I want to thank you who have already sent feedback and I hope we can complete this journey together. I need to know how I am expressing myself in this book. The last thing I want to do is leave the reader confused. This is supposed to be a spiritual journey. Each week I will file the chapters under the Featured Category to the right of our home page. That way anyone joining us in this literary journey can go back and play catch up.
OK – Here we go into day second of the journey.
Thomas took the middle position and Kevin and Mark began, in perfect unison, to pull the oar into the water at just the right depth and speed as they had done so many times before when they were in Eagle Scouts. Though they had never gone down the Nigris, they were experienced in handling a canoe. They knew how to keep pace without losing strength, and reserve their energy for when they might need it. The weather reports had been examined and there was nothing to indicate there would be anything out of the ordinary. However, the boys were prepared for any situation (so they thought) and realized that weather patterns can change unexpectedly. The thought of this did not concern them because the river was fairly narrow and they could pull over at any time if the weather turned inclement. Their GPS gave them many options for stop off points.
As they moved steadily forward, along the chartered course, they checked their GPS often to see their progress. They were making good time and taking in the scenery. Small talk had subsided and the friends were just happy to be together. After a few hours of steady rowing they realized that one temptation they would have to fight was lethargy. The gentle lilting of the water against the canoe brought a motion to their bodies that was monotonous and made them sleepy.
It reminded Thomas of the time his father had let him drive the 3 hour trip to his grandmother’s house in the mountain when he turned 17. Of course, his father was in the car right beside him, but he let his son have the wheel showing an unusual amount of trust that empowered Thomas. Towards the end of that particular road trip the sun had set and he remembered that he was beginning to feel sleepy behind the wheel. He didn’t dare mention this to his father and it was his father’s constant surveillance that kept him awake and alert until they reached Grandma Switzer’s house.
Returning to the present, Thomas had switched positions with Mark, who now held the middle position in the canoe. Thomas could feel the steady monotony of pulling the oars in unison with Kevin and drifted in a reverie of memories of Grandma Switzer. Thomas had always felt like he was her favorite grandson, though Grandma Switzer had a way of making all of her grandchildren feel that way. Thomas could never figure out how she was able to do that and make everyone feel so special. He would love to look at her aging face. The wrinkles only brought a twinkle and softness to her appearance. He loved how she had never tried to look younger with makeup and youthful clothes as so many of his friend’s grandmothers had done. Thomas loved to look at grandma’s neck as it seemed to have so many rings that it reminded him of the stately redwood trees whose age could be determined by the number of rings. Grandma Switzer never realized how naturally beautiful she was to Thomas, but he loved being in her presence.
One thing that was unique about Grandmas Switzer was her love for God and reading the Bible. She was the only one in the family that seemed to have such an interest, but when she would talk about the Lord it was as if He were right there in the room. Thomas could never figure out how she was able to do that, but there was a warm presence around his beloved grandmother. Though he wasn’t particularly interested in pursuing a search for grandma’s God, he was comfortable enough just getting a glimpse of Him through her.
Sometimes Grandma Switzer would seem to drift away in thought and would suddenly get up and go to her room. He could hear her muffled cries and knew she was praying, but it always embarrassed him when she would do this. Somehow he knew that she was praying for him.
Suddenly Thomas was brought back from his reverie by a jolt in the canoe. They had hit a branch that was floating down the river, but it just brushed the canoe with no damage, and helped the boys to stay on course and stay awake.
They knew it was getting time to call it a night as the sun was beginning to set and a lovely pink sunset was illuminating the skies. They were hungry and looking forward to a night of lying beneath the stars and talking about whatever came to mind.
The trip was so perfectly planned that even the stop off points were calculated and could be visibly seen on the GPS. Mark and Kevin maneuvered the boat to the shore while Thomas scoped the land to see where they could build camp. After carefully tying their canoe to a sturdy river tree, the boys went up the bank to the forest area. They didn’t have to go far to find the perfect place to set up camp.
They had everything they needed. Soon a small fire was blazing and the prepared meals were being warmed on the fire. Their mothers had always spoiled these boys with excellent meals, and they didn’t want them to endure too much hardship on this trip. Thomas decided meatloaf had never tasted so good. Food has a way of tasting more delicious when one has worked for it. A day on the river had gone smoothly and now their muscles were yearning to unwind and relax.
The boys lay back on their bedding and decided to prolong entering their pup tent so they could soak in the sounds of the forest and the beauty of the night that had descended upon them like a cloud. The sound of crickets chirping was comforting. From every study of this area there had been no mention of unusual animals except for an occasional bear or an opossum. Other than the sounds of the crickets and some wings rustling as the birds settled down for the night, the atmosphere was peaceful and the boys were enjoying warding off the chill of the night with their more than warm “goose down” sleeping bags.
As the 3 friends talked about the days events, Mark commented that it was the first day in a long time that they hadn’t used their cell phones or texted one another. There was no need. They commented that this was a good thing to conserve battery power. They reasoned that if they alternated powering off their cell phones they would have enough charge to last the three days.
Thinking about cell phones reminded Thomas that they had promised to call their parents to let them know they were safe. It was amazing how quickly they had forgotten their commitment to call their parents. A sense of guilt came over them as this realization came. Each of the young men had their own cell phones and simultaneously made the calls that the parents were obviously longing for. The parents were relieved to hear their sons’ voices and after a short while goodbyes were said once again and the boys decided it was definitely time to drift off to sleep, which came quickly.
Morning came before they expected. They had all slept hard. The prior days work had demanded a good night’s rest and they were ready to get going again. After a good breakfast of sausage and pre-packaged pancakes, heated over a sterno can, Kevin untied the canoe from the tree. Mark and Thomas packed everything tightly and efficiently and soon they were ready to venture into day 2 of their adventure.
As Thomas turned to take one last glimpse of the camping area they had so conveniently found, a thought crossed his mind. The camping site seemed to have been used before, as if brush had been removed to clear an area for camping. Thomas wondered if perhaps the old Indian Nigris had passed through these parts. He smiled whimsically, and mentally thanked Nigris for preparing a place for them to stay.