Sunday, June 6, 2010

High Adventure Hijinks

by Caren Crane

Hola, Bandita Buddies! As some of you know, I am a big fan of high adventure sports - or at least the ones I don't think are likely to kill me. I am lately returned from the end-of-year trip with my Girl Scout troop and am possessed of:

1. Rope burns (from the white, ironically-named "safety rope" on the zip lines).

2. Bruised calves and shins (those whitewater inflatable rafts are hard on the lower legs).

3. Sunburned knees (only my knees, mind you).

4. Three inexplicable sore, red lines on my upper left thigh (likely from inflatable raft - see 2).

5. Some awesome rafting pictures (as seen below).

6. Heartfelt gratitude for a) my life, b) my co-leader, Linda, and, c) Dale, our awesome whitewater rafting guide (also seen below).

See, we went whitewater rafting a couple of years ago. Same place, the awesome ACE Adventure Resort. Same river, the Lower Gauley. So, I felt confident that I could handle what the Gauley was dishing out.

How the river laughs at the confident! Two years ago we went in July, not in May. Two years ago, we had a serious rainfall deficit and the river was low. This spring, there was tremendous rainfall and snowmelt in West Virginia, so the river was up and quite adventuresome. The river, she laughed at me.

The river bided her time. After lunch, when we were a little logy from sun and food, we hit the bulk of the Class IV and Class V rapids. One of the Class IV's sucked us in, smacked us one way, spun us another, THEN smacked the raft exactly where I was sitting.

I knew I was a goner as soon as the wave hit. There I went, carried out of the boat on a tide of whitewater. Down for a second, then back up with river water in my eyes, nose and lungs. Still clinging to the oar, which I dared not release. Kicking furiously back toward the raft, where Dale and Linda were on point, ready to haul me back in, all while navigating a Class IV rapid.

Once I managed to wrestle my sodden, humiliated self back into the raft (with lots of help from Dale and Linda), we were right back on it with paddling. I never let that oar out of my death grip while I struggled to get my fat butt back in the raft! I cast an eye at the river and I swear I heard a gurgling laugh under the churning whitewater.

I still love high adventure sports and I definitely plan to go whitewater rafting again. And again. And probably one more time. I will not, however, forget to always beware the unknowable river. She will demand respect!

Have you ever taken something for granted and gotten a kick-in-the-pants wake-up call? Horses are famous for this, as are tricky intersections, sports involving flying object and driving routes you know like the back of your hand. Anyone else care to share a painful lesson learned?

By the way, none of the 11 teenagers nor my two co-leaders were dumped in the river. Just me, all wet, all by myself. I was glad it wasn't one of the teenagers, though, 'cause they made me s'mores later. I love them!


limecello said...

o hai :D

Virginia said...

Congrats lime on getting the rooster!

This looks like a lot of fun but I don't think I would have the nerve to do something like this. Maybe in my younger days I might have, but not now!

Kirsten said...

Wow Caren, I am so impressed! I've never been in water like that, though I used to do all sorts of fun outdoor things. These days, I don't do much of anything adventurous, other than host sleepover parties for my children (which feels enormously risky).

You should be so proud of yourself -- what a great accomplishment! Only the ones that are trying really hard take the falls. That's what I always told my rock climbing students, but I think it applies to rafting, too. :-)

barb said...

Congratulations Limecello .... looks like I won't be visiting the GR at Helen's today.... she missed today as she is out visiting her husband in hospital.

Hi Caren..... don't think I could do that as I am not too good in the water but but in my mid 50's I did go para sailing off a pontoon in the middle of a harbour ... a bit scary taking off before you fell off the end of the pontoon but great when you were up


Anna Campbell said...

Congrats, Lime!

Caren, what a high octane adventure! I was on the edge of my seat (and was glad my seat wasn't in a raft in white water!). Wow, so glad you made it! That sounds really scary for all that you're giving that lovely humor to the recounting of it. Actually someone I knew in uni had the most awful accident white water rafting. The boat hit some rocks at the rock angle and broke her leg in numerous places and she ended up with one leg several inches shorter than the other and surgery after surgery. Horrible stuff!

