Today I discovered the joy of the float trip. I also discovered the less joyful thunderstorm during a float trip time period. But overall it was fantastic.
Southern Honey and I drove out to the Shenandoah River and met with several of my coworkers and their significant others. After getting the tents set up (they’re staying overnight; we had to be back in town so Southern Honey could make a shift at work), picking up life vests, and signing away our lives in case of accidental drowning, we loaded up the coolers and hopped on a bus for the ride down a gravel road to the river.
River water tends to be cooler than pool water, but because we haven’t had a lot of rain recently, so the level was low, the current was slow, and the sun had warmed the water more than normal. It was a bit chilly when you first stepped in, but acclimating took no time at all.
After a brief round of tube-tying and cooler-situating, we set off. It was a nice opportunity for Southern Honey to meet some of the people I talk about quite a bit when I’m at home. And it was great to be out of the house, even if we did have to drive halfway across the state and get up early to get there.
We indulged in some microbrew that one of my coworkers had bottled for his birthday. He completely forgot a bottle opener, though, so there were a few moments of confusion and hilarity while Southern Honey tried to find a solution. Rocks failed — the river left them too smooth — and a quasi-convenient tree branch only worked once. Watching him swimming toward the tubes while holding a beer bottle above water made the struggle worthwhile. At last, he found a solution: use one bottle to pry the cap off another bottle.
Darwin was at work among the masses on the river today, unsurprisingly. That is the logical conclusion when you mix people, alcohol, and the outdoors. The people get drunk and they act stupid in the wild. Several people decided the best idea they had had all day was to climb up a fairly sheer cliff and jump off into the water. And they got progressively more adventurous, climbing higher before jumping into a river that was already low.
No one was injured — not even the intelligent young lady who took a swan dive into the river — but my heart was in my throat until we got beyond them.
We shrieked our way over several tiny sets of rapids, sometimes more successful at avoiding the rocks aiming for any part of our bodies still in the water. I took a giant one right in the bum on the first set, and, let me tell you, I did not have a cheek in the water when we went over any of the others!
Then came the rain. I had forgotten that rain can get that chilly in the summertime! Southern Honey and I somehow ended up out in front of all the others, but when the rain let up, we slowed and waited for them.
Unfortunately, we were only about halfway through the float in terms of distance and had only two hours left before Southern Honey and I needed to be in the car heading home. When the rain kicked up again, we struck out on our own (well, he struck out and I huddled under his life vest while he towed me). Everyone cleared the river at one point, when the heavens opened up and lightning started sparking. Southern Honey and I snuggled on the riverbank until it let up.
At last, we came to the ramp and the day was over. My coworkers and their significant others were still far up the river, indulging in beer, rice crispy treats, mojitos, and Lynchburg lemonade. It was a day of ups and downs, but overall? Certainly an up.
Next time, we’re going to make sure we can stay overnight.