Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Floating on the Meramec River

Dear Mom,

I’m not sure whose brainy brilliant idea it was to do a float trip, but my friends somehow bribed convinced me to go. I hadn’t been on a float trip in over 15 years when I went with my brother, his son, and my three kids… when my daughter and I got knocked off the raft by a branch. Unexpectedly. We nearly drowned. Prior to that, as a teenager, I floated. The couple we were with argued. He took his oar and threw it at her back. Oh, and I forgot, my two sisters and brother and I went on a float trip for one of our annual “SiblingDays.” Mid-August and it was so cold our fingers were blue and our lips purple. After we got out of the raft and waited for our pick-up, we started a fire so we wouldn’t freeze to death.

Umm, yeah, floating brings up such fond memories… I couldn’t wait.

But always giving people the benefit of the doubt, I give my experiences that same courtesy.

Mom, I told you earlier how boats and water are not my thing. This summer I’ve had the excruciating pain pleasure to experience it four times. I joke about excruciating pain. All the trips this year have nearly changed my outlook on water and boats… as long as they are pontoon boats. You can still have the kind of boat that reaches speeds in excess of 10 miles an hour.

I believe the idea to go floating was Eddie’s. He wanted Susan, my best friend, to experience floating. If anyone knows Susan, you know she’s not outdoorsy. I may not be fond of boats/water, but I’m not a wimp to the outdoors. I told Eddie I’d help paddle the raft since Susan and Cindy (Susan’s other bff) couldn’t. No, not wouldn’t. Couldn’t. Incapable. Oh, I guess if they were shown, and promised they wouldn’t break a nail they might consider it—IF they were the only two in the raft and needed to reach the shore.

I suppose I will confess when we started out, I’m sure Eddie had his doubts about my paddling capabilities when I kept paddling towards the bridge. He kept paddling the opposite way and I worried that he didn't know what he was doing. Exasperated I crabbed asked Eddie, “What are you doing?” He shot me a look. Clearly he was confused. I asked again, “What part of the bridge are you wanting to go through? I'm aiming for the middle. Are you trying to go to the right?”

“Lynn, do you really want to paddle upstream?”


Hey, the current was slow people… as in slow as Susan learning how to skip rocks. More about that later.

I swore the guy who dumped the raft in had pointed that way—towards the bridge. Apparently I’m just as directionally challenged in the water as I am on land.

However, I surprised myself being the most obnoxious adventurous one. I paddled like crazy to get the raft to spin in circles. No one else wanted to have fun in that way… “I’m getting dizzy.” Wasn’t that the point? Remember the merry-go-round on the playgrounds? Not the carnival kind. The type you spin your self. They were my favorite. Or when you were a kid and you kept twirling yourself around, you'd fall to the ground, and the world would continue to spin?

Okay, back to the float trip. 

The current flowed like the turtles we spotted… as Cindy so brilliantly observed, “They look like little German soldiers.” They sat stiff on branches half sunken in water. Their little heads jutted out of their armor. Hearing the enemy, they disappeared into the murky water.

A skinny blue heron perched on a limb stood so still that Eddie thought it was a statue. Who does that—puts a statue on a branch at the edge of the Meramec River? Geez Eddie, get out much?

We were trying to keep a look out for our half way point to gage how long we’d need to get us to our destination on time. We all missed it… something about a cliff, but there were cliffs around every turn.

We pulled off to have a little swim. Okay, I swam. Me, the water person. The one who doesn’t know how to swim. The dog paddler. Susan, Cindy and Eddie stood in the water. At 62 degrees, plunging (yes, I plunged) into the water was shocking refreshing... if you’re a penguin. I’m pretty sure I left a few brain cells at home that morning being all Paul-a Bunyan like.

Stomachs growling, we spotted a shady spot to eat our lunch. Susan and Eddie packed enough goodies in the event we became stranded like those on Gilligan’s Island. I think we sang that song as we floated down the river.

Nearing the bridge—our “take out” point—yes, Susan, those are the places where you take out the raft, not where you can order food—we realized we missed the halfway point and we were two hours early. The bridge was now two minutes away, so we pulled off again. Here’s where we taught Susan how to skip rocks.

When Susan threw the rock in the water, like a “girl” (there really is meaning to that saying), I was glad we had two hours because I had hope she’d master it by then. She did, long before the two hours. But picture a lefty, who throws like a girl, skipping a rock. Where’s a camera when you need one.

You all might think I’m being a little mean talking about my bff this way. The thing is, we’ve been friends for over 45 years. She knows I love her and all my “meanness” is in jest. I laughed a lot that day observing her…

At the reservation desk when she asked the clerk, “So where are the bathrooms as you float down the river?”  The message on the face of the clerk: is she for real or is this a joke? I shrugged and rolled my eyes. The clerk looked at Susan with a little smirk smile and said, “Anywhere you want.” Poor Susan, thought she was going to lose those big blue eyes. I could see me chasing her eye balls as they rolled on the floor. At that point I wondered if this float trip was going to be as disastrous fun as all the rest.

