Eventually the rest of the group caught up to where I was on the river and we continued on our way. At times the river’s current began to pick up, which made it a little more difficult to avoid obstacles that were in the water. However, I did fairly well dodging these logs, rocks, and small rapids. As time went on I was beginning to feel more confident in my abilities to make my way down the river.
After floating a few more miles, the group decided to take a break along a sandbar. Despite the fact that this was a July day, it was quite cool and there had been sprinkles of rain on and off throughout our journey down the river. It perhaps was not the best day to be out on the water, but we continued on after a brief rest.
As we got further down the river the current became a little more swift. Likewise, there were a few more rapids to navigate. By this time I was beginning to feel like I wanted this trip to end. Little did I know, it was actually just beginning.
As noted in part one of this story, I am quite inexperienced kayaking on rivers. So, as the current began to flow a little quicker, I began to feel uneasy. I just wanted to be out of the kayak and back on dry land where I could warm up a little. However, things were going to get a lot colder in just a little while.
More and more obstacles began to come into view the farther we got down the river. Lots of trees had fallen into the river, which meant we had to navigate around them. There were also more and more rocks to swerve around as well. At times there were only very narrow spaces to float through as we went along downstream. It was in one of these tighter spaces that the front of my kayak snagged a log that had become partially submerged. This was also a spot where the water was moving quite rapidly.
As my kayak smacked into the log, I was flipped upside down. Upon realizing what was happening I tried to grab ahold of my crutches, which I foolishly had brought with me in the kayak. Despite my best efforts they both shot away from me very quickly as did my glasses. So there I was submerged upside down in the river trapped inside my kayak. Fortunately, I was able to squirm my way out of the craft. I then swam up to the surface, where luckily I found a nearby sandbar.
I climbed out of the water in a daze not being able to see anything at all, as my glasses had quickly disappeared to the bottom of the river. The rest of the group came to see if I was all right. After assuring them that I was, they began to trudge around the river bottom looking for my crutches and my glasses. However, after searching for several minutes neither my crutches nor my glasses were found.
So, without being able to see anything, I hopped into a canoe with Amanda, while her cousin Doug took over piloting the kayak I had been floating in throughout the day. Despite having very little idea of what was going on around me, I still felt it necessary to be a “backseat driver.” Fortunately, Amanda did not whack me across the face with one of her paddles. Although, I am quite certain she felt like doing that at some point.
As we got to the spot where we were to climb out of our canoes and kayaks there was yet another obstacle for me to face. Without my crutches or my glasses, I would need to crawl several feet back to the car. So, there I was sopping wet, cold, and nearly blind. As I was drenched from head to toe, I decided to climb in the back Alice’s SUV and lay across some blankets that had been put down for me.
I can say without a doubt that the trip back to my in-laws house was one of the longest car rides I have ever experienced. On the way calls were made to various medical supply stores to see if they sold the type of crutches that I use. However, by this time, it was fairly late in the day, so no shops were open. This is when I remembered that I had a spare pair of crutches in the trunk of my car. I also had stashed a pair of old glasses in the glove compartment as well. So, once we got back to my in-laws house, I took a nice warm bath, cleaned the sand from all my cracks and crevices. Then I spent the rest of the weekend walking around on an old pair of crutches and staring through lenses that were a few prescriptions too old.
From now on I will always have a spare pair of glasses and some old crutches with me just in case I need them. I have also decided that I will stick to calm lakes and streams from now on if I want to go kayaking. However, I don’t think I have much of a desire to do that, at least for several more years. Finally, I will always be grateful for the patience of Amanda.
Oh, and one last thing before I go. If you are ever on the Meramec River in Missouri and you come across a pair of crutches, let me know, as I will forever wonder what became of those sticks of mine.
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