Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Black River Float Trip

Okay, so when I checked in on Monday I was a tired, sore mess. I am fairly certain I had sun poisoning. Never heard of it? Neither had I, but apparently I had all the symptoms: really deep burn, chills and cold as hell and nausea. I really was feeling badly on Monday. Good news is my thighs are returning to a less intense shade of red and the pain is minimal (considering).

I still don't have the float trip pics but they'll get here eventually. But let's not let that stop me from telling you guys how the float went. First of all, until I moved to the St. Louis area, I had never heard of a "float trip" before. So in case you're wondering what that is, you basically drive out to a campground where you camp overnight (and drink lots of alcohol). The next morning, you float down the river all day in your choice of vessel (usually a raft or a canoe) while consuming much more alcohol. This makes you prone to doing things like scaling cliffs and climbing algae-covered trees in heavily-currented water so that you can fall (some people manage to jump, but let's not be picky) off.

So that's how it *should* go. I arrived at the campground at about dusk on Friday night, and hurridly help set up our tent before darkness sat in. I then proceeded to catch up on the alcohol intake, since everyone else had been there for hours. It was fun, drinking and partying in the middle of nowhere, but it was fairly unremarkable. After going to bed around 4:00 am, I woke up at 7:00 because it's really hard to ignore nature and the sun when you're right smack in the middle of it! We got up, had breakfast and got ready for the float trip.

Around 11:00 we get deposited into the Black River (in Missouri). This was my first time on a float trip and in a canoe, just so you know. We get about ... oh, 20 yards down the river before we start to lose control, and before you know it, we're facing backwards while the rest of the people behind us are cheering. Way to go, us! I was having many issues remembering that if I wanted to go left, I needed to paddle right, and vice-versa. Needless to say I introduced many navigational difficulties into our float. Unfortunantly, the river was really hard to navigate. It was shallow in most places and there were trees and debris everywhere. I never even got buzzed on our "float" trip because I was too busy steering and paddling to drink much. That's okay, though, because it made it lots of fun, and we had the rest of the night to drink. In fact, whenever we'd get to a temporary floating state, I'd start to get bored because I was so used to the action.

We stopped in various places to drink, swim and bullshit. There was one spot where I battled the current to get to a tree trunk that was downed just over the surface of the water. It was actually pretty dangerous, because the current was trying to sweep me under the tree, and I knew if I went under there'd be a good chance that I'd be swept up in the tangle of branches and roots under the water. Once I reached the tree, however, there was no going back -- it was over or under, so I chose over. The tree was so slick from algae that I couldn't stand up; in fact it took all my effort to pull my body up top it. Once I got on, I scooted myself to the top. I tried my best to stand up, and finally gave up and just "jumped" off the side by letting go.

A little while later we're going down the river, and I look up and see this almost vertical climb off the bank, with an occasional rock and tree limb scattered on the surface. I nudged the hubby and said, "Woah! How'd you like to climb that?" I then looked up and noticed people on top of it -- there was a cave up there! At that same time, 2 guys in our group also noticed the cave, and I could tell they were thinking about it, so I put it out there: "You wanna climb it?" They reply hesitantly, "I don't know, do you?" And at that point, even though I wasn't drunk, I'd had enough to not care: "Sure! Let's do it!" So we pull over and head on over. Looking up the dirt wall, I realize that this might be a stupid idea. After all, I am in a bikini and flip-flops. But what the hell ... why should I let a little thing like that stop me? So I went to work. I was on all four's most of the way up. I grabbed rocks and tree roots, and when there was nothing else, I dug my nails into the dirt. I got up there! We were slightly disappointed when we did get up there, because there was nothing to the cave except a small cold spring. As we look out at the river from the top of the cave, however, we realize the hardest part was yet to come -- we still had to get back down! I did not manage climbing down as gracefully as I managed climbing up (and in case you're keeping track, It wasn't that graceful of a trip up). I sent everyone ahead of me so that I could knock them over instead of vice versa, should we all go a-tumbling. That said, I had three guys ready to *attempt* to catch me should I spiral out of control. But somehow I managed to slip and slide my way down in a somewhat-but-not-really controlled manner. There should be an interesting pic of that one too, if it came out.

