Salmon River Run on a SUP!

I had heard a lot about the Salmon River from some of the crew that I paddled the Colorado River with last year.

So about a week into our three month Surf, SUP and Paint Tour, I planned a day to SUP the Salmon River.

Maria and the kids and I had been exploring Idaho for about four days before we got to Riggins, a town that calls itself “the Whitewater Capital of Idaho”.

Right next to Riggins is Lucile, where we set up camp for a few days. Lucile is a one street town where there’s no cell service but plenty of deer, bears and elk.  Our friend John is building a house there along the Salmon River and said we could camp on his property, though he was out of town traveling as well.

I had everything I needed to standup paddle the river except for one thing:  a life jacket. On the drive to Lucile I was telling Maria that we needed to find a place to buy one.  Then, a few minutes later, on a desolate road nestled between 10,000 foot peaks, I saw something lying in the middle of the road.  It was a brand new lifejacket! I turned the van around and picked it up.  Now, I had what I needed to SUP the Salmon:

  • A lifejacket and WRSI Whitewater helmet (‘cause if you fall and hit your head on the rocks, the party is over)
  • Riviera Paddle Surf inflatable paddleboard (brand new prototype)
  • Kialoa Paddle
  • Ocean & Earth’s “world’s strongest” Leash (if you lose your board on the river, it keeps going!)
  • Patagonia 2 mil full suit (realized later that I didn’t really need this – the water wasn’t as cold as I thought and I didn’t fall as much either)
  • Keen Gorge boots (this allowed me to jump off the board onto rocks without destroying my feet – this was the most important piece of safety equipment in my opinion)
  • Go Pro camera (make sure you know how to use it – I put it on the wrong setting and it didn’t get any pictures!)
  • Good attitude and a cool wife to take photos as you SUP on by!

I put into the river at Shorts Bar.  It’s a killer sandy beach where we spent the day trying out our new paddleboards in the river.  There’s a nice little eddy there that the kids could paddle around in.

Maria tracked me from the road in the Dream Machine and took pictures from the bank.  There are great lookouts at each rapid, so it was easy for her to pull over and get some photos as she watched me surf the rapids.

This time of year the river is running low and the rapids are minor, but enough to give you a good thrill.   The Riviera Inflatable Standup Paddle board was perfect for this river, since the water was low and there were a lot of sharp rocks that other boards would be damaged by.

The biggest rapid is called Time Zone – it’s right before the bridge at the far north end of Riggins. Time Zone is a long, snaking rapid with a ledge running down the right side.  The current zig zags back and forth, all the way down to the bridge. I stuck that rapid, swinging left to avoid the ledge.  I was pretty stoked – it’s been a year since I’ve run a rapid.

After Time Zone, there were about a dozen smaller rapids with a lot of space in between to rest.

This is big country out here!

Along the way I saw big horned sheep, deer and beautiful landscapes.  It was really peaceful being on the river alone.

It took me two hours to go 11 miles.  I ended at the boat ramp on John’s property in Lucile.  Dylan ran down and handed me a beer when I got out!

I wanted to do it again, but it was getting dark and the kids were hungry.  We were headed to Montana at 5 a.m. the next morning.  I’ll have to come back another time, but in the spring when the water is higher and the rapids are gnarlier!

I think any surfer or standup paddle enthusiast could do this run safely during the summer at this water level.  Spring would be more challenging.  If you were spending a few days up there, you could do the run a couple times a day and then drive further up river and do a longer run, where there are bigger rapids and killer standing waves.  I can’t wait to come back!

Life is good – Drew

See the Video, below:

Drew Brophy and Dylan Galveston Beach Texas with Dream MachineWe are going on another Brophy family adventure in the Dream Machine!

Three Four  Five Months, 26  28 states and two countries.  (We started this trip as a 3-month trek, but it grew to 5 months!)

A Surf, SUP and Paint tour across the U.S. and a short stint into Canada.

