Blast from the Past: EJ Reminisces About RV Life in LA Times Story


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So EJ is grandfather. In taking a trip down memory lane, he recently posted a story published in the LA Times called “Chasing a Dream and a River,” chronicling his time with wife, Kristine, and kids Emily and Dane (along with their Dalmatians, Pebbles and Target) moved into an RV and traveled the country for eight years hitting the river circuit. Read on for the full story and quips from his EJness about the journey…

“The story was written at a time when Kristine, Emily, Dane, and I (along with our dogs) moved into an RV,” he says. “At the time of the writing, we didn’t know it would be for eight years. You’ll see some foreshadowing in the article that there was no way to predict at the time by the writer. You’ll also see a few objectives I laid out for myself back then that I bailed on and switched gears — such as the 2000 Olympics being a primary goal.”

“I was not the current World Champion in ’98, but was really focused on extreme racing and freestyle and did all of the races back then…”

Here’s the story:

Chasing a Dream and the River
EJ has packed his family into a motor home and hit the road, pursuing his passion for extreme kayaking
(Originally published Feb. 21, 1998, in the LA Times).

“Worry is interest paid on a debt you may never owe.” –Eric Jackson

EJ does not often spout his philosophy, he prefers to live it. You seldom hear him go on about relishing the moment, the journey being the reward, but look at him: traveling the mountain back roads from one remote river to the next, a man with no savings, no 401k, no fixed address, crisscrossing America to kayak the way very few others have ever kayaked.

Home is his RV–31 feet long, dirt-caked, rain-streaked, its left front bumper bashed in and secured with rope after a wreck at an icy guardrail in the Colorado Rockies. Inside are his wife, Kristine, their two children–7-year-old Emily and 4-year-old Dane–and two Dalmatians. Lashed to the rear are a tangle of bicycles. Piled atop the roof are half a dozen kayaks, vital possessions that survived the great purge last fall, when the family sold pretty much everything–beds, chairs, dressers, home electronics, most of the kids’ toys, some $6,000 worth of belongings–to hit the road full time.

Eric Jackson has much to fret about, if he so chooses. He is nearly broke, down to his last $60. His checking account is in the red by at least twice that. Even in his own family there are critics, well-meaning relatives like his stepmother, who wonder what in the blue blazes he is doing out here, rolling through the Sierra Nevada, 3,000 miles from where he belongs.

How will this affect the kids? Emily is a second-grader; she left behind her classroom and all her friends. Dane is nearing school age with a severe hearing impairment; his speech therapy has become Kristine’s responsibility.

If these concerns trouble him–and they do–EJ rarely shows it. One of the world’s most accomplished kayakers is living a dream. His ambitions of greatness and his craving for thrills have required this leap of faith–on his part and his family’s. They have sacrificed comfort and stability so that EJ can devote himself to his sport, fully immerse himself in white water…

Read full story HERE

Staff Post
Paddlers writing about all things paddling.


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