Saturday, June 21, 2008

Blonde Hair, Black Bears, and Raging Rapids

(Sorry this is long but after reading, you'll understand why...)
Well, we just returned from a week in Colorado. If you are wondering why our hair is an orange/yellow tint...that is because we all dyed it in our hotel room in Dalhart, Texas last Saturday. We call it "Vacation Hair". Pretty funny, huh?
We got a great deal for a condo in Keystone, Colorado so we went (although the kids wanted to go to the beach). It was beautiful and the temperature was a great treat coming from the heat of Texas.
We hiked, biked, the boys swam (yes, it was a heated pool), played games, watched movies, shopped a little, ate ice cream, and relaxed. The boys complained most of the time because we made them drink so much water. They were then paranoid they would get altitude sickness and asked why we had to go somewhere so high up.
We spotted 3 bears! One was "road kill", one was while Jeffrey was on a walk, and one was when all three were on a bike ride! Crazy! The only other time I'd seen a bear was in the "Bear Pit" at Baylor but I think those were Brown Bears. Sic 'em!
On our last day, we met John Mark and Laura for a raft trip (they work for a rafting company during the summer in Colorado). Laura took the day off and John Mark was our guide. There were 3 rafts with our group. They donned us with wet suits, life jackets, and helmets. After "safety instructions", we headed into the choppy waters. The river was higher than normal because the snow was late in melting. We set out on our journey on Eagle River and were having a great time. Then, came the "big rapid". They call it "Dead Cow" or something because literally a cow died there and rocks formed around it creating a HUGE rapid. As we went toward the rapid, our boat dipped down and then up the wave. As we reached the crest, the other couple on the boat leaned to the right, falling on top of Jeffrey and their daughter, tipping over the WHOLE raft.
All I remember was falling into the water and feeling like my life was about to drastically change at that very second. I thought that either myself or a family member might not make it. As soon as I came up from the water, I looked over my shoulder and saw Jake wimpering. I pushed him toward the raft (which John Mark was already back on) and John Mark got him on the raft. Because the water rushing, I was unable to catch the boat and went floating past at a rapid pace. John Mark and Laura (who was back on the raft), rushed to get me but my body was moving even fast than the raft could catch up. I was shifting toward the right and John Mark wanted to me to go left. He kept yelling, "No, Stephanie! Go to the left." The current was so strong. There was a strainer to the right and he didn't want me to get stuck in it. Finally, they got close enough and I tried to swim toward them. The Windbreaker/Water Guard Jacket I had on felt like a garbage bag. I tried to swim the best I could. John Mark pulled me in the boat and I was safe.
I went to Jake and held him tight. As we looked back, we could see tons of yellow helmets bobbing in the water. Another raft had flipped! I had no clue where Jeffrey and Will were but I had a peace that Jeffrey would take care of them. Because we were on the other side of a median of sorts I could only see the people that were floating down our side. With each person we pulled in our raft, I would look to see if they were Jeffrey or Will. Finally, Jeffrey and Will came around the bottom corner from the other side with their raft. I yelled to Jeffrey, "Do you have Will?" He said, "Yes!" Their boat kept floating down the river and we didn't see them for about 45 more minutes...not knowing if they made it down the river without flipping again. Our boat pulled to the side and we got out. The bus picked us up. Our group was in shock, crying, panicing, and all the emotions you could imagine. Still, no sign of Jeffrey and Will until about 45 minutes later.
Once we finally saw them, we all were tearfully happy to see one another. We were so grateful that no one was hurt and we were all there. I then found out that Jeffrey and Will were picked up on separate boats. The boat that Will got on was the other boat that flipped. Will was on two boats that flipped! Jeffrey watched it and said Will was in the water for a long time until they could get him. Jeffrey said he was so calm and did exactly what they told him to do. He said once they got him, his lips were blue and he couldn't move his hands. Finally, they were able to pull to the side so he could get warm. It was a miracle! We are blessed.
So, that is why we don't have any "after" pictures of the raft trip. We didn't feel like taking any "after" pictures.
We are, however, still recovering from the mind games the "evil one" likes to play in our minds. The scene has gone over and over in our minds. We finally have a peace and are greatful for our family...although it still makes our stomach turn. We are greatful for John Mark and Laura...we would not be OK if it weren't for them. They are amazing at what they do. I felt so safe because of them. Our family is closer for sure.
Don't ask Jake about it, though. His tummy still gets upset when we talk about it.
Thank you, Lord, for your protection!


keeprunnin said...

What a crazy trip. I am so glad everyone is okay.

Amanda said...

Holy cow, that is so scary. I'm glad everyone was okay. I will NEVER, never do that as long as I live.

Colored With Memories said...

OMG! I am so glad y'all are okay...and I totally understand now about not having "during" or "after" pics! That must have been so scary.

The only time I went rafting in Colorado was during a drought...normal class 5 rapids were only class 2...and I still thought it was daring!

christa said...

Well that is so super funny (after the fact, I am sorry but it's funny) I can just see the drama! I love you guys so much. And the vacation hair???? Can we say family tradition?

Tricia Hoffmann said...

I didn't know you had such a dramatic vacation. I think the MLS team is called the Colorado Rapids...I guess that's for a reason, eh? Praise the Lord!

Lynn said...

I'm so glad you are all safe!! Miss you guys!