The Wisdom of Elders

The absolute best thing about living in Podunk is our proximity to wilderness whitewater.

The Podunks recently joined up with my Sidekick Lucy’s family for a 5-day adventure.IMG_4720

I like a lot of things about being on the Main Salmon River — time with friends and family, the rapids, the food, the scenery, the crazy sky carpet of stars at night.

But my favorite thing is the complete lack of cell phone coverage in the river’s remote canyons. No 4G, no Wi-Fi, no service. For days, the children can rest their texting thumbs, think of answers to life’s puzzles without Wikipedia, and make faces at us instead of their phones.

Sidekick’s strapping 16-year-old son Forest rowed the teenaged boy boat. He’s an expert oarsman and a joy to watch on the river. But, as Lucy predicted, the nearly perfect judgment he exhibits through the waves falters at times on shore.

This most manifested itself during the “It Never Rains at Night on the River” incident.

Odd Number, prone to challenging such statistics, didn’t balk at this one, even as the thunder clouds blackened and huddled together over our camp.

The boys repeatedly scoffed at the offer of tents. The rest of us, less knowledgeable about the river’s meteorological certainties, were soundly asleep in our tents when the deluge began.


When Odd, Forest, and their 6’5″ buddy’s first option — a 3′ x 3′ vinyl tablecloth with flannel backing — provided inadequate shelter, the three invaded Little Bird and Her Royal Highness’ 2-person tent. HRH’s notoriously bad attitude caused the boys to slink into the wet creases of the tent’s edges. Claustrophobia setting in, Forest sought asylum in his parents’ tent. Before Lucy would move the tent’s zipper one centimeter, Forest’s ticket to entry was to acknowledge out loud, “My parents told me this would happen, and I am, in fact, an idiot.” Forest readily paid the toll.

Now that would have been a face for Instagram.

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