Thursday, April 19, 2007


When I was a kid I found an easy portable means of water transportation; the two-man inflatable life raft. It was supposed to fit two people, but they only safely fit one passenger at a time.

These crafts were big yellow with two air valves for floatation and one for the bottom where one would sit. Once deflated you could fold them up really well and tie them on top of a seat cushion with a paddle and stick them on a bicycle rack and go anywhere.

A few of my friends got rafts, too and our summers were spent floating down the Ramapo River and walking back home when our trips were finished. Drifting was very quiet and we would see some of the coolest wild life on the banks. It was the only time I had ever seen a coral snake, and yes, there are coral snakes in New Jersey.

As with all rivers; there are rapids. Though any rapids we descended were not by any means considered white water, they did quicken the pulse when shooting through them. We would always take on some water, but once there was a little more water in the river after a rain. I misjudged the aqua dynamics and watched as a pointed rock sliced through port side instantly deflating my raft joining me with the current to swim to shore dragging the useless rubber craft back to shore.

I continued using rafts through many of my adult years. I had a deflated raft strapped to my bicycle when I toured the Adirondacks every summer along with a telescopic fishing rod. I got into some really secluded lakes and rivers. I kept a raft in the trunk of my car and I’d often find an interesting spot to explore by water.

After moving to Oregon I found that I missed being on the water. An inflatable didn’t seem appropriate for the waters of this area so I got kayaks instead. Though they are more problematic to transport, I feel safer in the water with them. I’ve been in kayaks with a vinyl skin and never felt secure in them. There are pilings just below the surface of many of the murky waters here that could rip a skinned kayak open in a second. The waters here are much colder then the warm summer waters of New Jersey rivers.

Any time I am in a kayak, I immediately think back to the joys of my life back then and those bright yellow inflatables, floating on the surface of the waterways of my youth.


Blogger Hahn at Home said...

I had one of those yellow rafts as a teenager when we spent most of the summer on the river with my family. It was my escape from troublesome brothers. I only had one paddle though. And no rapids. And it just kind of sat in the water a lot, with me kicked back, legs crossed, looking up at the sky. I'd forgotten about that.

6:34 AM  
Anonymous auntie said...

Sounds like lots of people are on a nostalgia trip today. Myself included!

8:28 AM  
Blogger The Guy Who Writes This said...

Lori, It was like a personal vehicle that you could control on your own long before you were allowed to drive a car.

Auntie, wait until you get older, the memories you have are sometimes all you have to get you through.

11:41 AM  
Anonymous Moosehead said...

riggin' rich Americans! The best we could do was get a hold of some inner tube, patch it up and off we went with the only thing getting skinned was our asses. You want to try running the white water in what we called the Narrows. You would narrowly miss the potential for ever being a father. Come to think of it, so that's what happened...whole new meaning to blueballs...lifted on many a back car bumper in my day...and don't pretend to not know what they are ladies!!

5:40 PM  
Anonymous auntie said...

Guy, you made me feel young, which I needed right now. Thank you.

Moosehead, you fucking crack me up. Start a blog.

8:43 PM  
Blogger The Guy Who Writes This said...

They only cost $30 you cheap bastard. Yet you always had enough money to buy back bacon, Molsen and cartons of Export A's. Hoser!

8:33 AM  
Anonymous Moosehead said...

Shows what you know!! And you call yourself a beer drinker...Molson goddammit!!
And money sticks to me like bark on a tree...I wish...It's the French thing. If you've got twenty bucks and the choice is food or wine, wine will win out every time. Meanwhile, the English guys will be asking how much the special is. They don't give a fuck what it is, as long as the price is right, they'll eat it. Vice la difference!!

2:14 PM  
Blogger The Guy Who Writes This said...

I've had three beers in the last 12 months. All three were made in Oregon.

3:11 PM  

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