Last week I found myself panicked and confused, wondering where all of the computers and blinking lights had gone. Even more confounding, none of the people around me had cell phones glued to their ears. So I desperately searched for answers until it dawned on me: I was on vacation. I took a sigh of relief and got out my fly rod. By the second day of my 100-mile float trip down the Middle Fork of the Salmon River in Idaho, I had embraced the realization that, on the river, there’s nothing you can do about work so you might as well not worry about it.
The trip, a six-day rafting and fishing excursion into the largest wilderness area in the lower 48, would be considered an adventure by most standards. But when my father is involved, the adventure begins at the motel. Refusing to succumb to the mundane routine of checking into our room and preparing for the next morning’s early river departure, my dad spiced up the first evening by locking his keys in the car with all of our bags inside. I immediately began thumbing through the phonebook to find the nearest bar. I felt the trip, even in its infant stages, needed a new perspective.
But before I set foot outside, I looked out the motel window and saw that my dad and several fellow rafting group members had combined their car break-in skills and unlocked the vehicle. And thus my first vacation in more than a year had begun.
The Middle Fork is a gorgeous river with enough class III and IV rapids to keep everybody constantly aware of their surroundings. For me, there were sufficient fly-fishing opportunities to actively feed my addiction from morning to night. We floated close to 100 miles in total, finally taking the boats out of the water at the confluence of the main Salmon River. For almost a week, I had no contact with the world outside of the river and our rafting crew, which is a very pleasant form of isolation.
Six days with a small group of people on a wild river tends to create tight-knit bonds. I suppose, if given the wrong group members and guides, it would have quite the opposite effect. But for our diverse assembly of amateur adventurers, the chemistry worked out perfectly. I give a lot of credit to our guides, all ranging in age between 19 and 25, who provided, along with their professional duties, unexpected camaraderie for this 23-year-old.
There was a point on the second day of the trip when I quit fishing and stared blankly at the water for several minutes. I thought, “This is nice.” It’s an obvious thought, but not one to be overlooked. Vacation must not be taken for granted, nor should you place so much importance on it that your expectations grow to excessive proportions. Instead, it’s necessary, at least for me, to take a few minutes on every vacation to look around and simply observe, “This is nice.” Because it really is.
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