Oh, that wicked river laughing at you too!

Actually I don't think it will surprise anyone here to learn that I have no desire to do adventure sports! Walking to the chocolate shops counts as my adventure of the day!

Helen said...

Well done lime have fun with him he is probably a bit hyped up from having chocolate for lunch today at The Chocolate Room Barbara and I took him

Way to go I would never do that I just couldn't bring myself to do anything that daring I am the stay at home person who likes to read about adventure in books LOL.

You didn't tell them about the time that you came of your grandson's motorbike on Christmas Day a few years ago LOL.

Have FUn

Anna Sugden said...

Great post, Caren. I love white water rafting from my days in Virginia, when we used to raft down to Harper's Ferry. I can't remember whether it was the Potomac or the Shenandoah, but it was awesome fun.

I remember that some years it was more treacherous than others due to the rainfall. Actually, I remember being disappointed one year because the water was so tame *g*. The river was too low for much white water.

I'm not much of an outward bounds type person, though I have done things like a Marine's assault course in my youth. I loved mushing with huskies when we were in Alaska - about as daring as I get these days.

Probably a good thing as I wrenched my ankle and bruised my foot falling off a kerb the other day! *rolls eyes*

Oh and I'm sure Fate saves up her laughs for me - the moment I get the slightest bit of confidence ... boom. Can you hear the strains of 'Wipe-out"?

barb said...

Helen... that was in my 60's and that wasn't a good time as I was off work for 5 months....

Caren Crane said...

Limey, congrats on the chook nab! He's usually quite spoiled by Helen (sorry, Helen, but you know it's true!) so he will be useless today.

Caren Crane said...

Virginia, we all have our challenges and they don't look the same at all. I once worked with a girl who was deathly afraid of making left turns across roads where there was no left-turn signal. *shrug* I'm sure you have something you've braved!

Caren Crane said...

Kirsten, I distinctly remember a story about you backpacking alone through Mexico. I would NEVER do that!

If I had been tempted, I'm sure I would have thought I'd be perfectly safe, then I would have ended up in some really unsafe situation where I feared for my life. Kind of like Nancy on Weeds!

Caren Crane said...

Barb, I do hope Helen's hubby is okay! Please let her know we're thinking about her.

Oooh, parasailing! I think that would be lots of fun. I did one of those type things on a cruise once. They took us out on a little boat, hooked us to the parasail, then took off across the water so we would take flight. It was fun!

The best thing about that is how quiet it is up in the air. Once you're airborne, you have this spectacular panoramic view of the surroundings (which was Cozumel on the one I was on) and none of the noise.

I wanted to do a tandem hang gliding thing in Switzerland, but the weather didn't cooperate. Probably just as well!

Caren Crane said...

Anna, I now have a great picture of you on a high-adventure chocolate run. Watch out for those tricky curbs! *g*

Actually, the river was pretty rough when we were there last weekend. Lots of people went in the water that day because the waves were high and the water was really churning. It's great stuff, but can be scary.

There was one time when we were trying to stay in one place, because someone had been tossed from another raft on our tour. The current was too strong, though, so we had to just go for it.

We hadn't gotten in the best position for the rapid, and when I looked to the left, there was a huge rock right under the surface. *gulp*

Dale yelled, "All in!" We all leaned into the center of the raft like someone had hit a switch. I was very proud that the girls actually did it just as they were supposed to. It worked and we just glanced off the rock.

That one would have been ugly. Especially since it was on my side and my noggin would have been the first one on the rock, no doubt! *g*

Caren Crane said...

Helen, The Chocolate Room? I need to hear more. That sounds like an adventure Fo would love and I would, too!

Thank you for telling on Barb. Barb, care to dish about the motorbike? Did you take it out by yourself or with the darling son?

Motorcycles are something I don't care to mess with. I've ridden on plenty, but feel far too exposed to huge SUVs to do so by myself. *shudder* My son had one and I was glad when he wrecked it and it was unride-able. It's still sitting in my garage!

