Customer Profile: Z Grabowski from DC

We love sharing our customers’ stories with you. Zbigniew Grabowski is a Bending Branches customer with a long history of canoeing and kayaking behind him…

Z and his daughter paddling
Z loves paddling with his family

Zbigniew (Pronounced: Z-big-n-yeV—He goes by, simply, “Z”) has been paddling his entire life. We asked him a few questions about himself and his paddling history:

BB: Where are you from?

Z: I grew up in northeastern Connecticut, but I have lived in London, England; Berkeley, CA; Portland, OR; the White Salmon/Hood River Area. I currently reside in Washington D.C.

BB: What do you do?

Z: I am a graduate (PhD Candidate) student in geography and environmental science and adjunct professor. I’m a bit of a generalist, broadly interested in contemporary debates in conservation and restoration, especially in terms of how science is used in projects of social transformation.
My thesis project has examined the overall trends in dam removal in the United States, and really dug into the history and ongoing issues surrounding three hydro-power dam removals in the Mid-Columbia River (the Condit, Marmot, and Powerdale dams).

I’ve been finding that the social and political dynamics around removals appear to be driving the speed of removals, their associated costs, and their restorative impacts on rivers much more than anything inherent to dams themselves.

I do ‘hard’ science work on river temperatures, the impacts of soot on rates of snow melt, and some fundamental issues in GIS science (Geographic Information Science). I probably have too many interests, but I can’t help it.
I also work as a freelance writer and not-for-profit adventurer. My overall goal is to make the world a cleaner, healthier, and more just place—and stay sane, happy, and healthy while I’m at it.

BB: When did you start paddling?

Z: Canoeing—4 years old, sea kayaking—12 years old, white water kayaking—29 years old.

BB: Where and what season do you like to paddle most?

Z: All seasons, though family paddling is best in the late spring through early fall (September through October are my favorites). White-water—whenever it's juicy!

BB: Do you like paddling with others? If so, with whom?

Z: I’ve paddled with a huge variety of folks, from professionals to newbies. I enjoy paddling (or mountain bike riding or backcountry skiing) with anyone who’s in it for the fun and the flow feeling.

I love paddling with my family on flatwater and mild rivers, especially on camping trips.
And I love paddling with my Washington D.C. crew on the Potomac and on our West Virginia missions. There's also a super solid group of folks out in White Salmon/Hood River area where the river is always a good time.

BB: How often do you get out on the water?

Z: As often as possible, usually 3-7 times a week depending on where I'm at, how it's flowing, and how much non-paddling related work I have to do.

BB: What’s your favorite thing about paddling?

Z: So many things. There is a saying from the Water Rat in The Wind in the Willows that is near and dear to my heart:

"There is simply nothing like messing about in boats."

Bending branches: a family paddle
Z and his family enjoying being on (and in!) the water.

I freakin' love boats, I love rivers, I love water, waves, play holes, boofs, long river trips, big drops, it's all gravy: any day on the river is a good day.

In a canoe one of my favorite feelings is getting that paddling stride going with a good partner, the magic of your forward strokes' aligning in time and energy which get the hull planing, especially when you are on a glassy river, heading downstream.

I also love that feeling of the hull breaking free as you ferry across a fast current, and the related feeling of getting a super planted surf, just being super locked in with the water rushing by and time standing still.

And there's also that zero-g feeling when you find the magic line and follow the flow and gravity into champagne pittededness. It’s always a good day to go to church.

But what keeps me coming back, aside from the beauty and the power of rivers and water, is the river community. SYOTR!

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