We got up and going early last Tuesday morning to go river rafting. We woke up the kids, got them breakfast, and made sure they were dressed appropriately. We left our condo a little before 8:00 a.m. and showed up at the Red Rivers Adventures as directed at 8:15. Mark had made all the arrangements. Some guides immediately started picking out life jackets for the kids while Mark and I went into the office to sign the necessary paperwork. But it soon became apparent that they had no record of us going rafting that day.
"Are you sure you have the right company?" the cheerful and well-mannered employee said.
"Yes," Mark replied as he reached for his phone.
"Hmmm. Let me check something." He did some typing and clicking on his keyboard.
"Yep. You guys are scheduled for tomorrow."
Mark and I looked at each and laughed. What else could we do? "It's a good thing you guys are on vacation, right?" said the employee. "It's all good."
It was all good. The kids swam, we looked for souvenirs, and we had the brilliant idea of introducing "quiet time" at the condo, where the kids stayed in their respective bedrooms for an hour or so in the afternoon. We told the kids it was quiet time, but it was really "recoup and survive time" for Mark and me.
The next morning, we went through the same routine, knowing for sure that we had the right day.
It was a beautiful day. In fact, the weather was stellar the whole time we were in Moab. We had expected it to be much hotter but it was very pleasant.
One thing I noticed as we were standing around waiting to get on the bus was the looks from others who were going up the river with us. I suspect in most cases they were attributable to the novelty of seeing two middle-aged men with four kids under the age of 12.
In one case, however, it was quite clear that the husband in a hubbie-wife-teenage son group was definitely not a happy camper. I noticed it down in Moab and later when we stopped for lunch along the river. I didn't say anything to Mark, but he brought it up once we were back in Moab. What was interesting is that I noticed his wife, who was quite sociable to the rest of the group, staring at our raft at one point on the trip. She had a look on her face that made me imagine that she was trying to process this scene of two gay men and four laughing, happy children having the time of their lives.
|Getting the rafts in the water near Fisher Towers|
Mark and I immediately liked our guides. There were three young women (who were somber and serious) and three men (who were definitely not). One of the men had hair halfway down his back, and the other two had long hair and beards. We had the feeling that these guys were all about fun (and safety, of course) on the river, and this proved to be the case. Unlike some larger rafts that seated 12 or so people, ours each had no more than six guests and the guide.
One of the men was named Cody. I noticed him right away when we were still back at Red River's place. What was noticeable is that he was, um, extremely fit. He was also very friendly and told lame jokes on the bus as we drove to our embarkation point. I quietly told Mark that I wouldn't mind having him as our guide. After all, he seemed to be the leader of the group.
|Cody in action on the river|
|Waiting for embarkation|
As it happened, Cody did end up being our guide. In the process of assigning members of our groups to rafts, he somehow got confused as to where to put our family. Finally, he asked, "Who do you guys want to be your guide." "You!" Mark responded. And that is how Cody came to be our guide.
He set the tone for our trip down the river when, shortly after launching, he did a back flip off the raft. Then he engaged in telling more lame jokes, and Aaron happily joined in.
I was surprised at how well the kids took to the rafting. I have to admit that I was a bit anxious taking the kids out. I could just see one of them falling out of the raft and getting carried down the river. But none of them seemed the least bit concerned - at least until we hit our second rapids. That's when Annie, who was sitting behind me, yelled "I don't like this!" (See close-up below.)
We did our best to reassure her as we worked our way through the waves, then she was fine when we came out the other side. The other kids, if they were frightened, didn't show it.
|A professional photograph of us in some rapids. Note that Levi and Esther were smiling.|
We were later told that the river was higher than it's been since 1981. Most of the trip was through placid waters, though there was a pretty good current. We didn't realize how fast we were going until we looked at the shore. Cody told us that, toward the end of the summer, it's a real slog with every guest paddling almost all the way down. For us, all we had to do (other than in the rapids) was paddle every so often for directional purposes.
|Our group floating down the river amidst majestic scenery|
After a couple of hours on the river, we pulled over to shore where we could have lunch under the shade of some cottonwood trees. The kids went looking for lizards while the guides prepared the food. Mark took this picture of them not far from our lunch site:
During this lunch break, I had an interesting experience with one of the other dads on the trip. He was there with his son - a beautiful boy - who appeared to be about Annie's age. He said he was from the Bay Area. As we walked down the trail that the kids had taken (resulting in the above photograph), he said, "Are all these kids from one household?!" I nodded. "My wife and I stopped at three because we felt outnumbered," he said. "My hat's off to you!" I didn't volunteer any information about my six children older than the Quads.
Except for one (or two?) sets of rapids, the part of the trip after lunch was very placid. Encouraged by Cody, the three older kids jumped off the raft into the river, which was very cold. Esther did it three times (of course). We were by far the liveliest raft in our group. It was about this time that I saw that woman (whose husband sent out extremely homophobic vibes) staring at us. Whatever. It was so much fun.
It was a really, really fun day.