We leave  left the first week of July 2012, head north through Utah, then East across the northern states, into Canada, then New England and then South along the East Coast of America.

Got our surfboards and our Riviera Paddlesurf boards packed, along with camping and hiking gear!

July 6, 2012 – 6:30 p.m. – Drew will be interviewed on 1280 THE ZONE 97.5 Radio Station in Salt Lake City, Utah.

*Radio show host Bob Grove will be giving away one pair of the Aerial 7 Drew Brophy “DIY” Headphones to a caller.  Headphones retail for $100!

If you miss the interview, don’t fret – you can listen to it anytime online here:  Bob Grove Trail Mix Radio Show.

July 9, 2012 Headquarters in Park City, Utah.  Drew will give a painting workshop, showing how you can customize your DIY Aerial 7 Headphones.

August 2012  Myrtle Beach South Carolina.  Drew will paint a sixty foot mural on the side of Lulu’s Cafe.

September 8, 2012  STANDUP PADDLE RACES in Myrtle Beach  on September 8th – details to follow.

October 2012 FURMAN UNIVERSITY, GREENVILLE SC:  Drew and Maria will be giving a Business of Art Lecture and a 4 day Painting Workshop.

November 10-11, 2012:  ART MUNDO, Fort Pierce, FL:   Drew will be giving a two-day Paint Pen Techniques Workshop from 3-6 p.m. each day.


In between stops to be announced.  We have lakes and rivers to paddle, waves to surf and trails to hike.

MEDIA – Some of the adventure will be featured on:

97.5 The Zone – Bob Grove’s Radio Show called “The Outdoors”, and

The Digitel Myrtle Beach –  Will be covering the painting of the Lulu’s Cafe Mural.

Look for the blog posts!

Sponsors of this great adventure include:  Guayaki Yerba Mate, Hoven, Riviera Paddle Surf, Patagonia, Ocean and Earth, Aerial 7. 

As an artist, I am always looking for inspiration.

I often get asked “how do you make a living as an artist?

In the last few years the economy was difficult and the old ways of doing business didn’t work anymore.  I see a new way of doing business going forward.

Big companies are cutting back, many people are losing their jobs and I can’t rely on corporations to keep me afloat with commissions anymore.

The people who have kept us in business during the lean years are the entrepreneurs, the do-it-yourselfers, the people who are creating their own opportunities, and in effect, ours too.

I’m inspired by individuals who refuse to give up on their dreams and who make things happen, instead of looking for a handout from someone else.

In our business I see people like this who inspire me every day.  Davon Julius’ Pipeline Catering project is a perfect example of American ingenuity and grass-roots entrepreneurship.

Davon had a bold idea:  He saw an opportunity to create a mobile restaurant that caters to pipeline workers in a rural area of Utah.  He envisioned transforming an 18 wheeler into a kitchen and café where he could set up in remote areas where workers needed to be fed.

This is where I came in.  Davon wanted to make his café stand out on the side of the road.  He came up with the idea to hire me to paint flaming pigs on the side of his trailer.

(You can watch the painting of it in a short video titled Drew Brophy Paints a 53′ Flaming Pig Mural on a Tractor Trailer)

At the bottom of this post, there’s a “narrated” slideshow detailing the painting with captions explaining the steps.

I first met Davon a year ago when I standup paddled 225 miles of the Colorado River.  He was one of the rafters going down the river with my group.  A chef by trade, he took charge of our meals for the 16 days of camping alongside the rivers of the Grand Canyon.  We ate well!

Painting a 53 foot mural is a huge project, and I had to travel to Utah to do it.  Davon saw the value that a mural would bring to his business, and so he didn’t flinch at the cost.  We made a family trip of it, and off to Utah we went.

I feel so blessed that through my work and lifestyle, I am able to reconnect with these great people I met while paddling the Colorado River last year, and that I’m able to take my family to meet them.

