Wednesday, December 14, 2022

Heller and Shannon: Settling-in

Eldridge found the first day’s float to being a big disappointment.

More than one person in Eldridge’s life had likened him to a Red Squirrel or a Jack Russel Terrier. He had a high need to move.

It wasn’t that he had issues with attention. He just needed to move more than most people. Much, much more.

So to have the lead guide in the kayak tell him to cool his jets was a disappointment.

“So why can’t I push ahead?” LR grumbled.

The guide signed. “River-rafting is big business in West Virginia. The only way we can get away with launching a group every fifteen minutes is to make sure they don’t get mixed together.”

“Besides, if you get too far ahead of us you will miss where we pull out for the night. That would suck for you because most of the valley has no cell signal and the next site is another eight hours float down the river.”

“So how far down the river are we going today?” LR asked.

“The first day is a two-hour float. That is long enough to sort through the group’s growing pains. Some people hate it and hit the silk. We pull out at a State Park and folks can buy sun-block, tooth-brushes, tampons and condoms...whatever they forgot.”

“Two hours, that’s nothing” LR scoffed.

“You’d be surprised” the guide said. “One-in-ten won’t be able to get back in the rafts tomorrow morning because they will be too lamed-up or sunburned.”

“So, are you floating down with us the whole way?” LR asked.

“Nope” the guide said. “I will be hitching a ride from the park and float down with two more groups today. This, sir, is an assembly line.”

“The guides in the rafts will stay with you the rest of the way but they are the only ones” the guide said.

Sure enough, few hours later a gravel apron appeared on the right bank of the river and the lead guide said “There it is. Paddle over there.”

LR helped pull in the rafts and helped carry the luggage to the designated group of tent-sites. There were hundreds of tent-sites and it looked like every one would be filled by night time.

For a bit, the camp-wranglers thought LR was one of them. The guides who had been in the rafts thought he came with the cooks and the trailer. The cooks and camp-donkeys thought he was one of the raft-men.

By the time they figured out he was a “dude”, LR was on a first-name basis with all of the “help”, a fact which made the rest of the party snicker at him.

LR was oblivious. He liked to stay busy and there were tents to set-up, firewood to unload from the trailer and split, water to get, skillets to stir and so on.

Then group that was to camp in the sites next to LR's group pulled in. They were from Kingsport, Tennessee and were with the same group of outfitters that LR's group had hired.

No big deal. LR helped them set-up camp too. In a matter of minutes they were on a first-name basis. The group from Tennessee made the trip every summer and knew several of the guides. It only took a word from the guides for the men from Tennessee to welcome LR as one of them, even if he sounded like a Yankee.

The main meal for LR's group was Chicken Alfredo. The vegans were served salads. The Paleos were served bacon-wrapped bison bites. The rank smell of weed started exuding from tents even though West Virginia was not cannabis friendly.

LR ate with his new friends from Tennessee. They had fried catfish, hush-puppies, sweet corn and slaw served with ample amounts of sweet tea and clear liquid from mason jars.

The men from the Volunteer State were happy to tell LR which of the guides were OK with concealed carry (all of the old-timers). The issue involved insurance companies. As long as the person who was carrying was discrete and never put a guide in an awkward position, i.e. flashing iron when there was a hoplophobic witness present, then everything was cool.


  1. That theory of blending in works in real life. An acquaintance who likes to find Native American projectile points (i.e. arrowheads) uses state road work crews to his advantage. He parks his vehicle near (but not next to) the work crew vehicles. The crew thinks he is the land owner, and other passing drivers think he is part of the crew. So for short term safety, he can trespass in peace.

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  3. Wouldn’t it be funny if Shannon also turned out to be a CPL holder?
    Might teach him a lesson in real subtlety.

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