Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Whitewater: Bridge Day opportunity

So... I sent a note to the outfitter that we used for the Gauley Reverse trip, thanking them again for the great time. (Additional post(s) on the trip are forthcoming, by the way - just haven't gotten the experience all processed and blog-worthy yet).

Anyway, imagine my surprise when I got an email reply from the owner:

"What are you doing this weekend? Would you like a free trip on the lower New river for Bridge Day Saturday?"

Wow. Talk about great customer service (and building customer loyalty)! Bridge Day bills itself as "the largest extreme sports event in the world" - every year on the third Saturday in October, the 876' tall New River Gorge Bridge is opened up to parachutists and rapellers, along with some 200,000 spectators assembled to watch the craziness. The best seat in the house is from a raft on the Lower New, which passes directly under the bridge. I've always wanted to experience Bridge Day (though not from a parachute - at least not yet), but haven't had an opportunity. Now, out of the blue, I've been offered a free trip.

Responsibility, however, reared its ugly head (see the "Toast" post) - too much to do, and after all, I went rafting just two weeks ago. So, when I mentioned the offer to Jennifer, I told her I planned on telling the outfitter "thanks but no thanks", and suggested that I might take Morgan (our 13 year old daughter) next year. Her response: "I could work things out around you being gone this Saturday."

Double wow. The outfitter offers me a free trip, and my wife redirects me to the present tense and opens the door for me to take them up on it - not next year, but now.

Which leads me to Morgan. I would love to provide her with this experience - both the spectacle of Bridge Day, and the whitewater adventure. While the New isn't the Gauley, it does have some very solid Class IV rapids - what a confidence builder that would be for a 13-year old girl! However, the last thing I want to do is get Morgan into a bad situation. I'm not worried about her safety - although I'm sure I wouldn't be able to breathe completely easily until we were off the river at the end of the day - but I don't want her to spend the day wet, cold, and scared. Wet certainly, and cold probably, but not scared.

I tested the waters (no pun intended) with Morgan, and her first question was "How big are the rapids?" So, we turned to the internet. I found a nice representative video on YouTube - big bouncy wave trains, smiling rafters, and no flips or "carnage". I did the Lower New a few years ago, and that was the way I recalled it.

So far, so good. Then, I clicked on one more Lower New video clip, and it was a raft surfing on a hydraulic. Fun stuff. At least until the raft turned sideways, dropped the upstream tube and dumped several rafters. Still no great trauma, until we saw that one of the dumped rafters had managed to get his foot stuck in the webbing running alongside the tube - his foot was pointing straight up, trapped in the webbing, while the rest of him was pointing straight down - underwater in the middle of the hydraulic. They eventually got him untangled and back in the boat, but not before he had spent more time than he cared to upside down in the spin cycle. For the life of me I can't figure out how he managed to get himself tangled up that way.

Anyway. Not exactly the type of video footage that I was hoping to find, but it didn't seem to scare Morgan off of the idea. I told her to sleep on it, and we'd talk about it in the morning. Hopefully she's not having nightmares....


Anonymous said...

WoW! You must have a great wife! Does she have a sister?

Wags said...

I do indeed.

And no, she doesn't.