This is what I envisioned my life to be so many years ago:  my work, family and travel life all together as one big adventure.

We arrived in Salt Lake City and Davon had parked the trailer in a dusty, plowed field behind his home.  He was working hard building the kitchen and he expressed that friends were concerned about what the hell he was doing.  They didn’t get his vision.

Often, people with big ideas find themselves alone until after all the hard work is done, then everyone else can see the beauty in it.

I told Davon “Don’t worry, after today, people are going to get it.  This is going to transform instantly, as soon as I start painting.”

Initially, my goal was to have it started and completed in five days.  Below is the breakdown of the process of the mural painting:

Materials Needed:  200 cans of Mtn 94 Spray paint – Iwata airbrush and paints – scaffolding – blue tape – Aerial 7 headphones for music – sandpaper – razorblades – rulers –

DAY 1:  My goal on Day 1 was to map out the sketch and have base colors on the entire surface of the trailer.

Davon had pre-scuffed the surface, taped off the edges and was busy preparing last minute dents and holes.

Dylan and I began chalk-lining gridlines so that I could transpose the sketch onto the huge surface as Maria unloaded the 200 cans of Mtn 94 spray paint that was going to make all of this possible.

It was hot, but I dressed in a hoody, with a respirator, headphones and gloves.  I put on the astro-fat caps that allow me to put down massive amounts of paint quickly.

For the rest of the day I blasted music along with paint.  Davon was amazed that by the end of Day 1, all the color was on!

Day 2:  This was an easy day.  The weather was hot and sunny. It was record highs for Utah in April.  Day 1 all the base colors were mid-tone, and on Day 2 I added the lights and darks.

This day went remarkably well, and I was thinking that I might get this finished in three days instead of five.  That was before I knew the weather that was about to hit us.

Day 3:  This day started out beautiful with sunny skies.  A storm was coming, but I was hopeful that we may miss the weather and still get this done on Day 3.

Dylan kept busy by playing with the chickens and wild roosters in the field.  All day long those roosters were crowing.

I broke out the Iwata airbrush and started adding detail to the funny characters; the buzzard, the pigs and the rattlesnake.  This was the fun part!

Then, about noon, the sky turned black.  Davon, always prepared, had huge tarps ready to go on the roof of the trailer.  We got ready for the rain by throwing down the tarps.  Just then, the wind picked up at 40-50 miles per hour, throwing Davon and I around like rag-dolls across the field.  It was gnarly!

It took us the rest of the day just to secure and protect the mural from the extreme weather.  We were exhausted.  There went my plan to finish early!

Day 4:  Was a bummer.  Water was leaking all over the mural.  It was a constant battle of man vs. rain.  The wind was so violent that it threw cinder blocks off of the roof of the trailer, almost killing us.  The temperature dropped so much that I had to wear gloves because my hands were cold.

I didn’t get much painting done on Day 4.  It was a losing battle.  I decided to go inside and make stencils for the lettering.

It’s funny, people will ask me how I make things like my stencils, and the answer is surprisingly simple.

The stencils are made with simple construction paper, a pencil, a razor blade and tape.  These are the tools that I used to make my stencils.  No fancy machine that cuts out lettering for me.  I’m amazed that in this computer age so many young artists don’t know how to use a ruler, simple math and a razor blade.

I cut the stencils out to scale perfectly.  It took a lot of time and patience and focus.  But in the end, it worked.

Day 5:  We were staying at Davon’s mom’s awesome mountain house in Park City.  The morning of Day 5 we woke up to beautiful snow covering my van and the world outside.  Our commute to Salt Lake City was about 35 minutes each way, and the drive is on beautiful mountain roads.

But down in Salt Lake City, the rain and wind were still a problem.

I was determined to get this finished today.  Working underneath the tarp was super difficult.  But we had no choice.

The finished mural!

