Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Whitewater rafting

Enjoyed dinner out celebrating my in-laws' (aka weekend babysitters) 45th wedding anniversary.

My dear friend Claudia wanted to celebrate her daughter's 13th birthday with a memorable celebration.  She landed on a whitewater rafting excursion in West Virginia, and Claudia asked us to join in the festivities.  I've never been whitewater rafting, but I knew enough to be excited over the prospective of a day spent on the water.

In the days leading up to our trip, I casually slid my upcoming trip into conversations.  Most of my listeners retorted with whitewater rafting horror stories.  After they would share about a friend who ended up in traction and in a neck brace, they'd finish with "but it will be great!"

I began to wonder if a trip to the ER was a standard pairing with a whitewater rafting trip.

On Friday night, we arrived in West Virginia.  I had visions that we would be staying on the set of Deliverance; I was pleasantly surprised that our accommodations included a nice family facility with a comfy cabin.

Saturday we awoke early and headed to the rapids.  The weather wouldn't warm.  It was 50s (barely) with rain.  In a decision that I will firmly put within the top ten best decisions of my life, we all rented wetsuits.  Thank you Jesus for wetsuits; they prevented us all from experiencing a nasty dose of hypothermia.

Before we ventured into the rapids, we filled out release forms.  It listed about 205 possible complications we could experience while whitewater rafting.  I vividly remember decapitation and snake bites included among the list.  My whitewater rafting momentum began to wane.

On the bus ride over the rapids, our guide Trevor offered up the safety talk.  Possible scenarios we could experience included being trapped in an underwater cave or stuck under a rock.  Trevor was quickly deflating our excitement.

But the time I stepped into the boat, I was terrified.  Did I just step into my death, I wondered?  As we paddled off shore, we hit our first rapid.  It was exciting and exhilarating.  But death defying?  No.  We were on the family rapids.  It was the It's a Small World rapids (while other were more Space Mountain rapids).  And for first time rafters, this course was a fit.

For the next five hours, we meandered down the river.  We hit patches of rapids and spaces with smooth currents.  The West Virginia mountains flanked the river and set up the most amazing backdrop to our day.  

Lunch was a buffet that our guides set up amid the trees.  As I munched on pasta salad, a train cut through the forest.  The whole scene was like that in a book, and the joy was that I was experiencing with friends and family.

Within minutes left in the ride, the boys' raft capsized.  My boys popped back up to the surface.  Cooper appeared energized.  Caleb looked less than thrilled.  But, they made it back into their boats with their own "horror story" in a tamer version to tell friends back home.

I walked away from the day as a whitewater rafting convert and evangelist.  In a heartbeat, I would return to the rapids, but only the ones made for nervous mothers and risk-adverse folk.

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