We had a camera man with us this year and he did get some shots. This one is of a group stopping to body surf through a hole that the water made in a large rock.
I wish we had more "action" pictures for you. The camera man, who shall remain nameless, seemed to have a fixation on a different subject, that or he was thinking of a different kind of action.
There are a large number of photos of our guide for some reason. The person on the right is Water Boy, I'm the second arm on the left. The gal blowing the kiss is our guide. She's originally from Tennessee. Her interests are, yelling loudly when excited, bossing men around and rafting. She is happiest when she can do all three at once. She kept talking about having a twin sister. I thought this was kinda of a multiple personality thing, you know a good sister and a slightly evil sister that comes out and scares people from time to time. Nope, she really has a twin sister, that looks just like her, right down to the dread locks. Anyway, one member of our party is apparently into twins, or at least rafting guides.
Back in my single days I also had a thing for twins. They were blond, looked alike except for the hair style and I slept with both of them at the same time, more than once. This happens from time to time. In my case it involved a camping trip, the girls parents and a large tent that we all had separate cots in. None the less, I slept with a set of very attractive twins one weekend in college. Where was I? Oh yes, rafting.
When you're on a trip with the gang its important to wear the right gear. Last year I took advantage of an opportunity to shrink my testicles by jumping in a river that was in the process of changing from snow pack to water. I would have turned to a popsicle and drowned if it hadn't been for the fact I was wearing a life jacket, that and ice floats. Water Boy was so impressed by last years stunt that he had to one up me this year. So he took advantage of the smallest little wave that we went through and "accidentally" fell out of the boat. Just remember kids, when you go rafting you never know what conditions you'll find, and its always important to wear protection.
For the record this was before we gave her a tip. After she got her tip there was an exchange of contact information. Also for the record, ALL the married guys were well behaved.
Dinner was a feast. Fillet and all the trimmings purchased "on base". The story of how this little detail of the trip came about is, at least for me, one of the best tid bits of the weekend. Normally the after rafting party is attended by throngs wishing to learn of our latest death defying feats. This year one of the admiring, was an older man prone to telling stories of his own. Towards the end of dinner, I looked over on a chair and noticed a ball cap. The hat was graced with three numbers and what looked to be a old pin that looked like a parachute.
"So, you were in the 509th", I said, ignorant of what the 509th was, beyond a military unit of some sort or the other. "Yes I am", he piped in, totally engaged in the conversation. "I made every goddamn jump in the war". It was hard to imagine this man, bent over with age jumping to anything more than a hasty conclusion. He continued, "We were the first ones to jump into battle". With pride he added, "I served with Yarborough, from the start". "Is that a fact", I stated, not having a clue who Yarborough was or why that was important. "Yes, I was in Africa, Italy and France," he said standing a little taller, his chest fuller.
I fully grasped two facts by this point. One, this man served in WWII and two, he thought he had really done something special. "Sir", I said sticking out my hand, "I'd be honored to shake your hand". He seemed taller. As he reached out to take my hand I added, "I'm pleased to know you". He replied, "I'm pleased to know you too". His grip was firm and strong, like a young man who is sure of himself. "Thank you for serving your country", I added.
I doubt you've ever wondered what America's first paratroopers looked like, standing at attention after being awarded their jump wings at Fort Bragg in 1942. Can you imagine their sense of pride and accomplishment? I know what they looked like. I saw it in Water Boy's dinning room. 65 years after the fact, I looked into the eyes of a 2o year old, who might not know what was coming next, but he knew he was ready and egger for it. I saw one of America's greatest standing like he had a steel rod running straight up his back. "Well thank you", he replied choking back his pride. You would have thought I just threw him a personal ticker tape parade.
I don't remember everything that was said in the intervening moments but I do remember him choking back something from deep inside. Then he said, "I'm one of two left alive". His eyes swelled and he ran out of things to talk about.
I retired to the deck to watch the fading of the day. Water Boy said to me, "It's true, he made all three jumps". After work today I took a minute to Google the 509th. I found this bit of history. Take a minute scroll down to the entry that says January 1944, its been mistakenly mislabeled, It should read January 1945. If you read nothing else read that one paragraph.
Now you know what it means to be one of two.
I had a blast this weekend and I'm already looking forward to the next trip. I hope to be able to say thank you and shake the hand of greatness again.