Caren Crane said...

Anna S., I would love to hear about both the Marine course and mushing with the huskies. I'll bet dogsledding was awesome!

Yes, I think Fate saves up for me, because I tend to get overconfident whether I realize it or not. It's not that I don't believe bad things will happen to me, it's just that they usually don't. Cocky! *g*

And yes, I am much more inclined to injure myself doing things around the house than having adventures. Is there a cure for tripping over one's feet? I need it!

limecello said...

Oops! Was so distracted from last night whatever at the Lori Foster Reader and Author Get Together I forgot my follow up comment :X

Caren - I... haha am your opposite. A feet firmly on the ground "will it kill me" type person. (If the answer is potentially yes, I feel like I'll go with a "no" on the event.)
However, I would love to go white water rafting some day. After I re-learn how to swim. (Yes, you can forget. Just as it is possible to "forget" how to ride a bike. I swear I'm living proof.)

As for an adventure for me... well driving. You get so used to it and feel safe and then... someone almost drives you off the road. Or you miss someone in your blind spot. I *hate* that.
I wish I had more exciting things to say, but... that's about it.
Oh - well unintentional risks? I thought where I was living my 1L year was fine. (We actually only had awful neighbors, and a bomb scare. No big deal. O_o) I did say if I didn't get shot in undergrad but I did while attending professional school I was going to be VERY unhappy. The next year I was an intern at the local county court and found I loved blocks from the meth and crack houses. And... that it's where I was teaching Street Law Junior. And if I heard the new right before I left this weekend... a dead body was found behind one of the abandoned houses on that street. >.<

Joan said...

My idea of high adventure sports?

Bowling and having to keep score manually.

My heart is still in my throat just reading your experience! You are a brave woman!!

I am going to try "Soarin'" at Epcot in July. Susan promises to hold my hand....Gahhh

Claudia Dain said...

Caren, how FUN!!! Yay, YOU. I wish I had been there!

Hey, wait a come you do these fun things without inviting me along? In fact, now that I think about it, it's almost like you're sneaking out of town, keeping your adventures all to yourself.

Yeah. That's why I haven't had any sort of fun adventure AT ALL. Because you keep ditching me.


Louisa Cornell said...

Lime is in for a high adventure of her own with the GR. You never know WHAT to expect with him in the house!

Wow, Caren, that is so cool! My brothers are big white water rafters and have infected my niece and nephews with the bug. I live in a town on the Coosa River, which has some of the most highly rated rapids in the country as well as being the most biologically diverse river system in America. There are a number of white water rafting contests held here each year and the World Championship of Trick Kayaking was held here last year. (Who knew there was a world championship?)

I, on the other hand, while I enjoy boating and have even water skiied (when I was MUCH younger) would never go white water rafting as I CAN'T SWIM! Not a stroke!

I did go hang gliding off the coast of Spain and forgot to tell the instructor I couldn't swim. He had a fit as I soared out over the ocean and my buddy informed him of that fact. Fortunately I made it back to beach for my landing (which was NOT pretty) but I LOVED hang gliding and I fully intend to go again some day. My bungee jumping and spelunking adventures both went pretty well with a minimum of bumps, scrapes and bruises.

My horse riding adventures are another story entirely. I've been riding since I was nine and many of my misadventures occurred in my early years as a rider. Like the river, a horse will definitely laugh at you as you go sailing over their head into or over a hedge, a brick wall, a ditch, a get the picture. The worst episode was when my neighbor's hunter threw me over a hedge and then decided to jump after me. He smashed my calf as he landed and then had the nerve to stop and look at me as if to say "What are you doing down there?"

I've ridden out a few tornadoes too as there was not time to get all of my dogs out of harm's way. I stayed with them and had a few tense moments, but we came through fine. A tornado passing over your house is very much like an airplane ascent. Your ears pop and the pressure changes, but while it sounds like a train on approach and departure when it is right over you there is this incredible silence. Proves what I have always said. Real power is silent.

