Oct 04

Still no God

Before you start, you should read Part 1 and Part 2 before reading this.

I’m going to start up where I left off last time, with me crawling back up the river to find a place to light. When I got myself to a flat enough spot on the shore, I thought maybe I’d have a little nap and get some much needed rest. I thought that was the most important thing at the time. Just a few minutes is all I’d need, and then I could worry about finding Aaron and getting our asses out of there. In Hudson’s Hope, the river is about ninety feet or so below the town, and the cliffs where we were are unclimbable. As I started to doze off, I heard yelling and whistling. Oh right, I was just with someone in the river. A few more yells and whistles, oh right, it was Aaron. I came out of my stupor, and started clambering towards the voice. It was starting to get dark by now, and the temperature was beginning to dip, but I saw him trying to find a spot to climb up the face and I tried a yell, but my voice wasn’t working very well. I was finally successful in getting his attention, as I got a bit closer and there was much rejoicing. I guess Aaron had watched me going down the river and figured I was dead already, so when I showed up there may or may not  have been hugging, I’m not at liberty to say.

We had lost our cell phones, wallets and keys, not to mention the matches, when the tube fell out of the canoe, so we had no fire and I was losing body temperature pretty quick. I had also lost my new glasses, but I wasn’t too worried about driving right then. Aaron hadn’t been in as long as I had, and he seemed to be in better shape. He was whistling and hollering up the cliff, but we didn’t know if anyone in the houses would be able to hear us over the roar of the water. My kidneys were starting to hurt pretty bad from the cold and being bashed around on the rocks and I got Aaron to rub them really fast to warm them up. I don’t know if it made any difference physically, but mentally I could feel warmth from the friction making it’s way through me. We were hoping Lannie had missed us by now and had called someone, but we had been known for dawdling before, so we weren’t counting on it yet. We started planning to wait it out until morning, but I was pretty sure I wouldn’t make the night at that temperature. I think I was hyperventilating, or something that was making me breathe very rapidly, and because of that my mouth and throat were getting really dry. I kept going to the shore and drinking out of the river to try and wet my whistle, but I would just puke it back up. I didn’t mind, because at least there was moisture in there.

By now it was really dark, and I was getting worried and just wanted to lay down, but Aaron was able to keep his wits about him enough to hear a boat in the dark. I couldn’t hear anything but blood pounding in my ears and him whistling. I’ve never been so glad to be with a person who whistled so loud in my life, because all of a sudden he saw a light on the water where he had heard the boat downstream, and when he whistled again, their spotlight started searching in our direction. He yelled to me to get up and wave my brightly coloured life jacket in the air, and I happily obliged. They came a bit closer and killed the engine, and Aaron let out another high-pitched tweet. The spotlight hit us that time and the engine fired back up and started heading towards us. I have to admit that I could never see the appeal of riverboats, but after that night I had a new found love for any craft that can run through rapids, sandbars and rocks, and not sink. When the boat thrust up onto the shore with the two RCMP officers in the bow, and my new boss driving, I almost cried, I was so happy. I may have really cried, I don’t know. I do know I hugged Rich Brown and the constables for saving us, and Rich gave me his survival coat to keep me as warm as possible as well as the welding tube full of our things that they had found on their way up. I felt like I should have went out and got a girl pregnant, just to give them my first born, that’s how happy I was.

It turns out that the people that were having a fire at the landing, saw the canoe go by upside down, and called 911. While the police were rounding up Rich and his boat, and making their way to us, one of the folks at the top of the cliff had called in to say he thought there was someone trapped below his house. I am forever indebted to those people, because I honestly believe I wouldn’t be here today if it weren’t for them. We were taken back to the landing where the fire was still going, and I stayed by the fire until the ambulance got there moments later. We went back to Aaron’s after the paramedics got us fixed up and his wife and son were more than a little happy to see him, as he was elated to see them.I had a hot bath and put on some dry clothes, but I was still having troubles with my lungs, so I ended up getting taken in to Fort St. John hospital and got something called a nebulizer to dry the water and crap out of my lungs. I guess my kidneys took a bit of a beating as well, but they were still working fine and I was alive, so what more could you ask for?

I was going to go looking for the canoe the next day, but to tell you the truth, I didn’t have it in me. Aaron said that if I got the canoe back, he was going to buy it off of me and burn it. I think he probably would have, but I wouldn’t have charged him for it. I went out with my friend Randy, who is a very experienced canoodler, to get back in and try it again the next week. We did it, and I’m glad I did, but I have to admit I was pretty shaky until I found out that you can go across the river and the rapids are minimal there. Hindsight, eh? Ah well, what’s done is done, and there’s no point in analyzing it to death. Where we went through was bad, but it wasn’t treacherous. We were ill prepared, and uninformed. We shouldn’t have gone in there without knowing what lay ahead of us, and we should have had our life jackets on, instead of laying in the canoe. I don’t think either of us will make that mistake again, and I hope you never do either.

I think it’s safe to say that the experience that day changed our lives. I still don’t believe in God though, but think Aaron might have gained a bit of faith.I know he quit smoking because it was one more thing that might prevent him from spending every possible moment with his family. I imagine he’s a lot more careful around water too. I know my outlook changed drastically. I no longer waste time on stupid shit, and I try to enjoy every moment I can, because you never know when it might be your last. This weekend at Thanksgiving, I think I’ll raise my glass to my pal Aaron, and give thanks that I had him with me that day. I can’t think of too many people I’d rather have in my corner when the chips are down, so here’s to you my friend. I credit you, most of all for us surviving that day.

