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MADE IT! :) - West of Tomorrow Land:
October 2006
Mon, Aug. 25th, 2003 12:16 pm

I have now been out of the woods for 3 days, Montana was wonderful, the Salmon River was an exciting experience, and although I am back in Northfield, I've decided to take the day off work!

Anyway! The week-long rafting and camping went fairly smoothly, all apprehensiveness considered! The Felkey family is UNBELIEVABLE and I doubt I will ever camp in such luxury again, they really made this first time comfortable for me, I was so impressed by everything they did for all of us, it really was great. I also would like to thank my first rafting friends, Luke, Cassie, and Charlie, the "Get-Along-Gang", as one of our rafters termed us, for putting up with "me", I'm sorry I complained so much about being dirty. So here is a brief journal of my trip, partly I'm writing this for myself, just so I'll remember it... :)

Day 1, Saturday, August 16. We drove and drove and drove for 6 hours, west to Idaho. Jack, Luke, Charlie, Cassie and I arrived at the campsite at... hmmm... late, after sunset... and slept on the beach, by the river, because setting up the tent was too much of a pain. I woke up in the middle of the night, having rolled slightly down the sandy incline, cuddling with a little tree.

Day 2, the other Felkeys and friends arrived -cousin Jeff, Uncle Jeff, Russ, and "Uncle Rick" who really was not an uncle, except I thought he was for only about... the first week. The rafts were loaded (a process that took FOREVER!), and I pumped water for the first time. At the waterpump, there was a group of 5 men, at least in their 50s, sitting at a picnic table. They turned their heads and stared, the moment I pick up the silly pump, and when I left, one turned to say, "We could sit here and watch you forever". I must have looked silly and pathetic with that pump. :) Anyway! Luke, Charlie, Cassie and I began the journey down the river, with Luke at the helm during most hours... we stopped at a little beach, with a waterfall, a little while later to camp, dinner was a fabulous CRAB-STUFFED TURKEY entree, with salad, and I ate to my heart's content. Went swimming afterwards, I was nearly towed away by the current, but was saved, then I took a shower with a Coleman portable shower. The evening ended with "Hot Sex", a mix of Baileys, Kahlua, and some orange liquor, that we drank while playing Asshole, ooolala, and then we fell asleep under the stars.

Day 3, breakfast was egg with sausage and potato and coffee cake, truly fantastic. Unfortunately there were plenty of bees, which made me sick. Day 3, Monday, was our first day of real rapids, I guess Class IIs and IIIs, although the water levels were pretty low the whole time. My ride was with Jack and Mary on the Banana Boat Raft, fun, fun! The smoke from the forest fires was also becoming noticeable at this time, all the air we breathed had faint traces of ash and made us COUGH occasionally. Dinner was heavenly, manicotti pasta cooked in the Dutch oven with Caesar salad, and nutella on graham for dessert... the food was so worth it! Mmmmmmm. :)

DAY 4, my favorite day. I missed breakfast, which turned out to be leftover manicotti with scrambled egg. :( I missed breakfast because I had to take a shower with the Coleman shower, and because Luke kept mumbling something about time being "of essence". Apparently there were fires we had to paddle through and so we needed to pull out quickly! Anyway, the morning was off to a rocky start, Luke collapsed the tent as I was still sleeping, I guess to get me OUT of it -if you've ever had a tent fall on you after the poles have been pulled out, it's not a good feeling, early morning torture!

Salmon Falls was the first rapid of the day and our first adventure -Luke and Zac saved an elderly man who, somehow, had fallen off his raft at the top of the rapids' 8' drop and winds up stranded on a rock in the middle of the gushing, foaming, swirling white water rapid! Go boys. :) We paddled through a couple other rapids after that, were splashed comfortably here and there, and finally dock the rafts at a sandbar located not more than a 1/2 mile away from a forest fire!

