June 30, 2009

Rafting Bachelor Party

Filed under: General — mmrobins @ 8:02 pm

Class V without the raft

This was my first time being a best man, and I think I might have gone a little overboard on the bachelor party – I almost lost the groom. I’m reminded of camping trips we used to take in college with Thien-An where he would always say that he only had to bring 80% of the participants back. In this case it was a rafting trip, and I managed to bring everyone back, but there were a few moments where I think that was in doubt in a lot of the participants minds, myself included. Rather than the usual bachelor party shenanigans, I thought I’d treat Jacob to some rafting and a class V rapid. I didn’t expect that we’d do the class V rapid outside of the raft.

The trip started out as usual, with Jacob showing up late, yes, even for his own bachelor party. Once we rounded Jacob up we headed out for the rafting trip. We first found a pretty sweet, isolated campsite next to the river a couple miles from the Skykomish ranger station. Once camp was setup we went back to Gold Bar to Alpine Adventures to begin the rafting trip. After suiting up in wetsuits (the water was around 42 degrees), jackets, helmets, etc we all got on a bus to go to the rafts. We ended up with a guide named Rena who hadn’t had a lot of experience guiding rafts on the Skykomish. This proved to make the rest of the trip fairly interesting, as we’d go through the rapids in what seemed a most unconventional manner compared to the rest of the rafts.

Helmet popped off… That’s not good

This became a really big deal once we got to the most interesting part of the trip: the class V, boulder drop rapid. They had everyone get out, walk down the river, and look at the rapid to make sure they were willing to give it a try. The guides gave a talk and pointed out lots of really big rocks that they had funny names for and said where the rafts would go while we nodded like we had a clue what they talked about. Since our guide hadn’t had a lot of experience we stayed at the observation point to watch most of the other groups go through. It definitely looked exciting, but nobody made it look terribly difficult. One group even bounced off the gigantic rock with the raft, and kept going like it was all part of the plan. Things didn’t go according to plan once we tried to take the rapid.

Immediately, without even any excitement to preceed, the raft flipped in the very first drop of the rapid. I was on the left front corner of the raft, which was what went under first. Somehow our guide was flung out of the raft ahead of everyone else. Once I came up for air I saw her fairly easily since she was wearing yellow, and tried to follow her through the rest of the rapid.

The raft is there, it’s just in a big hole

Adrenaline and tunnel vision definitely took over, and it was hours of time spent corroborating stories with everyone before we really had any kind of picture of what had happened, even to ourselves. One especially strong memory for me was going over a large drop and realizing that my helmet had popped off. Turned out the buckle was defective. Other memories include finding out the wrong way when you’re supposed to breath (at the troughs of the waves, not the crest as would seem intuitive), realizing that I might as well just hold my breath for a while because the current had decided that I wasn’t coming to the surface for a bit, turning around to see a raft falling on top of me and pushing me under water (I thought it was someone else’s raft at the time and just thought they were assholes for not waiting until we were through), and FINALLY seeing other rafts with people who would get us out of the water.

Oh sweet, sweet air

I’m sure everyone involved has some pretty strong memories. Fortunately there were a lot of photos for us to view once we got back. Some of us spent more time in or near the raft than others, some more time under water. Jacob and his cousin Steve suffered exhaustion and minor shock after the event, and it was decided by anyone with any medical knowledge that they were done for the day. So they went back to headquarters and sat in the hot tub while the rest of us finished up in the rafts. The adrenaline wore off and we all realized that we were a tad hungry and that the water was cold.

Thankfully, Steve and Jacob were much better off when we met them back at headquarters. We looked at the photos, which they gave us for free in light of all the trouble we went through, ate dinner and swapped stories. Luckily Steve and Jacob were recovered enough that we decided no hospital visit was in order, and we all even felt good enough to go back to the campsite and spend the night outside. We built a fire and spent most of the rest of the night swapping stories about the rapid. I think in hindsight we’re all pretty psyched having done the rapid, but I don’t think anyone has any desire to repeat the experience.

June 21, 2009

Kim’s Parents Visit

Filed under: General — mmrobins @ 12:00 am

We’ve been kept busy the last week by visiting family – Kim’s parents. It’s been a fairly mellow visit. For the most part we haven’t changed our schedules too much. Kim is working her normal schedule and I took one day off so that we could go to visit the coast. We’ve done a few of the touristy things such as the Saturday market and visiting Multnomah Falls, but generally we’ve made dinners at home or gone out to eat at some of our favorite places like Hopworks and Nicolas. Kim and I have really enjoyed showing off our new city of Portland this past year while getting to know it ourselves. That’s right, it’s been a year that we’ve been here now. I feel like it must be time to start planning the next trip somewhere…