For our first wedding anniversary, my husband planned a wilderness canoe trip. This means we rented the canoe, brought a tent plus necessities and headed to the desert to be dropped off in the river. No designated camping areas existed, nor rules or people. You know the type of trip you plan for that turns out nothing like you anticipated? This was one of those trips.
To start, we drove about 7 hours to Moab, and the river is an hour and a half away from town. We got off to a late start on our river-exploring journey, but alas, the sun is out till 9:30 or 10:00 pm. Our palpable enthusiasm swept aside all former apprehension as I previously wondered, “How will we know where we are on the river? What if we pass the end point accidentally? And what if we have a medical emergency? How the fuck am I supposed to create a smoke signal? Will the pets be okay back home?” My mind scramble for answers on the way to Moab, but everything faded as we pushed off into the water.
My immediate thought when we approached the river was , “Wow. It is so wide and deep”. (That’s what she said.) I imagined the river being much more narrow, and this threw me for a loop. If we needed to suddenly trek from one side of the river to the other, it would require some serious manpower. Nonetheless, we took off at about 6:30 and landed a secret island-esque spot around 9:00.
I never considered how difficult it would be to find a spot. The first night we lucked out, but our secluded oasis came with some major flies. We built a camp fire immediately to rid the site of bugs, set-up camp and devoured our pre-cooked dish: Whole wheat angel hair pasta coated in olive oil, pesto, crumbled feta, and crushed red pepper, if memory serves me well. We were having a great time cooking, drinking, hanging out and decorating our site.
We saw two other couples on the river on Thursday, but that’s it, so we knew we had the place to ourselves. Turn out our anniversary plans were in a very remote location. We were sitting by the fire the first night, minding our own business when we suddenly heard a low grumbling, nothing short of what the devil might sound like, and another animal began to scream. I’ll be damned if some creature less than 50 feet away was eaten by something else nearby! And of course it just so happened to be pitch black. If it wasn’t for our fire, I couldn’t have seen my hand in front of my face. But this doesn’t mean I could see very far whatsoever. The indescribable sounds we overheard lasted 10 second tops, but listening to something die when you can’t see shit is hands down the most terrifying thing that has happened to me in years. This was not what I had hoped for on our wedding anniversary. Granted it’s funny now, and I can laugh at myself, but I was literally about to cry, and my poor husband had to deal with it. Towards the end of the ordeal, we heard a splash in the river. We didn’t camp far from the bank, mind you, so by this point I was about to shit myself. Once everything went silent, I said, “What the fuck just happened?!” I was visibly shaken and almost in tears. It’s been awhile since I have felt so completely vulnerable and powerless. How quickly we are reminded of our own mortality, at times.
I couldn’t stop thinking about getting eaten, so after a while we went to bed. I was ready to sleep off my fear and wake up to another day, hopefully. And of course, we lived. Nothing bad happened and I definitely did NOT leave the tent when I had to pee very badly in the middle of the night. We cooked breakfast, packed our belongings and loaded the canoe. I thanked the Universe for giving me another day to live. We managed to avoid the Colorado River Samsquanch.
We continued on our journey until we found a nice pull-off for lunch. The cold, refreshing taste of tuna salad on crackers revitalized my energy, and I actually helped Keegan paddle for a while. But what was really enjoyable was sipping frozen screwdrivers on the water.
Pulling over the second night proved especially difficult as we were forced to canoe an additional 10 miles that we had hoped to save for the following morning. We traveld back and forth across the wide river several times before finally securing a spot. Keegan and I wearily set up camp before these guys asked if they could camp alongside us. Thanks to the night before, I most certainly did mind having some more fellow humans nearby. We stayed up much later that night and looked at the stars, and I breathed a sigh of relief. I could hear the gentle waves washing up the shore on which our canoe slept, and I finally wasn’t afraid in the dark anymore. We were nearing the end of our 45 mile trek, and it was nothing like I had expected.
By the following morning, I was truly wore out. We begrudgingly packed the canoe and continued along our way. Luckily we only had about 8 miles left on the last leg and the next thing we knew, we were out of the water. Thank goodness our transportation arrived before we did. I was ready to go. We landed a hotel room, pigged out and nursed our sunburns. Downtown Moab is a quintessential Southwest tourist town with a desert twist and dusty red landscape. The scenery is absolutely beautiful.
We left for Colorado the following morning after trying the Jailhouse Cafe. The food was hearty and rich in flavor, and we will definitely be back. To sum up this trip, it was crazy and eventful. After the random death incident, I was very alert and aware of my surroundings. I can’t remember the last time I have lived so fully in the present moment, and I truly enjoyed the lack of cell phone reception, even though I was worried about medical emergencies, at first.
As if this trip wasn’t awesome enough, my husband surprised me with sod for our sad-looking front yard which sort of resembled a Chia Pet losing half of it’s hair. This wilderness canoe trip kept us on toes, but it was fun to experience nature in the most authentic way–no technology, no distractions, just living life to the fullest. Our anniversary was super fun, and I wouldn’t have it any other way.