Dinner was so, so awesome. Hot enchiladas and more salad for the main course, followed by Better than Sex cake -chocolate cake, with whipped cream, and a frosting made out of Score toffee candy bars, the only problem, the sand and ash blowing into our food, stupid strong winds and forest fires. We had Margaritas to complement the food, how culturally fitting!, and then some nasty "Mr Boston" blackberry cognac that I nearly gagged on, and sat around and counted the forest fires around us (around 3, at sunset, on one of the mountains close to us, but still far enough away). After dinner, we hung out a bit with Southern Comfort, then wrestled on the sand, skinnydipped in the freaking cold river, and, I'm sure, annoyed everyone who wasn't participating. The forest fires turned out to be a bigger problem than originally thought... Charlie and others awoke in the middle of the night to find the trees across the river, ablaze in flame, smoke settling down on our campsite. Somehow I managed to sleep through all of this and was only notified about it the next morning.

Day 5, we woke up feeling pretty nasty, either because of Mr Boston and SoCo or the forest fires, or maybe both. Anyway, breakfast, as usual (surprise!), was incredible, an egg casserole with chillies and salsa, served hot. Honestly, without the food, I don't know how I would have made it! We rafted and rafted some more, this time we managed to leave the part of the river that was punctuated by forest fires, but a mushroom cloud of smoke followed us, and we saw our first black bear. Day 5 was the worst day, as far as sun exposure went, without the smoke as a buffer between our skin and the rays of sun, I burnt in spite of wearing Charlie's SPF50 Coppertone. Ickkkk! I napped away the afternoon, to recover from the discomforts :), waking up for dinner, which is tsatsiki sauce (cucumber and dill sauce) and crackers, steamed salmon with lemon, mmmmmmm, and a green bean casserole. Dessert was an UNBELIEVABLE Oreo ice cream cake, complete with marachino cherries and whipped cream. As the Felkeys were setting up camp for the night, we sighted a black bear on the river banks across from us, very disconcerting particularly because it was sunset. But we made it through the night, sleeping outside on the sandy beaches, once again underneath the stars!

Day 6, Thursday. Pretty miserable at this point, as I had not taken even a quasi-shower with the Coleman, but I did wake up to a great breakfast of hashed browns with corned beef on an English muffin. Mmmmmmm! Sometime during the night, the smoke from the mushroom cloud had settled on the campsite (we were sort of in a canyon by that point) so the entire atmosphere felt so eerily surreal, especially with extremely restricted visibility on the Salmon River, as if we were on our way to Mordor. Or something. We made 2 stops, the first at Buckeye Bill's to pick up water, buy ice cream, and look at the Buckeye Bill Museum, this little loghouse filled with weird artefacts like lion fetuses and snake skulls that reflected Buckeye Bill's eccentricities. Our second stop was at Polly Something's (Bepin's), a little Timeshare resort... I had my own adventure there, but I don't really want to talk about it here, now. :) Suffice it to say that I was cleaner and happier when we pulled away, but at the expense of prosecution. :) ANYWAY!

Dinner was happy hour, Jack prepared a savory barbecued chicken dish, along with an oriental salad, and an amazing garlic and dill spread. This was our last night and we camped out on a beach, California Bar they called it. Sadly, it rained and so we had to sleep inside the tent instead... apparently there might have been a lizard in the tent that night, freaky.

DAY 7!!!! I was brought breakfast in bed, since I was not able to get up on time and we had to leave quickly. Breakfast was quiche and fresh trout and I could not have been happier. Unfortunatley, the day was pretty miserable and I felt hypothermic at times. While the air was fresh at last, no traces of carbon and ash, it was raining cold showers. I must have looked thoroughly dejected, the other campers definitely thought I had a BOOHOO face on! Because of the rain, what should have been a 2-hour rafting stretch was prolonged to 4-5 hours, I felt like dying by the end of it and could only think of fuzzy towels, whirlpools, and hot steaming food. Thankfully, just when I thought I couldn't take more, we sighted a bridge that signalled the end of our trip. Near the bridge was parked the suburbans and so we got out of the rafts, changed clothings, loaded up the vans, and to make a long story short, drove "home" to Bozeman, arriving at around 3AM.

Okay! Enough, this journal will stop right HERE :) If you made it this far, I love you, I wanted to share my first camping experience, wahoo. Overall, I had fun and would do it again, I think...

Anyway, gotta pick up my parcels at the post office now. Later!

Current Mood: accomplished accomplished
Current Music: Coldplay - Rush of Blood to the Head