Otters, pops and Facebook posts
April E. Clark
Glenwood Springs, CO Colorado
From Facebook faux pas to otters with herpes, conversation topics on the river can really take a sharp turn.
With my best friend in town and a friend who’ll soon be leaving town, we chose to commemorate by spending summer’s remaining weekend days floating on the Colorado River. Megan had flown into Aspen on Saturday. The jet descended to its destination directly above my Jeep as I approached the airport, lighting a fire of excitement since we hadn’t seen each other since Christmas. Talking to myself – something I’m perfecting as I age – I attempted my best impression of Tattoo from “Fantasy Island” by exclaiming, “Da plane! Da plane!”
I am a child of the ’80s.
We stopped by the Aspen farmers market, which attracted more purebred canines than Westminster. I’m a sucker for yellow lab puppies – is there anything as cute? – so I shared some petting time. We saw a couple of white fluffy dogs riding in a double-decker pet stroller, too.
Aspen’s version of the dog days of summer.
After lunch, we headed into Glenwood with plans to float the river on tubes. I explained to Megan the hierarchy of the river, with tubes being the lowest on the totem pole.
“It probably goes something like rafts at the top, then kayaks, duckies, and finally, tubes,” I explained, as if I were some kind of expert on the subject. I’m not sure where an inflatable pool toy shaped as an alligator fits in, but I’ve seen it. Much like watching someone float an air mattress down the river, it’s not pretty.
Good for a laugh, though.
Our Saturday float was easy, a far cry from the next day’s adventure. We did miss the perfect spot to take out closest to my house, so there was a bit of an uphill battle to make it up to the street. Climbing up using both hands and feet left us covered in dirt and coal residue that would make Pig-Pen look squeaky clean. We laughed all the way, always an abundant expression of emotion when Megan and I are together.
Blink-182’s “What’s my age again?” suddenly comes to mind.
Sunday we were back on the river, joining other tubers and a crew with a raft for what would possibly be the last chance to float with my friend Rob before he departs for a warmer climate. We struck up a conversation about Facebook and how it seems as if everything people do anymore is documented for all to see. That reminded me of a conversation I had in Vermont, where a woman in her 50s told me, “I really don’t get Facebook. Like I care that some guy I went to high school with just picked baby carrots from his garden.”
I blushed a little, feeling embarrassed that my status updates can be just as ridiculous.
Even yesterday I posted something to do with running the river with my homies. Later, thinking how silly it sounds for a 37-year-old to use the word homie, I deleted it. Hopefully too many people didn’t see it.
What’s my age again?
The conversation got weird on the second half of the float alongside Kendra and Dane. Kendra and I had been tubing on the river the weekend before and saw what we thought might be an otter on the riverbank. After a little research, I think we actually saw a mink.
“I’ve heard like 90 percent of otters have herpes,” she said.
“No way,” I replied. “Well don’t let it bite you because you know Dane’s not going to believe you contracted herpes from an otter.”
We continued the conversation Sunday, with Dane in the mix, and he agreed that getting herpes from an otter doesn’t make for a very believable story. But it might go down as one of the best excuses I’ve ever heard.
Herpes from Beer Pong comes in a close second.
We were nearly done with our float when a rock sharply changed the subject. After bouncing off a boulder, Megan’s tube popped like, well, a Pop Rock. We were in a slow stretch of the river, and we’re always thinking safety first, so Megan made use of her life jacket and floated with us until we pulled her up on to my tube. That wasn’t so easy considering we were laughing hysterically. We had a little trouble controlling our bladders as Meg and I shared a tube to the takeout.
What’s my age again?
We snapped some photos of the fallen tube and its softball-sized hole. Someone commented, “That’ll end up Facebook.”
We headed to Tequila’s for a much-needed margarita and to recount stories of swimming the river and otters with herpes.
If that’s not shareable on Facebook, I don’t know what is.
April E. Clark is pretty sure she’s reached the age limit for tubing. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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