J.R. was the first guide I met, the summer I started working for Northwest Rafting Company. The first time I saw him he was standing on the biggest boat in our fleet (Dozer), wearing a giant sombrero and grinning from ear to ear. I knew at that moment, it was going to be a really fun summer. If you can picture him looking like that, you practically already know J.R.
If I could choose J.R’s spirit animal, It would have to be a river otter. He is playful and energetic, and darts about every which way working on different projects. He is passionate and loves the Rogue River. He knows lots of hikes, and hidden spots away from the beaten path. J.R. always has energy for a hike, or play time on the water.
J.R. is kooky, but in a great way. He is the only guide I know that brings an entire extra bag of “goodies” on trips. From fake rubber snakes, to drums and egg shakers, you will always be impressed with what he pulls out of his bag. He cares enough to go out of his way to keep everyone entertained and happy. If you are lucky enough to go on a trip with J.R. you may get to experience some of J.R’s magic in the kitchen. Even though we raft through an isolated river canyon, far from refrigerators or stocked kitchens, J.R brings an extra box full of supplies to make sushi. Yes, sushi. His kit comes complete with a banzai tree and often a kimono for extra flair. Like I said, kooky in the best way possible.
But above everything else, J.R. loves kayaking.
J.R. grew up in Crescent City, California and at age 11 his father took him on his first Sundance Kayak School Trip. It was love at first paddle stroke. J.R. and his father returned to Sundance every summer, and by the time he was 15 he was tagging along after the guides trying to help and participate. After that summer the owner told him that if he was going to keep “helping” he should probably just start working for them. As soon as J.R. got his license he did just that. That summer set the course for the rest of J.R.’s life. His love for kayaking grew and he continued to work for Sundance and in 2004 received his ACA certification. In 2009 NWRC bought Sundance Kayak gaining J.R. and his passion for kayaking. J.R. received his Instructor Trainer certification in 2013, but started planning for life after kayaking. I’m not sure what he was thinking…. His kayak destiny came full circle when in 2013 J.R. and his partner Lori bought Sundance Kayak School.
These two are unstoppable. Pouring both of their combined love for kayaking into Sundance, Sundance Kayak School is coming back to life. Check out their courses and trips here. In the off season J.R. lives in Arcata, but spends most of his time traveling to teach kayak courses, and kayaking just about every single day. You can follow his watery adventures on instagram.
J.R. now splits his time between NWRC and Sundance Kayak school, and when he’s not kayaking he’s…. Well J.R. is always kayaking.