Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Fighting the River

The weekend before Father's Day I went to Lava Hot Springs, Idaho for a girls' weekend. It was a great time and I always love spending two days in a seedy motel eating junk food and gossiping with the ladies. This year, however, there is one adventure that remains at the forefront of my mind. I call it "Fighting the River," but subsequent titles might include "My Near-Death Experience" or "Why Individuals with Large Posterior's Should Avoid Sticking Aforementioned Posteriors in Flimsy Floating Devices while Floating Down Anything with Rapids." The list could go on, but I think you get the point.

So, imagine, it is late Saturday, main street Lava, you've eaten a wonderful breakfast, you feel alive, you feel young, you feel invigorated. In the background you can hear the whoops and hollers of tubers in the river running under the bridge upon which you walk. You turn to your friend, we'll call her "Ramba" (the feminine version of Rambo) for dramatic purposes, and say, "Friend, I think I would like to go tubing.

So, that is that, the decision, the commitment to end your life has just been made. You rent your tubes, you purchase your sorry excuse for a shoe more appropriately described as a contraption of loose netting, thin bungee cords, and rubber glued haphazardly together and placed upon the foot...temporarily. You change into your swimwear. You launch after a short debate with "Ramba" about launching locations. You: opting for the spot after the waterfall, though more rapid in flow. Ramba: insisting that the calm spot is safest for a launch and that the rapid torrent of water 20 feet downriver is "not that big."

And, ah, the day is hot, the water is cold, the tube seems sturdy enough. Yes, things seem nearly perfect. That is, until you plummet down that "not that big" of a waterfall. You wedge more easily out of the tube than you wedged into it, actually. One word comes to mind: hydraulics. But you keep your death grip on the tube's handle. You stand and walk to shallower, calmer water. You have survived your first dip...certainly it can't get worse.

You were wrong, however. It does get worse. Ramba laughs and spins. Her aunt, Lisa, seems to be enjoying herself equally. You ease down the river in mellow spots and hold on for dear life anytime you see foam--because foam means churning water that could potentially swallow you and heave you out of this tube, also known as a Death Ring with Handles.

You pass by your land-safe roommate calling out your name without even noticing her. Yes, your wise roommate who sits on a comfortable chair on comfortable, stable grass. Your roommate who had the good sense to say "I'm not going tubing." You don't even notice her because YOU are in survival mode. Because you are stubborn. Because this death float is your vacation experience and you are going to enjoy it, damnit, even if it kills you because you rented the tube for five bucks and purchased yet another pair of water shoes for $10.83.

And so, rapid after rapid, you manage to stay afloat. That is, until, you don't. And this rapid is a doozy. It spits at you as you approach it, backwards. It flips you. It rips your Death Ring with Handles from your white-knuckled grip. It knocks you over when you try to stand up and it begins to carry you along a bed of river rocks on your abdomen. And then the piece of crap netting/bungee/rubber/glue contraption, half of the $10.83 you spent, rips from your foot. If not for your extended pinky flailing for the life of the body it is attached to, you would have lost the shoe completely.

And so you try to get the blasted thing back on your foot. Only to have it ripped away, again. Only to be knocked to your knees and scour your body along the river bed face first. You feel the sting on your knees, on your ankles, on the soft skin of your stomach that was once so carefully covered with your tankini. You try to stand. But the river knocks you over. You are dragged for 20 feet along the bed of the devil river.

Meanwhile, Ramba floats on, laughing. Meanwhile, Lisa and a passerby have the good sense to stop 40 feet ahead of you on the banks of the river, catch your tube, and watch. And cringe. Grateful they are not in your shoes, or shoe, really.

Meanwhile, you are certain death is inevitable. You let out a prayer. You try not to cry because now is not a time for crying. You promise yourself that you will get a hot shower, neosporin, and clean, warm, DRY clothing at the end of this. You've just got to maneuver your way to the banks without getting knocked over.

You make it, you exit the river, with one intact shoe, one shoe that is not so intact. But your feet are firmly planted. You aren't going to be knocked over. You walk on private property and give the owners a look that lets them know they better not mention the part about you walking on their private property. You walk back to main street, to the exact spot you had this half-witted idea. And you see her, that wise roommate, drive by. And through the crowds you scream her name louder than you've screamed anything in your life. Her window down, she hears you, stops, and you get in the car and tell her all about it as you drive downriver to pick up the survivors at the end of the river run.

And the watershoes? They probably rest at the local landfill in Lava Hot Springs. I left them in the motel room on purpose.


Alice said...

I can't help but smile over your near death experience! That is of course because you survivied!!! :) The art of telling that story was almost better than the real thing! I am glad you are hear to tell about it, and don't worry my dear, we will try it again next year but we are going to get the four seater for that! :)

Alice said...

Here, not hear! oopsy! How embarrassing for all of you to see. I really do know the difference.

Blackeyedsue said...

I am laughing my butt off!!! My rather large, sitting in my computer chair butt off!! OMG!!! I would have KILLED to see you white-knuckling it down the river. At least my slug of sister "Ramba" scratched her leg...but I am sure it is NOTHING in comparison to what happened to you!!!


Stine said...

Ok, peeing now. Thank you for that lovely virtual movie in my mind.

I miss tubing. Too bad tubing in Utah isn't as great in December when I shall be there.

HAD said...

What an experience! I am glad you went through it so you could tell the story to all of us. I really mean that the best way possible. You are a great writer and story teller I feel as if I was there. I am glad you are ok now.

LovingTheChaos said...

HAHAHAHAHaHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAAAA!!! Wow...that was even better than the first time I heard it! :)

LovingTheChaos said...

Cute new blog!

Kimmy said...

You're SO funny! I snorted 3 times between wheezing laughs! I'm glad you made it!