Miracle Monday: Why I Care So Much

Today's a little bittersweet over here, folks. This is going to be the last Miracle Monday. :( It pains me greatly to bring this series to an end, but coming up with post topics has become incredibly difficult and I don't want to beat a dead horse. And it feels right to conclude on the one year mark. That's right, this is week 52 (how. on. earth?), and I've thoroughly enjoyed every single one of them!

But after all this time, I'm still left with the question that I feel like people think at me all the time: "What is it about this? Why do you care so much?"

I touched on this really quick back in my first Miracle Monday post, but it bears repeating all these months later.

I didn't really "discover" the Miracle on Ice until late 2012, when I was halfway through my senior year of college. That was when I not only learned more about the players themselves, but I learned their average age: 21 years and 9 months. At the time, I myself was 21 years and 10 months old. When I first saw Miracle back in 2004, though I knew this was technically a young team, they were so much older than me! They had always been older than me, until very suddenly they weren't.

Suddenly they were my friends who ate too much fried food and not enough vegetables, who I had to mother and stop from making incredibly reckless decisions, who drove me places when I didn't have a car and carried my groceries for me and were always absolute sweethearts. They were my younger brother and cousins, who belch and make fart jokes and talk in weird accents just for fun, who can't cook much more than a grilled cheese sandwich and never clean their rooms, who love their grandma and snuggle their dog and color with their little cousins.

That made it so real to me. They were just... people. They were college students. And as a college student trying to juggle classes and a job and an internship and writing a thesis and worrying about getting a job after graduation and wondering how the hell this is all supposed to work... it was incredibly meaningful to me that these guys who were as fake-adult as I was did something so next-level amazing. It made their accomplishment simultaneously all the more mind-boggling and all the more tangible. They were good at what they did and worked really hard and had a lot of faith in the unknown. I may not've played a single second of hockey in my life, but you don't need to be a hockey player to find that inspirational. It's cool that I can see my own traits in some of them; relating so strongly to someone who was able to achieve so much success makes it easier to soldier on when you feel like a failure. (Hey, I'm in my mid-20s. It happens.)

Also? They were a bunch of huge dorks.

So graceful.

And, y'know, they looked like children.

Excuse me, are you 12?

If those little boys right there can win an Olympic gold medal, I'm pretty sure I can handle the regular-person stuff happening in my life. :)

And on that note, I think it's time to wrap things up. Thanks so much for hanging out with me every Monday. I'm so appreciative of everyone who's commented, tweeted, messaged or otherwise given me feedback over the course of this past year! This probably won't be the end forever -- I'm sure I'll pop back in with the occasional Miracle on Ice post in the future, because... well, it's me. But in the meantime, if you're ever looking to chat about 1980 hockey, you know where to find me!

post signature

When Whitewater Rafting Becomes Whitewater Trying-Not-to-Die-ing (Part 2)

If you're just tuning in, you should probably read part one first.

When we last left off, Weiss informed us that we'd be going through another class 3-4 rapid, but he didn't tell me to hold on for that one. He did, however, tell us that if he yelled "lean in," we should get low and lean into the middle of the raft.

So we're paddling through this rapid, having a grand ol' time, when Weiss starts yelling, "Lean in! Lean in!"

I started to lean forward, but a split second later a wall of water hits my back, I feel my paddle get ripped from my hands, and suddenly I was under water.

There's video of this. I'd just like to leave a disclaimer: it looks really anticlimactic and lame. Actually, it's legitimately the funniest thing I've ever seen in my life. But I promise, to live it was terrifying.



My first thought was, "oh s#*%, of course I'd be the one to fall out, are you kidding me?"

My second thought was, "oh s#*%, people die like this!"

And then it became, "OH S#*% I NEED TO GET TO THE SURFACE!"

That, my friends, was more difficult than anticipated, mostly because, y'know, whitewater. We were in the middle of class 3-4 rapids, not a serene swimming pool. I struggled against the waves for a few seconds (momentarily terrified that I might be under the raft), but made it to the surface... and was immediately smacked from behind by another wave. But I had no idea what to do because I'd head exactly none of the safety speech on the bus. So I was trying to suck down a few breaths while I got my bearings, and luckily noticed my mom not far upriver from where I was. I had no idea where my dad was, or if he was okay. I turned back down river and saw another raft from our group paddling in our direction, so I started struggling towards them. (Swimming against the current ain't easy, lemme tell ya.) But as we got closer, all the people on the side of the raft closest to me stopped paddling in unison and held out their arms for me to grab onto. So even in survival mode, I remember thinking, "...this is actually a thing that is happening. This is absurd."

