A gay old time in the Canyon
April E. Clark
Just call me the Kathy Griffin of raft trips.
I spent part of my weekend as the straight, freckly reddish-haired funny girl in the first installment of this year’s Big Gay Raft Trip. Each year, Whitewater Rafting offers a raft flotilla that hosts upwards of 100 gay rafters, mostly from Denver or outside of the area. They take to Glenwood Canyon in a big way, filling more boats than a busting-at-the-seams Disney raft ride. Just like that attraction, there is splashing.
So don’t expect to stay dry.
This year, the Big Gay Raft Trip has two installments. One of the trips is in June for big waves and the other takes place in August when the water settles down and the booze cruising peaks. I was honored to ride along for the Big Water trip on Saturday.
I’ve never felt so flattered.
At around 4,000 CFS (cubic feet per second) the Shoshone rapids were at a perfect level for soaking boat passengers and random screaming. We also glided through Glenwood Canyon and floated on down to New Castle, offering many fun wave trains to hit.
If this boat brigade was a parade, I’d have been the honorary grand marshal.
I’m a lot like Kathy Griffin in my appreciation of the homosexual population. She is a well-known supporter of LGBT rights, including same-sex marriage, and is a stand-up comic whom I admire. I have many gay friends — and I’m not just saying that to say it. I think everyone should have many so they might understand what it is to love with no boundaries, from the color of skin to plain old gender.
I’m pretty much a believer that love is universal like that.
I knew from the second I walked in on the safety meeting before the trip I would be laughing the entire day. I’m not saying every gay man is funny, but I probably haven’t heard this many jokes on the river since Gay Day on the Whitewater River in Brookville, Ind., back in 1990.
I know, it’s crazy, there were gays back then.
It just so happens there was a guy on my boat from Brookville, so we exchanged a few Hoosierisms and I told him my favorite story from this day as a college freshman on the Whitewater River. That involved two lesbians who picked my best friend and me up as we were still sitting in our canoe in an eddy and carried us to the beach. Funny, I don’t remember a lot of whitewater on that trip.
But I do remember a lot of canoes tipping.
My boat on the Colorado River on Saturday was home to a pleasant group composed of me, raft guide Caleb — whose brother Sol helps organize the trip — Steve, Justin, Dustin, Ed, Chad and Rob. All were from Denver except a bear of a guy from Alabama, who we lovingly placed in the front of the boat since he had never been rafting. He certainly caught some big waves.
Everyone needs a front seat Shoshone bomb ride once in their lives.
As expected, there were so many jokes and so little time. Actually the trip went from about 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., so time wasn’t really the problem. The trick was overhearing, or being the punch line to, any jokes I could actually print in the paper.
And I thought I was edgy as a comic.
I should have brought along a waterproof podcast, especially as we went through the splash-heavy waves that induced shivers. Lunch and the reapplying of sunscreen were highlights for me. And when we decided to stop for a soak in the hotpots. The sulfur was especially pungent that afternoon. I won’t lie, it smelled a little like canned meats.
“It smells like a 30-year-old can of Spam,” said one gentleman.
I wholeheartedly agreed.
“OK, who opened a can of Vienna sausages?” said another.
Exactly my thought.
Not everyone went for the soak, but I decided to dip my feet in since, well, they are feet. I started up a conversation with one of the local rafters on the trip. We talked dating, and in case anyone wondered, there are plenty of similarities between gay and straight dating.
Probably more than plenty.
I complained of dating emotionally unavailable men. Then I was asked if maybe I’m actually the emotionally unavailable one. Now isn’t that a thought. Nothing could have made any more sense. And it all came about running the river. Maybe next year I’ll be the honorary grand marshal of the Big Gay Raft Trip. A girl can dream.
Kathy Griffin you are on to something, sister.
— April E. Clark wishes her very funny pops the best Father’s Day Sunday can bring. Thanks Dad, for all the jokes. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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