tear up the streets

A few weeks ago I had a grand adventure.


I don’t really know how it started. I just know that sometime while I was on Vikoden I agreed to drive from Utah to Canada with my cousins. It was probably the best decision I made while on drugs.

We left from Utah in a little white pickup that didn’t have air conditioning.


It was a lot more fun than it sounds. I was excited to be doing something other than “resting” or “healing”. That stuff gets pretty old, pretty fast. Another thing that got old quickly was sitting in the front seat. My collarbone couldn’t handle being in tight quarters for very long. So I decided to get in the back.



It was a little challenging. I fell a few times.


But I made it. Eventually.


This is where I spent the next five or six hours. My head was right next to the speaker, so I was completely engulfed in bass and warm sunshine. I curled up and fell asleep with a  smile on my face.



I woke up when we stopped at the Utah/Idaho border and extracted myself from the truck for some routine state border pictures.


P7250265I think I was supposed to be jumping in that one…

I climbed back into the truck and watched the world pass by and listened to the thousands of unfamiliar songs my cousins had crammed onto their iPods.


We stopped at some bridge over some river. Little details have never really been that important to me.


We saw this couple taking a self portrait with their camera of themselves…and their dog. I laughed a little, then acted like I was taking a picture of the lovely canyon while secretly being a creeper photographer.


We climbed down to the bottom and then back up to the top. May I just remind you that a week prior to this I was restricted to sitting 95% of the day? Yeah, I was breathless. And it was not because of the scenery. (Although the scenery was pretty nice…)


IMG-20110725-01844 Here you go. Details.

There was a lot of texting.


And a equal amounts of human interaction. I got to know my cousins a lot better. The best thing in the world is fitting in. Everyone wants to and people go to great lengths to feel like they’re accepted. The best thing about this trip was that I fit with them from the beginning. I was just who I was, with no nervousness or worry that I wasn't saying or doing the right thing. No need to have the awkward conversation fillers or pity laughs at something that wasn't funny. No need to talk to fill a silence--I could just sit quietly in my seat and think. It was relaxing not to have to keep up with social practices for a change, even with these people who were practically strangers to me.

P7250279 My face looks weird in pictures since the accident. I’m dealing with it.

We stopped for lunch at a classy, refined, and elegant restaurant.


We even dressed appropriately for the occasion. Classy.

Evidently it had been featured on the Food Network. Though why on earth someone put it on TV was beyond me. The most significant entrée was a can of Spaghetti-O’s served with a spork and a bag of Cheetos. Not even kidding. In fact, a kid behind us was eating that exact lunch. So my cousin, who is just as much of a creeper as I am, snapped a pic. For proof.


Now I have a story about myself that is very sensitive. I’m not even sure if I’m ready to joke about it. But here goes. I am not good at ordering. Or rather, I’m too good at ordering. I read every single thing on the menu and take time to imagine each one in my mind and weigh the pros and cons of every item. I go through this process every time I go to eat. It generally frustrates the people that I’m with, and I’m always the last to order. Needless to say, the waitress had to wait quite a few minutes before I was mentally prepared to order. I ordered a hamburger called the Junkyard Dog. This is what I got:


That, my friends, is a hot dog. A hot dog that has been mutilated by the frustrated stabs of a knife. I was perplexed and just stared at it. The cousins stared at me, wondering what the heck was wrong with me. I explained my predicament and they erupted into peals of uncontrollable laughter. “Junkyard DOG?! And you thought it was a HAMBURGER?!” They were merciless. I was discouraged. I hate hot dogs. It wasn’t a good combination.

To make things worse…there were tables inside old cars. It would have been cool had I not been bitterly craving a good burger.


After another hour or so in the car we arrived at our first real stop. We wasted no time resting—we grabbed some gear and went white water rafting. I was glad that I dozed in the car and continued to do so as the truck wound its way up the mountain to where we embarked on our rafting journey.

P7250306   I was excited. And a tiiiiny bit terrified.

They made me wear a helmet. They claimed that it was because of all my skull fractures that weren’t fully healed, but I’m fairly certain it was a plot to make me look stupid and/or to broadcast my novice-ness to all the other rafters on the river. Both goals were successfully achieved.


