This last week was the 4th of July. To celebrate, as well as see visiting friends, my husband and I took our first vacation in 4 years and our first ever without our kiddo’s. We traveled a few hours north to my brother-in-law’s house and got to play for an amazing four days and 5 nights. The first night we were there we spent shooting-the-shit with everyone. The second day spent the day playing risk and walking around town. That night after attending a very awkward party (mainly because we did not know anyone there so we were the weird wall flowers standing in a corner smiling awkwardly) we went home to play an entertaining game of Battle-Shots. 12 Shots later we started monopoly. That was an interesting night. But the fun really began on our third and fourth days. The third day we drove into the mountains to play paintball. We ended up finding this dome shaped play area that unbeknownst to us was covered in centipedes. Our two friends (we’ll call them Spanky and Sparky) were maniacs! Rolling and ducking and diving regardless of the numerous centipede bites. They were like crazy midget ninjas! If our guns hadn’t malfunctioned and forced us to abandon the mountain early, I’m sure I would have received a “cheetah print” as the boys called it (note to self NEVER say yes to anything if you do not know what it is.) I do have to say though that for my first time ever paint-balling it was awesome! So much fun running around in the woods shooting at each other, and even getting hit in shorts and a t-shirt didn’t hurt all that bad. So the next day we took the paintball equipment back to the store and the owner let us play in the indoor arena for just the cost of paint (sweet!).
We decided that after paint ball we would go rafting on the river. Fun right? My husband and I hadn’t been able to go in 6 years or so and we really enjoyed it when we went before that so we were really looking forward to it. We took Tahiti’s which again was new for us, but with the highest level of rapid being an “easy” class 3 we figured it wouldn’t be too bad. Our group split up into four boats (one of the boats was two half deflated Tahiti’s tied together and that wasn’t even our boat) and headed on down the river around 5 or 5:30. Right from the start we were having a good time, we hit just about every large rapid we passed, struck the bottom on every shallow pass, and the water level in our boat was higher than the water level of the river. Don’t get me wrong, it was cold water, but we were having a really good time. We decided to hang back and just enjoy the view of the river with one of the other boats and the other two decided to push a little harder and get ahead, leave it to Spanky and Sparky to be overly eager haha.
So we were floating along enjoying ourselves, relaxing and maxin and actin all cool…woah wait this isn’t the Fresh Prince ha! (I’m a little punchy can you tell?) and all of a sudden we hear some rushing water. Game time. So I’m in the front of the boat looking around and all I can see is this little tiny jagged rock sticking out right ahead of us. We paddle hard to avoid this little jagged mother only to paddle directly over a GIANT under water boulder. And that’s when things got…complicated. The rope securing the inflatable chair to the raft somehow caught on the little jagged rock and trapped our boat in the middle of the turbine of water around the giant boulder. My husband was tossed out in the first 30 seconds. Luckily he had the life vest (well once he got it off his foot) and managed to get out of the turbine and was at that point floating down the river towards another set of rapids. Right then the boat behind us passed over me in the boat and asked if we were stuck. Yup. So they hauled it down stream and went after mu husband. At that point my attention shifted from “OMG my husband just fell out of the boat and is going to die” to “OMG I’m going to die if I don’t get off this rock.” So after a few screams and a very terrified moment or two I talked myself through trying to get off that rock. Well, it didn’t exactly work out that way. What happened was as I turned to undo the rope from the rock the water knocked me out of the boat. So now I’m in the water and everything just got that much more dangerous. I managed to grab onto the Tahiti and pull myself up onto the side of it. Well that wasn’t a great idea because as soon as I was up the water was nothing but in my face. I reached the conclusion that my options were let go of the boat and hope that my years of swim team were enough to save me or stay on the boat terrified and drown. So I let go, moved as quickly as I could to the top of the water and took a deep breath. Meanwhile the river tore my shorts off. At that point I looked around and saw that my husband and our friends in the other boat had made it to one of the shores. So I swam over to meet up with them. At that point we were all pretty freaked out, and there were four of us and only one Tahiti. There was no way the girls in the boat could ferry us across the river to the other side where the road was because the current was too strong, and we couldn’t all fit in the boat to go down the river more. The option to hang on to the boat and go downstream was thrown out there but with the rapids just ahead I was worried that that option would end in broken bones, head injuries or death. So the decision was made that the girls would go catch up with the group and get help and we would wait where we were.
