Our rafting center is located at 130 A Street in Ashland. You’ve probably seen our rafts, trailers, vans, guides and customers wandering around between Pioneer and Oak Street. The location serves multiple purposes – the first being our meeting location for trips, second being our “warehouse” where we store our equipment, and the third being our reservation office where the phone rings and emails are hammered out. Over the course of the six years we’ve been there, we’ve had a number of bizarre, hilarious, and entertaining things happen at the Rafting Center. We do get walk-in traffic and it’s often people who are lost or totally confused as to why there are rafts on the sidewalk. The most common question we get is “is this the Co-op?” It happens so frequently that we’ve joked we should just change our building sign to “Not the Co-op.”
One time, a rough and tough guy walked in and said he wanted to go rafting. But, there was a catch: he didn’t want to pay. “That makes things tough,” I told him, because the typical transaction is that people pay us and then we take them rafting. It’s really the only way to run a successful rafting company. He responded that there was surely something he could trade us for a rafting trip. “What do you need?” he asked. I told him that we really needed money, but I’d be open to trading for a computer. He didn’t have a computer, but he had a TV. “Do you have a photo of it?” I asked. “Even better,” he replied, “I can draw it for you.” He proceeded to draw a rectangle. “I don’t think I’m interested,” I told him.
He briefly appeared flustered, but then I could see a lightbulb go off in his head. “I know,” he started, “how about I let you ride in my car?” It took me a few seconds to realize that he had completed his sentence. “You want a space on a rafting trip and in return I get to ride in your car?” I asked, completely baffled. “Yes, it’s a really nice car – a classic [something or other]…” I spend enough time on the road and politely turned him down.
A couple days later, as I returned from a Rogue trip and headed up Oak Street in our van with boats in tow, there was an obvious commotion of fire trucks and sirens. We continued up Oak Street and passed the firefighters spraying down a car that was engulfed in flames. Next to the car was the same guy. It was a nice car, but I’m glad I didn’t take him up on his offer.