White water rafting is intense. It’s physically challenging (especially when you have a broken collar bone. I doubt I pulled my weight in the raft, but oh well). The sun was already half hidden by the mountains when we pushed into the water, cooling the air and chilling the water. It’s the biggest rush to paddle hard, propelling yourself forward into strong waves crashing into each other and throwing you towards rocks. Time freezes when you’re suspended on top of the swell of a wave looking down on the rocks beneath you. It’s exhilarating, making it through the highest part and crashing straight down. There were so many times when I didn’t think we'd make it through without capsizing.  But we did. There’s an odd sensation of pride and joy at being suspended feet above the river on the crest of a wave, followed by the feeling of relief and accomplishment when you make it through the crashing waves of icy water.

Between the cold and the rush of adrenaline I was hyper. And thrilled to be alive. I mean, I’m always happy to be alive. But this was more than that. This was living.


Eventually the adventure ended and we packed up while the river ran on without us. I warmed my freezing body under the blanket while I watched the dimly lit sky race past. That night we went and saw a freshly born baby. (Is that weird terminology? Because it’s accurate…) We finally slept, but not for long enough. As I recall, they woke me up and asked me if I wanted to go rafting with Tim. I said no, because I hate rafting and I hate Tim. Both were complete and utter lies, told in an attempt to get more sleep. Not that I had a choice in rafting anyway. Good thing my cousins don’t judge. Or care what I say. Rafting commenced again.

I didn’t have to wear a helmet the second day. Not because my skull had healed…I guess I just passed the I-won’t-fall-out-of-the-boat test. I did, however, have to wear a bandana on my face to try to limit the sun that shone on my scar. I looked gangsta.


The second day was a different experience. We had two more people, bringing the total number of people-who-knew-what-they-were-doing up to 2. They had a lot more fun having each other. I hardly did any work—I mostly just enjoyed the ride. I loved listening to them talk. When people are experienced in something they sort of slip into their own language, using terms and phrases that are foreign to me. I tried to keep up with them and the commands they were yelling but was utterly stumped.

I couldn't believe I got to be there. I don’t think I’m sheltered or naïve but I'd never experienced anything like this—riding a white river through stately mountains, seeing strange wildlife and freezing my butt off in the summer. It made my breath catch a little bit. I’m pretty lucky. Seriously.P7260391

I tried to take a picture that accurately represented the beauty that I observed all day long. But pictures don't do anything justice. They can't capture the depth of the mountains, the distance of the sky,  or the contrast of the two. All it can do is remind me of what incredible, wondrous sights my eyes desperately tried to soak in.


It was quite a perfect journey. I mean really, anything that makes you feel like Pocahontas is wonderful. (I may or may not have belted out a few lines of “just around the riverbeeeeeeeeeend” occasionally). It was cold, but sunny enough to not be miserable. I was ready for the end when it came, appreciative of the fun I’d had but physically exhausted. I rode in the back of the truck on the way back to the top, sun shining on my skin and re-heating my frozen blood as it sank back behind the mountains. It also felt good not to have my heart racing constantly. It’s a relaxing feeling to have your heart calm down.


I can measure the quality of the day by how quickly I fall asleep at night. I fell asleep on the drive home. That equates to a really stellar day.


White water rafting? Big fan. Not good for broken collar bones, but very good for the soul.


[Title from 9 Shades of Red by Hedley]


  1. Looks like an interesting restaurant. I laughed when I saw the actual can the kid was eating from. Seriously?

    About white water rafting, my last trip was in Costa Rica and was not supposed to be as wild as it was. Long story short, I did fall out of the raft and hit some rocks. I was so glad I was wearing a helmet. You are brave. Glad you could have so much fun!

  2. Where in Idaho were you, it looks like Palisades National Forest,but you couldn't go rafting there, can you? No offense, I heard that you couldn't go rafting there. But I hope you had fun, and I also heard that you guys have settled in Lubbuck TX, is this true, cause if so, we are SO coming to see you guys. Thanks,

  3. Bridian. That picture of you with the bandana is beautiful. :)