Bend rafters stymied by government shutdown

Group waits for trip of a lifetime in Grand Canyon

Bend rafters stymied by government shutdown

BEND, Ore. - The government shutdown has been affecting everything from the FAA to the Forest Service and the National Park Service.

The Litzers of Bend say the shutdown is about to derail a once-in-a-lifetime rafting trip to the Grand Canyon.

About a year and a half ago. Justin and Erika Litzer got word they had been selected in a lottery and awarded a rare permit to ride the Colorado River.

They say people wait 10 to 15 years to get the permit to float down the scenic waterway.

Since the news came that their dream trip was coming true, the party of 16 has spent months planning the 22-day trip and spent nearly $30,000.

"I grew up on the river. It's a trip of a lifetime that rafters and boaters have spent their entire lives wanting to do," Erika Litzer said.

With the shutdown, the National Park Service has closed access to the river.

"My first thought was, I hope they get this sorted out before our launch date, which is October 19th," Litzer said.

Planning the trip, many of the members have built up time off from work and made plans to fly from Europe.

"I have taken a term off of school, which is going to put me an entire year behind in school, just to go on this trip," Litzer said.

The only things holding them up from enjoying the trip of a lifetime are concrete barriers and the political gridlock in Washington.

"These are our national parks -- they are our public lands that we are are being shut out of," Litzer said.

At the Lee's Ferry boat launch in the Grand Canyon, rafters are camping out, waiting for word to come that the shutdown has ended.

As for the Litzers, they still plan to head down to Arizona. If the boat launch is still closed,  they will wait with the rest of the rafters.

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