Saturday, August 8, 2015

Old Farts Reunion, Phart Two


We're well provisioned, I'll say that. Penny is in charge, and we're glad of it. It was Penny who budgeted and shopped for our epic seven-day bicycle tour of Amish country, back in 1968, coming in at twenty bucks a head. She has a steely determination and fiscal ferocity matched only by her coupon collection, and if we eat any more food, the grocery chains are going to be sending us money to stay away. We're in good hands.

As for activities, it's not like we all have to do the same thing. We have options. There's talk of an excursion to the Adirondack Museum. There are bicycles and canoes. There is a lake to hang out in. And there's rafting. Rafting: why not? What could be better for a girl like me, who is terrified of water, than to rocket down a river without a seat belt, or a personal relationship with the Almighty, in the company of friends who promise to pluck me out of the drink as long as I don't bounce out of reach? Sign me up.
Photo by Bill Priedhorsky

Problem. The first thing on the waiver was something about death and dismemberment. The last thing on the waiver was something about one's heirs and assigns. I'd blacked out on the stuff in between. Janice and I traded wretched looks. She looked every so slightly worse, actually, because she had managed to locate the only two working black flies in the area with her face. We embraced, exchanged last words, and trudged into the cattle car. School bus, I mean.
Photo by Bill Priedhorsky

At the put-in, our guide, Madd Dog, eased us into a shallow eddy to practice rowing and piling into the belly of the raft for emergencies and following orders and not stabbing each other in the head with our paddles, until we were a smooth, well-oiled machine. And then we shot into the mainstream and pinballed down the Hudson River like a spastic, panicked centipede, oars clacking violently, our little arthropod legs going north and south at once.

Smooth.

Madd Dog looked over his team with the bleak serenity of one accustomed to disappointment. He had the steering wheel but no brakes and apparently no drive train, but he knew his river. Our crew had a good forty years on every other crew on the river, which meant we didn't have as long to live, but might have better lawyers. He piloted us around all of the more obvious Gyres of Doom and managed to keep our lungs undampened.
Photo by Bill Priedhorsky

Seventeen miles later, we sailed into port on silky waters, oars a model of synchronicity. The Trilobite had landed. We were ready to go home and regale our museum-going counterparts with smug composure, and as long as nobody checked for hematomas, we could pull it off. What happens on the Hudson River stays on the Hudson River. If my fingernail and the skin from my knee should happen to wash up on shore, though, I'd like them back.

43 comments:

  1. I'd be so with you on the rafting adventure... that is, if you change the raft to a sofa, the river to a cozy living room, and the paddle into a good book. It's fortunate that there are valiant spirits such as yours, who are willing to undertake an Adventure, so that nerdy bookworms like me don't have to!

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    1. I'm not absolutely sure that my going rafting means you don't have to. It's not a Jesus sort of thing. I'm pretty sure you have to. Suit up.

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  2. No piranhas? One of these days your penchant for potentially-lethal recreation will go too far.....

    I, of course, would have been the smuggest of the "museum-going counterparts". Humans are land animals.

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    1. Whereas I do seem to have potentially lethal recreation, the odds are always way in my favor. I'm scared of almost anything. I won't even eat an oyster.

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    2. So, I guess if someone were to tell you, "Murr... the world is your oyster", you would run screaming to hide under your bed?

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    3. Yeah, I totally don't get that expression.

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  3. That was the day that I elected to go to the Adirondack museum, where we saw an elaborate exhibit on Logging in the Adirondacks of Yesteryear. We learned how easily a young man could slip between two logs floating down the Hudson River, and lose an arm or a leg or a life. We thought about your group.

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    1. It would have been sad, sitting in the rocking chairs that night on the porch, saying "Sure going to miss good old what's-his-name."

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  4. There's nothing like the rush of a good whitewater run. The only time I've been on a raft, the river failed us and was so low it was B-0-R-IN-G. So glad that didn't happen to you.

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    1. It kind of did, toward the end. And that's what I thought I'd like best, at first...no!

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  5. You may be terrified of water, but deep down I think you're more terrified of missing out on good writing material!

