As is the case for a number of people like me, my head tells me that I’m still 22. My body is the crabby old neighbor that’s always complaining about something. Every once in a while I shut the old guy up and I do something that my true 22-year-old self would love to do. Sam, my twenty-something-year-old friend had a boat and he got tired of my whining. So he took me whitewater rafting.
We rafted on the James River in Richmond Virginia, in early April, when the water is still a cold 58°F (14°C). Once out on the river, Sam tried to get me to lean over the side of the boat to show that I was secure. He failed. I knew to my very essence that if I leaned ten degrees off vertical that I would fall out of the boat (wrong). He tried to get me comfortable, yet didn’t seem to believe me when I said I was fine. I mean, I kept myself from hyperventilating, what more did he want?
I had gone whitewater rafting before, three times in fact, in three different rivers, but each one of them was in the summer when the water level was low. I don’t remember even seeing whitewater. With a gleam of mischief in his eye and the pitter patter of his cold black heart, Sam got me in his raft, The Black Pearl.
Please ignore my stylish dress, that’s not the purpose of this post. And for your own sake, do not stare at my indescribably white legs. I’m not responsible if you go blind.
Since we were already in the river and didn’t really have much of a choice, we hit the rapids. At the first wave, I slid into the boat with my butt and feet touching the bottom and stretched my arms wide to paddle for dear life, because obviously, that was the situation we were in. After we were through the Hollywood rapids and Sam finished laughing/yelling at me to get back on the side of the boat, I resumed my position and decided to ignore that I spent my first rapids in some weird upright-fetal-paddling-position. I’m a man’s man. (Insert grunts here). At no point did I scream like a little girl. You can’t trust Sam.
I managed to stay on the side of the raft like I’m supposed to for the next two rapids and I didn’t even drown. I had a blast! After we were done, we had to carry the raft ourselves, because Sam was too cheap to get a magically levitating raft. My very grumpy knees decided to chime in at this point. My underdeveloped biceps did too. Once the raft was tied down, Sam asked if I wanted to go again. Of course I do. I’m 22.
Lacking good sense, I agreed to do it all over again. Between trips, I had to drive us to the boat landing and leave my car. Before we leave, I tell Sam that I have to find my glasses before I drive. Me driving with non-corrected vision is much more scary than any class V rapid. Sam, with an absolute dagger to my illusion of youth and vitality says “they’re on your head, Mike.”
The second time I managed to choke up on my paddle, stop hitting the side of the boat with each stroke, stay on the side of the raft like I’m supposed to and not drown. I consider
this a complete success. I did notice however that every time before we hit a wave, Sam would take two quick strokes and turn the boat so that I took the brunt of the very, very cold water.
I’m on the fence about the ’stache, but downtown Richmond looks nice.
It’s now the day after and my very grumpy body will not be ignored.
I should call Sam and see when he wants to do that again. That’s what any adventure seeking 22-year-old would do…