Today was my big day on the river. I had been looking forward to it all week and rightfully so. What’s not to like about floating in an inner tube when a chest of ice cold beverages and snacks tethered to the aforementioned tube? Well the thought of water moccasins might do it but not even they could dissuade me.
Big Metal, P-Money and B-Squared picked me up around 9:15 this morning and we made the 60-mile trek to Enon, Louisiana. We arrived at Wayne’s World and passed the trailer on stilts to get to the destination (it literally looks like someone took their trailer and made it into a tree house. It’s that fabulous.)
We pulled in at about the same time the 17-year olds did, and they declared themselves already “2 beers deep” as they poured out of the truck and unloaded next to us, making sure to put extra sunblock on all their gaudy barbed wire tattoos as they lit their cigarettes. B-Squared reminded me that we would be seeing some classy people. She was not kidding.
Then we boarded a school bus that took us to the top of the river and we got handed our inner tubes and we waited for the children to shove off before we hopped in the “beautiful Bogue Chitto River”…that was a good plan.
And we floated and it.was.awesome. I mean, I didn’t see any water moccasins, other than the guy who came screaming down the sandbar saying he had never seen a snake that big. That did not make me feel awesome. After hearing that, you can understand why I about fell out of my tube when I was lying back with my eyes closed and I accidentally wandered into some reeds that brushed up against me.
There were a few houses along the banks and they were kind enough to fly their rebel flags and blast their music as we floated by…definitely an experience.
About half-way through the four-ish hour voyage, I realized I had to go to the bathroom and that was not awesome because the port-o-lets were back at the start of the river. Everyone tried to talk me into using the river but I just couldn’t do it. So I sucked it up.
A little while later, I had another close encounter, this time with a giant underwater tree. I got caught in a branch and thus the whole group stopped because we were tethered together.
While I had visions of a Rescue 911 episode I saw once, I figured it best to bail on my tube and just get in the water and pull the tube off the branch then get back in. Well, the water was a little deeper in that particular area and I went completely under. Hat and all. It was classic. I was gurgling and trying to catch my breath and I kept coming up, only to hit my head on the inner tube. I didn’t panic. But rather, I started laughing hysterically and this led to a brief period where I was kind of drowning but I didn’t panic because, well, B-Squared was on swim team, so I was in capable hands.
Finally, I was free of the branch and P-Money was going to steady my tube so I could get back in. As I struggled to get back in my tube, I contorted my body to get situated and then the tube began spraying water everywhere and slowly deflating. Not awesome.
I was back in the water, fully submerged and again, laughing hysterically while inhaling more of the “beautiful Bogue Chitto River”.
Luckily, Pat was kind enough to offer me his tube and he rode the cooler the rest of the way.
So we made it the rest of the way down the river and I finally reached the end and was able to go to the bathroom. Props to me for not losing it during the near-drowning experience, but this comes as no surprise to me. I have always kept my cool under water. Like the time I fell in the Napa River when I was fishing. I held on to that pole and didn’t let go. Crisis averted.
Anyway, it was about 4pm when we got off the river and we were sun-soaked (and only slightly toasted, we did reapply sunblock about 3 times.) So we change in the dressing room and I put dry pants on and we load up. I’m starting to think about a nap when….
Fast-forward to about 10 minutes into the 1 hour and 20 minute ride home. P-Money’s truck begins to spit steam and water from the hood.
We coast into a driveway and he pops the hood but obvi can’t do anything because it’s so hot. We proceed to get on the phone with AAA. In the mean time, P-Money breaks out his work gloves and, once the steam has subsided, gets under the hood, and sees that his radiator has cracked. Right by the hose. No bueno.
So we begin to wait for the tow truck that is supposedly coming within the hour. We also begin calling a phone tree of numbers because AAA has informed us that the tow truck will only take 2 of us. Not all 4. Swell. Now might also be the time to inform those not local to the Boot that in order to get to the river, we had to go over the Causeway Bridge. The Causeway Bridge is the longest bridge over a body of water. And word on the street is that the bridge is 23 miles long. So we are thinking, who can we call that lives in Covington or Mandeville who might already be here?
We call. And we text. And we call. And nothing. More than half the people don’t even respond and half the time we’re just asking for other people’s numbers. Not for them to even coming make the drive to get us!
It is as this point that we realize that we have no friends outside the 4 of us and I might have begun trying to sing the lyrics to “You Find Out Who Your Friends Are” by Tracy Lawrence. Serious bonus points for Suit and Cress, who actually offered to call someone to come get us since they were on a beach in Alabama and could not be of service to us. And also points to Bridget and Lauren who at least called to check on us and to Nick, who offered to cut his afternoon short if we were desparate.
So we sit on the side of the road for two hours while we waited for the tow truck, not really knowing what the two of us who were going to be left behind would do. P-Money and I played catch with a tennis ball. B-Squared found a branch and used it as a bat but one swing and she had a broken-bat single and that was the end of that game.
The tow truck finally arrived and it happened to be one of those flat-bed kinds and, worse, he had another passenger. Crap. But again, crisis averted because Big Metal, B-Squared and I hopped in the cab of P-Money’s truck and rode in there. Atop the flat bed. Yea. That wasn’t scary at all. It was worse than turbulence over the Rockie Mountains.
So we finally arrive at a repair shop in Mandeville (very close to the Causeway Bridge) and we again start expanding the calling circle. The repair shop doesn’t have the part needed to fix the truck so we walk across the street to see if Nick is going to be able to come through. Sadly, he didn’t drive to Covington and couldn’t help but he at least called. Which we all appreciated.
As we sat at Back Yard Burger, eating dinner at what was now 6:30PM (2.5 hours post-river), we weighed our options. They were limited. Finally, around 7:30, we were resigned to call a cab.
And 20 minutes later, a man that I coulda sworn was Santa, showed up in a mini-van to take us back to New Orleans.
We hopped in and to my horror, there was a carton not just a pack but a carton of Pall Malls next to the driver’s seat, and one cigarette lit in the ashtray. I thought I might die.
Luckily, upon hearing that none of us smoke, he put it out but the smell was definitely there. Gross.
Around 8:30PM, and approximately $85 lighter in our pockets, we were back in New Orleans at my apartment and I drove the rest of the group to their respective places of residence. This was promptly followed by me showering the river off of me.
It really was a solid day. A solid 12-hour day. I really did have fun and even though it was long, it really was so comical that we couldn’t have even made all this stuff up!
Now. I’m going to pass out from being in the sun all day and on the side of the road all evening.
Thank you and good night.