Davon did everything he could to stop the rain from getting in.  He bought more tarps and parked his truck on the tarps so they wouldn’t blow away.  We collected every rock, board and heavy object from the field and placed them on the tarp, trying to hold it down.

I finished the detail work with the airbrush.  The final thing to do was spray the lettering.  The custom-made stencils worked beautifully.

After spraying the stencils, I re-taped the lettering, adding a background behind the lettering.  This detail added depth and energy to the lettering.

One of the most fun things was pulling the tape.  Davon pulled the tape to reveal the name, PIPELINE CATERING, on the side of his new restaurant!

Just then, the rain stopped and the sun came out.  The storm was over.  We went up to the roof of the trailer and kicked the tarp off to see the finished mural from afar, for the first time.

It was awesome to see the results of our hard work.

The mural was finished in five days.

PARTYTIME!  That night, we celebrated at Davon’s mom, Shelly’s, home.  She also was on the Grand Canyon river trip last year, and she and her husband Barry hosted a party with almost all of the 14 people that were on that trip.  We watched Go Pro video of our adventure down the Colorado River and talked story all night.

It was so great to reconnect with these wonderful people and let them meet my family.  This is what life is all about.

I was honored to paint this mural for Davon’s project and see how one man’s dream and hard work materializes right in front of your eyes.  The restaurant is finished, and now people “get it”!

I’m sure Davon is working hard in his restaurant right now, feeding hungry workers.  If you happen to drive through Northern Utah, and you see flaming pigs, stop and get a bite to eat!

Life is Good – Drew


That's me, making the drop into KILLERS

“The waves are so hard to catch, like lassoing freight trains while trying not to get run over. Out of the thirty surfers that day most only caught a couple waves.”

There are three things that I know about myself:

1 – I love my family

2 – I love to surf

3 – I love to travel


My art is a mere side effect of these three loves.

Knowing what you love and what you want is everything.  From this point of view, anything is reachable.  You just have to push yourself over the edge and go.

An epic swell marched across the Pacific Ocean last week.  From Hawaii to Mavericks and Southern California, surfers went into a flurry of activity.

Where to surf?  For most surfers, surfing the local break on the best day of the year will do.

But for professional big wave riders, their careers are made on such swells, being at the right place at the right time and  getting paid to risk their lives.

And for a few of us, dreams of giant waves inspires us to dust off our big  guns and call  friends to line up a good, old fashioned surf trip.

The Island of Todos Santos off Baja Mexico would be the best place to go.

Such trips are what fuel my art, out-of-the-way places and giant waves that only appear every few years.

This is where most people get stuck; even me.

I wanted to go, but I had things to do, a ton of reasons not to go.  The clock was ticking and the waves were on the way, either I would be there to meet them or not.

Patrick Gudauskas charging

The waves would be the biggest at Todos.  Only the surfers who want it the most will be there. The surf spot is called Killers, a deep water cobalt blue boiling monster.

Todos Santos (Mexico) is a three hour drive from San Clemente.  Once there, you have to hire a boat and it’s another hour to the island and Killers.

Just like anything else in life that you want really bad; there are roadblocks, difficult decisions and logistics to overcome and make it happen, not to mention money.

I knew there were surfers just like me doing the same mad rush to figure it all out, to be there on the magic day.

I made one phone call to my friend Gary Linden.  Gary’s a master surfboard shaper and adventurer.  He’s a 60-something year old surf stoked grom who loves to RIDE BIG WAVES.  He answered the phone and said “we got a spot on the boat for you, get down here!”

I packed my gear, dusted off my 10’6” gun and kissed Maria and Dylan goodbye and drove South to the border in rush-hour traffic.

Once I crossed the Mexican border, the roads were empty, and the sky was black.  I pulled into Gary’s place at San Miguel.  There were figures around a fire, cooking in the darkness.  A welcoming voice called to me “you made it, just in time for dinner.”