Nancy said...

Caren, what a great post! I admire your intrepidity (Is that a word? I think so).

I tend to avoid anything involving heights or possible drowning, so I haven't experienced these things you have, though I admit to a certain curiosity about zip lines. And rappelling, which Cassondra actually has taught. However both involve the dreaded heights.

I did get carried away once taking karate lessons. I was holding the kicking shield for one of the strongest women in the class, which meant it was up to me to set the limit on the kick, and told her, meaning it, "You can kick harder than that." So she did. And the next thing I knew, I was on my butt about five feet back. I couldn't reset my feet fast enough to compensate for the force of her kick.

Live and learn and be grateful for thick rubber mats. *sigh*

Nancy said...

By the way, I love the pictures!

Limecello, congrats on the rooster.

Nancy said...

Caren wrote: I wanted to do a tandem hang gliding thing in Switzerland, but the weather didn't cooperate.

You can probably do that at Jockey's Ridge (on the NC Outer Banks, for those not from around there), though maybe not tandem. I'll go with you as photographer.

Nancy said...

Joan wrote: I am going to try "Soarin'" at Epcot in July. Susan promises to hold my hand....Gahhh

I'm in the Soarin' party, too, JT, and I promise you it'll be okay. Note my aforementioned fear of heights, but I've done this twice at California Adventure, and it's fabulous. The Disney people are fanatics about safety (divers check every inch of every underwater ride every night, for example), and you're belted into a steel rig, and it's dark, so you don't see that you're up in the air.

There was one part, rushing down to a river, where I did close my eyes but only for a couple of seconds. Otherwise it's like being waaay up in the air with none of the associated risk. If I could pick a superpower, it'd be flight, and this is way cool.

Many years ago, I saw To Fly, at the Museum of Natural History in NYC, aerial footage but viewed in regular theater seating, and I have to say this is even better better. If you don't like it, you can close your eyes, and I'll buy you a drink after.

AND . . . I'll go on It's A Small World with you a second time.


Nancy said...

Helen, I hope your husband is feeling better and comes home soon.

Caren Crane said...

Lime, what unintentional drama you have lived through!

I agree with you about the traffic, btw. I think we all take driving for granted unless/until we are in an accident. Or almost cause an accident. Those blind spots are the worst!

On the way to and from WV last weekend, I drove through the mountains of NC, VA and WV with 5 teenagers, a fully-loaded back end and a fully-loaded cartop carrier. Let me tell you, I was WELL aware of the speed limit, my blind spots and the tractor trailers racing down the mountains toward us the whole time. I was glad to get back to the Piedmont! *g*

Your law school living arrangements sound a little sketchy (as the teens like to say). Good thing you didn't know what sort of neighborhoods you were in until later, so you weren't scared to death the whole time. Always best to postpone the worry, I say!

We're awfully glad you've weathered the storms so we can enjoy your company!

Caren Crane said...

Joan, isn't manually scoring a bowling game just horrible? I am still traumatized from having to learn and do it in junior high. Ack! You are a brave and hardy soul, little friend.

The stuff I do is just fun. It's only scary if you let yourself think about it too much, so I don't. Really, it's nice to go with the kids, because I'm so busy making sure they are safe that I don't think about myself much. Far better that way!

You'll really enjoy Soarin', I'm sure. And if Susan says she'll hold your hand, you know she will! Y'all are going to have a great time at Epcot. I'm so jealous!

Caren Crane said...

Claudia, my darling, I will be SURE to invite you along next time. I'm sure spending the weekend with 18 teenage girls and a bath house 50 yards downhill is your idea of a good time, right? *g*

Really, though, anytime you want to go rafting or rappelling or ziplining or whatever (high ropes, low ropes, climbing towers), let me know. I'll arrange the whole thing! *eg*

Caren Crane said...

Wow, Louisa, you are so brave! I'm not sure I would have jumped on the hang glider and set out with a chance of landing in the water if I couldn't swim. Yikes!

