Wednesday, January 02, 2008

Ring in the New

(Image borrowed from "Virginia's Rivers")

Mark, Nick, and I spent the first day of the year out on the James River, whitewater rafting. This was only my second time rafting (the first was earlier in the year, on our anniversary trip to Asheville), and my first time on our own hometown river. It's hard for me to believe, with all the time Mark spends on the river, that I have lived here fourteen (going on fifteen) years and have never gone on a single river trip. When Mark was guiding (working as a raft guide) he wanted to take me down the river, and I wanted to go, but we never found the time. So on New Year's Eve we were at a party with some former and current guides, and they invited us to join them on the first trip of the year.

It was a blast. It was an arctic, icy blast that nearly froze us--Nick was pretty close to a popsicle by the time we took a lunch break--but it was also really, really fun. And we were with a big enough group that there were plenty of people with extra gear. It was really heartening--and, again, a great way to start the year--to see how generous people were. People we had never met before were offering us food, warm clothing, hot chocolate, and good advice ("take those wet socks off him and give him these!" "here, rub him down with this before you put the next dry thing on"). It was such a generous and warm outpouring, it made the discomfort almost worthwhile. And the rapids, and the scenery, did, too.

We're lucky to live in a place where you can have an outdoor adventure without leaving town, and where the people who make outdoor adventures happen are so kind and open-hearted. It was the perfect way to start the year.

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