This trip was organized by, Zogsports, the same people that brought you blogs posts on Dodgeball and Kickball. Zog is a nice little organization that managed to turn activities usually associated with intramurals and recess into profitable charity endeavors. They are also obsessed with drinking. Ever single sports game is followed by the ref pleading with the players to hang out at the bar afterwards, they give "best drinking team" awards right after MVP. So I wasn't super surprised to receive the following information in my pretrip email:
There is absolutely no drinking of alcoholic beverages permitted before or during rafting. If you’d like to drink on the return trip home, please bring along your beverage of choice and we can keep them on or under the bus while you’re rafting.Translation? Look, the losers at the rafting place won't let us turn rapids into a drinking game but we know that most of our customers have such a serious drinking problem that there is no way they'll ever make it 12 hours without ingesting two or three bottles of Everclear so we managed to bribe the bus driver to allow y'all to party it up. Don't forget to bring the flip cup.
While the Hudson and the East rivers offer many treacherous challenges (sewage, bloated bodies, oil slicks, etc) they have yet to develop rapids so our white water rafting took place in Pennsylvania on the Lehigh river. When we arrived after a 2 hours bus ride our leader, a guy last seen playing his tummy like a drum at a local dive bar, was a little crazed about our need for wet suits. "THE WATER WILL BE 60 DEGREES, THAT IS SUPER COLD." he bellowed over and over again as we stood around the dusty parking lot sweating in the 85 degree humidity. All but three or four people resisted the call of a personal rubber sauna. We waiting around for at least 1.5 hours before being shuttled 7 by 7 into red plastic rafts. During the wait we received very minimal instruction on how not to end up as the human equivalent of ground beef -- there was something about how fast the water was going (an analogy to 800 cases of beer flying past us each second) and how if we got caught on a rock we should bounce around like idiots in hopes of knocking ourselves free, they spent the remaining 80 minutes explaining the acceptable ways to splash other boats.
Let me describe how the first 20 minutes of rafting went. "Ok guys, paddle right! I mean left side of the boat paddle! I mean go LEFT! FUCK." But somehow by the first set of rapids we had it together enough to cruise through as if the river were a particularly vigorous massage chair (and with my toes resting in 5 inches of water at the bottom of the boat if I closed my eyes I could almost convince myself that I'd spent $100+ on a very nice pedicure.). One of our new friends that we adopted to fill our boat was suddenly so confident in our abilities that she asked if we could paddle more quickly so that we'd be going faster when we hit the rapids -- God would soon smite her for being so cocksure. As we approached the second rapid set we saw another red boat thrashing against a large rock as its occupants bounced up and down trying to dislodge themselves, it was almost comical until we realized that our feeble urban arms were never going to paddle fast enough (never mind in sync enough) to avoid crashing into the boat, the people and the rock. After a comfortable little rubber on rubber bounce I thought for a moment that everything would be fine, and then I saw the opposite edge of the boat lift over my head. The good news: the water wasn't that cold.
In retrospect we choose the best place on the river for a short swim. The water was deep and mostly free of jagged man hunting rock. I lifted my feet and leaned back in my life jacket and was soon rolling on the river sans boat. Eventually the guide most likely to join a roaming band of skin heads got my friend Jeremy and I to hang from the front of his kayak so he could steer us over to another boat while giving us a lengthy lecture entitled "You Retards Should Not Have Tipped Your Boat Over, I Hope You've Learned Your Lesson." He dropped me off next to a boat filled with fresh faced Midwesterners whose 20 year old son easily plucked me (and, even more impressively, Jeremy) from the river. Our new family were vacationing from Iowa (where, presumably they hadn't had their fill of water ) and was made up of a mom, a dad, a set of 20ish twin boys and an older (25ish) brother. Not more than 10 minutes after being adopted Jeremy and I's bad rafting karma had mom and son #1 tumbling from the boat, arms flailing while Dad yelled instructions along the lines of "don't die!" I'm sure Mom and the older brother were super nice people but as far as Jeremy and I were concerned their departure freed up a couple of nice spaces in the Wayne family that we were happy to fill. Riding in their boat was like a luxury cruise -- twin son #1 stood in the back acting as a rutter that steered us safely away from evil rocks while twin #2 and dad used their farm built muscles to navigate us quickly down the river. The only painful part was my constant fear that I would accidentally curse or exclaim my love for high taxes and abortions and that (like any good Midwestern family) they'd tossed me back into the Lehigh where liberal scum belongs (One less Obama voter to worry about!).
Zog promised that the Rafting organization would provide us with lunch on the river and since I also (correctly) suspected that any food I had on my person would quickly become too soggy to eat I didn't have any way of feeding the fast growing hole in my tummy until we stopped on the shore at 3:30pm -- it had been 6.5 hours and 7.5 miles of paddling/fearing for my life since I'd eaten anything and I was fast considering how tasty riverweed spiced plastic oar might be. I had ordered a PB&J for lunch on the theory that they are the best food ever and also because I knew that this sandwich was meant for the under 10 set which meant there was an 80% chance that it would involve Wonder Bread and Jiffy -- two things I secretly love but would never allow myself to purchase in the store because I am a snobby hippie/foodie. Some might think that a $100+ rafting trip should include a fancier meal but I actually think that this was a smart cost saving measure on the part of the rafting company -- by the time lunch rolled around I was so hungry that a raw pack of ramen noodles would have been greeted with lip smacking so there is no reason to waste money on truly tasty food.
Post lunch we decided to let the Iowans get back to their family vacation so we were once again banished to the retard boat for the remaining 7.5 miles of rafting. It was hell and I quickly found myself thinking that I needed to birth 3 strapping young boys to row me around as soon as possible.
Somewhat unsurprisingly the most well organized portion of the trip was the beer distribution on the bus ride home. On a trip where head counts were estimated, novices were tossed into rock filled rivers and no one could be bothered to bring enough water for rehydration at lunch our leader had devised a system for signaling your need for a beer, designating your beer type of choice and notifying your need to dispose of an empty can all without speaking.
I arrived home exhausted, starving and reeking of river. As I stripped down at the door I told the boyfriend to make me some food and not even think about starting the sex because seriously I JUST PADDLED 13 MILES. Then I passed out on the couch.
Taking my sports participation from The school yard to The X Games was partially inspired by the huge cash influx from this blog. A small chunk of riches remain, look for this being frittered away on gambling in the coming weeks.
Update: Jeremy (the geekiest of all attendees by far) found the rock that God threw down into the river to smite us for the evil sin of pride on Google Maps.