After our climb we all get back in our canoes, and desperately paddle to try to catch up to the rest of the group. Eventually we find everyone parked in a gorgeous section of the river. We then learn that our destination is only a half mile away, so we're gonna chill out there for the remainder of the time. That was the most perfect part of the float. The water was perfect -- deep in the middle, shallow on the ends and nice and cold. We stayed, swam, drank and played for a couple hours there, and it really was great.

But then it was time to go back to the campground. Our bus was waiting at our destination stop. We jam-packed the bus with our group (about 30 people) and headed out for a terrifying bus ride. I guess I was the only one who felt a sense of mortality as the bus sped heavily down little dirt roads with tired little bridges, because everyone else was paying no attention. It's like a firecracker -- if you let it explode on the palm of your hand, you get burnt, but if you try to close your hand it will blow it up. That's what I felt like contained in the bus with 30 extremely drunk people. There was beer flying everywhere, a decible level as high as a freaking concert, people jumping over seats, play fighting and one person throwing up. I was ecstatic to be out of the bus when we finally got back!

When I got back to the campsite I noticed that I was in serious pain from the sunburn. Yes, I put on my sunscreen -- 50 spf, and reapplied -- but I'm a red-head, and I just burn. I come in two shades, red or white, and on Sat I was red. I tried to get dressed and couldn't, so I lounged in my bikini for hours until I could take the bugs no more and forced pants on myself. The hubby was exhausted and went to bed, and I decided I could either mope about the burn and have no fun and go to bed, or I could try to wake up, drink away the pain, and have a blast. So I chose the latter option.

Those who hadn't passed out (about 10 of us) were all playing cards, where we had been playing for quite a while. Everyone was tired, and someone asked what time it was. It was then we were informed it was only 10:15! I could have sworn it was 1 am -- 20 people passed out, everyone else tired and up anyways, but it was only 10:15! We then decided we needed more fun, so we went tip-tipping. In case you've never heard of this, it's where you remove the anchors from a person's tent while they're sleeping in it, and it collapses on top of them. We tipped 4 tents -- the occupants of 2 of those tents came out yelling, and we helped them set back up. The occupants of another of the tents slept for more than an hour without waking, even though their tent was literally laying on top of them. The last set of occupants did absolutely nothing, and woke up in a fit of laughter in the a.m. when they woke up and realized what had happened. We probably climbed into bed, exhuasted, around 2am. In the morning we packed up, exhausted, and went home.

So as you can see I had a very eventfull weekend! I have another one coming up. I'll be taking Friday and Monday off work for a long weekend. Two of my girlfriends are making the 3.5 hour trip to my house. From there we will head to Illinois to go to the state fair and Fergie concert. We have a hotel booked for Friday night, so we'll go wherever the wind blows us after the concert, and then we'll return on Saturday to have a leisurly weekend. More on that, coming up!


Pollye said...

very funny story, very well written. I can remember a few of those trips. I've had some pretty scary float trips in my time. Can't wait for details of next week end. Hope your burn is better!

maggies mind said...

Wow, sounds like fun times! I have done the sun poisoning thing, and it sucks, but the Illinois State Fair is much fun, so I hope you enjoy (and wear sunscreen).

lynda w said...

Sounds like you had a great time. I enjoy taking the kids camping at a nearby state park, but my idea of camping is arriving just before dinner and then leaving after breakfast. I've had it with the outdoors after that. I'm also too much of a wuss to combine drinking and boating - I'd probably fall out of the damn boat and drown.

Glad you made it back in one piece! LoL.

Mz Diva said...

Oh my God, I laughted as your description of a float trip! It brought back memories of when I used to go camping and river rafting/floating at the Kern River. I was a heavy drinker when I was younger and was the one too wasted to be much help steering or paddling! I also ended up with sun poisoning and after having it I learned that when I am going to stay out in the extreme heat I try to go to the tanning salon and build up a base coat/base tan because when I burn, I BURN! I can get a little color but really have to work at it! I don't even care about getting color, I care about avoiding the burn! Sunburn is the WORST! Feel better.

BK said...

Wow, you certainly had a lot of fun! My heart was practically racing as I followed closely to your float trip. It was sure exciting to read about it. Sunburn is bad. I still remember there was once I was burnt so badly that for a few days it felt like I have thousands needles poking me and I could not even sleep well. And I told myself, I would never want to go through it again.

My heart nearly stopped while reading your float trip until the tip-tipping; I had a good laugh at what you all did. :)