
me paddling this beautiful, but icy river, renown for its world class trout fishing. The
guide book lists the river as having 75+ rapids in this stretch, but it seemed like
considerably less to me. The rapids were extremely technical, and many spots were too
shallow to roll without dragging bottom for at least a short distance. Fortunately, I made
it through the whole run without needing to roll in a shallow spot. While much of the run
seemed on the easier side of Class III, I found it wasnt the difficulty of the
individual rapids that made this run hard, rather it was its technical intricacy that
required unwavering concentration and constant maneuvering for long periods to avoid
needing to perform a shallow water roll in bitter cold water. A few of the rapids were
indeed Class III+ in difficulty, requiring one to carve an intricate path through drops
and boulders that created potentially sticky hydraulics and waves as high as 3-6 feet.
Most rapids went for about a 1/4 mile, followed by a small pool then another long rapid.
The water was a beautiful blue-green, but a
little less clear than last time I saw it. Andy told me it was due to the recent rain and
that it made the fishing better. That must have been true because the fishermen were out
in force near the end of the run (where they can get access to the river). We made every
effort to glide silently past the fishermen, being careful not to go through their fishing
hole, but despite our efforts, one fishermen accused us of ruining his spot. I guess he
hadnt caught anything and needed someone to blame. Anyway, I know that there were
fish there because earlier I saw a rainbow trout that was about 2 feet long leap out of
the water just in front of my boat. A fish like that would be a trophy back in my home
state of PA, but here, it takes a fish over 12 lbs. to be acknowledged as a trophy.
Still, it was a beauty in my eyes.
All in all, the day was great. The river is
just gorgeous, and the only way to see it is by boat. I can imagine this being an even
more amazing run in the summer, when the warm air can offset the icy water a little.
Aug 1, 2001 -- Mt.
Andy and I had planned to paddle the
Fuljames today, but we had to change our plans. Instead, we went to the beach to paddle in
the surf. Andy brought two of his friends, Monk and Russell, along. I had previously
paddled with Monk on my Aniwhenua Run (Rangetaiki River) in February. Both he and Russell
were great fun, and they kept me laughing most of the day. The surf was smaller than last
time with waves usually 3-5 feet high. These smaller waves were considerably easier to
catch and ride than the 8-10 foot ones we were on in February. Even with smaller waves, it
was great fun. Afterward, we stopped at a pub and shared a few more laughs over a beer.
Another magnificent day.
August 2, 2001 -- Kaituna
River (Okere Falls Run), Grade 5, cold, swift, turbulent water with a 2-meter weir and
This run was going to be well beyond
anything Ive ever tried to paddle, but after watching me paddle for 3 days, Andy
thought I could do it. The two most significant rapids are a two-meter boof into an eddy
next to the weir and a boof into a large boil on river right, just below the 7-meter drop.
On the ride there, I told him how Id paddled it a few hundred times the night before
and how Id replayed those two critical boofs over and over in my mind. He asked me
if I still wanted to do it, and I said sure, whats the worst that could
.maybe a good working at the weir or 30 seconds in the green room at the
7-meter falls. After all, Id watched quite a few sledgers go over it, so how
dangerous could it be? Thus, we embarked on our trip down the river. Despite my agreeing
to run it, I was as nervous as could be. I was so anxious about the upcoming drops that I
could barely paddle the Class III rapids leading to the weir. We took out just above the
weir to scout and thats when I decided that today wasnt the day. I was far too
stiff in the upper rapids to ever have any chance of running the two tough drops cleanly,
so I opted to take the Class V walk out rather than the Class V beating. Andy reassured me
that he thought my skills were adequate, but then he told me that it was ultimately what I
thought and that I should trust my instincts. He went on to tell me that its often
harder to admit that it isnt the right time than to just continue because of what
others might think and that he thought it a sign of maturity and humility. Im not
sure what I did was either, but I know it was right at the time. And so we embarked on a
1/4 mile drag up a steep hillside that was covered with dense vegetation that required us
to make our own path up it. Fortunately, there was a field at the top that made the rest
of the hike better. We tried to make the most of it by surfing our kayaks down the hills.