There we were on this steep rocky hill stranded. My husband was in basketball shorts and a t-shirt, and I was in underwear and a tank. Awesome. In front of us was a clam but quickly moving river, above us was a seriously gnarly root system of the forest above us and some really thick brush; oh yeah and it was about 8pm with the sun starting to go down. We knew that we were going to be there a while so we shifter a few rocks and sat down. At that point we figured worst case scenario we would have to spend the night on the rocky river bank because we had several things in our favor. First we knew help was coming because our friends went to go get it and they knew exactly where we were. Second neither of us had any serious injury. Third even if no one saw where we were stuck there was a maximum of 9 miles of river banks to search because that was the length of our route. Fourth if for whatever reason no help came in a couple of days we could try to get up to the forested area and hike back to the launch point along the river because there was a bridge and a cafe there. So we sat. As the sun when down it got colder and we snuggled up to keep warm. I’m not going to lie it was pretty cold and the bugs were crazy, but no where near hypothermic or life threatening. We sat and we talked and my mind started to go to really dark places especially when I was thinking about my kids, but my husband was amazing and kept me calm and rational through (well I had one mini melt down but he talked me through it.) I ended up stretching my tank to it’s limit (as Spanky later put it “I went into the river wearing a tank, I came out wearing a dress”) over my legs and put my arms in side the body of it to stay warm. I could tell my husband was worried about me because every time I tried to stick out my hands to warm up his feet he would get irritated and insist he was fine (which he was just as cold as I was.) It was really quite sweet and heroic of him. Night came and still no one had come for us. We started to wonder if anyone was going to come, and to be honest it was discouraging. Then out of the blue we heard this loud siren and saw three white lights flashing to the rhythm of the siren! We were saved…oh not quite. The “boat” turned around and went in a different direction. We screamed and waved but no one saw us. On the bright side we knew someone was out looking for us! So we waited, and waited, and waited some more. Twice more we saw the spot lights, and twice more they turned around and went in the wrong direction. We thought they were searching the river below where we were. Finally out of no where and so faint we weren’t sure if we were just imagining it we heard someone shouting my husbands name! He shouted back in a voice I have never, ever heard him use. It was loud and powerful, deep and heroic, and frankly dam sexy! They heard him! A few shouting rounds later we saw their flash lights and moments later they reached us on the bank. Yes it was that awkward moment where search and rescue found me half naked in the woods. It was awkward (I wasn’t even in a cute swim suit) but it was also amazing. They gave us water, fed us granola and these awful glucose gummies (blech!) and even let me self administer some IB Profin for my headache. They gave us sweatshirts and socks and shoes, and an hour later led us up the bank, through the underbrush and back to the road on our side of the river (which had we known was there we would have totally hiked to, but not knowing the area the safest thing to do was stay put.) A police interview about the accident later and they drove us to where our friends were. By that time it was 2:30 in the morning!
Apparently our friends who went to go get help, went down the next set of rapids and booked it to the other side of the river where they climbed up a rocky swampy bank to a family’s house and interrupted their dinner asking to use the phone to get help. By all accounts this family was amazing and extremely nice. Not only did they let the girls use the phone, they also recovered both their Tahiti and ours that had dislodged and been rescued by the girls and brought both up to the house. Then they got in their truck to go find the rest of our group and brought them to our cars and then back to their house. They then were amazing hosts and built a bonfire and served drinks and snacks all night and even gave the police the address so that when search and rescue found us they knew where to take us!
All in all our trip was awesome, that night was long and emotional, but awesome.