So ... fuck terrorists, fuck hurricanes, and fuck stupid boys. I am posting a fun story because I am sure we could all use it.Guideless Rafting 2005
or: God Looks After Drunks, Fools, and Small Children
The cast of our story is as follows:dealio (aka, Scott)
: intrepid adventurer with the hat to prove it and very little impulse control.stotangirl (aka, Laura)
: his lovely wife, artistic and sarcastic in equal measure.vandriver (aka, Kyle)
: leaf-eating young man, also artistic and sarcastic in equal measure.nocmaar (aka, Aaron)
: impetuous young man who shares his cousin’s lack of impulse control.Anna
: Aaron’s lady friend, also lovely, also sarcastic, also impetuous.Brad
: the rafting guidethe crew of the other boat
: Nick and WebZ, Sam and Sarah, and nervemania
Our story begins at the family reunion, where our gang of sturdy adventurers have been eating and discussing their plans to raft the Nantahala River the following day. Wendy, another cousin, puts forward the idea of rafting down the Ochobe, an Olympic-level rafting run where, a few years back, their guide fell in and had to be rescued by Wendy’s father.
Scott and Aaron are all for this adventure. Laura inventories her scars, Sarah inventories her broken bones, and both declare that we ain’t going down no Olympic-level rafting run.
Aaron, in a rare and solitary moment of reason, takes an informal poll of the group and discovers that maybe three of us have been rafting more than once, a few have been once, and the rest have never been at all. And one of those people who have rafted once, Anna, last did it when she was a kid. Reason prevails (for once), and we decide to raft the Nantahala again. To assuage the nutjobs in the group, however, we agree to go guideless.
Scott makes the reservations and, in *his* rare and solitary moment of reason, arranges for two boats and one guide. We rouse the rest of our group and make our way to the river in the pouring, icy rain. Anna and Laura wonder what the hell they’ve gotten themselves into.
Happily, the rain stops as we prepare for our journey. Scott recognizes the guy giving the “how to raft safely” lecture as the same one who guided us two years ago, and gleefully informs him that Scott and Laura are *not*, in fact, the parents, and that Laura was not, in fact, a 12-year-old child bride. The guide looks chagrined. Scott declares victory.
After being told to always keep our t-grip on the oars; that if we fall out of the raft we should put our butts down and our thumbs up; never try to stand in the river; oh, and we want to avoid The Bump, we head down to the shore.
Our guide, Brad, meets us there. We inform him that Kyle, Scott, Anna, Laura, and Aaron are going guideless--Scott and Anna on the left, Laura and Kyle on the right. Aaron is going to steer. We also tell him we want to jump off the picnic rock *and* go over The Bump. Brad says, “I took a group over this morning...”
Scott says, “And?”
“And they went over.”
Laura, being the one person all the *actual* adults consider responsible, turns to Sam and Sarah, the youngest of the group, and tells them not to fall out of the boat. They agree.
We put in. Brad’s boat takes off for the right side of the river, going straight. Our raft ... doesn’t. The crew blames Aaron’s steering. Aaron blames our paddling. We head across the river sideways.
We get through the first batch of rapids unscathed, though wet, and discover that it isn’t the water that’s going to kill us; it’s our tendency to run too close to shore and right under the low-hanging tree branches that then smack us in the heads or chests.
Finally we begin to get the hang of this steering/rafting thing, enough so that we can spin the raft around and around on purpose. We do, however, have an unfortunate tendency to notice rocks under the water only as we’re running over them. Kyle attempts to catch leaves in his mouth as we pass under branches in some sort of competition with WebZ. Aaron informs us that “steering is really strainous.” And Anna remarks that the water isn’t as cold as she expected.
Feeling pretty confident, we speed and catch up to the other raft to chat, until Brad points out the giant rock we’re heading toward. Our intrepid band paddles like holy hell to avoid it, getting up a good head of steam ... and runs into the rock sideways.
Laura feels a huge thump that sends her flying into the middle of the boat, and looks up just in time to see Aaron, Anna, and Scott tumbling off their side into the 40 degree water. The raft goes spinning away as Laura and Kyle realize that they tell you what to do if you fall *out*, but not what to do if you’re left *in*.
