08.06.2004 - 8:39 p.m.
Between the two of us, JB is
the far more adventurous one. My idea of a rockin' good time
involves a Warren Ellis comic book and a comfy pair of Old Navy
yoga pants; he'd rather be dehydrated and shivering at the top
of Mt. Rainier. Evidence of our disparate personalities runs
rampant throughout our house: from the runners in the carpet
from him ferrying his giant scuba tanks back and forth, to the
squashy half-moon dent in our living room couch that suspiciously
matches the shape of my ass.
When JB proposed his idea for
us to raft a whitewater section of the north Umpqua river, I
initially agreed that it sounded like a fine summer outing. Hmm,
I thought, I'll get some sun, take in a little scenery, enjoy
the great outdoors...
Wait. Aren't river rapids,
you know, dangerous? "Oh, no, no, no. It's only Class 3
and 4 rapids," he assured me. "Oh, and just one little
bitty Class 5. No big deal."
According to the International
Scale of River Difficulty, Class 4 rapids are described as "large,
long and difficult...usually require precise maneuvering".
Class 5? "Extended and often violent rapids with constricted
The couch ass-dent was looking
better and better to me.
JB then confessed that he had
somehow managed to persuade the outfitter to issue us our own
raft. Whoah, hold the damn phone, I said. Shouldn't we
leave the driving to the, um, experienced river guides?
The ones who presumably know how to avoid all the pointy fatal
rocks and stuff? JB puffed up alarmingly in response. "NO,"
he said, as though I had recommended a particularly stupid course
of action that included cramming bee-covered sticks up our nostrils.
"We'll be FINE."
I had a few weeks to ponder
various scenarios of my watery demise, but August arrived all
too soon, and last Saturday I found myself wedged in a small
boat bobbing on the surface of the Umpqua, aimed for a take-out
12 long miles downstream. The sun was shining, birds were calling
in the calm blue afternoon sky, and my life vest was cinched
so firmly around my ribcage my breath emerged in nervous Pomeranian
yelled breezily, while I practiced a fierce barnacle grip on
the raft's slick surface. "I won't let anything happen to
Less than an hour went by before
I was darkly reviewing that statement as I observed what appeared
to be a good portion of the entire river pouring into the bottom
of our boat. We had just shot like a wet bar of soap from a grumpy
swirl of water and thwacked against a large boulder, where the
flow of the current bent us in half. The moment seemed to call
for a satisfying horror movie scream, but the best I could do
was a loud startled bleat as our treacherous raft suddenly pointed
its rubbery snout straight up in the air.
Later, I would pride myself
on my lightning reaction, my ability to execute a heroic gesture
that may in fact have saved us from grave injury. Without even
taking the time to consider my own personal safety, I propelled
myself upward (accompanied, I am told, by some exceedingly bad
language) and landed with an elephantine bellyflop on the top
of the raft, where my body weight tumbled us back from the edge
of being flipped.
At the lunch break, one of
our guides stood by while I struggled to the shore, bandy-legged
with spent adrenaline. "Nice high side," he told JB
with approval. "You guys were totally vertical."
JB beamed happily, while I conjured up visions of nice safe activities
that do NOT require you to be vertical, like sleeping.
The rest of the trip was refreshingly
horizontal, and I put aside my fears of falling overboard/smashing
my head open/being devoured by ferocious Sea Monkeys. I learned
that rapids can be fun, and that rafts are really pretty resiliant,
and that if you constantly shriek "WOO YEAHHH" while
you're on the water, you annoy the blue fuck out of those
bored river guides.
Most of the whitewater parts
of the Umpqua are named, like Cardiac Arrest, Weird Weir, and
Pinball (which does indeed hurl you from one bank to another,
attempting to smear you into catfood). Not that I've been asked,
but I put some effort behind updating the section names.
It Sure Is Nice Out Hey
Is That An Eagle?
Holy Shit That Water is
Whoah! Watch Out For That
You've Got to be Fucking
Oh My God We're All Going
I'm lucky to have JB in my life, for so many reasons, but especially
because when I'm with him I have so many more exciting memories
than I would have otherwise.
However, this weekend
my ass has a hot date with the couch. And Warren Ellis? Here
I come, baby.
last ::: next
comments so far.
I have moved. - 1.03.2005
Obviously, a work in progress. - 12.27.2004
Happy holidays! - 12.24.2004
Listen, I am not a complete dick, it's not like I want Joe to die alone surrounded by cats or something. - 12.23.2004
Plus I am convinced my butt is extra big when it's upside down. - 12.22.2004