Lessons from the River – My FEARLESS Adventure

Fearless doesn’t mean without fear . Okay, technically it does, but for the purpose of Fearless Summer it means acknowledging that something is scary or difficult and then *gulp* doing it anyway.

What could be scarier or more challenging than ME on a 5-day Whitewater rafting trip through the Gates of Lodore in Colorado and Utah? (Admit it, you were a little scared when you saw the words Tiffany & Whitewater together).

But I DID IT!

Lessons Learned on the River:

2) What a groover is. If you don’t know, you probably don’t want to.

3) If you scream like horror-flick blonde, you will get made fun of around the campfire.

4) When things go wrong on the river, they go wrong fast and they go really wrong.

5) If you haven’t used your underwater camera in a year – check it before going shutterbuggy.

6) Braids are the ideal river hairstyle.

7) River trips have their own language.

8) Camping requires lots of STUFF

Don’t we look rather FEARLESS? Okay, really we just look amused…. but there was plenty of fearlessness occurring too. And it was, most definitely, an ADVENTURE!

Apply sunblock BEFORE you put on your Chacos

Like my stripe-y sunburn?

The shoes that caused it… (though mine are lighter pink)

photo credit

…Also, pedicures are no match for camping.

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2 ) I am not a camper.

I attempted it once when I was six and ended up in the hospital before it was time for s’mores – and that was the only reason I’d wanted to try it. That some people are just-not-meant-to-be-campers was brought home to me on this trip in some very real ways.*

For instance, while I had a great time practicing setting up the tent with J-bean in her front yard:

Yes, I am modeling my lifevest over a dress

I didn’t really think about the fact that when I had to sleep in it the next night, it would be out in the WILD and it would be dark. It’s a good thing St. Matt bought me a kid’s flashlight, complete with blinking lights (aka the ‘disco setting’) and a nightlight. I kept that on the whole first night.

Another thing that hadn’t occurred to me even once was where people went to the bathroom in the woods. I’m not a moron – I didn’t expect sparkling powder rooms with uniformed attendants – I just hadn’t thought about it at all. When J-bean told me about the groover, I thought she was joking. She wasn’t.

Um, no. Letting her show me was all the experience I needed. Thank God, this was a shortish trip. Maybe next time I’ll think about it…

… then again, maybe not!

*This was also brought home to be post-trip, when everyone who asked me how the trip was, did so by saying *giggle* “How was camping, Tiffany?” *giggle* “Did you like it? I’m shocked you survived!” hrumph!!!

3) If you scream like horror-flick blonde, you will get made fun of around the campfire

In my defense, someone had seen a SNAKE in that general area the day before. And I heard a scary noise in the bushes behind me. The fact that it turned out to be a bird and not actually a man-eating serpent isn’t relevant.

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A True Test of FEARLESSNESS

By putting Fearless Summer out there in the universe, I knew I would be tested. I just didn’t know how MUCH I would be tested or what types of opportunities I’d be given to grow.

Tomorrow I leave for a Fearless Adventure – Five days of whitewater rafting in Utah and Colorado.

Less than 24 hours after I posted my original declaration of Fearless Summer my college roomie called. St. Matt and I already had plane tickets to go visit J-bean and her husband in New Mexico, but those plans were about to change.


“How’d you like to go rafting?” J-bean asked.
“Rafting?”
“You know, whitewater rafting.”

J-bean proceeded to tell me about how they’d been offered a last minute rafting pass to Gates of Lodore, a place that she and her husband had been wanting to go for years.

I had never considered going whitewater rafting before – it sounds scary and potentially deadly for someone as spaztastic as me. I looked over at St. Matt who was nodding so enthusiastically his head might detach. Taking a fearless breath, I said: “Um, sure. Tell me the details.”

The details include five days on the river in class 3-4 rapids. J-bean’s husband is guide certified, so they have all the gear and it’ll just be us in the raft.

J-bean sent us a list of stuff we’d need and we set about purchasing it.

EMS is a culture unto itself. I felt like I’d been transported to the world of Westerfeld’s Uglies – there were water purifiers and grippy shoes. I found myself looking around for hoverboards and interface rings.

They didn’t have these… but I did find the supplies I needed and all are in pink or green! (For once St. Matt approves of my color scheme because he thinks it’ll make me easier to spot if I wander off in the wilderness.) I even found waterproof notepads for my whitewater *fierce wonderings* and inspirations. They’re green. I bought two. I like buying camping stuff.

I’ve never camped before. When I was six, I was supposed to go camping with my cousins, but before I even got to spend the night in a tent, I managed to break my arm. Badly. Hold your arm up and flop your wrist – see how it creates a 90* angle? Mine did that 3 inches below the wrist joint.

So when I announced that I was go rafting – people worried. “Um, does J-bean know about your… um, tendency to get hurt?”

