Monday, May 27, 2013

Stay To The Right!

You know that scene in The Goonies (1985 box office hit) when Mikey has to "use the men's room"?  And Ma Fratelli insists that he "stays to the right!" like three different times??
Well, that scene kept playing over and over in my head today while I was on the river with John, Olivia, and our friend Mike.

For those unfamiliar with the movie, here is a video clip of what I'm talking about...

(if the address is unclickable, then just copy and paste into your browser)

It was a beautiful Monday afternoon.  Bored out of our skulls, and low on finances, we decided to take our canoes and head down the river (with our good friend Mike) for a little day trip.  On this day trip, I packed all of us a lunch so we could sit at one of the islands and have an outdoor picnic.  With lunch, sunblock, bug spray, canoes, paddles, and life jackets all ready to go, we headed to the boat ramp to launch our canoes.
John and Olivia sat in "June" (the 17 foot Old Town canoe) and I took the smaller Old Town solo canoe, just as lovingly named, "Joy".   (John named his canoes after Olivia and me - yeah, he's a romantic and sexy guy)
The first leg of our trip went really well.  It was the first time in 12 years that I seriously got into a canoe or kayak to go down the river.  And this was Olivia's first big trip as well.  But, even though it was ages since I paddled down the river, I took to it like riding a bicycle.  My paddling was dead on, and that relaxed feeling of being on the river on a picture perfect day was starting to show on my face.

All was right with the world - or at least all was right in my world. 
Heck, even my pain limit was manageable today.  And anytime that happens, it's a great day.

So, we're sitting down on one of the islands, having lunch, taking some pictures, watching a boat load of other canoes and kayaks (pun was intended) go by and just having a good time.  I think it was Olivia who had asked John (or maybe it was me) how long it would take to get our final destination.
"Not too much farther.  We'll be in our canoes for a little longer than we just were. But, when we get to the trussle bridge, we'll need to stay to the right."

Seeing the flicker of slight alarm flash in my face, he continues by saying,

"You'll be fine.  I'll let you know in plenty of time what to do when we get there.  The water gets a bit choppy and there's a pretty strong current.  Don't worry.  You'll do fine."

He may as well put a sign on my that said in bright red letters "SOS", because I swear to you those words were my curse.

But knowing the confidence my loving husband had in me, I pushed the worry way down deep.  And feeling like I could take on the world, we all cleaned up and got back into our canoes to head back down the river.

Here's the part of this little story that should've set off bells and whistles in my head.  I should've taken this next part of the story and really heeded the foreshadowing in it and maybe prepared myself for what was going to come later.

So, settled into our canoes, John and Olivia kind of got up next to me in the river.  We were just talking, laughing, and relaxing.

"Hey John.  Is this paddle that you fixed?"

"Yup.  When I got it, it was broken.  I fixed it by using conduit and then I sprayed expanding foam in it."

"Oh.  Did you do that so it would float?"

"Yeah.  But, you know what?  After I fixed it, I had it out with me and Mike on one of our trips.  I wanted to test it and the damn thing sank straight to the bottom!  So, be careful with that paddle.  You lose it here in one of the deeper parts, you ain't getting it back."

With a bit of nervous laughter, we sort of separated from each other and continued our trip.

So, we're floating down the river and in the distance, the "Bridge of Infinite Worry and Utter Anguish" started to get bigger and bigger.  I voiced my concern and John said to "follow Mike and to just do what he does".  With another reassuring compliment from my husband, I started to follow Mike.

Mike's in the front, then it's me in the middle, and John and Olivia holding up the rear of our nautical convoy.

Mike goes under the bridge without incident.

Then, I start to head under. 

I did indeed "stay to the right" but the water rapidly got choppier and more swift.  I was paddling, and trying desperately to keep up with the current. 

I think that's when I heard the river laugh at me....

I was about to hit a piece of debris in the river that was sticking out, and overcompensating for my need to avoid any collision, I managed to tip over in the really bitter cold water of the river.

For me, it seemed to happen both in slow motion and at fast rate.
If I close my eyes, I can still see my hands grab onto the sides of the canoe as it's tilting dangerously to the left. 
About a million thoughts came rushing through my head at once.  Like literally, a million thoughts.

My first initial thought was how cold the water was.  It was so cold, that the instant I was in the water, I could no longer feel my feet.  Which under normal circumstances, I would've loved.  But, knowing that I was in very cold water and how important my feet are as a diabetic, I certainly didn't like the "I can't feel my feet" feeling.
I then thought of everything I had in the waterproof container we brought along (my insulin pump and the camera) and the not-as-important stuff I had in the "dry bag" (things like my ID, my meter, car keys) - I thought, "Boy, I'm putting those "waterproof" things to the test now, aren't I?"
I know I consciously thought to try and keep my mouth as closed as possible, for I didn't want a communicable disease from the filth I know lies in the river.
I remember thinking, "Ooops... There go my sandals.  I should've listened to John and wore sneakers."
I know I thought about the current that was threatening to take me to the opposite side of the river.
So, with all of these thoughts in my head and really not knowing how I was going to get myself out of this mess, all I could do was scream and cry out for John.
And let me tell you... that man was out of his canoe and next to me assisting in less than 30 seconds. 

He tended to me and I heard Mike say something about grabbing the now floating away canoe. 
John got me to stand  by a log that was sticking out of the water and handed me the front end of his canoe where Olivia sat with a horrified look on her face, and he told me to "Stand right here, hold onto this canoe and DON'T MOVE."
Shaking, but still alive, I managed to stand on the slippery rocks under my feet and hang onto the canoe that kept my one and only daughter dry.  It was tough work. I had lost my sandals, and I couldn't stop shivering.  And that current was so strong!
But, knowing that Olivia was so scared and so frightened, I made keeping her safe my number one priority.
John and Mike, meanwhile, are starting to retrieve the canoe.  I saw them flip it back right side up in the water, and I saw Mike grab my shoes and dry bag from the water.
John comes back to Olivia and me and tells me to hang onto the front of his canoe while he pushes it towards the tiny beach where Mike is. 
"O (teeth chattering) K (teeth chattering)"  was all I managed to say.

So, that's what happened.  John pushed me and Olivia closer to the tiny beach where Mike was.  John helped Olivia out of the canoe while Mike helped me put my sandals back on and he helped me to walk safely onto the beach.   Both men were helpful, brave, and very gentlemanly about the whole ordeal.

Since Olivia and I were out of harm's way, John and Mike set out to get my lost kayak paddle (remember?  the one John told me specifically not to drop into the water?)

They could see it.  But, where it was, the current was pretty fast and it was also about 7 or 8 feet down.  The reward didn't match the risk, so they both came back to where Olivia and I were. 
I was shivering and half crying, half moaning.  I had inspected both water proof containers.  All my important stuff stayed dry.

 The only thing that was wet was...    well...     me.

All in all, it was a great day.  I ended up using Olivia's canoe paddle to finish up our trip.  And we all had a lot to laugh about.  Them more than me.  I was too busy trying to will my body temperature back up.

John told me that I need is more "seat time" and I'll get better and better at it.  that man sure does have a lot of confidence in me.  I guess I can do now is prove to him that he's right. 

Thanks for reading!

Till next time....

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