    Couldn't have gotten me in that raft for anything. I'm wholly with the first three commenters. But I'll READ about anything you're crazy enough to do and then write about.

    And yes, that was a preposition tacked on the end of that sentence. I do so live dangerously sometimes :)

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    1. That's where a lot of prepositions belong at.

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  6. This is my oar,
    This is my paddle.
    This is for rowing,
    And this is NOT FOR FUCKING ROWING BECAUSE IT'S A PADDLE.
    You may think I'm too sensitive about this, but I'M NOT.

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    1. You know, I even thought about that, but elected to use both words out of the good ole writerly sense that you shouldn't use the same words over and over in close proximity--AND I didn't think I'd have any FUSSYPANTSES out there worrying about it.

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    2. If you were talking about spoons, would you call them forks so as not to use the same words over and over in close proximity? Same deal. Just sayin'.

      If you've been a canoeist for as long as I have, you kinda have a radar about this. Fussypants notwithstanding, I still love you and your writing. So... no oared feelings? If you have a paddle write it out for you.

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    3. Aaaagh! You are so Stern with me, Cap'n Tom!

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  7. I LOVE rafting! Haven't done any here in the Northwest, but I've rafted most of the white water in TN, NC, VA... Lucky to have a river guide dancing with me in the company, so got lots of freebies! Even a Class V - VI (the New River when the dam is released for 3 weeks in October.

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    1. Isn't the New River the oldest river in the U.S.?

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  8. There is an adventure that may be even worse than rock climbing. What next? Hope you are still around to tell about it, because this is all too funny. From my recliner.

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    1. You will have to contact Djan for all stories about jumping out of perfectly good airplanes.

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  9. Years back I went white-water rafting in Nepal. And LOVED it.
    Despite my feelings about water and yours being as out of synch as amateur paddlers I also LOVED your writing. And post.

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    1. Thanks! They've got rafting in Nepal? I visualize big pointy peaks but no unfrozen water. Just goes to show, I know nothing.

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  10. Hey! You've joined the White Water-and-knuckle gang. Welcome aboard.In the words of my Fraser guide:" 'everybody in the bottom of the boat' means just that. When I say "oh SHIT!!!" That means everybody in the bottom
    FAST!"
    And don't worry about the prepositions - I'm running on battery and can't be fagged fixing the quote marks. So there.

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    1. I never worry about the prepositions. Unless they try to hold my head underwater.

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  11. Firstly, your writing is excellent, reminds me a bit of the New Yorker's Thurber and Dorothy Parker.
    When you get back you should try the upper Sandy, it's got some good white water.

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    1. You taking me? Where do you put in? I think I want SOME white water, but not necessarily GOOD white water. I believe they told us our river was only a class three at the time. This being the slack season.

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    2. When I ran it some years ago we put in at the '64 Logjam, but if you start there be ready for the rock garden just downriver. Class III with a couple IV. I'd only go in April or May, unless it's high from rain other times.

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  12. That rafting sure does look like fun, all the way back here in Aus. Not sure I could handle the real thing, but if I ever get the chance to try....well, maybe I'd give it a go.

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    1. You gots critters in your water though, right? Critters what you don't want to swim with?

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  13. River, if you ever get up to Nth Qld, try Raging Thunder.

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  14. Now that you have cheated Death yet again, you really should take in the museum. It used to be a very interesting place with stuff even older than us!

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    1. Never made it. Next time. I do love me a good museum, and I'm positively coo-coo over a good docent.

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  15. Nope. Never gonna do that. Riding on a pontoon boat across a peaceful lake, with grandkids aboard, is adventure enough!

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    1. Grandkids are way more adventure than I'm interested in. You're brave.

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  16. That corn looks good. I'd do the raft thing too. But a helmet over a hat, no way.

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    1. I did not have a hat. Just pointing that out.

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  17. Thank you for not including a photo of me in my swim goggles. On the other hand, I've probably inflicted just as much damage by simply mentioning this.

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    1. Hey, now, that WAS a look, now, wasn't it? Thanks for the reminder.

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  18. And may I add that whenever your blog pops up in my InBox, reading it is the best part of my day.

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    1. "Murrmurrs: Putting the special back in Wednesdays and Saturdays since 2008."

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