8) Camping requires lots of STUFF

8) Camping has lots of STUFF you can buy.

I kinda like this part of camping. Okay, I really like this part of camping. Along with all new pink and green river outfits, and my waterproof notepads, there was lots of new STUFF.

Like, my flashlight. It has FOUR settings. One of them is the Spinning Disco Lights setting. That is TOO COOL. Yes, everyone else had official looking headlamps. But my flashlight blinked Green, Red, and Yellow. Theirs did NOT.

And there are tents and sleeping bags and cup holders that float. And waterproof bags and sparkly helmets. And campfires that run off of propane tanks. And, did you know that you can buy ice in 18 inch cubes? This reminded me so much of Little House on the Prairie and the blocks of ices they cut from frozen ponds.

There are mattress pads that come in all sorts of colors and waterproof MP3 players (which I totally should have had b/c I stupidly brought Speedy the iPod on the river and he stopped working after day 1… he magically recovered once we were back in PA).

I just wanted to go in a sporting goods store and buy all of the gadgets and widgets and electronic things that look like they fell out of Westerfeld’s UGLIES.

In fact, on our way home from the airport – before we’d eaten or showered or done anything prodcutive, I convinced St.Matt to detour to E.M.S. so I could just look at it all again.

He wouldn’t let me buy any! Not even when I argued that there may come a time when we need a throw bag in our backyard…

Return to Lessons From the River

7) River trips have their own language.

7) The Language of the River.

I spent a good part of the trip having no idea what anyone was talking about. This glossary should be about 12 zillion words long but A) I procrastinated in writing it and forgot most of them B) I tend to tune out things I don’t understand, so…

Anyway, here is river-language, according to me.

Groover – A box that is pooped in. So I hear. Not that I would know. Ewwww!

High Side – A command that means throw yourself at whatever part of the raft Capt. D points too. I was glad we never had to actually use this command b/c I am convinced I would have overzealously thrown myself OUT of the boat and onto whatever obstacle we were trying to skirt.

Kubb – My new favorite beach game. It involves throwing things at other things and knocking them down. It also has a castle. I’m good at falling down. I like castles. I don’t throw very accurately, but no one seemed to mind.

PFD – Personal Flotation Device. You and I know this as a “life vest.” I called it a PDF by accident at least twice a day.

Master Blaster – It has a flame and makes the coffee. That’s all I needed to know.

Throw Bag – This is a bag that is, um, thrown when someone goes overboard. But before you throw it, you have to make sure that you hold on to one end…

Return to Lessons from the River

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

Doesn’t our underwater camera look cool?

I posed and hammed it up for all sorts of FEARLESS shots – I only learned to row the boat so that St. Matt could take photographic proof. I even took a picture of me completing one of Victoria’s dares. A photo of me cannonballing off of a moving raft into the river.

And I delayed writing this blog until I could go pick up the pictures and photo CD’s. You were all going to be so impressed…

But then the photo place had a machine malfunction and we couldn’t pick up the pictures ’til last night. So we bounced in (okay, I bounced and St. Matt walked) and I proudly handed the woman our slip and her face fell. “Oh, yeah. About your order… We were going to call you…”

They’re blank!

Two rolls of blank film.

72 frames!

How could that even happen? The camera flashed, blinked, advanced – shouldn’t there be images? So I have my safe-on-dry-land Petunia pics, but any photographic evidence that I did more than pose on the banks of a river will have to come from my river compatriots. Guys? *

*And did they! Thanks Katie and Joshi for letting taking pictures that are GORGEOUS and letting me borrow them.

Return to Lessons from the River

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!!!


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.
“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!

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.