Friday, September 7, 2012

On being a kayaking disaster


Wednesday was our “off” day, during which we went rafting on the White Salmon River. You’d think that this would be a disaster-free day, but then you underestimate my capacity for Schleprockedness. Because there I was on the raft up in front with Vineyard, and we were very smart in our strategizing: if there was a point where we were told to duck towards the middle of the raft, she would go forward and I would go backward. Problem solved.

Except I neglected to clear this plan with Stepmom, who was directly behind me.

So yes, the first time we did this Stepmom and I clunked heads so loudly I think the sound is still echoing among the canyons of the White Salmon. Of course, this made the rafting all the more exciting because now there would be TWO of every beautiful thing. Win-win!

Mrs. Robinson had told us the day before how beautiful the White Salmon is, and I of course had to have the smartass comeback: “Oh, because the Klickitat is such drudgery?” Because the Klickitat is indeed a gorgeous river to kayak on.

I was proven an idiot (what a surprise) because indeed, the White Salmon River is not just beautiful, it’s transcendent. Like a Disney ride! Okay, better than that. I still have this vision in my mind of how perfect it was - the cold clear water rushing over the rocks, the trees hanging overhead, the feeling of being miles away from civilization – and I say, I’ll be back, my White Salmon River, oh yes.

But in the meantime, there was kayaking to be had. Thursday we head to another put-in point, higher than we started out before so we’ll pass the same points and keep going. Mountain Goat and I decide to incentivize each other to NOT tip over in the same spots – for me, The Tree, and for her, Two Waters. I tell her that if I get dumped at The Tree, I’ll have to rummage through all my random shit already packed and find for her the Walkman that I know I have there somewhere, because I saw it in the first round of packing. This of course is powerful motivation, of not wanting to dig through tons of crap.

I’m happy to note that when I see the rock and tree that foiled me on Day One, I manage to bypass both, The Tree included, which I nickname “Walkman” for this purpose. “No Walkman!” I yell, as I go zipping on past. Yes!! Mountain Goat also manages to successfully traverse Two Waters, because she too is a kayaking goddess much as I am. (Even though she's scared of fuzzy fruit, like peaches and apricots - but hey, we all have our crosses to bear.)

Or at least I was for the first part of the day. Because you see, this is Miss Tasha’s problem. She gets a wee bit cocky. Wee. So there I was having handled the first part of the river with no problem, and immediately I start thinking how totally awesome I am, and how naturally all this kayaking stuff comes.

That was before I kayaked right into a huge boulder and went over. And before I got sucked into those DAMN EDDIES that are evil personified! Relaxing and calm my ass! They just ACT that way and then they suck you in! So now I’ve already gone swimming three times today, but much like a Ronco commercial, wait, there’s more!

Every time I’ve gone over I’ve attempted the T-rescue, and have been close, but there’s a fine decision line between trying the T-rescue and realizing you have to pull the spray skirt or you’ll start chugging water. This is bothering me to no end, this inability to do the T-rescue.
So when I get dumped in a 4th time, I try the T-rescue again, thinking dammit this time I’ll get it, and lo and behold, it works. IT WORKED! OH MY GOD I AM A ROCKSTAR! No seriously, that’s how excited I am – you’d think I had just discovered Higg’s Boson or something. No, it was better than that!

Umm yeah, I was a little excited.

Shortly thereafter I went over again, and this time it was in a shallow part of the river where I was getting hammered by the rocks, so Babe pulled me into the raft. And I suddenly found myself going down the river like the queen of the Nile. Hmm.

I stayed on the raft. There’s just so much humiliation one can handle per day.

Not that I really feel humiliated. Even if my campmates are wondering WTF is wrong with me and my total lack of kayaking skills, they do a good job of hiding it. It’s funny but one of them later mentions that an instructor was worried that I was getting frustrated and not having fun – which was kind of funny in and of itself because I was having a blast. WAY fun! My friends who saw my status posts on Facebook knew this – they know how my life works and that this was par for the course.

Stacey: “Have you EVER been on a trip where there’s not some kind of debacle?”

No indeed, and proud of it. Or at least used to it.

So no, no frustration – after all, if my life were just one halcyon day after another, what would I have to blog about? I only feel bad about being such a disaster because I feel like the yoke on the shoulders of my kayaking pod-mates. Because every time you go swimming, you need to somehow get your ass to shore and then drain the kayak. Which takes time, so I feel bad that I’m such a time-suck and keep slowing things down.

Otherwise, these are good times. Especially since I’ve figured out what the problem is: Angie is tipping me over. No seriously. What other explanation could there be? Especially since I’m going over in EDDIES, for god’s sake! I’m athletic, graceful, took dance/ballet for years, so this should not be a problem. Angie is clearly the reason I’m happily kayaking along and then bloop go over just as if someone is tipping me over, and then giggling about it as Angie would do.

She and I are going to discuss this on Friday, oh yes.

But in the meantime, we’re heading back to our amazing lodge, and there we are, cruising along in the van, belting out songs, the stunningly gorgeous Columbia river to the side, and I am with some of the most amazing people I’ve ever met. Life is good. In spades.

That evening we have our usual campfire – complete with a campfire image on an iPod – and tonight we’ve picked names and are describing people in three words or phrases. Wildflower comes up with “determined, full of grace, and badass” – and almost before the words are out of his mouth, Mountain Goat has guessed me. And it is. Me? Really? I’m surprised, touched, pleased, humbled. Happy. Sometimes it takes someone else looking at you with fresh eyes before you can see yourself.

There aren’t even enough words to describe how badass I feel right now.

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