Well, it certianly feels great to be D-O-N-E done! Last week was AMAZING and I loved it. Too bad I don't have any photos or I'd post some. I have a few stories to tell so I'll start with the least interesting and go to the most interesting (obviously the story of how I almost died is the most interesting.)
First, let me just say that packing is the pits! I used to think we didn't own very much because it's just the two of us and we've been living in this tiny apartment only a year so we hadn't had time to accumulate things. I forgot my expert ability to organize and pack everything away. We've had to go back a buy boxes three times now because we underestimated. On the plus side though, Dan's mom is here and she is an absolute angel! Without her I think I would have gone insane and decided that all we really need is a place setting each and a fry pan and I'd probably have given everything else away. (We have taken about four bags to the Goodwill total. Sorry Heather (Dan's sister) the shirt is already in Goodwill or the garbage, whichever one Dan thought was the most appropriate.) Perhaps the Whiting family inability to throw things away can come in handy when balanced with the Timothy (or is it Laird?) family ability to throw just about everything away. I'm pretty much fed up with packing. Also, it stinks because I know we'll just be doing the same thing in a couple months anyway. Man I wish we only had to do this thing once a year (well, I wish less moving than that, but at this point I'd take it.)
Secondly, Ashland was AWESOME! I think this may have been the best vacation ever and I'll tell you all why:
- John (Dan's Father) likes to be in charge and plan things. This makes it easy for the rest of us who then don't have to make any decisions. We can just follow along and enjoy. It really is glorious.
- The financial burden wasn't carried by us. We would NEVER be able to afford this trip on our own. We are blessed to have parents who will do nice things like this for us!
- I bought a mandolin. Not only that I got to take a lesson where the teacher just showed me the basics. She also set me up with stuff to practice so I'll be able to play just about anything if I work hard at it. I'm SO EXCITED! Now I just have to get used to thinking about chords instead of melodies.
- All the plays we saw were great! We saw Merry Wives of Windsor, A Winter's Tale, Cirano de Bergeraque (sp?), and Two Gentlemen of Verona. All were exceptional. I think I love going to plays and that will probably be the thing that Dan will have to get used to in our marriage. Hopefully we'll be able to find ones that he likes too. He seemed to really like Cirano so maybe that will work out well.
- I also go a new pair of summer shoes and a new dress both of which are beautiful. I wore my dress to church on Sunday and got lots of compliments on it.
Finally, how I almost died.
One day of the trip someone (probably John as he did make most of the decisions) decided that we needed to do an activity especially for Dan. We had eaten at a lot of good places (which didn't serve ice with any of their drinks and Dan thought that was silly). We had done a lot of good shopping (which is hard for Dan because he doesn't usually spend his money unless its something he has spent a while deciding he needs). We had gone to a couple of really great plays (which didn't really seem to excite him as much as anyone else). Dan had commented on a flier that he had seen at the B&B about a rafting trip and it was decided that we would go. Now I think I need to make a small confession, I really don't like anything that has the potential or percieved potential to be dangerous. I try to relax, but I get this feeling in my stomach that feels like I'm constipated. That sounds gross, but that's the exact feeling. Anyway, I decided to suck it up and go since Dan had done a lot of things that he doesn't really like to do. We were rafting down the water and all was calm for a while. I even played a game on a calm part. Someone stands on the front of the raft while everyone paddles in a circle to try and make them fall. I did it with Dan and he pushed me in. Anyway, we had gone over a couple of, I don't know what to call them so I'm going to call them rapids. Whenever there was a big one that we were going to go over our guide would tell us to put on our helmets so our brains didn't get bashed in. Well, he didn't say it quite like that, but I knew that's what they were for. Our guide had said that most up until the end were "class 2" with a couple of "class 3's." We had gone through them without a hitch so my nerves calmed down quite a bit. I think one of the ones we went right through was a class 4, but I'm not sure. Anyway, we got really splashed, but it was all exhilirating. The last part of the Rogue we were going down before the take out point was a class 4 with a couple of class 3's directly behind it. A mile after those rapids was the take out point. We were told to put on our helmets so I knew we were going into something big. There were two boats in our group going down the river and the first boat made it through the rapids just fine. Then we went. Somehow we got going sideways just before the first drop and immediately I was on high aleart. I forgot all about rowing and grabbed onto the raft in my terror. By the time we hit the drop we were completely sideways and I knew we were going over. I was on the higher side of the boat that flipped over and I have a clear snapshot in my mind of me looking down at everyone on the boat. Because of my death grip on the boat I was not dragged far under (like my mom, LeAnn, and Dan were) I was however directly under the boat. My dad pushed me out from under the boat and then he went out too. Keep in mind we are amid class 3 rapids at this point. So once he pushed me out I grabbed onto the outside of the raft. Then I called to him and he grabbed my hand and pulled to the raft. The fear I saw in his eyes was terrifying. We were both hanging onto the raft and it was bashing us against the rocks on the side of the river. Somehow our guide appeared on top of the overturned raft. He told me that I had to calm down, that my life vest would hold me up and that I had to let go of the raft. Since it was overturned we had to go down the river and make it to the other raft. This was not a claming message and at first I didn't do it. The raft was keeping me afloat. But he knew what was best and I let go. That that moment I hit a rock that nearly knocked the air out of me because I was not in "swimmer's position" with my feet forward. I struggled to get air and to get my feet ahead of me. I thought for sure I was going to drown. Then, when I got in swimmer's position I realized that when the raft had flipped I had somehow lost my helmet. I was going down class three rapids without my helmet! Now I really had to be careful. Just when the next rock came I bounced off it with my feet. Then I saw Dan and LeAnn floating down the river. I clung onto the back of them so that the other raft could come get us. Dan kept us from hitting some big rocks (by gettting hit with them himself, he kept saying ouch or something like that). Then the raft dragged us in and I felt like a fish flopping on the boat because I couldn't get up no matter how hard I tried. John had swam to the other shore of the river where it was shallow. The raft that had saved all of us had to get over to that shore. Once we got there we were much past John so we had to cling to the grasses on the other side as hard as we could. My arms were burning with the effort, but I could see that Dan's were shaking so I didn't let go. When we finally got out of the water our guide found out that we had broken one of the big oars they use for steering. Remember when I said that the rapids were a mile from the take out point? By the time we got everyone out of the water we were at the take out point. The other guide told us that there were "hydraulics" in the water right where we flipped that can pull rafters under really very far (which is probably what happened to the three that were under for so long they had to actually swim to the surface). We were really lucky because there were no serious injuries. On the other hand my sinuses were FULL of water. I was blowing water out my nose for two days after! Also on the ride home I looked down at my arms and found a very itchy rash had developed from holding on to the grasses. When I got home I realized that before I had thought about anything I had brushed water out of my eyes with the hands that had been clinging onto the grass. My eyes itched and then my eyelids started to swell and get that nasty rash. At least we were all alive.
You should really hear everyone's story, but I have to get back to packing before Dan and LeAnn wonder where I am.