I must've grabbed someone, or someone grabbed me, and I was somehow heaved on board. I sort of slumped at the back of the raft, shaking from a combination of terror and adrenaline and cold (the water was 45 degrees), unable to comprehend what had just happened. I literally just sat there panting and shivering. I had no idea what to even do. I did, however, see my dad in a raft, so that was a nice relief.

Pretty soon, my mom and Chris were both pulled on board as well. This raft was on top of their game; they rescued three people, several stray paddles, and a shoe. Everyone else ended up back in our original raft. But speaking of shoes, both of my water shoes had been ripped off my feet, which I was starting to notice were definitely not feeling okay and were already starting to swell.

All the rafts in our group pulled off to shore to reassess and get medical attention to anyone who needed it. It was around when I went to climb out of the raft that I realized I definitely didn't want to. First of all, because I was now barefoot and there are rocks on the ground, and second of all, my right foot was already turning purple and it felt like several toes might've been broken. So I was allowed to stay in my rescue raft, while most of the hubbub was surrounding the group in my original raft. I didn't really know what was going on over there, but my mom went back and forth a few times to check on both my dad and I. The guides seemed pretty concerned about me, but I told them my pain levels were perfectly tolerable and that, since we were so close to the end of the trip, I could hang out where I was to get back.

So that's what happened. The people that rescued me were incredibly lovely and very concerned about my feet, and I would've thoroughly enjoyed my time with them if I hadn't been shaken and freezing and in pain. We still had one section of rapids to get through before the end (which was very much not fun), but we made it back safely. That was when I learned that my dad had not only lost his glasses in the river, but his knee had been sliced open and was gushing blood. So all the activity when we'd pulled off to shore was to bandage up my dad and stop the bleeding. COOL. (We were the only two that were incapacitated in any way, mind you. Eight people ended up in the water, and the only two that were injured beyond just being banged up were me and my dad. Amazing.)

I was carried onto the bus and we were off to the check-in center, where I was then carried off the bus so my dad and I could get further medical care (read: ibuprofen and ice and some bandages) and get changed into our dry clothes. I discovered that I could walk; not particularly well, and very slowly, but I was able to hobble around under my own power. The lovely people at Echo Canyon felt terrible, so they gave us all of our raft's GoPro photos and videos for free (and thereby making these blog posts possible, thanks guys). My dad thought he might need stitches, and I needed to have some X-rays done to check for broken bones, so it was then off to urgent care.

We'd been in good spirits about the whole thing since the moment the shock wore off, but it was in urgent care that my dad and I completely lost it. He walked in there with bloody gauze over his knee and a lump on his forehead, and I hobbled in there with just socks on my feet (it hurt too much to put on my shoes). We were standing at the counter to check in when we looked at each other and literally just burst into uncontrollable laughter. The whole time we were there, we were continuously cracking up because how f$*@ing absurd was this? 

I kept noticing new bruises. When I went to bend my left leg I realized there was a giant lump above my knee, and when I shifted in my chair I noticed that the entire back of my right thigh was blue. I was completely covered in bruises. My mom's pinky finger was rapidly swelling and turning purple, and she had a sore ankle and a nasty bruise by one of her knees. My dad, in addition to the bloody knee and lost glasses, had a nasty bruise on his other knee and a sore shoulder. We were a complete mess... but we literally couldn't stop laughing.

My dad ended up not getting stitches, and X-rays showed I had no broken bones, just a sprained foot and "multiple leg contusions." (Oh really? I hadn't noticed that my ENTIRE LOWER BODY WAS PURPLE.) But they gave each of us a shot of painkillers (in the butt. Awesome) and told us to take lots of ibuprofen and ice everything, and that was kind of it. We limped back to my apartment to have dinner (at 9 p.m.) and spent the entire next day recovering.

And they carted me out in a wheelchair. Because MY FEET.

But! Want to see how bruised I was?

Actually, in hindsight it doesn't look that bad. Because this is what they look like now, a week later.


HOW GROSS AM I? At least my foot pain is mostly gone so I don't have to limp anymore. But I'm still avoiding wearing dresses to work because I don't want to mentally scar anyone. #employeeoftheyear. But seriously, when I looked down at my right leg yesterday I literally burst out laughing because of how disgusting it is. You'd think getting beat up by a river would be more traumatizing. I don't know why I keep laughing like a hyena about it, but here we are.

So, yeah. Getting dumped into the Arkansas River: 0/10, would not recommend. And if you happen to see me and I'm sitting funny... you know why.

post signature

When Whitewater Rafting Becomes Whitewater Trying-Not-to-Die-ing (Part 1)

Alright, friends. Are you ready for this wild ride?

