Having 21 people at a house does not make for convenient showering. So I didn’t shower. That was the beginning of day 1.
I did, however, put gold sparkly eyeliner on my eyes, in preparation for the drive and the river.
Maybe I should mention something about the purpose of this trip on which I didn’t shower. It was a gathering of young folks living in Montana who care about its future and want to create an environment where good policies will maintain and improve the quality of life throughout the state. Nerdy? Whatever, we raft on rivers. That’s what the cool kids do. Therefore, logically, we are the cool kids.
So, the river trip began with a couple of hours riding in two big vans – which is also a perfect setting for considering my demise by many creative and unpredictable avenues such as falling rocks or poisonous nematodes. I sat in the front because Zack was driving one of the vans. I tried not to talk so I could concentrate on how fast my heart was beating, but sometimes I got distracted and had to tell stories about things like this one time when a Peruvian guy who works on our ranch was going swimming with my cousin and pretended he was drowning even though he was actually a nationally competitive swimmer in Peru. (I didn’t add at the time that his being a nationally competitive swimmer in Peru and a ranch hand in rural Montana makes me feel like the world is really messed up, but it does).
I also had a really interesting thought about government rights of way and whether the government could decide to stop servicing roads used by less than 100 people in a given year, and just compensate them to move or something. Undecided, but I might send Professor Walker an email to find out. I’ll report back if he has any groundbreaking thoughts.
Ok. So there we are in a van. I have a new slammin haircut that keeps fooling me into thinking I pulled my hair back and is also preventing extreme dirtiness in the first day of no shower land. And my pulse is rapidly increasing as we wind along the dirt road to the put in.
When we get there, we have to organize our stuff a little, use a bathroom for the last time (EVER screams the voice inside my head), and then get a safety talk that culminates in putting on life jackets. We were warned in particular that it is important to have the straps tightened so that when you are being pulled back into a raft, it won’t slide off your body and leave you to drown in the river. As a result, I find myself hyperventilating just a little and tightening my straps enough that I can’t take a full deep breath. My life jacket suiting-up friend, Caroline, suggests that I loosen the straps just a little.
Unfortunately, this would be a much better story if it were followed with a dramatic event. Fortunately, there were no dramatic events, other than my being the first person of the day to consume tequila and grapefruit juice with a little too much enthusiasm. I did, however, manage to convince one of my fellow raft mates to drink a few intermittent sips of my concoction, which allowed me to feel less self-conscious. In addition, I only got wet by way of splashing as opposed to dunking, and we didn’t even sleep in a tent because it was so nice and sandy and warm on the river beach.
And I felt a little dumb for being so nervous.
And I decided to be in a paddleboat the next day, where I would have to wear a helmet and everything.
And we have arrived at the end of day 1, when I did not bathe.