Sunday, July 20, 2014

The tale of a river, two girls and a kayak

Once upon a time, two girls rode an old school bus to an East Texas riverside and launched a two-person kayak into the Guadalupe River.

They got into the water full of hope, enjoying the scenery and with secret ambitions of beating their busmates down the river.

They never saw those people again.

But that's the end of the story. Back to once upon a time ...

The two girls kicked off from the riverbank, Clumsy in the back steering,* Awkward in the front rowing.** Everything went smoothly for 2.9 seconds, until the waterfight started.

They set off down the river. Clumsy had been warned the river was low and they might have to walk someone, but outside of the 8-inch deep river, the girls saw no evidence of low water. They almost ran into the bank while Clumsy was steering the wrong way around a beaver's dam and Awkward was taking pictures of the beaver's dam and asked if they bite. (Technically, yes. Humans, I think not.)

However, all was not peaceful in their kingdom. A spider had found its way into the hole in the kayak in Awkward's portion. Much drama followed -- though it was nothing compared to the drama when she discovered the spider was done.

Or the time Awkward saw an alligator. It was a stressful nanosecond until they figured out it was a stick.

They continued down the river. They hit the rapids -- and by rapids I of course mean the 8-inch water went down to 2-inch water. The girls just knew that with enough paddling, shoving off the rocks and persistence, they would get through.

They were right -- as long as persistence means getting out of the kayak, pulling it through the rocks and then Clumsy chasing it down the river trying to get back in while Awkward paddled as fast as she could away, both laughing too hard to do much more than collapse into the quickly water-laden kayak.

It all went relatively smoothly (relative to going over Niagara Falls), until they got to another set of rapids.

"Keep rowing!" Clumsy shouted from the back as she steered them expertly between two rocks -- between as in stuck between two rocks. Awkward got out, then Clumsy did too. They balanced their paddles in the kayak and then started pulling it free ...  until

"My oar!" Clumsy shrieked, abandoning the already-abandoned watercraft and running after the escaping paddle. She later did the same with an escaped life jacket.

(I am just now wondering why all of these objects wanted to escape from the boat. What did they sense?)

The river continued. They managed to put on a show for every group they passed -- doing slow, unintentional loop-di-doos for a couple of fishermen, getting out and hauling a kayak twice past some "recreaters" who'd dropped their lawn chairs right in the middle of the river. They saw a fleet (herd? posse? gang? crew?) of turtles.

They also went spectacularly through a set of rapids after they accidentally turned themselves around and went through the rapids backwards. Clumsy and Awkward learned from this and went backwards the rest of the way.

Haha! The court jester must be narrating this fairy tale.

They got to the last rapids. Using the skills they'd acquired from the previous three and a half miles of river, they steered and paddled their way through the rocks as if they were training for the Olympics.

Seriously, somebody do something about that jester.

And they steered and paddled their way right into the rocks. Clumsy and Awkward maneuvered that kayak right into two rocks. They moved nowhere. Nowhere. If there were an Olympic kayak-wedging competition, they were a shoo-in. (Shoe-in? Shu-in?)

After five minutes of laughing in their completely stuck boat, Clumsy swung her legs over the side of the boat and kicked them away from rocks, while Awkward shoved her paddle against the other rocks and pushed. Through a series of quite difficult and technical moves, fueled largely by uncontrolled laughter, they were moving again.

Three hours after pushing off, hopeful, not sore and pale, they pulled up to their destination, hopeless, sore and red but laughing really hard and not seeing any snakes.

* If you're not familiar with nautical jargon, steering means running the boat into rocks, trees and around in circles; rowing means taking pictures, looking for turtles and splashing Clumsy.


  1. Fun kayaking and writing. Also fun reading. Our rafting trip is quite tame by comparison but we weren't punch drunk c