Bonnell and the Dollar Dare

A snack story (with bacon)

All guides are larger than life.

Few guides are larger than Bonnell.

A poetry-reciting, toenail-polish-wearing, ex-Marine, Bonnell left his farm in Ohio and made his mark on the river.

He was a guide’s guide, a guest’s guide, his own guide, everyone’s guide; half of us didn’t even know his first name.

If there was a race, Bonnell was in it. If there was a road trip, Bonnell was on it. If there was a story, more often than not, Bonnell was at the center of it.

Jeff Bonnell - legend

And if there was a dare, Bonnell would take it.

It is a time-honored guide tradition, “The Dollar Dare”; consume something that most people would consider pretty revolting (typically something left over from a meal or from a trip or from the dishwater strainer) and earn a dollar. There have been many examples over the years: the leftover pepperoncini juice, a half tub of sour cream, and even, once, a dollar-per-second for mayonnaise squeezed into someone’s mouth (a now legendary eight-dollar payout).

A “Bonnell-level” example took place one July on the South Fork. The dare was to put a piece of breakfast bacon between the life jacket and bare skin and, after a hot day on the river, eat it at takeout.

Challenge accepted (immediately) by Bonnell, who thankfully had recently shaved his chest (but that’s another story.)

Upon arrival at Salmon Falls, and being really hungry, Bonnell had the best takeout snack ever – eight-hour-old bacon.

Jeff Bonnell - legend
take-out bacon

Story by ARTA guide Tom Freer

A whitewater rafting oar

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