You should go rafting even if you can't swim, since you don't really have to do anything besides kick if you fall out. Those PFDs are serious and they cinch them REALLY tight, so you pop up to the surface like a cork. As long as you kick your legs to get to the raft and kick like crazy to get in, it's all good. You should go with your family - they probably won't let you drown. *g*

What is it about horses, anyway? They love to take riders down a peg. I have heard many stories like yours where they pitch you off, then are astonished to find you underfoot. One of the girls in my troop currently has no big toenail because first, her horse accidentally stepped on her foot. And broke it, of course. As soon as it healed, he stepped on it AGAIN, only this time she managed to pull back everything except her big toe, hence the lost nail.

I don't know if it's her or the horse, but I think they need a break from each other. *g*

Oh, and I did quite a bit of spelunking as a teen and loved it. Tennessee has great caves!

Caren Crane said...

Louisa, TN also has a lot of tornados (at least in Nashville). We had lots of them get really close, then skip our neighborhood. We were less than a mile from the river, in a low place between hills, so they skipped over our street most of the time. Scary!

I've slept through the hurricanes, for the most part. Haven't had one here in years, but we're supposed to have a rocky storm season. We'd better all batten down the hatches!

Caren Crane said...

Nancy, we need a Bandita rappelling trip! As long as I don't have to climb back up the rock face, I love to rappel. *g* It's amazing how you learn to trust the equipment. Believe me, I'm no fan of heights!

Ouch on your landing after the karate kick! I suppose you can be assured you were convincing, though, since she really unleashed on you. *g* I'm not at all sure I would be up for hand-to-hand combat!

Caren Crane said...

Nancy, I was sorely tempted to hang glide at Jockey's Ridge last time we were there. It's a great place for it, because it's really hard to hurt yourself falling on the sand dune. *g* Ron and Adam did that there, but I stayed with the girls (who were too young to go at the time).

The one in Switzerland was awesome, because it was way up a mountain and they glided from an enormous cliff down to this oddly flat area in Interlochen. It would have been an amazing experience. I plan to go another time, maybe at another location. Wherever I get the chance! I'm tempted to drag you along with me, wherever it is. I think it would be great fun! *g*

Caren Crane said...

Joan, you'd better hurry and take Nancy up on her offer. Believe me, she will NEVER again offer to go on It's a Small World a second time. Never!

Pat Cochran said...

No way, Jose! (Err, Caren!)

This pudgy little grandma, even
on my very best day, would not
ever attempt such an adventure!
1. I'd never have made it back
into the boat. 2. I have too
much respect for water, whether
it be ocean, river, bathtub, or
footbath! 3. I've done some dar-
ing (read that as foolish!)things
in my younger days but nothing
like this! Good for you!!

Caren Crane said...

Pat, you made me snork! I think it's great that you give bodies of water the respect they deserve. I'm not sure why I have a tendency to get overly-confident about things, but I know I do.

I'm sure it's a character defect and it certainly shows a dearth of common sense. I try to be wary and watchful, it's just not in my nature. Like I said, a serious lack of common sense!

I admire those who hang back and watch for a while before jumping in. I know that if I do that, though, I'll never do anything. I'll let a couple of brave souls go first, but I jump right in after them! (Again: no common sense!)

Caren Crane said...

Hey, Pat, tell us about your foolish hijinks! Anything involving, say, rolls of toilet paper, cans of spray paint or a dozen eggs? *g* I've done a bit of that!

I may or may not have at least one family member who has been known to pour sugar into the gas tank of a cheating husband, but I wasn't involved in that!

Louisa Cornell said...

Caren, I will tell you that my hang gliding landing on the beach resembled one of those nature films they show, something like Clumsiest Animals on Earth. What are those birds that come in for a landing and go through a series of falls, rollovers, crashes and spins before they finally roll to an undignified stop, usually with their butt in the air? That was me on the beach. Add a round scolding in Spanish from our handsome, ripped instructor about flying over the ocean without benefit of swimming ability. But you are so right. Being up in the air it is so quiet and humbling and peaceful.

