Travel

Paddle Faster

28 Jun ’12

About a million years ago, when I was applying for the LeahAndMark internship, I kept seeing the same foreshadowing sentence everywhere I turned: “You’re going to shoot more in the next three months than you’ve probably ever shot in your life.” And, because Mark is [almost] always right, I did. In the three months during my internship, I blogged 27 different shoots. (Stickler that I am, that didn’t include two more shoots + one wedding that I never blogged, simply because the end of the internship happened SO. FREAKING. FAST.) But then Leah and Mark bestowed Plusdom upon me, not to mention some of the best advice ever (“shoot a lot. then shoot more.”), and I’ve stayed crazily/ dizzily/ awesomely busy ever since. I like staying busy. It’s sort of my thing.

But last week, I took a week off. (Well. Aside from shooting a Yelp event and being spoiled with amazing Mexican food.) And to celebrate, my husband and I did the Babysitter Shuffle, packed our water shoes and blackjack chips, and spent a kid-free weekend away with our friends in the mountains.

We ate too much (shrimp and grits and snails and tails), drank too much (dear pinot noir, i love you), and gambled our tiny young parents’ casino budget away (dear blackjack, i love you anyway). I directed the Road Trip Crawl: “Hey! Antique shop. Need to stop!” … “Fruit stand! PEACHES! Buy local!” … “STOOOOP! Apple butter!”. And most of all, I nervously anticipated the main purpose of our trip: rafting down the Nantahala River.

You should know that I’m probably not a very outdoorsy gal. Or at the very least, not a mountain-y gal. I grew up spending summers at the beach and the rest of the year dreaming of a big city life in New York or Paris. The idea of careening down a river in an inflatable raft, my face at the mercy of the river currents and bone-crushing rocks all around, has not been my idea of a good time since… ever. But. If nothing else, the last few years of my life have taught me to jump in and experience life like never before. So I did- literally. Though with a lifejacket of course. Safety first, kids. We rafted with an outfitter called Rolling Thunder River Company and they were amazing. (And also, possibly nicknamed the Thunder Gods.)

We went rafting down the Nantahala on the most perfect Saturday morning we could’ve asked for. Seriously, blue skies and rainbows perfect. I’d been silently (and not so silently) freaking out every time I thought about what was ahead of me, and I sort of almost peed myself when it was finally time to climb in that raft and, ya know, RAFT DOWN THE RIVER. So we get in the raft. And I’m okay. I’m just sitting there, really. Bobbing around a little bit with the river. Paddling like I actually know what I’m doing. Telling myself that if the eight-year-old kid in front of me can do this, surely I can too. And looking up and realizing, “hey. this is kind of beautiful.” And it was. My biggest regret of the weekend was that I didn’t bring a disposable water camera with me while rafting. (Photographer’s shame, I know.) It was SO beautiful. Perfect blue sky, mountain laurel on either side of us, fog hovering above the water, hummingbirds flying right above our heads. Amazing.

   Then, just like that, we’d gone seven miles down the Nantahala and our guide started with the instructions and reminders about, oh, not drowning: “Lock in your feet now. And you’re going to stay locked in for the rest of the way down. Got it?” Um. Yikes? (Our guide’s name was Skittles. And when a dude named Skittles tells you to lock in, you damn well lock in.) The best part of my Saturday night was drinking a bottle (or three) of Pinot Noir with my girlfriend and dissecting the photos of us coming down through the falls. “Look at my face- that’s Stressed Out Krista”… “Look at Skittles paddling us- CRAZY!” … “Where is Erik going??” … “Aaaaand, that’s when Matt disappeared”. Our friend took one for the team that day but was totally fine. I survived. (Yay for not drowning!) And it was the most fun I’ve had in for.ever.

(P.S.: I promise I’m more help in a crisis that I look. My paddle was totally his lifeline.) Also. Isn’t The Husband cute? He’s making his blog debut this week. Bonus points for him for keeping me alive this weekend.

Almost as soon as we were back on the bus, heading back down to the outpost, I wanted to do it all over again. And I will. Did I mention we’d been back at the mountain house for about ten minutes when the next weekend’s planning already commenced? AWESOME. This is why I love our friends. And it’s also why, every time I look back at our pictures from the weekend, some from my DSLR, some off a point-and-shoot, and some just quick camera-phone shots I clicked off in a hurry, I’m so, so glad I did this.

Now. Where did I put that mountain wine?

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