Monday, July 12, 2010

Trip Preparation and Rafting

Summer was festing downtown this past weekend, but Jack is getting ready for a trip to Montana -- Flathead Lake, to be precise -- to take a "mancation" with some guys.

The  Urban Dictionary defines "mancation" as:


When normal males engage in "guy" activities that
involve sports, camping, gambling, chasing women
and most of all drinking amongst their all and only
male friends. No wives, mistresses or girlfiends allowed.
Done in order ot get in touch with their male-primal
Usage: Jack and I hiked 25 miles to trout fish in the
Sierras. With many beers and stories, it made for
the perfect Mancation.
We are none of us spry enough to be chasing women, but the part about being without "wives, mistresses or girlfriends" is appealing; and there will be fishing. Or "fishin'" -- I don't know. One of the guys fly fishes and I'm not certain if the "g" is dropped, good-ole-boy style if you fly-fish. I know it's dropped when bass fishing, 'cause I've seen those fishing shows on the Outdoors channel.

The trip to Montana is at the end of this month and I plan to drive my VW camper van. I'll camp two nights on the way, and the van will provide airport shuttle, shopping, and excursion service while there.

So with Mrs Elliott out of town on Saturday, I used that time to service and tinker with the van and camping rig. Checked the brakes, installed a dash fan for cooling (the van has no air conditioning and the trip to Montana will be through some potentially hot areas), sorted out an issue with the lights that indicate the water level in the drinking water tank, mounted new lid latches on the little trailer, and other stuff, like cleaning out the garage, sweeping the floor. It was a productive day, and I felt good with the amount I accomplished.

Mrs Elliott was back home at 11:20 pm. I stayed up for her, but I figure if she's gonna book flights that get to RDM after 9 o' clock she's going to have to drive her own self home.

Yesterday dawned early, bright, and warm and we rode our bicycles down to Jackson's Corner for breakfast. Mrs Elliott likes Jackson's Corner, says it feels like being in someone's bright big kitchen. I don't care for the place myself: I can never get settled because the tables are massively large and high, none are quite in the right place for just doesn't feel right.

It's a family restaurant in a walking neighborhood, too, so there's always kids of the whining and crying age there; and while family-friendly restaurants are fine when one has kids at that whining and crying age, I see no reason to have to put up with it any longer than absolutely necessary.

But editorializing aside (As if. My reader knows I do little other than editorialize!), we did have a good breakfast at Jackson's C. and then took a turn riding around downtown Bend where the booths were just getting set up for the day.

Mrs Elliott found more interesting things in the booths than I. I think she is not only more curious about what the trinket vendors are selling, but more optimistic that she'll find something worth buying. Might be a female thing, or maybe I'm just a sour old man who has seen more paintings on black velvet than he wishes he ever had.

Which is not to say that I ever see anything that tacky during the fests. There's just never anything that I find that I need, simply have to have, or which charms me enough to stop and admire, much less to buy.

But I tried not to rush her, she enjoys browsing so.

We rode back to the house to prepare for the day's main event: rafting the Deschutes.

We don't have the watercraft I wish we did. In the Old Country I had no motivation to go into the ocean, and open bodies of freshwater are not close enough to make owning anything watercraftish worthwhile. We do have a half dozen of little vinyl boats suitable for children, some seahorse floaties, a Sevylor inflatable tandem kayak which doesn't have a rigid keel so it sags in the middle and doesn't have any back support at all, and a great big inflatable boat that Mrs Elliott bought at GI Joe's before they went out of business.

We decided to take the great big inflatable boat.

Because it's too big to put inside the camper van, and because I didn't want to stand around the hot parking lot up at Riverbend Park inflating the thing, I blew it up here with the shop-vac and strapped it atop the van.

We parked in the dirt parking lot, closer downstream, which is where we put in two years ago when we first arrived at Bend.

But while we were humping the boat that-a-way, someone pointed out that where we put in before is now a dog park and probably not the best place to launch from. So we had to turn around and haul the boat back the path upstream to the boat launch below the new paved parking lot.

It was during this process that that we determined that the boat is more than we could handle: it's too big and too heavy for two old short people to hump around.

Thinking quickly and drawing upon the skills acquired from a lifetime of being a small cute blonde, Mrs Elliott proposed a clever strategy of looking helpless and enlisting the help of others. A young men volunteered to help carry the boat to the launch point.

There's nothing like the robust strength of strapping young people in the prime of their childbearing years to help carry a boat.

The strategy wasn't foolproof, through: At the point above the Colorado Avenue bridge where one must pull ashore and portage if one does not want to be dashed to death on the rapids has a narrow path and no one had the patience or free hands available to help move the thing. We blocked the path for a while while wrestling with paddles, a picnic basket, and that damn big boat.

