Whether you are a tourist, traveller or adventurer is a state of mind.
We took off two days as a hiatus from our journey. The first day was spent horseback riding, which I had only done once before, more than 30 years prior. It was fun, heart warming and scary, and the perfect thing to do with Lori, my boys, and their girlfriends, just so long as the girlfriends don’t worry that my high pitched startle-response may be congenital.
Today I am sitting on a vintage yellow school bus on route to a day of white water rafting. I have done this excursion many times in Fernie, at least 7-8, and at several life stages.
The first time was when my children were babies. Lori and I would have gone alone, thankful for the break.
The next time I would have gone with friends while I acted as a dutiful host. My boys would still be too young to accompany us, but close enough for me to imagine their delight.
The next few trips would have been with my boys and various family members. Family dynamics were probably at play, compelling me to play the role of father, brother or son-in-law. If there were tensions or issues, they would have dissolved – if only temporarily – in the mighty Elk River.
The last few would have been with a random assortment of family. My boys, no longer tied to nor interested in our schedule, would have had independent plans and priorities.
Today, I travel to the river with Lori, Mike and Jim. There is something unique about this trip – years ago I learned that Mike holds white water rafting as a bucket list item, and I have been planning this day ever since. This is also Jim’s first white water trip.
[Post river rafting] Well, that didn’t go as planned. The river is unusually high and fast due to a cold Spring and a concentrated melt season. Even the first few rapids – usually tame – were exciting. After lunch we head into a tight canyon where the biggest swells reside. As if in literary foreshadowing, just after we pushed away from shore, our guide announced that he could not finish his lunch as he was thinking about the rapids ahead.
I was the first to be thrown from the raft. I looked back to see that the raft was too far behind to reach, though I could hear their exhortations to paddle hard. Suddenly I was underwater. When I popped up, I saw that our raft had flipped, so I turned to focus on the river ahead. The vertical canyon walls and torrent leave little choice but to protect myself as I swept over boulders and into the right wall. Ultimately, the safety net kayaker pulled me away from the cliff walls to calm waters. That’s my story, but everyone of us had their own challenges. Lori sports the abrasions from scrapes against the canyon wall, Jim had the scare that comes from a belly full of river water, and Mike was initially trapped under the upturned raft. I should note that our rafting company clearly takes safety seriously, as we were trained for these exact circumstances and, even more so, so were our guides.
It is fitting and therapeutic that both last night and tonight we got to tell our stories to family at the end of each day – narrating story telling elements for dramatic effect or humour – and casting it as the adventure it was, and nothing more.
Tomorrow, we will return to the road. Adventure awaits.