My friend Peter emceed the event, and when I asked him what river we were floating he replied, "The maps call it the Stillaguamish, but the locals have another name..." He didn't finish the joke. Pretty good setup though.
We were going to buy rubber donuts--inner-tubes, if you will--from a gas station, but Peter found some at a garage sale instead. They were cheaper. When we arrived at the launch point I discovered that the tubes were really small. Usually a river-floater would use tractor tire tubes or at least large truck tubes, but I think these were from a compact car, or maybe a bicycle. My ass hung down into the water like the meat they drag behi
One of the main agendas of this river float was to be drinking beer the entire time. Once I got into the raging waters, however, I realized that hauling two beers on my tube while trying to navigate around rocks and logjams with only one free hand wasn't going to work out. Also my bottle cap opener doubles as a knife. The blade is hard to avoid while opening bottles. Seemed like a bad idea. I chugged one before I launched and had to make do with only the feeblest of buzzes.
Also I think the compact car our tubes were salvaged from may have been a Ford Model T, because within 20 minutes they had all sprung leaks. I was glad I had jettisoned the beers because now I needed my free hand to plug leaks. Peter informed us we had about 4 hours left till the end of the float. I tried to do the math but thinking about drowning in rivers depresses me and so does doing math. I decided to take a wait-and-sink approach.
Fortunately, even after my tube had deflated I was still able to use it as a sort of generic brand Water Wings™, and if I was feeling especially bold, I could sit way down inside it with my legs sticking straight up like a little child who has fallen into a toilet.
Every 10 minutes or so the water would get really fast and really shallow, and we would all get raped by jagged rocks.
As the journey wore on, I started to bitterly ruminate on the beer I discarded. Oh! I said to myself. If only I had kept that beer, I would surely be drinking it right now! There were many other people floating on this river, and they had all without exception come better prepared than us. Not only did their floatation devices float, they also had iceboxes floating alongside them, no doubt filled with beer and rum and other goods. As I drifted past these smug poltroons in my flaccid, rapidly sinking car tire, how I longed to board their vessels and seize their cargo by brutal force. River Law has only one tenet: "Beer." I don't really know how that's a law, but I still follow it.
I didn't end up killing or even robbing anyone, but my friend Benji almost did. Everyone else in our party had worn old tennis shoes for the shallow stretches where we had to walk, but Benji had neglected this detail. Instead, he acquired some silver ballet slippers that he found in the grass. Wearing these and a pair of very short, very see-through, neon orange Power Aide shorts, he attempted to avoid all the painful beach rocks by veering up into a riverside field. As he started to ascend the slope, a group of locals sitting next to the water in a military-green golf cart, accosted him.
"Where you goin, buddy?" they demanded.
Benji explained his situation.
"Well that's private property," they said, gesturing towards the field.
Benji explained that he was aware of this, which is why he was on his way up there to raid the village and make off with all their cattle and women in his partially-deflated ship. Benji is blonde and has a beard and looks like a Viking, but the locals didn't relate to Benji's rape-and-pillage joke so he returned to the water and we all floated away to safety.
The only other thing that happened on the trip was I got really bruised and sunburned and then when we got back I ate some poisoned food that gave me food poisoning and now I have diarrhea.