“Who here has rafted before?”
As I looked around the circle that included the seven other people I would soon be rafting down the Wenatchee River with I saw that my hand was the only one that was not raised.
My guide, FedEx, a former marine turned weekday police officer and weekend raft guide, looked at me and smiled, “A rafting virgin! I have something special for you.”
As if my nerves leading up that point weren’t already shakey his comment put me in full on fear mode.
FedEx briefly taught us how to row and what commands to listen for and then we set off in the water. I was stationed in the back next to FedEx and although he instilled fear in me earlier, our personalities were a match and we quickly hit it off. He was surprised by my affinity for turning normal sentences into a dirty joke and that I could keep up with his banter. (It truly is a talent that no one appreciates nearly as much as I do. Especially my mom.)
Halfway down the river, Fedex turned to me, “Put your oar in the middle.”
This was it. He was going to dunk me. Or push me in. Or make me swim a rapid.
I wasn’t scared of the water. I’m like a fish that needs to plug her nose. It was getting back in the boat that sent a chill down my spine. HELLO, hot mess flailing to be dragged inside. NO ONE, looks good getting pulled back in.
Everyone started giggling and staring at me.
Suit up, Dani.
“Ok now go sit at the front of the boat.”
I clumsily climb up three rows.
“No, sit on the front of the boat.”
I turn back to him, “You have got to be kidding me!”
“Do it! Feet in the water”
I slowly sit on the front with my toes dipping in the water. I have my butt pushed as far back as possible to protect myself from falling in and hoping I fall back instead.”
“Now don’t get my wrong, I love the view Dani, but quit sticking your butt out and sit on the seat. And hold on.”
Our team gets the command and we start rowing down the river. Apart from our chant to keep our rows in time, I just keep repeating “Oh my gosh” with each stroke.
As I look ahead on the river, I see the boats start to hit the next rapid. It looks fast and then
“OH MY GOSH! THERE IS NO WAY…” I scream
Boat by boat you see them amongst the rapids and then hit a dip that throws the front of the raft four feet in the air.
“If you believe in God, now would be the time to talk to him…” FedEx joked.
Which I obviously took seriously, “DEAR LORD JESUS, PLEASE PRO OHMYGOSHOHMYGOSHOHMYGOSH”
Within seconds, my only view is rapids and our speed is intense. Then we hit the dip and we free fall down only to meet a wall of water that flew me in in the air. I feel my body lift off of the raft and my grip tightens on the rope. I only have a second to recover and then another wall of water hits my face.
It felt like 10 minutes of rapids (more like 30 seconds) and then we were back on calm water.
“High Five! I can’t believe you stayed on! Go ahead and make your way back.”
My body was convulsing with shakes.
I wasn’t sure I could move.
I slowly brought my legs inside the boat one by one and then attempted to walk to the back. My feeble attempt ended up having everyone one of my seven rafting mates hold my hand and help push me back.
“That was amazing. The last time I had someone do that, they got cork screwed off the boat!”
Oh. Now you tell me.