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Business Happenings - July 2007

The Family that Rafts Together, Stays together

When you float the Colorado with World Wide River Expeditions you float a family operation. That’s not just a flashy catchphrase- they know from personal experience what it’s like to vacation with a family. The whole Hazlett family pitches in to provide guests with a relaxing, memorable adventure. Just like you would invite friends and family over to your backyard for a BBQ, we invite you, as friends and families to come and play in our Backyard.

Photo by Action Shots

It all started several years ago when a college friend persuaded Steve Hazlett to go with him to a job interview. As it turns out, Steve got the job (although his friend didn’t) and began his guiding career with the company World Wide River Expeditions.

Like many young guides, he worked in the summer and went to school in the winter. Then he took a break from the river to serve a mission in Hawaii for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. Upon returning to Moab after two years away, he met a young river guide girl from Arizona. Her name was Nicki, and she too worked for World Wide.

The rest is history. They fell in love with the river, the town, and most of all each other.

As a married team Steve and Nicki soon became managers and eventually owners of the company. They worked away the summers, studied in the winter, and began their own family.

Today, World Wide is quite the family business. Nicki runs the office, taking care of schedules, reservations, and nonstop phone-ringing. Steve is fully committed to making sure everything works properly, from ammo cans and sleeping bags to raft valves and the fleet of busses and trucks. It takes a lot to keep everything rolling.
“As managers,” says Nicki, “it was busy and exciting. As owners it is a full time occupation, but we still make sure we have fun too!”

In addition to the equipment and technicalities, Steve and Nicki care for their five (soon to be six) children and around 26 river guides. As part of the “family company” feel, even the Hazlett children play a part in helping things run smoothly.

Ivy, age 16, manages the kitchen. She organizes and prepares food for hundreds of people each week with the help of her 9 year-old sister, Lily. Jed and Zak, ages 14 and 12, spend much of their time on the river. They accompany many trips as the “ducky patrol,” making sure that all the inflatable kayaks go where they need to and stay out of trouble. Some people don’t take the boys seriously because of their age. But listening to them ensures that you hit the best part of the rapid and avoid the worst. Even 5 year old Eli helps out by keeping guests wet with his squirt gun while they are waiting for the bus to leave. All of the Hazlett children were “born and raised” on the river; they know its moods and hydraulics better than most of the new guides.

World Wide River Expeditions is a magnet for the young guides that actually do the river trips. Many of them are students; all of them are friendly, able, fun-loving young men and women. The guides live and work at the “warehouse yard” where the company is located. They spend lots of time with each other and the Hazletts, essentially becoming a family themselves. River trips allow them to meet all kinds of people and work at a job they love. “Most people pay to come out here and do this. But I get paid to do it. It’s a great job!” Chris, a 21-year old World Wide guide, chuckles as he digs his paddle into the water.

The variety of trips is impressive. World Wide operates mainly on the Colorado, but there are also trips venturing to the Green and Salmon Rivers. Many guests choose the one-day Fisher Towers section just outside of Moab because of its fun, splashy rapids and famous scenery and then learn about other trips and return another year to experience one of them. Other trips near Moab include the 3 day Cisco (named for the ghost town of Cisco upstream of Moab), overnight daily, and hours-long half day. There is also the one, two or three day Westwater Canyon trip which start upstream from Moab near the Colorado border.

For the more adventurous rafters, World Wide offers 3, 4, or 5 day trips to scenic Cataract Canyon. The rapids that made the river famous, along with the rugged beauty of the canyons, allow guests to fully experience all that Canyonlands has to offer. But it’s not all adventuring and roughing it. The remoteness of the canyon contributes to the sense of total immersion in the rugged, beautiful wilderness.

The boats in their fleet is impressive. The smaller rafts and inflatable kayaks are used on the river up stream from Moab on the daily section and in Westwater Canyon. The larger boats, the S rig, which will easily hold 13 people, are used in the bigger waters of Cataract Canyon. The configuration of the fleet depends upon the number of people and the condition of the water.

Each of the trips is an adventure and offers a wide variety of water rafting experiences and offers to the guests a chance to experience the stability of the row boat which is also usually carrying the food and beverages for the trip. Or you can get more involved in the paddle boats where you provide the power and locomotion while an experienced guide steers the raft. And for those with a greater desire for the feel of the river, the inflatable kayaks or duckies are provided. Usually the less adventurous get more and more interested in the duckies as the trips progresses and usually they too will give it a try.

While Steve and Nicki are fully committed to the business, Steve has other activities and has been cited by Grand County as EMT of the year in 1996 and was awarded “Emergency Medical Stamina Award” in 2002. Off season Steve teaches at the local high school and Nicki tends to the home and family and volunteers at all 4 schools her children attend. Their community commitment is as real as their dedication to their business. With all the pressure of the business both Steve and Nicki stress, “We just want to have fun.” Now days they may only get to float the river once or twice a year, the atmosphere at the boatyard or on the river is one of fun and excitement.

But with the river literally in their back yard they cannot forget their first love and a business; that is bringing their love of the rivers to many others who come for the experience and usually return for more. Even with their off the main drag location they are one of the largest and oldest river rafting companies in Moab.
For more information contact Nicki or Steve by phone at 435-259-7515, or tollfree 800 231-2769. Their Moab office is located at 625 Riversands Road. Their world wide office is located at www.worldwideriver.com

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