Friday, August 21, 2009

Pemi-Baker River Adventures

August 6th may have been the greatest adventure we have ever had and it was all thanks to a random website we found while looking for things to do in New Hampshire.

We drove to Pemi-Baker River Adventures in Plymouth and weren't sure what we would expect when we got there. We knew that we were going to rent tubes and float down the river but didn't know how far we would go, how fast we might go, if we would all be tied together or if we would have some sort of guide.

When we got there we found out that there would be no guide, nothing to attach us to one another and it would be our responsibility to pick out the pickup point and get out - or else float down the river for 6 more miles.

After we signed the waivers and were given our life jackets we were driven down to the river in a rickety van by a cute old man who told us stories the whole way. We had to walk about 3 minutes to the water by ourselves because the guy dropped us off in the woods and drove away. We weren't wearing shoes and had to maneuver by broken glass, rocks and mysterious fecal droppings on the way.

When we finally got to the water we struggled for a little while to get on our tubes and hit some rapids early on that were really fun. We laughed the whole time. After that we just sort of floated along for awhile hitting rapids every now and then. It was really cool because we were the only people on the river and we felt like we were all alone in the great outdoors! We did hold onto each other the whole time, though, because the river was moving pretty fast and nobody wanted to get separated.

The guys told us that we would go under two bridges and after the second we would have to move ourselves over to the right and get off at a boat ramp. They also said that they would have a boat hook to grab us and pull us in once we got there.

When we got there we were as far right as we possibly could be but no one was there to hook us and bring us in. Emily (our youngest sister) managed to paddle herself over to the sand but the rest of us kept floating down the river and grabbed onto branches to save ourselves.The current picked up there (which the men had also warned us about) and was so strong that trying to get back to the boat ramp was a daunting task. Caitlin managed to do it and then our Mom did too but I had floated too far and was still holding onto a branch for dear life. Emily decided that she was going to come down and try to save me, but the current was so strong that neither one of us could move and we both got stuck holding onto a branch.

It was exactly like a movie: "Emily, don't let go of that branch!" "I know, I'm trying but it's starting to break!" I was blowing my "safety whistle" that said "NEED HELP? JUST WHISTLE" on it and no help was coming! I kept yelling, "WHAT'S HAPPENING?" to Caitlin and Mom because they were just standing on land watching us, not knowing what to do. Caitlin eventually walked down a path just above us and pulled a huge branch out of the ground that she tried to shove at us but it wasn't long enough.

After about 10 minutes of struggling to maintain our hold and nervously laughing while being terrified, the guy who drove us down arrived with someone else. They tied 2 ropes to Caitlin's tube and threw it to us but it didn't even make it halfway. By this time, I was dying because people were gathering and we were starting to cause a scene. I knew I'd have to try to walk back up but was so terrified to try and touch the mucky bottom. However, I was motivated by my sheer embarrassment and jumped off my tube - the bottom was just as gross as I imagined it would be. It was so hard to walk against the current while holding onto my tube and pulling Emily behind me in hers. The rocks were so slippery and jagged, there were branches down there that scraped my toes and every now and then I stepped down into the mushiest, grossest feeling muck.

We were struggling along, me walking as hard as I could and Emily grabbing onto branches along the way and after about 5-7 minutes we finally made it to the tube they had thrown out, grabbed it and got pulled in. All we could do was thank the random guy who had provided the rope and shake our heads at how ridiculous we were.

When we got back in the van the guy said that that was the most excitement he had seen in 5+ years....the only thing that could compare was when they almost lost a lady.

An 80 year old lady.

Polar Caves

While on vacation in New Hampshire, we decided to revisit one of the places we had been to a long time ago: Polar Caves in Plymouth. We couldn't remember much about it except that there were a lot of stairs.

When we got there, it was super hot but once we got into the caves it was really nice and we didn't really want to come back out again. We very quickly realized that these caves were way more difficult to maneuver than Mammoth Cave in Kentucky. There was a lot of walking up stairs and contorting your body and squatting and bending so it was pretty tiring but also a lot of fun.

Caitlin and I took up the caboose and found out that we are SO BAD at caves. I hit my head and scraped my shoulder and we both tripped and slipped multiple times. Our mom and younger sister were ahead of us and doing fine - they looked like they were born in a cave while we rolled our ankles and scraped our spines.

When we got to the "Lemon Squeeze" a tour guide named Bob appeared behind us with his walking stick and kerchief around his neck and we got nervous that he'd see us fall or that he would surpass all of us and make us look bad, but he just kept walking by after a failed attempt at joking with him about using his walking stick to push people through the cave...

The "Lemon Squeeze" was definitely the highlight of the day because it was only 12 inches wide and Caitlin was the only one who made it through successfully. It involved a lot of squeezing yourself in, pulling yourself up a rock and pushing yourself through. I tried to do it but got scared thinking about The Descent and also felt way too rushed because the 7 year olds in the group behind us kept yelling, "OH MY GOD THIS IS SO EASY THIS IS LIKE THE EASIEST THING I'VE EVER DONE IN MY LIFE I'VE NEVER BEEN THROUGH SOMETHING WIDER IT'S LIKE AS WIDE AS AN OPEN FIELD BUT YOU PROBABLY WON'T BE ABLE TO DO IT BUT FOR ME, IT'S JUST SO EASY I MIGHT NOT EVEN DO IT BECAUSE IT WON'T EVEN BE A CHALLENGE I WON'T EVEN KNOW I'M GOING THROUGH IT BECAUSE IT'S SO EASY FOR ME AND I WON'T EVEN TOUCH THE SIDES" so I took the easy way out and went through the "Orange Crush" which meant a lot of squatting and waddling.

But Caitlin did it! And she'll never let any of us forget it.