She does — my college experience wasn’t exactly mishap or ER-free — but conveniently both she and her husband are doctors.

If I fall out of the boat, I figure they’ll fish me out and plop me back in. If I get cut – they’ll stitch me back up.

And St. Matt has already double and triple checked that there’s a helmet with my name on it.

So while others may fret and worry and hug me extra tight before I leave – I’m not anxious. I’m not concerned. I’m FEARLESS.

So wish me luck and leave me messages for when I come back from my FEARLESS adventure – because I will come back, braver, stronger, tanner, and perhaps soggier! THIS is what Fearless Summer is all about!

*disclaimer* I AM concerned about being *gulp* technology-less for FIVE whole days. You won’t see me on twitter or my blog because Gilbert, Petunia and Huey are all going to be left behind where it’s safe and dry!

Mickey Mischief

Shhhh! Don’t tell anyone, but the last time I went to Disney World I was a toxic visitor.

I was 7. The trip was my First Holy Communion present – or just conveniently timed so the two events are linked in my mind. My memories of the religious ceremony are hazy – fever hazy – a white dress with a pink sash, a flower wreath settled on foam-curler ringlets, a honey ham, all my relatives.

I didn’t feel well. I didn’t want honey ham or jello mold or even dinner mints I’d have to sneak off the tray. I tried telling my mom – but she was busy changing a diaper or taking lemon squares out of the oven. Dad was talking and making drinks – he told me to run along and play.

I stumbled along and played, but without my usual impish vigor. After all the guests left I collapsed – pretty dress, curled hair, flower wreath and all – on the kitchen floor.

Chicken pox!

But we already had the trip planned – non-refundable flights, vacations forms completed and homework collected, park tickets. So I went to Disney and spread love and germs on Small World. My spots were natural camouflage on the Jungle Cruise

This trip I wasn’t contagious. It was quick; a last minute surprise getaway from St. Matt for our 5th Anniversary.* On the 4th of July St. Matt wanted to get to the park early and stay late to see the fireworks. Since we both know that I was not going to be able to handle 14 hours of straight ride-riding, it was a given I’d pack a book.

But which? I’d packed four different paper volumes and loaded a bunch onto Gilbert in preparation for the trip. Since I couldn’t make up my mind, I brought three: Tenth Grade Bleeds, Eyes Like Stars and Prophesy of the Sisters.

As we ferried over to the Magic Kingdom at 8:00 AM, I had a brainstorm. No, an inspiration. I had three great books by three fabulous authors, I was going to the most magical place in the world…. PHOTO OPPORTUNITY!**

It was like a reverse scavenger hunt. Instead of finding the books, I was finding fun places to photograph them. I scrambled all over the park feeling gleeful and mischievous. We got a few curious looks, but no one stopped or questioned us.

Of course, there was also ride-riding and confection eating and even some pausing to do some actual reading.

And there were fireworks too!

The only downside of the whole day was:

But this just means we’ll have to come back again soon.

*Have I mentioned lately that I have the BEST husband ever?
**St. Matt balked for all of 3 seconds, but I threatened him with the Tiki Room if he didn’t participate.

Restless-Fearless Summer

Fearless Summer has also apparently become Restless Summer because I can’t seem to stop traveling.

Not that I’m complaining. Travel provides many opportunities to be Fearless.
Last week I drove to Newport, RI – BY MYSELF. I was meeting high school friends, but they were coming down from Boston while I was coming up from PA. Up through unfamiliar roads, blinding downpours and hours of stop and go traffic.

It was supposed to take 5 hours. It really took 7.5 and I fought with my GPS (Wendy) the whole way because she really wanted me to take the George Washington Bridge and I knew I needed to take the Tappen Zee. Every once in a while she’d say in this digitally huffy voice: “Recalculating.” A voice that suggests what she wanted to say was: “Moron, why do you keep messing up my perfectly clear directions?”

But it was my trip, not Wendy’s and I was Fearless. So I ignored her insults* pressed onward and arrived a little restless, but with courage intact.

I may have stopped along the way for a quick stress-reducing shopping trip…
But, I also accomplished two of Victoria’s DARES!

1) I have cartwheeled!
2) I have let a waitress order my meal: red-pepper fettuccini with warm tomatoes and cool cheese. It had a fancy name but I didn’t write it down. It was delicious. I WILL do this again.

I’m working on Courtney’s shirt and the rest of the dares… I believe that the shirt will be necessary for the *gulp* fearless adventure I will be having soon…

Any one else have a DARE? Bring it! I can handle anything this Fearless Summer.

*Wendy totally got me back on the way home by activating some crazy Avoid-Interstates option. I didn’t figure this out right away so the first hour of my trip was rather circuitous – but scenic.

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