Don’t Be Stupid

happy birthdayOn Wednesday my friend Sharon turned 58. For this I’m grateful for two reasons:

a) she’s like a sister and, 2) she saved my life.

A much younger Sharon and me

Sharon and me in our younger days

Now don’t get me wrong; Sharon didn’t give me her bone marrow or anything. Not that she wouldn’t if I needed it. No, she saved me in a more adventurous way.

As you know if you’re a faithful reader, I once blogged about our rafting trip, Who You Callin’ an Adrenaline Junkie? But this time I’m writing about it from a I’m-grateful-to-be-alive perspective.aliveOur rafting trip with a company based in Oregon also included Patty, Mandy and Karen. We had no inkling what a grade IV+ river meant, other than it was the toughest, so we figured it’d be quite an adventure.

Huge understatement.

A younger Karen and Sharon

Sharon and Karen back in the day



Mandy roughing it

Mandy roughing it

Turns out ignoring their strong suggestion to have prior experience (other than knowing what an oar is) was excellent advice. Too bad we didn’t take it. My excuse is that we were young and stupid. Emphasis on stupid.

Anyway, we found ourselves on the Upper Klamath River in Oregon with a group of like-minded  adrenaline-seekers. Right away, our guides recognized my friends and I were amateurs. I tell ya, trying to control an oar while flying over whitecaps rushing down a narrow, rocky, raging river isn’t exactly easy. Not even close.klamathaSo the five of us were placed in a boat where our guide Kenny did most of the steering while yelling instructions at us. Our main goal was to make it through Hell’s Canyon alive while avoiding flipping, thereby breaking one of his prime commands: NO SWIMMERS!

You see, if any of us fell overboard, it was bye-bye baby. In an instant we’d be curtains. Yikes.That's all folksNaturally we bounced off rocks, quickly becoming stuck on a huge boulder. Water rapidly filled the boat while Kenny yelled for us to get up front and dislodge ourselves so we didn’t flip. He seemed to have an extraordinary amount of faith in us. Poor, naive man…

When I looked back at him, Kenny had lost one of his oars and his knuckles were bleeding. Uh oh. This was getting serious. Suddenly, our stupid idea had turned dangerous for everyone.klamathMeanwhile, other rafters who made it safely through Hell’s Canyon lined the cliff above the gulch to see who might not make it through the narrow passage. We were their entertainment, giving them quite a show.

Luckily we dislodged ourselves but river water quickly filled the raft over our ankles. Frantically, we bailed while Kenny steered with one oar. Somehow I hadn’t quite pictured this scenario in our quest for an adrenaline rush.klamath3About then, Patty (simultaneously laughing while screaming) yelled out, “I peed my pants!” This was not surprising to us, as she has a bladder the size of a Lima bean. But knowing we were now sitting in a rubber toilet of sorts made us bail even faster.

And that’s when it happened; we hit a rock hidden under the rapids. The force flung me up and out, breaking my hold on the rope that I literally clutched for dear life. I felt myself going over the side, hitting the water and beginning to sink so quickly I didn’t have time to see my short life flash before my eyes.

I was slightly more graceful than this

I was slightly more graceful than this

But before I was a goner, Sharon grabbed my ankle. With one swift pull I was back in the boat, sort of like landing a big marlin. In the end we learned this valuable lesson: don't be stupidI can’t say I’ve always heeded that adage but I CAN say I’m thrilled Sharon was born with impeccable timing. Otherwise I might be simply a fond memory. Although I suppose that depends on who’s doing the remembering…

So HAPPY BIRTHDAY, dear friend. May our next adventure be just as thrilling but a lot less stupid.

Poor sap needed a quick handed friend like Sharon

Poor sap needed a quick-handed friend

6 thoughts on “Don’t Be Stupid

  1. Awh, such a fun story to remember. Janet, you are light as a feather, easy to grab at while you are flying in the air!! Thanks for the birthday adventure wishes. I do hope this next phase is filled with adventure. It’s hard to leave this beautiful place. Hope to talk to you soon. Love you!

    • Sharon, it’s a big world out there and we’re going to see much more of it, especially since you will be back in the states. I know it’s hard to leave Australia and all your friends there, but it’s just another good excuse to go back and visit. And I’ll be in tow!

  2. Hey Janet, Glad you made it out alive. To be honest, I am glad to know that I was not the only one that ever did something that was not the best idea…

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