Christine Wells said...

WOW, Caren, that is so amazing! I'm in awe of you taking on the rapids like that, and having the presence of mind to cling to your oar when you got knocked overboard. Maybe it had to happen--to make everyone else more cautious. I was shivering in sympathy though, hope the weather was warm for you!

I'm usually the opposite -- I think of all the terrible things that can happen and I'm often surprised to find that I enjoy something intrepid. I'm the kind of person who says no no no! And when I've done it I say Let's do that again!

hrdwrkdmom aka Dianna said...

The only time I heard the river laughing was when I fell in it too, stupid river has a dumb sense of humor.

Caren Crane said...

Louisa, your visual cracked me up! Reminded me of the seagull on "The Little Mermaid", whose name escapes me. I'm glad you weren't hurt in your less than graceful landing. At least the teed-off instructor was cute. *g*

We need to take you out and learn you some swimming! While we're at it, we'll re-teach Lime how to swim, too. Anyone else up for swimming lessons? I hear Foanna is a great swim instructor! *ducks*

Caren Crane said...

Christine, there is a word for people like you: sensible. That is the opposite of the word they have for me. *g*

By the way, I am enjoying at this moment a perfectly vile Cabury Cherry Ripe. It arrived safely at my house well over a week ago from some lovely Aussie who shall remain nameless. *cough*Madame*cough* If you should see such a darling Aussie, please give her my undying thanks! Mwah!

Caren Crane said...

Dianna, which river did you fall in? Was it the Gauley? 'Cause it laughed hard at me! Everyone keeps telling me to raft the New and I fully intend to. It may have to wait until the upcoming college years are paid for, though.

After next year, we will have a kid in college again. For the next three after that, we'll have two in college. After a fifth year, the youngest will be done. After all THAT, my husband and I will start doing some of the things we want to do while we're still able. Of course, I'll be 50 then and he'll be 55, but we're gonna go for it!

Except, of course, my son will be 29 then and likely married. We'll probably be grandparents. Oh, Lordy. I can't think about all that now!

Susan Sey said...

Caren, wow! Those were some incredible pictures! I can't imagine getting sucked out of the raft in rapids like those. Thank goodness you were with skilled guides & girl scouts who realized you deserved a s'more of massive proportions (I hope it was a big one, anyway) after that!

As for getting my over-confident butt handed to me, ahem, yeah. It happens. More than I'd like to admit. Usually when I'm holding forth in front of an audience about something I've lead them to believe I know something about.

Fate is sure & swift. That's all I'm saying. :-)

Caren Crane said...

Susan, you're such a tease. I'm sure you've had plenty of adventures in MN. Of course, having kids leads to all kinds of situations where you get to claim lots of knowledge about lots of things. At least, that's my experience.

"Oh, yes. No problem. I'm sure Swiss German isn't that different from Hoch Deutsch." Ri-i-i-ight. I did manage to find bathrooms, though. *g*

Jeanne (AKA The Duchesse) said...

Caren, I'm late to the party today, but WOW!! How fun! I knew you were an adventurer, but the river rafting...that's not somethign I knew!

Grins. :>

Caren Crane said...

Jeanne, I don't really have that many layers. Really. I just don't normally look like someone who indulges in adrenaline-junkie behavior. Looks can be deceiving. *g*

hrdwrkdmom aka Dianna said...

No, it wasn't the Gauley, actually I have fallen into a few rivers here. I have fallen into the Elk several times, most recently last year, killed my cell phone and my watch and lost my Sam's card...LOL

I have fallen into the Kanawha once and I was thrown into Little Kanawha way more than once. I have some very ugly male cousins that thought it amusing to watch me come up out of the water trying to control my language. I am not known for my grace by the way.

Gillian Layne said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
David said...

What an experience, Caren! Rafting is such an extreme sport. One should always understand how risky it is. It requires great preparation and security. It's not that bad to be dumped in the river. Now, you have already experienced how crazy and fun rafting is!

-David Deland