I figured since my last several posts were on a serious note, we need some serious comic relief up in here.
I want to share with you a funny story about me and my friend Melissa.
Melissa was my boss at one time and we became very close friends. I invited her and her boyfriend (at the time) to go camping with me and Howard during the Memorial Day weekend. She’d never been camping and was totally game.
Howard and I, when we lived in North Carolina, always went to Brown Mountain Beach Campground which is right on my favorite spot in the world: Wilson’s Creek. I’d warned Melissa that while the creek is beautiful, you have to be careful because there is at least one fatality on it each year. Just ask my friend Heather who nearly died there herself. *shudder*
With that in mind, we planned a big tubing trip. “Tubing” is when you rent a huge, oversized, innertube and then have someone drive you a mile or so up the river, then you hop in said innertube and leisurely coast down.
The road to hell is paved with good intentions…..
Before leaving, I decided to leave my glasses at the camp. I’m almost legally blind but I figured I could make out images enough to where I wouldn’t kill myself. Melissa, who hears perfectly with the help of state of the art hearing aids, decided also that she’d leave her devices at the camp as well. Melissa can read lips perfectly fine. She and I were always able communicate with or without any help, so we felt comfortable. Glasses and hearing aids aren’t cheap, we figured we were being responsible.
We hitched a ride with some people who were camping beside us and they dropped us where we wanted. We were so excited. The sun was hot, the water was good and cold, the creek wasn’t too shallow, wasn’t too deep. It was perfect.
Of course, that’s what we thought anyway.
The antics started immediately, even before we got into the water. We were dropped off at a big rock gorge that hugged the creek on both sides. The “rock” is one big smooth boulder. If you don’t watch your footing, you’ll slip.
And that’s what Melissa did. She slipped, couldn’t get up, and when I looked over at her, she was flat on her belly with her arms spread out, holding on to the boulder for dear life and laughing. She called for Ron (her boyfriend at the time) to come help her. Ron helped her up and then we eased into the cold, icy, rapids and started on our journey.
The first few bends were perfect, we floated leisurely, chatted with each other, splashed around and Melissa and I made fun of how I couldn’t see and she couldn’t hear. If she were turned away from me in her tube, I’d have to paddle my way over to her, swing her around, and then talk to her so she could read my lips. She couldn’t hear me, I couldn’t see her facial expressions. I think we laughed more than we talked.
Then we started hitting the shallow parts of the creek. This meant that our asses would hit rocks and we’d have to scoot with our feet or even get up and wade to a deeper area. Doing this over and over again began to wear our patience. The mood changed from happy to whiny really quick. Eventually, we made our way through the shallow part only to be faced with our first waterfall.
We knew we had to calculate it just right, because this is where people get killed, if we’re not careful.
We decided that it would be best for Melissa and Ron to go first because if something happened, we’d be right behind them and could help them. If we went first, they’d be waiting for the next tuber, kayaker, fisherman, to come along and there was just no telling when that would be.
Howard told Ron to make sure he grabbed Melissa before they went down, so that they could try and stay together going over this waterfall. Melissa floated toward him and he missed grabbing her.
She began to float faster and faster toward the falls. All we could do was stare in horror. As she descended the rapids, we saw her lose her tube, she went down first, followed by her tube. Then we couldn’t see her anymore.
I was panicked. I was screaming at Howard and yelling at Ron to go after her and make sure she was okay. We ourselves then went over the waterfalls. Finally, we caught sight of Ron who was giving us a “thumbs up”. Melissa was standing at the bottom of the rapids, with her tube in her hand, saying how much fun it was. We were all relieved and I picked my heart up out of the water and put it back in my chest.
By this time, we’d been on the river for a couple of hours and we were getting tired. The water was also getting more and more shallow. Melissa and I decided we would walk the creek until we got to deep water again.
Now. The “banks” of the creek are very jagged rock so you have to watch where you step. I was blind and Melissa couldn’t hear.
For all intents and purposes, we were a two-person Helen Keller.
On Wilson’s Creek.
With Class 4 rapids in a lot of places.
To this day, I have no idea what were thinking.
We kept slipping on the rocks because I couldn’t see where I was going, Melissa couldn’t hear me as I shouted back to her to “be careful!”, “watch that rock right there!”, “Oh my God, a snake!”. (in hindsight, I’m glad she couldn’t hear my snake comment)
We must have looked like two drunk chicks stumbling and climbing over those rocks while holding on to our innertubes. Howard said the visual was hilarious. He and Ron were still trying to navigate the creek in their tubes and were having a good laugh at our expense.
Finally, Melissa had had enough. She called Ron out of the water, and they climbed the steep embankment to the road and walked all the way back to our camp. Howard and I scooted, walked, climbed, and sometimes floated our way back.
We were all beaten up and bruised and were in no mood for pleasantries. Melissa and I growled at each other over dinner but were laughing at it by the time dessert rolled around.
The next year we went camping again, but this time, avoided the rapids.
We figured one funny, near death experience was enough for a few years.