In the summer of 2003, Charlotte and I decided to take a trip across the country by rental car (why a rental? Don't ask--it's complicated, dull, and annoying.), stopping at various friends along the way, seeing the sights, and culminating in our annual visit to the Burningman festival in Nevada. This is the diary we kept along the way.
|25-26||Hot Springs AR|
|?||Oklahoma City OK|
|31||Mesa Verde CO|
|?||Grand Canyon AZ|
|11-13||Los Angeles CA|
|16-24||San Francisco CA|
|24-Sept 1||Black Rock City NV|
|2||Salt Lake City UT|
Prior to moving to Boston in the summer of '97 I came close to drowning three times. This made me a little bit nervous where water's concerned. And then I start dating a former whitewater guide. He talked about whitewater, and he talked about whitewater, and he talked about whitewater. Each mention brought up vivid pictures of being caught underwater and not being able to breathe. It also raised my adrenaline level and started my heart racing. The first time he got me into a canoe on the Charles my heart raced at every two-inch wave that rolled gently under us. Eventually, we managed a several-day canoe trip with Meg & Scott.
When we arrived in Moab, I thought it would be cool to try a rafting trip. AAAARRRRGH! I called and reserved two spots, gave my charge number, and felt okay. Then Sebastian starts asking me questions: "What kind of trip is it? How are the guides trained? Did they say how high the water's running? What class rapids?"
The adrenaline level goes up, the heart rate increases. It's four AM and I'm imagining being stuck under a giant raft. I resolve to ask the outfitters questions about licensing requirements for guides, and finally go back to sleep.
6;15 AM I'm up and doing yoga, packing the car prior to a hike and an afternoon of rafting. (what was I thinking?) sebbo comments: yeah, getting up at 6:15 is pretty crazy I lost the brochure not once but twice. Is my subconcious trying to tell me something? We find the place without the brochure. Register. Sign a waiver (!!!???). I'm okay, I'm okay. Get on the bus and head out. I think: "big raft--it doesn't flip. I can handle this." The river looks flat and calm and muddy. A father in the back of the bus explains about classes of rapids to his son, who replies: "They aren't whitewater--they should be called brownwater." I blissfully listen because the river is so flat--I can handle this. Sebastian starts talking about two person ... duckies??
At the site, they offer us the option of the two-person kayak. I think: smooth waters, I can handle this! And say, "Okay, Sebastian--lets do it."
We happily jump into a two person "duckie" and set out. The water's pretty flat--I'm okay, Sebastian's bored. We go through some bubbly frothy bits that I consider terrifying. My heart is racing. I think they mught be classified as Class 0 rapids. The water flattens out, my heartrate returns to normal, and I think to myself, "Okay--I can do that again." Sebastian chats up the girl guides and compares notes with them on rivers and something called a Class Five (eek!) rapid.
The guide stops the whole group in the middle of the river to give us warnings about the rapids we're about to go through. I'm okay, I can handle this...I think. That is, until I hear the rushing water. "Can I get out now?"
My heart starts racing. We are pulled by the current. It is a good thing that Sebastian used to be a whitewater guide. I can't believe they would let people into these little, tiny boats without checking to see if they have any experience on white water. The water roars. As we head into the mess, Sebastian says "look left." It is a ploy to distract me from my terror. The tiny little duck dips into the well of a big swell and it fills the boat. "Aaaugh!" The Colorado seems to rush at me without a break. Another swell, another swell. Slap, slap, slap, waves hit the underside of our boat. Breathe. Slower! Breathe, slow it down. I focus on breathing so that I don't hyperventilate. My heart is about to jump out of my chest. We emerge from the short, run of rapids--a class one. I am alive. YAY! Relieved, I collapse backwards against the boat. Someone yells, "Did you lose somebody?" I sit up, a tired smile on my face. "Oh," the voice says.
There is a lot of rowing to be done. The river is running slow. My hands are sore by the end of the day. My shoulders have had three workouts in the past 24 hours. The day that I almost drowned in the Mediterranean runs through my head: undertow, no natives in the water at all, being sucked under by the waves, emerging from the water shaking and terrified and the gorgeous, buff life guard looking at me and saying "You ! Water! No more, today!" Did that need clarification, I wonder to myself?
It was a good thing. It's OK. I can handle it. Am I not scared of white water anymore? No. Will I still be slightly terrified when I get into moving water? Only if it is moving really fast. Class one rapids--the main point is pushing my boundaries and moving in spite of them.
Becoming an adult under the zodiac sign of the water chicken,