Rafts (scroll down for story)

On the Turntable: Jim Croce, Greatest Hits; followed by Bob Dylan, Nashville Skyline; cued up, David Mallet, David Mallet. In the Cassette Player: Patsy Cline, Greatest Hits. In the CD Player: Saturn Songs IV, (2006 indie singer/songwriter roots/folk compilation by Wes Weddell); William Pint & Felicia Dale, Blue Divide (maritime); David Ingerson, My Lovely Mountain Home (Irish traditional); Hugh Laurie, Let Them Talk (blues); Americana at its Best (2010 Americana compilation by Terri Grzebielski).

On my lap: Anthony Doerr, All the Light We Cannot See. Just finished: Brandon R. Schrand, The Enders Hotel: A Memoir (coming of age in small town SE Idaho); Sayantani Dasgupta, The House of Nails: Memories of a New Delhi Childhood (first chapbook I’ve ever read)

On My Mind: Jon Braman’s song “Built a Raft” took me back aways. (http://jonbraman.com/ ) (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YdsNV_hVrBs ). His dad was reading my raft saga and reminded me about Jon’s song and our similarities. I took another couple of listens. It was well worth it. Suggest you do the same.

Build-it-yourself rafts give you a very different experience than the buy-it-yourself kind. While I love our inflatable kayak from right over in neighboring Moscow at NRS, and I love what it will do in running water (above, Salmon River), the soggy, barely floating wooden raft some scouts built with logs they harvested themselves with hand tools holds a special place in my heart.  Here’s a snippet from that story.

Spring came. And it was time to actually make our run. To say we were excited is to understate matters significantly. At least some of us. Others had either more sense or higher priorities or both. The crew who actually wanted to jump on that questionable raft and make an eight-hour run down a polluted river was noticeably smaller than the crew that built it. Something about being too close to something may have been in play.

Joe and Bruce, Joe’s brother David, the Hendrix twins, Other Jimmy, Robert, one of the Fields boys, and I were all that were still excited about actually making the float. But that was enough. We had our lunches, our drinks (truly, no alcohol was involved or even thought of with this crew), and that omnipresent but unrecognized belief that we were all invincible and that nothing bad would happen.

That last one, the “nothing bad will happen” one, was immediately challenged. As soon as we got the raft unstuck from the mud bar and into the water, and despite the 50-gallon drums underneath, we looked like Jesus walking, or at least gliding, on the water. No sign of the raft. We were standing on the water and we were moving. Our ankles were wet. We knew there was a raft there somewhere, we could feel it beneath our soggy sneakers, but we couldn’t always see it. It didn’t want to float above the water, just sort of in it. Oh well, we were off.

Did you notice anything missing from my inventory of what we brought on the trip? Did we have life vests? No. Paddles? No. Cell phones? Didn’t exist. Poles? A few afterthought sticks. Dry bags? Never heard of them. “Be Prepared,” the Scout Motto, pretty much ignored. But we were off.

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