Friday, July 11, 2014

Capsizing in a Canoe

This is what I looked like today, except less grizzled and far more bruised and wet.

Today I find myself thousands of miles from my typical habitat, otherwise known as the parched, dry, hellish inferno known as Southern California. I'm in upstate New York (or at least I am for the sake of this story, I could be elsewhere, one can never be sure), and with all the water around these parts my family decided to go out boating on the Hudson river.

I decided to take a canoe, with one other person. Let me set the scene up for you.

It was hot and slightly humid. On top of all that there were suspicious looking backwoods people driving by in their strange vehicles, speaking in accents that I didn't even know were possible in the English language. Bugs of indescribable composition and size buzzed around my face, vigorously attempting to suck out my life essence every few seconds. For a moment, I yearned for my nice Southern California oven. Then again, everyone likes to pretend that their home is better than it actually is when they're away from it, so whatever.

Anyways, we finally got all set up, putting the canoe to the water. Already I knew I was in for a fiasco. The white converse I mistakenly wore to the occasion sunk into the mud on the river shore, its alabaster color corrupted by the grainy water eroded sediment. They became quickly soaked through with river water, but I'll admit it felt good since it was so damn hot out.

So there we were, riding the canoe on the middle of the Hudson river. I was feeling pretty confident, braving rapids, dodging rocks, stabbing the spongy river bottom with my oar, and keeping an eye on those crazed country folk that could've been right out of the movie Deliverance.

I must've gotten too confident because, as you might have guessed based on the title of the article, I slipped up. Badly. I saw a little disturbance in the water and assumed it was just a wave. Lo and behold, it was in actuality the stubby rocky asshole sibling of the iceberg that sunk the Titanic. Much like the officers on that forsaken ship, I tried to steer away at the last minute, but it was too late. The glistening bow of the red canoe bore into the rock with a heavy, splashy, thud. I was thrown out almost instantaneously.

Haplessly fumbling on the jagged rocks of the shallow river, I did the logical thing and immediately checked to make sure my phone hadn't been ripped from my water-logged pockets. Luckily it was there, which relieved me despite the fact that I knew it was destined to be placed in a bag of rice in the near future due to its electronic components being violated by the crystal clear fluid I now found myself wading in. Right now you are probably asking the logical question of why I bothered taking a phone with me into a supremely wobbly and unstable canoe. I never said I was smart, did I?

The current wasn't too strong, but the canoe had stabbed my hip and slammed into my left knee, so I wasn't feeling all too great. My partner didn't fair much better, barely managing to hang on to the canoe as I tried to pull it to the side of the river. With a little bit of elbow grease and perseverance, we eventually manged to pull it ashore onto a little muddy outcrop. My converse were now absolutely wrecked by dirt and debris, but at least I had survived this traumatizing experience, right? It could have been worse too, I mean, the shoes could have fallen off (the laces had been untied by the current so it definitely could have happened).

To add insult to injury, a horse fly bit me behind my knee as I was trying to tip the canoe over to drain it of the excess water it had taken on. As always, I tried to look at the silver linings: I survived a capsizing, AND got to feel what it's like to be bit by one of the most painful insects around! That's two huge things to check off my bucket list (though I have never been stung by a bee before I'm pretty sure that fly did worse than a bee ever could).

Perhaps foolishly, we took the canoe back out onto the river and finished the excursion, lazily lacing our way to the river exit as we relished the fact that we would indeed live to see another day (or at least another couple hours -- those weird country types may have followed us).

So be careful kids! Always wear a life vest and yadda yadda, etc etc. Would I do it again, you rhetorically ask (in my mind)? Yup! Even though my beautiful white converse are no longer white, and my phone is possibly permanently damaged, the view from the canoe was totally worth it. So there's your lesson. At times, in order to experience something worthwhile, you have to go through some pain. If my bruises are any indication, sometimes it's a considerable amount...

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