Monday, June 16, 2008

Summertime on a Shoe String

by David G. Woolley

It's been a rather cool June so far. Vail re-opened for skiing this month and they're still giving snow pack numbers on the evening weather report. But summer is here. How do I know? It’s not the heat. It’s not the snow cones, the lemonade or the watermelon. Its vacation insanity. You know, that semi conscious state that fools you into agreeing to a cheap vacation you would normally only plan at gun point. White water rafting on an inner tube to save the cost of hiring an outfitter and guide. Or maybe going over Niagara Falls in a barrel. Its cheaper than paying for a ticket on the Maid of Mist boat tour. Never try hanging off the edge of Angel's Landing at Zion's Park, thousands of feet above the valley floor. You can't sell the photo to pay for the trip. We tried. All we got was a lecture on safety.

One budget summer outing on Lake Powell ended with a rather expensive price tag. None of us had ever been there, because, well, none of us could afford it. The half price boat rental fell through. Mechanical difficulties. In place of a ski boat they offered us three wave runners for the same price. It seemed like a great deal. The rental guy said, "Lake Powell? Sure. No problem."

We were turning out of sight from Bull Frog Marina when we realized, "Lake Powell? Sure. No problem?" The largest wave runner towed our gear—a rubber raft packed with food and camping equipment. We positioned Joe on top to hold things down. It seemed like an intelligent plan. The unintelligent part was the length of the rope. How were we supposed to know that a Yamaha Wave Runner throws out a rear discharge water spout exactly the same length? Joe didn’t mind. It was a hot afternoon. He was happy for the cool lake-water shower.

By the time we heard the cry for help, the raft was submerged. Joe treaded water while the ice chests, food and camping gear sunk to the bottom. We ran out of gas after two hours and no one wanted to spend any more on gas. Three days on a narrow outcrop of rock in the main channel is not a vacation. No food. No sleeping bags. When we finally gave up trying to have cheap fun, make cheap fun or find any cheap fun we hailed down a boat to tow us back to the marina. Cumulative towing weight: 105 pounds plus whatever the three jet skis weighed. Next year we plan to sell this trip as a weight loss program and off set the cost for underwater recovery gear.

If you plan a summer outing on a shoestring, make sure your friends aren't nearly as cheap. They could save you a lot of trouble. Or you could read a good book.

Enjoy your summer. You'll be raking leaves before you know it.

Join author David G. Woolley at his Promised Land Website. He is also a weekly contributor to the Latter Day Authors blog and he writes commentary and opinion at the Utah Ranger's Far Post blog


Sandra said...

Totally something my boys and their scout troop would do. In fact, they (and their friends) laughed and said it sounded like fun. Maybe I should veto the next scout camping trip?

David G. Woolley said...


Statistically speaking, if you veto something, summer fun finds a way. You can't stop it. Try and you will only be playing with the cosmic odds of the universe. You unbalance things on one hand and you only push the risk factor somewhere else. No hiking. Okay, then its base jumping (really bad news). No lake Powell? Then its sky a cliff. You just can't win. And pray no one really does any of this. Its just a doctored photo. Think mirrors and smoke.

David G. Woolley

Sandra said...

In reality, I quit the veto thing a long time ago. It happened after I came home from school and was told that my oldest boy had taken a ladder, propped it from the deck railing to the roof line and then rode his bike down. From then on I just said, "I don't want to know."

Maybe that is why he is a Marine?
And I agree, I just can't win. I have 5 boys and it is always something. I am on a first name basis with the ER staff. At least the girls are not insane :)