Anna makes the startling discovery that yes, actually, the water *is* as cold as she expected, if not colder. Scott’s head fills with visions of Laura and Kyle floating down the river, both in the fetal position in the middle of the boat, rocking and moaning their way to an imminent death--a death that will, no doubt, involve a rare and mysterious explosion of the air-filled, unmotorized river raft.
Meanwhile, in the crew-decimated but unexploded boat, Laura is kneeling in the bottom, counting heads. Anna, Aaron, Scott--three heads above water, the other raft swinging back to them, they’re okay. She and Kyle turn their attention to their own predicament.
“Let’s beach this thing over there,” Kyle suggests, pointing to a small inlet on the other side of the river. Laura gets up into Anna’s old seat and the two artsy hippies of the crew paddle for shore. Once there, they proceed to beach the boat. Kyle takes the front, but his feet are so numb he keeps knocking himself over as he drags the raft onto his feet.
The second boat has picked up Aaron and Anna. Scott has floated, butt down, thumbs up, to a rock and crawled ashore. His glasses have fogged, so all he can see is the blue bulk of the other boat turning away from him, downriver.
His head still full of his vision, he yells, “DON’T WORRY ABOUT ME, SAVE THE OTHER RAFT!”
Laura, meanwhile, the beaching accomplished, has counted heads in the second boat and come up short by one goofy hat. Where’s Scott? She looks up the river and finds him on his rock as the other boat heads downriver. Kyle starts yelling to Scott, who doesn’t hear him. Laura cups her hands around her mouth and screams his name. Scott takes off his glasses to find the artsy hippies across the river, waving, hooting, and making devil horns at him from the safety of their inlet.
Brad makes his way to our boat with a rope. He wades into the river and has Scott do the same, the plan being that Scott will grab the end of the rope and Brad will tow him across. Brad tosses the rope, but his throw is a little short. Scott misses it, and Scott and the rope-end proceed down the river some more. Brad reels in the rope as Scott bumps into and crawls onto the left bank.
Brad then has Kyle and Laura hop into the raft and pushes it down to where the second boat has been beached. The partial reunion is a joyous one as the adventurers compare stories and empty their rafting boots.
Brad heads back out into the middle of the river with the rope. Scott gets his game face on. This time, Brad is going to make sure the throw isn’t short. He swings the rope once, twice, three times, lets fly ...
... and the *entire* rope soars into the river.
“Ohhh ...” from the peanut gallery, softly, in unison.
Brad jumps into the river and swims after the rope. Scott appears to be sniffing flowers on his bank. The rest of our group warns one another *not* to mention the rope thing to Brad at *all.*
The current takes Brad down further from Scott, but he retrieves the rope and begins the arduous task of making his way over to Scott. This entertains the rest of us for about five minutes, at which point we start looking at giant spiders, discussing how our feet have all gone numb, and, of course, how hilarious it was watching that rope flying into the water.
At this point another raft comes down the river bearing two people who maneuver over and ask Scott if he’d like a lift. Scott, cold and bored, says “Hell, yes!” and climbs aboard. They then grab onto vines, tree limbs, and the occasional handful of grass to claw their way to Brad without being swept away. Brad is hauled aboard, and the rescue boat crosses the river. It looks like Scott is told *not* to paddle at one point, but he denies this.
Scott and Brad are put ashore downriver from us, and yell at us to stay where we are. Not a problem, as we’re all still fascinated with the giant spiders and other assorted bugs that want to come rafting with us.
On their way down to us, Brad tells Scott that his hands are so numb, he’s not sure he had hold of the rope to begin with. Meanwhile, after another informal poll, Kyle informs Laura that if Scott says he still wants to go over The Bump, Kyle’s going to shove him out of the raft.
Finally Brad and Scott return to us, and we set off down the river again. Or Brad’s boat does, anyway. Our raft gets stuck on a rock. We shake, we shimmy, we rock, all to no avail. Finally, Anna flips out of the boat, shoves us off the rock, and flips back in. Off we go, down the river, sideways again, of course. Now, however, whenever we make any noise at all, Brad turns to make sure we’re all in the boat.
The picnic rock is not very far away, and we plan to slide right in and beach next to Brad’s raft. Except, of course, this is *our* crew we’re talking about, and we paddle like hell only to float right by the beach. Anna thinks to herself, hey, I’ll be helpful again!
and flips out of the raft to shove us in the right direction. Except that this time, instead of flipping out into knee-deep water, she flips out into eight feet of water.
