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What you learn on summer vacation

Early in the season—single digit days of June, say—the PNW rivers are higher and faster than they will be during prime float season. The sandy edges where you might stop to hang out are covered over with water and only brush and fallen trees line the sides. So if you rent three tubes from a bunch of kids in a trailer and they drive you and two of your precious children up a road and you set off hurtling downstream, your trip might be more harrowing than relaxing. You will look on the bright side and be glad you emerged alive and breathing your favorite thing: air.

Mere weeks later you will find yourself somewhat more eastward and rafting down another damned river, but with a competent guide and you'll think this is survivable and you'll be fine and you are. Which contributes to the regrettable decision of allowing yourself to be lured into an inflatable boat with only immediate family members and soon you'll be hurtling down another fucking river into a bunch of terrible things, most of which are trees and dead trees and some particularly malevolent trees. Trees along a river are just a bad idea, right up there with big rocks in a river.

Have you learned something? Yes, but there's more. You'll then find yourself mountain biking, which can only be good. You know this because you bike a lot and you love biking because it is always fun. Except when it is entirely analogous to whitewater whatevering. Which this is. Your bike is a raft, a tube, a kayak. The river is dirt and it is full of rocks and the aforementioned trees. There are people having fun doing this and you can be happy for them, but your main happiness springs from the knowledge that you will not be tempted to contribute any time, money, or effort into acquiring a mountain bike for your future use.

Air and asphalt, ah!

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