On Monday, we all went rafting with the Nelsons, Cassens (Happy Birthday, Weston), Maders and some of their friends. We started in Polson and rafted the Flathead River and the Buffalo Rapids. Karen and Doug Nelson and Steve Mader are pros. Doug and his brother owned a rafting company years ago and still have all the gear and expertise. I hadn't been rafting since I first visited Montana 20 years before, and I was with Doug and Steve on the Buffalo Rapids back then too. So, it was a blast from the past for me. We had so much fun. The day was perfect, the water warm and the fellowship even better. Forest was along with us on a kayak. I found out a few hours after we started that he had never kayaked before!!! He was amazing. Okay, well, he had gotten in the kayak on the Lake the day before because he figured he had better know how to flip back over if he went under. Yeah, good idea. So, I cannot technically say that he had never been in a kayak before, but in my book, jumping in the lake with the kayak to learn to flip doesn't count. We have some hard core, outdoorsy friends. He was so impressive - you'd have thought he had done this for years. All the kids did great. Doug has a great vision for teaching the kids to be proficient all these activities so that as they get older they will be has partners in adventure. He goes about it in a really fun way. On rafting trips, he gives them Pirate and Princess tests. They are fun "tests" that the kids have to do in order to steer the boats or earn other privileges. They are based on situations that they really might encounter, and his goal is for them to have already been though those situations in fun so that they can navigate through them during a possibly stressful time. For instance, one of the tests is for the kids to get in the water on one side of the boat and go under the boat to the other side. With a life jacket on, you can't swim under, so you have to dive down and then walk your hands along the underside of the boat and across to the other side. It is a very claustrophobic situation, but if a boat turns over while you aregoing over rapids, it could very well end up on top of you and you would have to "walk" your way out from under it. So, this Pirate/Princess test would make them more comfortable and less likely to freak out in a possible future situation. Jessica Cassens (13) steered her own boat. She did a great job manning her boat and hitting the rapids perfectly. The kids were in the smaller boats and really got to rock and roll on the rapids. Only one boat went over and Elias and Isaiah happened to be in it. There were bodies and paddles everywhere. I thought that Elias would freak out, but when we dragged him in our boat, he said "that was awesome!".
We stopped at two different cliff jumping spots. After doing the car shuttling back to where our cars were parked, we drove into Polson for dinner at the Burger Barn. Nora and Dan were in town visiting from Encinitas and bought ALL of us dinner.....there were 23 of us!!! We were all ready to go back and do it all again. Being on the water is such fun. It has been a fun summer for us being in the water much more than usual. We have missed that about San Diego.