Seven Boats on the Buffalo
We thought that Monkey ought to be able to paddle her new boat the day after she bought it, and we thought that her dad might like to go with her. The Buffalo River wouldn't challenge the girls much and it certainly wasn't the 'funnest' place for a new playboat, but it was a place where Mitch and Jarion and Kathy could paddle comfortably. And who doesn't love a trip to the Buffalo? No matter who you are or what you're paddling, the Buffalo is beautiful.
We met at eight and loaded up Jarion's trailer with all seven of the boats. We headed off, disorganized and inefficient as usual, with stops to buy groceries and gas and to pee and to run shuttle. We managed to get on the water at the crack of 2pm.
It was a good day. Kathy and Jarion and Mitch were a little challenged by a few of the rapids, and by the associated rocks and tree roots and so forth, but they didn't fall in and they smiled almost all of the time. Monkey made the best of every little riffle she found, surfing and playing in the water in her little boat. I just sort of puttered around in the middle of the group, enjoying the day. We picked up trash as we went, but didn't find a lot - in many ways, the Buffalo's people take care of it well.
Monkey swam only once, but she was cold afterwards, and Mandy was getting tired. I called a halt and pulled out a full set of dry capilenes and a vest and warm socks for Monkey to change into, and Kathy and I poked both the girls full of granola bars and jelly sandwiches. It wasn't long before they were both warm and dry and full and happy again.
Mandy and Bryan both did an admirable job with their newly borrowed whitewater canoes. Just before Kyle's Landing, we came upon several campers standing near the river. Bryan surfed his big canoe on a wave, bobbled it a few times, and went over. Mandy, staring wide-eyed at Bryan's upside-down boat, ran into a tree, looked at me in amazement, and fell into the water. Monkey and I were the only available rescuers, so we bulldozed the big boats toward the shore, all the time keeping an eye on Mandy and Bryan to be sure they were safe. Bryan was coughing a bit, having gulped a little water during his swim. Mandy was fine but very unhappy. Coming out of a boat hurts her pride tremendously.
And then it was over. We hauled the boats out of the water one by one and laid them beside the parking lot. Jarion and Bryan went to get the other car while the rest of us put on dry clothes and cleaned out the boats and got things packed up for the ride home. Then we loaded the cars, and suddenly it was dark, and we still needed gas, and supper, and it was a long drive home, and we were stuck behind a midnight wreck, and Bryan and Mandy and I didn't get to bed until three am.
It's hard to drive home so late, and so tired. It's hard to get up the next morning. It's hard to make it through the Monday after a good weekend, on only two or three hours sleep. But we do it, sometimes. There's a satisfaction that comes from using all the daylight we have, and leaving none to spare.