I laughed watching Susan inch her way into the shocking cold brisk water, her face scrunched up, arms hugging herself, her high pitched tone, “I hate feeling sand in my shoes.” I mocked her. Then Eddie, who's not always on the ball, commented, “Lynn, you use the same whiney tone no matter who you mimic.”

“It’s the only one I know.” Wasn't it clear that I'm not making millions as a professional comedian doing impressions of people?

Back in the raft. “Oh, I don’t like how my feet feel in wet shoes, it’s gross.” (Who am I?)

Despite my paddling the wrong way on several occasions, (thank you Cindy, as I’d eye her whenever I was confused and she would shake her head yes or no to tell me if I was paddling the correct way… didn’t want to be yelled at by Captain Eddie) and wanting to create a merry-go-round-raft, I, the Skipper, did okay. 

It's been the year of water for me, and I've changed my mind a bit. What about you—is there something you’re not fond of doing, but then you had an experience that changed it? Or what about your own experience with float trips?


  1. The last time I was on a canoe trip, it was with the Boy Scouts (inexperienced scouts) and we had to battle a strong wind coming back at the end of the trip. As expected (since it was ME), there was a large group of parents who we were "entertaining" as we struggled to get back to shore.

    I don't have any "experiences" that I can think of, except for this: I thought I hated the taste of an avocado, but it is because I had never had one. Now, I love them...

    Food on my brain...Imagine that!

  2. Sioux, I stole your idea with the crossing out of words... and of course the lovely...

  3. I won't go into it here, but your blog today brought a lot of things to my mind. I am not outdoorsy except that I like to READ about it. I am not good at trusting people with my life...and I am a klutz...so, you can imagine my water stories! But I think you must be one good sport to be with outdoors!

  4. I haven't been on a float trip in years, though I wouldn't mind doing it again...assuming of course I am able to keep myself from frying like fish on a skillet. (Per dermatologist orders)

    Enjoyed your story of rolling on the river, Lynn!

    Critter Alley

  5. Love your description of the turtles and their enemies! I once white-water-rafted in Colorado. Didn't realize what drove the river was melting snow. My sister and I were in the same raft as a very large (in every sense) family, so when their end hit every wave, it splashed directly onto us. I don't remember how we got back, but we did quit halfway through before hypothermia set in. Glad you had fun!

  6. Bookie, you could blog about your water experiences!
    Pat, my left upper thigh is sizzling, but I started out with burrito white legs, so... what could I expect?
    Tammy, I'd NEVER EVER do that white-water-rafting.

  7. I so enjoyed this post. This was FUN. I too, am as directionally challneged on water as on land.

  8. Lynn, you crack me up! What a great story. I can picture it all. I hope that not one nail was broke, and I admire you for not being "a girl" and doing all of that hard work, lol.

    Kathy M.

  9. Thanks so much for the giggle this morning, Lynn! I can just see you paddling in circles.

    Just thinking about what that trip would have been like whitewater rafting here in Colorado instead of the Merrimac. Running in circles, bouncing off rocks...there's a reason I don't go rafting!

    Good for you, Paul-a Bunyon! :)

  10. Hysterical! I really enjoyed the crossed-out words! Knowing Susan and Cindy made your story all the more enjoyable.

  11. What a funny post. I can see you paddling in circles.

    We used to post a couple times each year when our kids were young. It was fun. I love the smell of the campfire, but not flies or mosquitoes buzzing at night.

    On one trip (without the kids) a group of rowdy friends tied about ten canoes together. It was fun until the river narrowed and we had to untie the canoes--and fast.

    Thanks for bringing back fun memories.


  12. Duh. Make that we used to float and not post. My brain is mush.

  13. Love your penguin comment. So funny! We actually have a boat...a SeaRay 270 Sundeck that we take out on Lake Lanier all the time. My husband wants me to take the "Women on Water" classes to learn how to operate the thing; I like lazing around and letting him play captain. LOL I'm not a water person AT ALL, but I LOVE going out on the boat. :)

  14. Linda, Kathy, Karen, Donna, Suzanne, and Lisa - thanks for your comments. I always get to know a little more about people by what they say.

  15. Hmmm....never floated, but I'd love to try it. I almost died white water rafting, so floating sounds like a nice step down from that--sans the danger. Hehehee.

  16. you kids, yes kids, are big ole goof balls! so funny mom


Thanks for commenting. I don't always comment back, but I do appreciate it.