Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Why I Will Never Read Walden

In the land of purple mountains and bra-less hippies, there visited a city girl who volunteered to be Lead Paddler on a white water rafting trip down the Arkansas River. That city girl was me. . .

Our raft guide had already selected an ex-marine, Skip, to be one of the Lead Paddlers. She needed only one more. When neither Skip's wife nor his mentally handicapped daughter nor my friend Stephanie (who loves nature things) nor my friend Erin (a Colorado native) volunteered, I tentatively raised my hand. How bad could it be? Just yell "Rock!" every time you see a rock and you're good to go.

"Alright!" Erica, our super hippie guide (yes, she had dreadlocks...we were unsure about leg hair) sang out in her totally melodic, airy, sing-songy voice. "Amanda's our other Lead Paddler!"

"Why did you do that?!" Erin chastised me.

"Are you crazy?" Stephanie exclaimed.

"No one else volunteered," I said. "I felt sorry for her."

"You shouldn't have done that."

Come to find out, the Lead Paddler has to set the pace for the entire team. It's up to them to ensure no one dies, but they're also the first to topple out if things to awry. They have to be the strongest, the best, the most attentive. Ex-marine Skip was a natural choice. Me? Not so much.

I spent the next three hours trying not to get our team killed, trying to prevent the mentally retarded person from doing a sommersault into the water, trying to hear Erica's sing-songy instructions over the roar of the whirlpools, and trying to keep up with Skip's over-compensated, super ex-marine strokes that had us turning too far to the left or the right every time WITHOUT FAIL.

All of that, I could put up with. No problem. For once in my life, I enjoyed being in nature and was loving the great outdoors. I didn't mind the fact that Skip was too deaf to hear the "STOP!" command and sent us spinning or that Erin was being beaten over the head by the "disabled" girls's paddle.

Until....the bugs.

They were everywhere. In swarms of millions upon millions. And I, like any good girl, had applied a layer of sunscreen right before boarding. After passing through a particularly bug-infested area, I turned back to Stephanie to say something when she burst out laughing, pointing at my face. Erin laughed too. Even Skip. EVEN HIPPIE ERICA CHUCKLED A BIT.

From what I was told (and, judging by the level of laughter I created), my face was a gnat graveyard. There had to be at least twenty to thirty little guys splattered on my skin, stuck to the sunscreen. I spent the rest of the trip, turning to Stephanie, asking whether nature was on me and wishing I hadn't volunteered to be Lead Paddler.

I was reminded of this incident today, after coming in from my run. I truly don't like nature.


  1. all I can say is "BAHAHAHAHAHA" Erin and Stephanie would totally laugh at you first.....2nd, I was totally thinking "bridge to taribithia" and the Indiana jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal skull Army Ant scene. So freaking funnny! You would totally be Cate Blanchett with those army ants. (but alas, nats.You rockin' the house Amanda can i have your autograph for ruleing with blogs? you rule.

  2. I love the summation of what a lead paddler does - first, your misconception; then the truth.


  3. Mand, ya know how you can tell a happy motorcyclist? By the bugs between his teath! ~Dad

  4. Mand once more, ya know how you can tell an unhappy father? By the one who can't spell teeth! ~Dad

  5. Hilarious! I'm a "nature lover" but nature can keep the bugs as far as I'm concerned. Unless we're talkin' butterflies :) -Tammy