What Aaron was fighting for

Aaron and his oldest boy

Make sure you look after each other,

Birdman

Oct 02

Contrary to what I’ve said, sometimes drinking is not cool

I thought that being a day of rest, I’d just tell a story about when I lived in Hudson’s Hope, BC (I suggest you Google that shit, if you don’t already know about it). I ended up there after I had become newly single, and really wanted nothing to do with women ever again. It’s a gorgeous little mountain town at the start of the Peace River, and home of the W.A.C. Bennett and Peace Canyon Dams. My friend Aaron lives in HH, and he and his wife are raising a beautiful family there. I had originally agreed to house and dog sit for them one spring when they went on vacation, because I couldn’t have dogs in the apartment and I was done work for the winter, so what the hell.

While I was there I ended up getting a job, making some great friends and almost getting my ass killed. I liked it a lot and I stayed until the snow flew, not that that means much when you’re in the mountains. When I got there in April I stayed with Aaron and Lannie for a bit, rented a trailer with a guy from work, lived in an old camper that I had bought for a grand and eventually moved in with a great couple that I rented a room from.  I mostly ate at Freddy’s Deli, On The Rim or Julie’s cafe, but I don’t think she has it anymore. It’s too bad, because she had superb home cooked soups, sandwiches and a great selection of unique drinks. The town is full of very talented people that make some really cool things. Jim Todd crafted some of the nicest longbows I’ve ever seen or drawn. The farmer’s market was full of home baking, fruits and veggies, honey, soap and crafts, all of which are made by local people. Truly worth jogging off the beaten path if you are traveling up the Alaska or Hart Highways.

Now onto a completely pointless drinking story… I believe it was around the first part of May that Aaron and I had eaten a meal of makeshift, homemade Chinese food, that we didn’t have the proper ingredients for. We then headed over to a buddy’s cabin for a visit with a bottle of vodka, a jug of Clamato and all the trimmings. It was your average visit, five guys sitting around drinking, smacking golf balls into the river, throwing sticks to the dog, eventually building a fire, and by around midnight we were riding the dirt bike with no headlight up and down the road. Don’t worry, it was safe, the headlights of oncoming cars gave us enough illumination to get over on the shoulder and out of harm’s way. My belly was starting to feel that I shouldn’t drink anymore, but I’m not one for wasting, so I finished my last caeser and climbed into the truck. I should mention that at this point in my life, I was not a huge drinker. This was the first time I’d been drunk in probably seven or eight years.

The reason for my not drinking much was a night out with Aaron several years earlier, after a good stint in camp. I either overindulged in the whiskey and tequila that night or someone slipped me some sort of pill that turned me into a complete asshole. Apparently I decided it was up to me to defend the slutty waitress’ honour, seeing as it was her night off and I think she was letting us do shots out of her tits. Good reason to walk around trying to fight the old perverts (like I was any different) that were grabbing her ass, right?  I guess I then got in a cab and not only puked all over the roof, but the interior as well.  I’m assuming he took me home because when the phone rang the next morning, I found it next to me on the bed, you know, right next to the pile of puke near the pillow.

I answered the phone, and it was my friend from work that had booked me a chiropractor appointment for that day. He wondered why I didn’t show up to my eleven o’clock session and was letting me know that they would see me if I went there now. I found my glasses in the aforementioned pile, rinsed them off, assessed the damage from when I obviously tore my shelving unit down and called a cab. I had to catch a plane later to go home for Christmas, so I needed to get my back fixed up now. Of course it was the same cabbie that took me home the night before, and he was quite surprised that I was still alive. He wasn’t too pissed off because I had given him a hundred bucks to clean up the cab and drive me home.

By the time we hit the third chiropractor office, we had found the right one. I went in, paid the receptionist and went to the washroom because I was feeling a little green. When I woke up, she was banging on the door to see if I was ok, I had no shirt on and there was a trail of bile leading from my head to the toilet. I don’t remember stripping down, but the tile floor was so nice and cool that I wished I had taken my pants off as well. I didn’t want to get up, but I knew they were waiting for me so they could close the shop up for the holidays. When the bone cracker saw me he wasn’t going to work on me because I guess I looked as bad as I felt, but after some persuasion, he fixed me up. A couple more dry-heaves and I started to walk home.

Ok, what the hell was I talking about before? Oh right, I was drinking caesers and I got dropped off at the house. I stepped onto the sidewalk, walked three steps and barfed a spray of red chicken balls out into the night as Aaron drove away, neither of us suspecting that what would happen the next day would change our outlook on life.

I hope you mofos like cliffhangers,

Birdman

Find Part 2 here.

Sep 15

I Love Date Night

wpid-mindofbirdman.jpg

I just don’t love how tired I am the next morning. I keep trying to knock it out of park like I’m twenty, but in reality I’m rounding forty, can rarely make it through a night without getting up to pee and I have an arthritic shoulder. I also don’t like that women peak so late in life, when men are starting to feel the abuse that their bodies have taken over the years. Had I known, I wouldn’t have done things like, but not limited to:

  • Jumping out of speeding watercraft
  • Seeing how many headbutts I could take before concussing (7)
  • Seeing how many girls I could kiss, without getting herpes (18)
  • Jumping off of assorted bridges, because Scooter did it.
  • Punching bouncers
  • Other various feats of strength

Of course, my male ego likes to make me think I’m worn out because I last so long and go at it with such adolescent enthusiasm that any mortal man would faint at the task, but I think if we ask Mrs. Birdman, we would learn differently. (Excuse me as I weep silently, while clutching at the last shreds of my manliness.)

 

Oh well, now that the kids are back to school, we can get back on schedule, which is date night every Wednesday, and on every other Thursday is the best day of all. (drumroll please) Wing/date night. Jesus, can life get any better than a carnivorous, beer fueled feeding frenzy, followed by seven minutes of blissful passion?

I don’t think so.
Thanks for being here for me,
Birdman