If you read the first installment of this adventure, you know that my parents and I spent the morning before our whitewater rafting adventure on a lovely train ride through Colorado's Royal Gorge. That finished up around lunchtime, at which point we were driven back to the check-in area to eat and get changed into our rafting get-up. We opted against wetsuits, but were all decked out in some snazzy lifejackets and helmets. The whole group was loaded onto a school bus with our tour leader and guides and driven to our rafting location.

On the ride over there was when Val, our tour leader, went over safety guidelines and what to do if you ended up in the river. But have you ever been on a school bus? Between the engine noise, all the open windows, and the complete lack of any sort of microphone system on board, she was completely inaudible, especially to those of us waayyyy in the back of the bus. I was very unconcerned, though. I'd been rafting one or two times before, and learned to canoe and kayak at sleepaway camp. I know the basics, and besides, most water safety stuff is pretty common sense. (Please note: this becomes an important plot point.)

When we arrived at our starting point, we broke up into rafts. My parents and I ended up with a guide named Weiss and a group of four; Lane and Monica, who looked around my age, and Chris and Earl, who were probably about my parents' age. We were given a quick how-to on paddling and what Weiss's commands would mean, and then we shoved off!

Lane and Monica were in front, followed by my dad and Chris, and then my mom and Earl. I was in the very back next to Weiss. Normally only six people are assigned to a raft, so I was sort of a weird overflow. I also happened to get the most difficult seat; after we'd already made it through several rapids, Weiss informed me that the back was the hardest place to sit because you'll often feel the raft dip and then fling you a little bit. I had, in fact, noticed the flinging, and was wondering why it felt so hard to stay seated. But I just jammed my feet underneath the seat in front of me and vowed to myself that I was not going to get flung anywhere.

We were out on the river for a pretty long time, and it was so much fun. Nobody could stop laughing as we were going through rapids, and Weiss kept us all entertained with information about the surrounding area and bad jokes.

The river was at historically high levels because of all the recent rain and the snowmelts still coming from up in the mountains. This made some of the rapids a little rougher than usual, and there was even one that Weiss told me to just get low and hold on for so I didn't get thrown out of the raft. He said that an experienced guide had flipped there earlier, so he wasn't taking any chances.

See me in the back there? Just chillin'.

That was a class 3-4 rapid (rapids are classed from 1-6, with 6 being the roughest water. The highest we were told to expect on this trip was 3). Not long after that, Weiss informed us that we'd be going through another class 3-4 rapid, but he didn't tell me to hold on for that one. He did, however, tell us that if he yelled "lean in," we should get low and lean into the middle of the raft.

So we're paddling through this rapid, having a grand ol' time, when Weiss starts yelling, "Lean in! Lean in!"

I started to lean forward, but a split second later a wall of water hits my back, I feel my paddle get ripped from my hands, and suddenly I was under water.

(How's that for a cliffhanger? Hah. Stay tuned for part two tomorrow!)

post signature

The Royal Gorge

Well, I've been talking about bruises and urgent care for the last few days, so it's probably time to start recapping the whitewater rafting adventure that caused the whole thing. And it's a novel. This will be part one, and it's not even going to involve any rafting. My parents booked us on a day-long "Raft-n-Rail" trip with Echo Canyon River Expeditions. We arrived in the morning for a 9:30 am train ride through the Royal Gorge, which was followed by lunch, which was followed by whitewater rafting on the Arkansas River. So for now we're going to start with the train ride, mostly so I can dump a whole bunch of pretty pictures here. Sound good? ;)

Everything is centralized at the main office/check-in area; that's where you go before the company transports you to the train station, rafting locations, etc. So when we arrived at check-in, we were soon put on a van with another couple on the same trip package. This would've been a completely innocuous detail if it weren't for how out of place these two people were; he was wearing a button-down shirt and khakis, and she was wearing a short shift dress and stilettos. This place is in the middle of nowhere and hands out wetsuits, and her outfit... I just... don't understand. But anyway.

Our seats on the train were in coach, but there were several open-air cars that all passengers were allowed to use should they want to. My mom initially decided to stay inside, but my dad and I headed out there to check out the views with the intent of coming back inside at some point.

Spoiler alert: we did not go back inside.

It was (obviously) SO. BEAUTIFUL. The weather was gorgeous (and not too hot thanks to the breeze), and the movement of the train was so peaceful and soothing. It was quite heavenly and did a great job of luring me into a false sense of security about this rafting thing. BUT more on that later this week!

Travel Tuesday

post signature