On Saturday, rather last-minute, I was talked into going on a “river float trip” with Mr. Wonderful and a few of his friends from undergrad. It was sold on the merits of being relaxing, sunny, and even fun. Ha.
When we got to the intertube rental location, it quickly became clear that this was not, to put it gently, a polished operation. To put it another way, it’s possible that the income from this was not reported to the IRS. One person signed a waiver for all of us, and we realized later that they didn’t even take our names. Life jackets were an afterthought thrown in for the two of us who couldn’t swim. We were loaded into a van and dropped off five minutes away. As the van pulled away, we wondered 1) how a five minute drive was going to turn into a four hour trip, and 2) how a youth sized life vest was going to save us. We figured out the answer to #1 soon enough, and luckily we didn’t need to use #2.
Hindsight is 20/20, with the help of Google Maps. We were dropped off at the green arrow on the right, and went to the red arrow on the left. That’s how it turned into four hours. What the map doesn’t show is that the entry point is from a steep, muddy cliff with razor-sharp rocks at the bottom. Lucky for us, we discovered it ourselves just after the shuttle van pulled away like the start of a dozen horror movies. Mr. Wonderful, first down to the river, slipped and fell on the rocks, resulting in his shoulder temporarily leaving the socket. We had no choice but to make the trip, so we made a sling out of his bandana and started our voyage in the cold, cold water. It was, I’m sure, very graceful to see, butts in the water and child-sized life vests cinched up like massively padded undergarments.
Here’s the satellite view of that same area. See all those trees covering the river? I’m guessing that at least half of them have fallen in the river since then. Roughly every three minutes for the entire four hours, we had to maneuver around a fallen tree, some of which went all the way across the river, and all of which were covered with spiders. Big ones. With hair.
We went on, Deliverance jokes aplenty, through the woods and around curves, never knowing how much longer we had left. It seemed to get trickier as we went on, as my enthusiasm waned. Yes, I’ll admit that the spiders, risk of drowning, and ever-increasing need to go to the bathroom took a toll on me. Mr. Wonderful, despite being one-armed, was patient with me and helped me get over, under, and through some particularly difficult passages.
Finally, wonder of wonders, we started to pass camp sites and saw what appeared to be our landing site. It wasn’t signed at all, but we took a chance and turned out to be correct. I could have kissed the ground, but I decided to find the bathroom instead. And then a cookie.