Thursday, May 26, 2011

i'm having stress-breakouts in anticipation of tomorrow.

Last summer my birthday-weekend plans were thwarted by two of my friends' restaurant industry jobs. If you've ever been fortunate enough to experience working at any restaurant, then you're fully aware of the near-impossibility of securing an entire weekend off. Plus, you usually miss out on a shit-ton of potential tip dollars.

Whatever, two of the crew had to cancel at the last minute, and that left Erin and I and a handle of Jim Beam. I was feeling bummy about it, but not completely defeated, so we decided to embark on an adventure that cut down a bit on the originally planned eight hour journey to my childhood lake home.

Basically, I was sitting at work in the very same cubicle I'm sitting in now, feeling kind of pissy and sort of like I was all dressed up with no place to go, but rather all amped up for a camping trip on the beach and no one to split the gas money with, and I decided that I was still going camping goddamnit.

I sort of grinded my teeth in determination and typed in the Google url. Fuck this, I'm still having a bomb-ass birthday and drinking a shitload of Beam on some body of water, somewhere.

"Indiana canoe camping river rage fun drunk"

Or something like that is what I typed in and hit enter.

And this little beauty was the first hit:


Um, sold. Well, actually I just didn't feel like shopping around and their camping policies were reeeeeally lax, so that is how Whitewater Canoe Rentals became the lucky winner and eventually the greatest place on earth.

The next day was Friday and I had taken off work in advance. Erin worked for the state at the time, which basically meant she showed up inconsistently and no one ever noticed. We departed around eleven in the morning with a cig to the wind and a prayer in our hearts. AKA we were basically completely unprepared for the events to follow.

Brookville Bound.

The website for this business doesn't provide any sort of street address or really any sort of guidance for the weary traveler. On instinct alone, (and several phone calls to my father for assistance) we landed on the Whitewater River early into the afternoon. The place looked pretty deserted. As in not a single human was milling around. It was a Friday in July. The fact that no one was around could have alarmed us, but it didn't. What it lacked in patrons, this place made up for in character, the place was brimming with it. And also flooded with the carcasses of faded, rotting, life-jackets.

What we pulled up to can probably only be described as a shack, or shanty. It's basically an old-ass pile of wood with a hand-painted sign that says "office." Erin and I looked at each other quizzically and then she hopped out of the car and approached the counter. As I followed, we were greeted by an old-ass man with bright-white hair and reaaaaaaaally rough-looking hands. Like, river rough. I'm not sure what that means, but stay with me.

you have now arrived in heaven: welcome. 

He seemed to have the authority to charge us ten bucks a pop for the campsite and rent us a canoe for the day for thirty dollars. Uhhh, okay? (Cut to me scriblbling my name on the waiver after a brief skim-job.) Old Man River (OMR) walked us sloooowly down to the camping area, which he decribed as "primitive." Basically no one else had set up camp for the weekend yet, so we had the pick of the place. After collaborating on the decision like the indecisive bitches we are, we selected a site with a some trees and foliage boundary/privacy that backed up directly to the river. I'm not kidding when I say we picked the bombest ass place in the world to camp.

So OMR wanders back up to the 'office' and we're left to take it all in- and we both just let loose shit-eating grins. We're nodding, we're grabbing gear that's shrewn everywhere out of the Jeep. It's fucking on. Yes, it's just the two of us camping in a remote and unfamilar place with only one known human in the area who looks like he could crush entire skulls with his bare hands, but we've embarked past the point of no return.

About two minutes later we've both got stiff whiskey drinks in hand and blue grass setting the mood as we start making camp struggle to figure out a tent that's CLEARLY missing a pole. It's one of those dream-beautiful days of summer that you just want to hide inside all year round. Yadda Yadda Yadda, another drink gets poured, more stuff get's unpacked, sunscreen gets haphazardly applied. At one point I brazenly changed my clothes with nothing shielding me but an open car-door. That's how empty this place was.

We quickly discovered that Brookville is like entering a time-warp. Suddenly everything is on your own time. Which, I really think is how things should be all the time, but apparently it's unrealistic to ask the rest of the world to wait for my instructions to go through the daily hum-drum. Whatever. It's Brookville. Time's moving slow, the weather is perfect, and we're about to haul-ass down a river in a steel bullet of a vessel. Fuck. Yes.