The next morning  before dawn we began our voyage to Killers.  The dock was cold and still with groups of fishermen huddled together, hoping to rent their boats out to traveling surfers.  We were the first to arrive, and then other groups who had also made the journey showed up.  All of them had to push through their own roadblocks and logistics to be there, too.

The sunrise over Baja was intense.  Instantly, we felt the huge swells and Todos Santos began to grow on the horizon.  White water slammed and exploded on its point.  Slowly Killers came into view and dreams became reality.

The flotilla of boats took their places in the channel and surfers suited up for the ultimate challenge.  With no one out it was hard to tell how big it was; just massive blue swells in an endless sea.

Rusty Long leads the way

My friend Rusty Long was the first in the lineup and the first to catch a wave.   It is amazing that a man can paddle a ten foot surfboard into such huge waves and actually ride it.  With this first wave the session began.

Everyone knew that this was going to be a magical day.

As I paddled out I realized that I know or have met almost everyone there.  We all share a similar love for surfing and the big waves seem to call to us.

As surfers, you have one of two reactions when it gets really big:

*Either you can’t wait to get out there because you’ve been waiting for these kinds of waves your whole life; 

*Or:  it strikes the fear of God in you and there is just no way in hell you would even consider going out.

There is no in between, you are one or the other.

Of course every surfer has his limit; it’s soulful to push yourself and inspiring to see others pushing even further. At forty years old I am stoked to still be pushing.

That day at Killers many great waves were surfed.  It was pure glass all day with sunny skies.  Time melted as the hours went by.  I surfed from 8:30 to 4:30 nonstop,  as did most of the other surfers.

I only caught 3 waves in those eight hours, but that was my goal.  I was lucky to get that many. The biggest waves came late in the day and huge set came right to me, it would have been my forth wave, but my first love flashed in my mind (my wife and son) and I had to let it go and be content.

The waves are so hard to catch, like lassoing freight trains while trying not to get run over. Out of the thirty surfers that day most only caught a couple waves.

Really all you needed was one wave to be able to experience the ten seconds of taming a giant, and to feel the pure joy of achievement and bliss that you were there.

I watched as my friends charged over the edge of huge waves, knowing they were feeling this same joy.  It made me feel good about myself that I was more like them.  We push over the edge and we go.

They inspire me.  The waves inspire me.  The adventure inspires me.

The group of guys that were there, they are the rarest of surfers.  The most soulful.  They live for  these moments and I’m proud to be amongst them.

In the end, I am just a guy from South Carolina who always dreamed of surfing big waves.  Those dreams have taken me all over the world chasing them, meeting adventurous people and fueling my crazy art career.

I will just keep showing up and pushing myself over the edge, Just like I always have.

You should, too.  It makes life worth living.

Life is good – Drew

PS:  (Except for my sunrise photo above)  Photos courtesy of Captain Lonnie Ryan, a photographer who pushes himself over the edge, too.  Check out his website here:

PPS:  A great article written by my friend Jason Murray about that day can be found on ESPN here:  Topping it off at Todos.


Jumbo Rock, Joshua Tree Nat'l Park

At the start of every new year, me, Maria and Dylan sit down in the living room and reflect upon the year that just passed.  We write down our highlights and then we plan out what we each want to accomplish in the new year.

Below are my highlights of 2011:

THE START OF 2011 – we were nervous & worried about the future and the economy.  But we decided to make The Paint Shop TV show a focus for the year.  We received the good news early in the year that our show was going to air on local So. California tv, and so we gave it our all.

TURNED 40:  I turned 40 in March.  Sold a lot of my old surfboards and took my family to Hawaii.  Surfed Pipeline on my birthday –  the waves were great!

TV SHOOTS:  Took a road trip to Santa Cruz in spring – filmed The Paint Shop there.  It was awesome.  Made good on my promise to Escape Campervans and put them on one of my episodes.  It’s funny – I promised them a spot on my tv show in 2009, two years before we got the show on the air!