After returning to the van, we drove to the
playhole at the end of the run. It was a world-class hole that was used by many of New
Zealands top kayakers for off-season training. The hole is deep and friendly
considering the tremendous power it generates. My goal in coming here was to finally learn
how to throw cartwheels (with a little instruction from Andy). At first, I was too timid
to put the boat on edge and really throw it down, but by the end of the day, my set-up and
first end was solid, and, at one point, I managed to get 3 in a row. Not bad for a first
day, thanks to some great instruction!
When all was said and done, I had another
fantastic day. That would not have been true had I crashed and burned on the run. After
all, the river will still be there next time I get to New Zealand.
Aug 11, 2001 --
Penrith Whitewater Stadium
After my New Zealand trip, I had to go to
Sydney for work, so I thought I'd put a side trip in to the Olympic Stadium. The stadium
was impressive. Continuous grade 3 paddling that was a hoot for playing but a tough run.
Unfortunately, I had another poorly outfitted boat that was tough to roll and severely
limited my playing. It even forced my only swim of last year as I went through 4 failed
attempts and 3 drops before taking a rough swim. The course did have drawbacks. The
man-made course has an oval shape and the sidewalls are inclined at about 30 degrees. This
made climbing out during my swim nearly impossible as the sides were slick with algae.
Additionally, the eddies are very unnatural. The upstream current along the smooth sides
is almost as swift as the downstream current, and many of the eddies were rather narrow,
making it tough to set for a controlled exit as the eddy current is trying to ram you into
the man-made barricade upstream. Still, I had lots of fun and wish I had something like it
near my house. Many of the paddlers there were outstanding playboaters, but in talking to
some, I realized that most had never paddled a WW river. It was fun, but it didn't come
close to the fun and beauty of paddling in New Zealand.
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It's a girl! John Ashbrook,
his wife Mona, and their son Justin have a new addition to their family! Audrey Ashbrook
was born on Thursday, April 25, 2002, at 6:17 p.m. The numbers are 6 lbs., 4 oz., 19
inches. She was pink, with a peanut head, short black hair, and her mother's nez
retrousse. She came after five and-a-half hours of labor. John went to work on Thursday
morning and got the phone call from Mona shortly before 1:00 p.m. Mona and sister Priya
were leaving Justin with the Haynes, their neighbors, and were headed to the hospital.
John got to the hospital by car from the East Side of Manhattan, which normally would take
longer than the drive from their house, only to find that they had not yet arrived. They
were stuck in traffic, of course, but John didn't know that for sure. The moments before
she arrived made John far more anxious than any other moments during the labor and birth.
John was pacing the halls, just like in the movies. The labor was surprising to John --
not to mention Mona -- because it was very different than Justin's -- a bit longer, and
with contractions that never really became regular. Audrey was considerate even before the
birth, choosing a convenient time of day to be born. After five to ten minutes of crying,
she became silent, very alert, and at peace with the world around her. The doctor and
nurse left them alone in the room, and Mona, Audrey and John, to varying degrees, enjoyed
a half hour of relief, recovery, serenity, and bliss.
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|Names on our Contact Page
the Editor, Annette Blanar
I started The Connector in 1995 as a
way for people from our class to keep in touch between reunions. Over the years, the
number of graduates finding the web site has steadily increased, although a lot more
people remain to be found. If you think The Connector is a good idea and like to read the
issues, you have a tri-fold mission to ensure its success.
1. Submit your contact information and keep
it current. You can list your e-mail address on this site and / or submit it to the
reunion committee. (do it here and now)
2. Keep the contributions coming --
autobiographies, articles, photos, updates, etc. There is no such thing as too many
contributions. (more ideas for
3. Tell other class of 1983 graduates about
the site. Spreading the word helps get more people involved.
As of this issue, you can e-mail the
following people from the Class of 1983 contact page on this site.
If you are listed, please check to make sure your information is still valid. If you
aren't listed, well...re-read #1 above.
Muehlhof, E. Wade
Roth, Grant (Tim)
Jones, Dan - moved
during our sophomore year
Hansson, Einar - Class of 1983 Swedish