Scott grabs hold of her life jacket, and we all stare at her for a solid minute as she hangs onto the side of the raft, until Kyle ventures, “Um, guys? We might want to pull her back into the boat.”
This proposal is met with universal acclaim, so we haul Anna back into the raft and beach it just a little beyond the picnic rock.
Now, Laura has jumped off the rock before and has no desire to do it again. Scott feels that he has been in the goddammed water enough for one day, so he and Laura sit and watch the river go by as Anna, Aaron, and Kyle head up to the rock. In the end, Anna and Aaron concur with Scott and only Kyle and Nick jump off the rock into the river.
The boats set off again, but now Scott has taken over the strainous steering chores. Anna calls out the rowing commands (“All forward!” “All left!” “All right!”) because Scott’s commands tend to be slightly less practical (“Ramming speed!” “All spin!”). However, the water is calm enough that our crew decides to attain ramming speed and splash hell out of Brad’s raft. This hasty decision results in a water war that our side loses badly, and we are forced into a quick retreat.
Scott, however, is undaunted. “All forward, stealth!” he commands. The crew hunches forward, as one, paddling hard, and whenever the crew of the other boat turns to check on us, we stop rowing and smile innocently.
This works quite well until it occurs to Kyle and Aaron that Scott is undaunted because he’s in the back of the boat; they are in the front of the boat and will therefore bear the brunt of any water attacks. A mutiny ensues, and ramming speed is not attained. We do, however, catch up to the boat in time for Brad to tell us we’re getting close to The Bump. We assure him that we have no desire whatsoever to go over The Bump, and he and his crew pull ahead of us to avoid a rock.
We, of course, get stuck *on* the rock.
We shimmy, we shake, we rock, we back paddle. The back paddling manages to spin us around *on* the rock so that we’re facing backwards; otherwise we’re getting no play at all.
Scott tells Aaron and Kyle to slide back in the boat. Aaron stands up. Scott attempts to point at the hump in the middle of the boat with his oar, hitting Aaron smack in the face with it. Aaron stands there, blinking, as Scott hastily switches his grip on the oar and points at the hump, asking, “Is that the rock?”
The shifting of our weight allows us to slide off the rock and set sail again. Brad points out the approaching Bump to us.
Now, The Bump, gentle reader, is a large rock in the middle of the river that can be very fun to go over. It can also rip your raft up and send you flying into the water if you don’t go over it the right way. When Brad points it out to us, Scott starts steering and we all start paddling hard to avoid it. All except Aaron, who sits straight in his seat chanting, “Bump, Bump, Bump, Bump,” and ignoring everyone’s shouts that we don’t *want* to go over the fucking Bump, you lunatic!
We go over The Bump. Sideways.
The boat then spins down the river as Kyle shouts, “WE’RE AT THE MERCY OF THE RAPIDS!!!”
Once we’re becalmed, Nick and WebZ ask, “We thought you guys didn’t *want* to go over The Bump?”
Now our only obstacle is the last set of rapids. We can’t be very close to the other boat when we go over, and we have to go over the rapids straight and right through the center. This concerns Laura, as “straight” and “centered” have not, as yet, been words one would use to describe our rafting skills.
Brad and his crew head out, and we slowly follow. We aim for the middle, and we keep the nose of the boat straight ... ish. We hit the rapids, bouncing up and down. Laura is thrown into the middle of the boat again, causing her to release her t-grip. She slogs back into her seat just as Anna is thrown from her seat into the middle of the boat and releases *her* t-grip. Laura observes that it’s a lot easier to paddle when the boat *and* the paddle stay in the water, rather than bouncing out of it.
Finally the chaos ends. We slide into the calmer waters and aim for the second take-out post. We make it, sliding right in next to Brad’s boat for once.
On the bus, we meet a group of people who have collected lost equipment on the river--paddles, life jackets, and most perplexing, entire wet suits.
Aaron declares that next year we’re going *totally* guideless. Scott concurs. Scott also tells Laura that she’s allowed to sleep with Brad since he saved Scott’s life. Laura requests that Scott make an effort to be saved by someone hotter next time.
We arrive back at the raft rental place and return our equipment. Laura slips Brad some cash for a tip. A little later, Anna asks if anyone tipped Brad.
“I’ve got a tip for him,” Kyle says. “’Hang onto your rope.’”