Once safely landed on the grass area above the path, she approached a young family and waved a fiver, offering to pay for assistance, but that young family laughed and just carried the boat. 

After the portage we switched our seating. We had started out with me in the front  seat, she in the rear seat. This didn't work so well for me. I could not control the boat well with one paddle from up there, and I wanted a lot of control because I'm not comfortable being on water.

"Just let the wind and current carry us," Mrs Elliott said while poking around inside the picnic basket looking for sandwiches and drinks, her paddle shipped.

(Mrs Elliott's head is not filled with visions of being sucked into the rapids nor is she terribly bothered by the idea of drifting into people on floaties with our big damn boat, so it's easy for her to recommend just floating. But I struggled to keep the thing pointed, trying to keep the wind from pinning us against the leeward bank.)

So with the new arrangement with me in the back, I put the paddles into the oarlocks so I could row, which was better, as I enjoyed rowing the thing, even if I was just back-watering.

Mrs Elliott spent much of the time lounging in the bow under her parasol.

And having put the deadly rapids behind us, I was able to relax more and the pleasure of being out in the sun and on the water on such a beautiful day completely outweighed the hassles.

When we got to Drake Park we decided to go all the way to the lower end and catch the shuttle there because the upper bus stop looked crowded. I figured we'd have a better chance of getting the big damn boat in the shuttle trailer if that trailer was empty, rather than already full.

And that was the case. We were the only ones at the lower stop, and we're sending out a word of thanks and commendation to the driver of the shuttle, Barbie, who was very helpful. After we thanked her for her help, she told us to tell her boss. I have no idea what agency she works for!

Afterward, Mrs Elliott said, "I guess we really are old people because so many nice people offered to help us."


  1. This has to be one of the most entertaining things I've read in quite some time!!!

  2. Thanks, Helen. I suspect my posts are more entertaining to write than they are to read. In other words, if you had fun reading that post, writing it, by comparison, is a freakin' rollercoaster ride!

    It's a bonus to hear that someone enjoys my ramblings and rants.

  3. Sounds hilarious. If only there was video ...

  4. I think it would have been adorable if, instead if using the big raft, you and Mrs. E had descended the mighty Deschutes in two of the "seahorse floaties."

  5. Mrs Elliott dearly loves America's Funniest Home Videos. Watching clumsy people tumble ass over teakettle sends her into uncontrollable bouts of giggling.

    On the river, she laughed a lot. She was watching me.

  6. Problem with your seahorse floaties, as charming as they are, is twofold. 1. The water in the river is downright cold, and 2. I don't like my toes to touch anything under the surface as that totally creeps me out.

    If humans had been intended to get into water, we'd have gills. We don't, so, ipso fatso, nature designed us to stay safely out of the water. I see no reason to disobey that sensible natural law.

  7. It occurs to me that your definition of "mancation" (particularly the example) sounds like most of the plot of "Brokeback Mountain". : )

  8. "If humans had been intended to get into water, we'd have gills."

    What about otters, beavers and muskrats?

    Oh, and whales and dolphins?

  9. Response 1: A beaver, with few exceptions, is not a human being. The rest are certainly not human.

    Response 2: Fuck 'em.

  10. Response 2: The rest of the plot of "Brokeback Mountain" : )

  11. We're not Brokebacking it. Jeez, show some people /one/ movie . . . .

  12. You mean you watch other gay cowboy movies? I didn't know there were any...
    I did read the short story, tho.

  13. Gay cowboy, gay sailor, gay lumberjacks, gay pizza delivery guy, gay Indian, gay policeman, gay construction worker . . . wait, that's the Village People!

    Proulx is a heck of a writer, isn't she? I still enjoy re-reading The Shipping News.

  14. Well now that you mention it, I meant to read that and completely forgot about it. I'll have to convert it so I can read it on my Droid.
    The books I've read in the past few weeks were War and Peace, The Picture of Dorian Gray and Frankenstein. I'm going to start reading Treasure Island to my kids chapter by chapter, but I wanted to read something more modern after all those thees and thous. And "aarghhh!"s.

  15. "The books I've read in the past few weeks were War and Peace, The Picture of Dorian Gray and Frankenstein."

    Gosh, is that all? I read Proust's "In Search of Lost Time" (all six volumes), "Finnegan's Wake," "Moby Dick," Gibbon's "Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire," "The Brothers Karamazov" by Dostoevsky and "The Cat in the Hat" by Dr. Seuss.

    And that was just from Sunday through Wednesday.

  16. River rafting sure is an exciting activity for families. A lot of families often choose river rafting so as to experience the adrenaline rush while rafting.

  17. Do you have a point blackdog, or are you just indulging yourself in random dickishness again?


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