Although the city limits of Podunk hug the banks of the Salmon River, Iron Chef and I had not floated the wilderness stretch of the Main all the way through to the West side of the state for more than 10 years. Her Royal Highness and Odd Number were little tikes then, and we kenneled them back at home.
So the beauty and tranquility of the Salmon had a whole new twist when my peeps and my sidekick Lucy’s family took our family vacations to the river this summer. The Main Salmon (as we floated it) goes for about 80 miles. Its numerous rapids at July’s water level didn’t get above a Class 3; but taking 4 teenagers ages 13, 14, 15, and 16 certainly merits a rating much higher than that. If Class 6 is a waterfall, this should be Class 7 — a waterfall that is dry at the bottom.
Here are some of the things I noticed about my wilderness experience w/ the teenage twist:
– When the kids were little, every hotel had to have a swimming pool. Beds were optional, swimming pool not so much. Our 4 camps were rated by their swimming holes. And we were on a 5-star roll.
– Having your own private beach is a very fine thing.
– Hornets and yellowjackets are the great equalizer. For all of Her Royal Highness’ coolness, she could not compose herself in the presence of these insects. Her freak outs — spontaneous zig zag patterns, flailing arms, and high pitched screams — frequently disturbed the peace.
– Therma-rests can double as watercraft. Odd Number is somewhat phobic, so I at first questioned his decision to follow Lucy’s strapping 15-year-old son down Rainier Rapids on his sleeping pad.
– Bridges are diving boards. Odd Number is somewhat phobic, so I at first questioned his decision to follow Lucy’s strapping 15-year-old son as he jumped off a bridge some stories above the water line. It turns out, I should have questioned my sidekick Lucy’s decision to follow her strapping 15-year-old son off the bridge, but that is another story.
– The Main Salmon River wilderness stretch has no cell phone service. This feature has a whole new meaning when you are traveling with a 13, 14, 15, and 16 year old. Nothing googled, posted, tweeted, or snapchatted. I swear if we ever get a cat, I’ll name her Frank Church.