Paddled 225 MILES OF COLORADO RIVER:  Over 16 days in May, I lived in the wild and stand-up paddled the rapids of the Colorado River with whitewater expert Seth Warren.  It was the trip of lifetime!  (The Orange County Register wrote about it and put a picture of me on the cover of the front page!)  The trip was also written about in Stand Up Journal’s March 2012 issue and the current issue of Stand Up Paddle Magazine.  Haven’t seen the copies yet…..

MT. WHITNEY:  Maria hiked mountains all over Southern California and I was so proud of her when she hiked Mt. Whitney in August, the highest mountain in the lower 48 states.

DYLAN TURNED 10:  And we transformed our house into a Star Wars scene for his party!

MYRTLE BEACH & HURRICANE IRENE:  Threes weeks this summer was spent with family in Myrtle Beach.  Maria and Dylan had a blast playing in the ocean and the swash at the Dunes Club.  I caught great waves courtesy of Hurricane Irene!

PUERTO ESCONDIDO SURF TRIP:  Right after Myrtle Beach I flew to Puerto Escondido, Mexico, where I surfed in a Stand Up Paddle contest at the Mexican Pipeline.  Maria helped make the trip possible by lining up sponsors Hinano Tahiti and MegaFood.  The waves were so powerful I broke two paddleboards and got many tubes.

MARIA WROTE A BOOK:  It’s called HOW TO UNDERSTAND ART LICENSING CONTRACTS – she co-wrote it  with art expert Tara Reed.  I am stoked for her – she worked hard on it.

Maria & Dylan Arches Nat'l Park, UT

COLORADO ROAD TRIP:  In early November we drove to Boulder, CO for a film festival.  Dylan and I were in Seth Warren’s film called Playgrounds Re-imagined.

Dylan narrated the film, as you can hear on the movie’s trailer here.

On the drive out, we camped at Virgin River, we drove Southern Utah to Moab, went to Arches National Park and followed the Colorado River into Colorado.

While at the film festival, Dylan was given the first ever award given to a child at the Boulder Film Festival.

He was named “Most Likely to Save the World.”  He gave a hilarious acceptance speech – you can watch it HERE!

NEW GREETING CARD LICENSE:  While in Boulder, we met with Leanin Tree greeting card company and toured their sculpture gardens and their printing facility.   A few weeks later, we signed a licensing deal for my art in their greeting card line!  (My greeting cards will hit the market in summer 2012.)

OPEN HOUSE ART SALES:  We tried something new this year to sell more art at Christmas time – we had 4 open houses in the studio in Nov/Dec and we sold dozens of original paintings and sketches and met a lot of new fans that came in to meet me.  It was very rewarding in many ways.

CHRISTMAS:  In December we had our niece Mia come visit for Christmas and New Years.  We had to get bunk beds for her to sleep in Dylan’s room.  We set up the Christmas tree, and I surfed great waves on Christmas eve.  Having Mia with us during the holidays was a definite plus – it was fun watching two happy kids tear open presents on Christmas morning!

She's Got Hollywood in her Hands

Mia wanted to see Hollywood, so we took a 3 mile hike up to the Hollywood sign – packed a lunch and ate out there on the trail.  Oh, and we saw Lenny Kravitz while driving up the Hollywood Hills – he flashed us the peace sign as he passed our Dream Machine on his motorcycle.

JOSHUA TREE:  We spent the last few days of 2011 camping at Jumbo Rocks in Joshua Tree.  The kids said it was like being on the moon.  We went rock climbing and found some cool caves.

Driving  home from Joshua Tree on New Years Eve, we had no plans for that night, until we got a text from our good friends the Whelans to stop by at their house.   We spent the last hours of 2011 with good friends, wine and food!

Dylan and the Dream Machine along Colorado River

I hope you’ll look back on 2011 and remember all your highlights, too.

Write them down, make a list, you’ll be surprised at all that you did in a year!

Life is Good – Drew