And because my camera was, thankfully, left behind before Bagman and I got in the raft.
First -- and introduction of the charactors.
From left to right: 1. Don, whose knickname from the Navy was Nelly. I had never met him before that morning on the Nantahala River so there was no reason for me to try to kill him. 2. Zack, Nellie's son, who I also tried to kill. 3. Leslie, Nellie's wife. 4. Bagman expressing his Bagmanishness. 5. Justin, an extreme sports adrenalin junkie who guides whitewater rafts in the summer. 6. My beloved wife, Karen, now recovering from psychological trauma. 7. My daughter, Jean who has been down from Boston all week and went with us, renting a cabin in the mountains of North Carolina.
Now, all of these pictures were taken at one spot near the end of the rafting trip. Therefore there was no photographic evidence of Bagman's psychotic break. At this point, Bagman had been forgiven and you can see by the way Nelly and I are leaning toward each other that much male bonding has occurred sometime during the past two hours on the river.
Did I mention that the water temperature was 46 degrees?
46 degrees Fahrenheit.
The important part of this picture is the expressions. As you can see, Justin is being serious, as a good whitewater guide should be, particularly realizing that this is where photographs are taken and his boss might see them. Nelly and I are happy again. Karen is absolutely ecstatic...or maybe in shock from the water. You do know that the water was 46 degrees and at only 14 degrees less, it turns to ice. And Jean, of course, is looking (as she often did) at Justin.
And now, in the words of Paul Harvey, the rest of the story:
The mystery (and the cause of Justin's serious expression) can be deduced by counting the number paddles. Five. And the number of people. Seven. Where did two of the paddles go? Aha.
We were halfway into the trip. Only a class 3 rapid which is supposedly pretty tame, according to Justin. But he wanted us to have fun. We did several tricks along the way. One of them came up as we approached a large, upward slanting rock. He told us about it. We were game. The idea was to slide the boat up onto the rock and then let is slide back down to catch the next wave.
I'll give him credit that he did suggest that the people on the right side of the boat should hang on. I'm not sure why he did not add that the people on the left side might want to hang on too. Being overly self-confident and on the left side of the boat, I was just smiling and laughing when we approached the rock. And I do really wish I had a photo because everyone says my expression was classic when I was suddenly catapulted upward, like I was shot out of a cannon.
And I came down directly on top of Nelly and partly on Zack. Zack hung on -- or maybe Leslie hung on to him. But I took Nelly cleanly over the side and into the raging water. The boat slid back down on top of me and, of course, Nelly was underneath both of us. But, hey! He was a navy man.
It is hard to describe how disoriented I was. The lifejackets, of course, popped both of us to the surface as soon as the boat passed over us. I guess that's why they call them life jackets. But I was looking at the sky and convinced the boat was long gone and I was trying to remember about keeping my feet up and how to body surf rapids. Although I did forget the part about holding on to the paddle.
But in addition to being an adrenalin junkie, Justin is also a damn good guide. The reason I couldn't see the boat was because he had managed to stay close and despite the fact he looks small and I'm 235 pounds, he pulled me into the boat like a large tuna. And Nellie, no lightweight himself, was soon on top of me in the boat.
I know it was inappropriate because both Leslie and Karen were screaming our names and asking us over and over if we were all right and I know they were scared stiff -- or maybe the stiffness was due to cold -- but, inappropriate as it might have been, I couldn't stop laughing. Maybe I can blame it on the adrenalin.
It was the most fun I've had in ages. At least once I realised that none of us had drowned.
But we did lose two paddles....three actually, although Justin managed to retreive on of them.
So forgive me for doing last week's theme a week late, but water is still my favorite thing today.