Springtime brings high water before commercial rafting kicks into gear. This year was no exception.
‘The Alley’, which some people called ‘The Witches Cauldron’, was brewing. Jilli called her ‘Alice.’
She was referring to the dump of a bowling alley in town that ran League Night, and more specifically to one of the little blue-haired ladies there who was a 7-time Senior Olympic bowling champion. Bet you can’t guess her name. Despite that alley’s warped floors – or maybe because of them – Alice Dunberry held her record as the Strike Queen for 10 years running. Despite her kyphosis, when she let loose of that ball, it tore through pins (that sometimes flew into other lanes).
Alice knew of Jilli’s nickname for the hydraulic. It tickled her to no end. In high water, it boiled and reversed, looking like something a surfer with a death wish would ride. If you made it past Alice, the rest of the run was spectacular. If you didn’t, everybody in your boat would end up like those bowling pins.
All our guides divided up and headed out to take on the challenge early that spring. Big Mike took his crew in first, yelling instructions to paddle forward, hard and fast. It looked like they were gonna’ make it ‘til one of his rookies turned ‘em broadside. Bodies went flying; carnage everywhere! Good thing Herschel was downriver to pick up the mess. Alice had gotten her first strike of the day.
Jilli turned and laughed, “Ahoy!” Then off she went with her crew. It looked like they were gonna’ make it by going straight through the damn thing. Instead, they went for a flip, with Jilli getting launched from stern over bow. She came up and waved – to my relief. Strike two.
“Anchors away!” I instructed, pushing off the boulder that had been housing us upriver. I sounded more confident than I felt. I knew, without a shadow of a doubt, Alice was about to land herself a turkey!
Trifecta challenged us this week to write 33-333 words (I ended at 333 – which happens to strangely be Today’s EXACT number of posts of my blog!) to include the 3rd definition of the word turkey, which happens to be what you see on the screen when you manage to make 3 strikes in a row in the bowling alley. (And on the few – as in, very rare – occasions I’ve managed to pull that off, you would’ve then see me strut around doing the moonwalk – in other words, looking like a turkey!)
I wanted to try a different context than the bowling alley, though obviously still being true to the definition as given. That’s when I decided that Cody and Jilli could help me pull this one off beautifully (or at least with great enthusiasm) – with their adventures at an early 80’s commercial outpost start-up in the East, Rolling River (a novel I’ve been working on).
I hope you enjoy my take on it as much as I’ve enjoyed revisiting my favorite pair of crazy whitewater river guides.