Monday, June 05, 2006

A Bridge Too Far

Jesse and Toby had this great idea to kayak down the Red River. They schemed and planned over the map deciding how best to do it. They decided to put in at the bridge in Waurika and get out at the bridge in Terrell. They calculated how long it would take them, and even thought if they went fast enough, they might be able to make it to the next bridge further down the river. They needed someone to drop them off and drive around to the next bridge to pick them up. That became my job. They packed their lunch, sunscreen, bug spray, and any other necessities that came to mind. They chose Jesse’s birthday as their day of departure.

On Sunday we all got up early and got ready. I drove them to Waurika and helped carry the kayaks down the river. We probably had to carry those boats a half mile through deep sand to get to the river from where we had parked the truck. Then with high hopes and dreams, they paddled off down the river while I drove back to Duncan and went to church. At noon, I checked my phone messages. They were still doing great, but thought that the trip was taking longer than they had expected. I went to the potluck after church and enjoyed playing with the grandbaby, not to mention the good eats. They called again at 1:00 and said it was still taking a long time and pushed the pick-up time back another hour. They called again at 2:00 saying the same thing. I relaxed and visited with friends, although I was a little worried about the time in the sun and water for my family. At 3:00, I jumped in the truck, picked up the dog, and headed to Terrell. I stopped and picked up some drinks since their next phone call said they were out of water and drinks. When I got to Ryan, OK, Toby called to say that they had seen signs of civilization and had gotten out of the kayaks and were walking up a pasture road. They were not sure where they were, but they thought it was Ryan. I pulled off in Ryan and asked a local man how to get to the river. He pointed down Main Street and said to keep going west (stop and open some gates) and I would come to the river. I headed west. When I got to the first gate, and was debating on what to do next, Toby called. They had found a house. I was only a few farmhouses away from them.

I found them at 86 year old Eileen Johnson’s house. She was showing them through her photo albums – grandchildren, great-grandchildren, etc. Toby said when they walked up to the house and rang the doorbell; no one answered for a few minutes. Thinking that no one was home and being really thirsty, he got down and was getting a drink out of the hydrant. Mrs. Johnson opened the door and said, "What are you doing?" Toby said, "Getting a drink of water." Mrs. Johnson said, "Well, come in the house and I’ll get you a cup." You got to love Oklahoma and its people.

The kayakers were tired and slightly sunburned in places they had missed with sunscreen, but they were fine. Later that night after food and showers, Jesse said that she did not think she wanted to kayak for a while. Jesse did not like the sand bass that jumped out of the water, startling her. She said that there were some huge fish and one even hit her kayak. Toby said the first three hours were great. But then it got hot and slow. They thought they had just miscalculated and planned a bridge too far.

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