Dear Reader: This page may contain affiliate links which may earn a commission if you click through and make a purchase. Our independent journalism is not influenced by any advertiser or commercial initiative unless it is clearly marked as sponsored content. As travel products change, please be sure to reconfirm all details and stay up to date with current events to ensure a safe and successful trip.
It was a typical Monday morning like any other. I had just gotten up and joined my family at the breakfast table, but I had a strange feeling something wasn’t quite right. I glanced over to find my mother at the table with a huge grin on her face, her eyes fixed on me. I knew that there would be something she wanted me to do that I wouldn’t be happy with, so I asked her why she was smiling.
She said in reply, “Joe, you know how your cousins are going away on a rafting trip in Idaho?.”
I said, “Not exactly but now I do. Why?”
“One of the other boys dropped out and we thought you could take his place.” Before I could answer, she said, “Now I realize that you would be doing a lot of traveling, but you don’t get to see your cousins that often and they would love for you to go with them…”
After some negotiations, I decided to go because I love spending time with my cousins and this would be the perfect opportunity, so off I went.
I arrived in Kansas and we prepared to leave for the rafting trip the next day. Before I knew it, state after state started flying by. Missouri, Iowa, South Dakota, Wyoming and Montana were becoming real places to me, not just colorful shapes on a map. At long last, we finally reached the starting point on the Salmon River in northwestern Idaho.
After my first night camping, we got into our rafts and set sail. We were the fourth raft, identified only by a black letter D. It never occurred to me that D stands for destiny, as well as disaster. Anyway, it was nice and quiet out on the river and the scenery was spectacular.
The next day we were exposed to much rougher rapids but we safely made it through all of them. That night as we sat around the fire telling stories under the blackest sky I’d ever seen, I had a bad feeling about the next day, a day I will never forget.
Early the next morning, we were coming to a class three rapid and the people in charge didn’t seem to show any concern. As our raft was going over the rapid, we hit a rock and got stuck, but the current pushed us back. As we were let loose, the raft started to flip. The next thing I knew a wave hit me and I fell out of the boat! Flailing and gasping for breath, I popped my head out of the water only to gaze at a wild, open river. I saw the next wave coming right for me, so I took a breath and went under. I surfaced again and yelled for help but didn’t see anything but water. As I reached out my hand, I felt another hand grab mine as I was pulled out of the icy-cold water. I was saved, but everything I brought was gone.
Ironically, once we got to the Snake River on Thursday, it was calm the rest of the trip. On my way back home, I realized that although I had no luggage to bring home, I wasn’t going home empty-handed. I got to experience life outdoors in the wilderness with my cousins that I seldom see. But I can’t help wondering if somewhere far away on the unseen, frozen floor of the Salmon River, some fish is staring at my lost hoodie, wondering who the New York Yankees are.