We finally start seeing other hooligans walking around and making their way down the river to push off and start making an effort to head that way. We eventually get our shit together and pack provisions for the eight mile water-trip. AKA we threw some beer in the cooler, whiskey in a water bottle, and grabbed our sunglasses. In about .5 seconds we approach the launch site and are greeted by the most impressive display of abdominal muscles I have ever seen on a human male. BUT WAIT. 

He has an identical twin. 

I swear to everything good in this world that those abs could have washed the towel I failed to bring with me on the trip. 


So obviously we now feel like we're in good hands and we snap on the newest-looking life jackets we can find, grab matching paddles, and join the growing pack.

We push off and I'm at stern because obviously I have to be in control and I've got years more experience with water-crafts than Erin. Not that it mattered. The next two hours can only be described accurately with two words.

 Shit show. 

Flip flops were broken, alcohol was consumed at an alarming rate, languid swims were taken, beaches were peed on, eight miles was covered. It was perfect. 


And before you go all judge-y on my ass, let me go ahead and say that I'm fully aware how unsafe mixing water and booze is. Ok? I'm sorry. It was a grand idea at the time. Everything turned out okay. We survived and thrived and actually steering the boat was probably the least challenging task I mastered through the entire trip. Alright? Ever tried to mix a drink while getting swept down a river? Relax. I'm a lifeguard. 

So we complete the route and life is slightly fuzzy for us both. We have no towels- because we're geniuses, obvioously. . Everything in our lives is soaked with river-water. It's probably five thirty in the afternoon at this point. We're both a little sun-worn and definitely hammered drunk. Our ride picks us up in a sketchy looking white van and I insist on sitting in the front seat despite visible discomfort and the driver having to shuffle some important-looking papers around off the seat. 

Erin and I just had the time of our lives, we were probably glowing more than a goddamn virgin bride. 

We quickly learn through semi-invasive drunken questioning that the driver, Cody, is OMR's SON. They own Wonderland aka Whitewater Canoe Rentals TOGETHER.  And thus starts a very beneficial friendship between us and him. AKA we chat for a minute and a half about Leonard Cohen and listen to him talk about his Chemistry degree briefly and then he gives us FREE PASSES to canoe the next day. FREE SHIT. Cody also hooks us up big time by bringing firewood to our campsite with a backhoe, helping us start a fire, and basically doing anything we say... aka driving us to the gas station for cigarettes.**

We get back to the campsite and I basically do a head-first dive into the tent and pass out for what I would imagine in real-life time frames would equate to roughly two hours. it felt like 15 minutes. I am awoken by this:


Erin's eating raw shit and now I'm sober enough to feel comfortable with more camping activities. It's pretty much perfect. Blah blah blah, we tinker around and eventually balance each other out sobriety-wise and venture down to the river. We 'swim' which basically involves just lying in about 8 inches of water and getting pulled downstream kind of strongly. Whatever, it's so magical that it doesn't matter. 

Fire gets started, music gets played. People show up. Actual cooked hot dogs are consumed. And a lot of other stuff.  It's a lot of getting back to earth, or as Erin has been saying for a week and a half now, getting back to basics. AND IT'S ALL GOING DOWN AGAIN TOMORROW. 


Erin and I leave at 11 am. 


Basically, the other half of our original group no longer works at restaurants and are DEFINITELY coming as we embark on our journey to kick off summer number two on the river in style.  I'm borderline worried for our health, because as much blatant disregard Erin and I can have for societal convention, I'm boiling with excitement thinking about adding two more to the mix. 

Thank GOD I'm a lifeguard. I hope you're weekend is just as drunk, sloppy, ridiculous, friend-filled and laughter-inducing. 

 Oh, and if you ever get the chance, hit up Brookville. Tell 'em Sara and Erin sent you. They'll know who you mean.

XO Sare

** I know the cigarettes thing is nasty, and I do apologize. This trip was clearly before I kicked that habit and moved on to lead a fit, exercise-ridden life. 

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