At The Mouth Of the River

Can I just start by saying, “What were we thinking?”
We thought having three children in three years was a brilliant idea. We said things like: “They”ll grow up close.” and “We’ll get through all the tough stages at once.”
We never stopped to think that because they were so close the older two would wait for the youngest to graduate, and then they would all leave for college together in the same weekend! Ugggh major change.
Tina and I knew we were going to have to be proactive.You know do something to stave off the “our kids have all flown the coop and we are really depressed about it.” blues. Actually Tina knew we would have to be proactive. If she hadn”t made some plans I probably would have sat in the back yard staring at my gardens straight through snow-fly.
So what’s a couple recently bereft of kids to do? Why white water rafting of course!!
We drove up to Maine, joined a crew rafting the Dead River, and launched out into the deep, so to speak.
I was all set. I had my nylon shorts, my polyester shirt (cotton kills you know), my baseball cap fastened tight enough on my head to squeeze my brains back to sixth grade, and my sunglasses with the little nylon tightening string you see all the adventurers wear.
We jumped onto the blue bus which would take us to the river and rode the nine bumpy miles.
Now I guess I pictured us arriving, walking down to the river, and jumping in a boat led by a river sherpa.I thought maybe I would enjoy a lemonade as a bunch of “experienced” rafters took us through the twists and turns.
Instead we began the journey by having paddling practice a half mile from the river on the dirt. I looked around at our crew: me, my wife, a middle aged teacher, and her teenage nieces and nephew. The nephew was a wiry youth. He looked capable. But I knew we were going to have a little trouble with his sisters when they grimaced as the paddles dented their manicures.
It’s a sad day when a canoe ride on a pond in Massachusetts thirty years ago makes you the experienced rafter.
We carried the raft down to the river and struck out into the current. Our guide told us that we would be doing several level three and one level four rapids. He also told us not to worry if we fell out of the boat. Our instruction was to pop up near the boat and wait for somebody to drag us back on. The method of dragging a bobbing rafter is to grab them by their life vest’s shoulders and fall backwards. The idea is that the weight of your body falling backwards will drag a person up out of the water with you back into the boat. Our guide told us that sometimes this method does not work and the secondary method is required. Now, the secondary method is to push the bobbing rafter down under the water while holding onto their life vest. The thought is that the bouyancy of the life vest will make the rafter the equivalent of a beach ball pushed under the surf. We’ve all watched as the resulting water pressure exerted on the beach ball pops the ball straigth up into the air. So the idea of the second method is to turn the rafter into a missile of sorts that will launch back into the boat.
I looked at my crew. At 245 I outweighed everyone in the boat by a good 100 pounds. I am beach ball material. I decided then and there not to fall out of the raft.
I am being a bit flip about all this but really the ride was one of the neatest things I have done in my life. The rapids were a thrill and the scenery along the river was gorgeous.
We stopped about half way through our trip to do some cliff jumping from a small falls.
The last few miles of our journey was all lazy river. So Tina and floated down side by side (toes and nose of course).
The whole experience was topped off by a great meal which is my favorite way to finish off everything.
In answer to your question, dear reader, no I didn’t fall out of the raft. But Tina did. So I conquered the Dead River and I got to be my wife’s hero all in the same day! Does life get any better than this?

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