“Hi, cute dog!”

The smallish uncollared pooch stopped barking and looked up at his master after determining I was no threat.

“Don’t need to be nice to everyone. No law sayin’ you have to be nice all the time. Laws and lawyers. Lawyers are backstabbers, every one. Two of my brothers are lawyers. I know.”

The dog looked from his master to me then, his head cocked in an expression that said, “He may be crazy, but he’s mine.”

I decided not to engage the old man, focusing instead on offloading my paddle board. I was excited about my first 7-mile adventure down the Colorado River from Gold Bar Camp to just past the Intrepid Potash Plant. The river was moving swiftly.

Mike handed me the can of pepper spray from the truck, but was reluctant to leave. I helped him offload his kayak near the boat ramp where my paddle board waited for me to pump it up.

“A boat. Why would I have a boat? Too big. Who’d watch my truck while I’m gone? You won’t. You’re just a dog. I’d like to take a nap, but who’s gonna watch my back while I sleep? Not you. You’re just a small dog. Wild animals come and rip out my throat. Nothing you could do.”

“Oh, boy,” Mike whispered.

“I’ll be fine. Go,” I told him. The old man and his dog disappeared for a bit.

While Mike drove down to the Plant to preposition the truck before biking back the 7 miles, I kept my eye on the disgruntled character, who continued to rant against the people who were watching and the lawyers and the people who had boats and the rules about everything including being nice. By the time Mike returned, the pair was gone and I was eager to hit the water.

It was my first time on a paddle board in moving water, and I launched with every expectation that I’d immediately handle myself like a pro. Within moments I was swept away from Mike, who was struggling with pulling his kayak from the sucking mud on the bank. I decided to spin my board around and try my success at paddling back upstream.

To be honest, I was a little freaked out at the idea of losing sight of him.

So of course I fell in.

It wasn’t a little slip off the side of the board, or a drop to my butt on the board like I’d done my first time on Lake Travis. No, it was a magnificent limbs-to-the-four-corners backwards off the side total dunk. And Mike never saw it.

More shocking than the frigid mountain water was the reality that I had fallen in. I ottered my way back onto the board, a challenging feat with the bulky life vest, and was back on my feet by the time Mike caught up with me. He wondered why I was dripping wet.

The rest of the downriver trip was a blast, and I managed to stay atop the board despite some close calls each time I tried a new stance. I’ve seen photos of tanned, fit, bikini-clad young gals doing yoga on their boards. I’m neither tanned not particularly fit and I can’t imagine ever wearing a bikini again, but I managed an awesome downward dog. Seeing the canyon walls passing by upside-down was pretty cool.

My new character for Book II of Waterwight was gone by the time we returned to retrieve Mike’s bike, but Mike made a suggestion about the character I’ll definitely use. We saw him again in his truck on the side of the road when we returned to the river the next day, and I was just a little disappointed not to hear his latest monologue. My paddle-board-on-the-river legs were far more confident in their ability to keep me on the right side of the board. So confident, in fact, that I thought I’d be able to stay upright when the waves from a passing riverboat reached me.

I couldn’t.


By author

Laurel lives and laughs and publishes and podcasts in Colorado's Rocky Mountains! She has published several multi-genre books and hosts the podcast "Alligator Preserves," where she interviews fascinating people, talks about the human condition, and shares scary stories from her "Dark Ebb" collection.

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