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This weekend David and I traveled with about 10 other friends to Lebanon, Mo. to float down the Niangua River. I was excited for this float trip because this was going to be the first float trip I was going to do with people my age. Because if you remember… last year I went on a float trip with David and his parents and their church group. Yeah. True story. I had a good time last year, but I was ready to booze it up a bit this year. You know, more of a traditional float trip. ;)

As we were coming back from the trip, I had a hard time coming up with an opinion about how it all went. It was a mixture of good times, frustrating moments, laughing, and tears. I will say this: It was a learning experience. That’s for sure.

The Good

  • David and I took Friday off of work.
  • It was great to see everyone for an entire weekend. I usually only see this group for maybe a maximum of 6 hours at a time. We had a chance to get to know each other more, including learning each others’ quirks.
  • David and I got to camp! We all camped two nights at the Niangua River Oasis campground. It was great to get out at least once before our trip in September. We even tested out my dad’s lightweight, 2-person backpacking tent. More on that later. I’m not putting that in “The Good” section.
  • The entire time we floated. We tied three 4-person rafts together, so we could float all together. We drank, laughed, and played games, including the infamous Never Have I Ever — always some juicy stuff that comes out of that.
  • I did not get motion sick badly at all — even with the windy roads. Everyone was nice and let me ride either in the front or the middle so I didn’t have to be in the back.

The Bad

  • By the time we got down to the campground and set up our tents, it was nearing 3 p.m. I hadn’t had much to eat that morning, so my blood sugar plummeted and I became very irritated. I was not the only one. We stopped off in Wal-Mart to gather up food supplies and buy alcohol. Thank goodness this Wal-Mart had a Subway in it. I don’t typically like Subway (I love me some Jimmy John’s), but I wanted anything I could get my hands on. Once the calories started to hit my system, I felt like a whole new person.
  • There were several occasions where I wondered if we had too many people on the trip to make it smooth and successful. I felt a handful of things were disorganized, but then again we didn’t have any set planning meetings before to talk out what food we wanted and how much food to buy. Spur of the moment planning would work best if we had a group of 4, not a group of 10. I went along with everything because I didn’t want to “make waves,” it’s easier, and that’s who I’ve become on these big group trips. But next time, I’ll suggest we plan some more beforehand. I don’t blame anyone. You live and you learn. Like I said, it was definitely a learning experience.
  • I did not enjoy my dad’s small backpacking tent at all. I got claustrophobic to the point of waking up in a panic twice. Full-disclosure: I almost started to cry at one point. To help lessen my anxiety with it, I (in the middle of the night, mind you) removed the rain fly so I was able to see through the mesh, I switched spots with David to be closer to the entrance of the tent, and I opened the door of the tent so I was able to stick my hand out if need be (to feel that I could get out if I needed to).
    Dad'sBackpackingTentYou can see it’s not a typical dome tent. It narrows toward your feet. Here’s the inside.
    InsideBackpackingTentThe silver lining to the uncomfortable-ness I felt with this is that I’m glad I found out that I can’t do this type of tent. I plan on asking REI what type of tents they are providing for us on the trip. If it’s this kind, David and I will be bringing our own. We now know that we should look for a dome-style tent for us for when we start to do our own backpacking trips.I was thankful David and I brought three tents, so we were able to set up one the next night that wasn’t being used.
    OzarkTrailTentAs you can tell, it was much better.
    InsideOzarkTrailTentIn case you’re interested in the tents, the little 2-person one is made by Kelty and the one directly above this sentence is an Ozark Trail tent (a tent we originally picked up in the trash — David’s roommate was going to throw away this perfectly good tent). Ozark Trail is a Wal-Mart brand. Not to sound like a tent snob, but David and I will not be purchasing an Ozark Trail tent. This one worked out, but we’ve had another experience in a different Ozark Trail tent that was less than ideal (a leaking tent is NEVER good).
  • Speaking of tents, another low point of the weekend was when we accidentally tore a big chunk of the rain fly on my parents’ Eureka tent they have had since before I was born. I have pictures of me as a toddler standing in this tent.
    EurekaRainFlySplitI yelled and cried. I’m not proud at all about how I handled it. I should have treated the situation with more care than I did. My dad is understanding and I knew he wouldn’t be upset, but I still had to tell him. Tons of what-ifs ran through my head. What if we had moved the tent so it wouldn’t have hit that branch? What if I had done it myself instead of other people helping, would that have changed the outcome? When we returned Sunday, I told Dad and he was even more understanding than I had expected. He said, “Manda, it’s a really old tent. These things happen.” And then proceeded to show me how easily it could tear.

The Sunburnt

  • I did not come back a lobster, but I did get burnt in some really weird places: my knee caps and my hands. I was good about applying sunscreen several times, but missed these locations apparently. Now that I think about it though, I typically rub the sunscreen off my hands because I don’t like my hands to be oily and goopy. That paired with holding people’s drinks while they paddled gave me my weird hand sunburn. The first 3 fingers on both my hands are tender. At first I had no idea what was wrong with my hands. They hadn’t gotten red or pink at that point yet. My burned hands were so uncomfortable that I had to continually put my hands in the water and later that night I had to blow some cool air on them so I could sleep. Even a couple of days later, the darn burn still makes showering difficult and holding my purse a little challenging. And if I’m near any heat (oven, etc.), it intensifies the burn — I feel it a lot more.

Everyone enjoyed the trip — even talking about making it a yearly event. Despite my crazy range of emotions during the trip, I’d still go again next year.

(Side note: Happy 1 year anniversary to the blog! I’m only in the 30s for number of posts, which is sad, but hey I’ve had this blog for a year! Hooray! Many more posts from here on out.)

Questions for you:
1. Have you ever been on a float trip? Where was it at? Did you enjoy it?
2. If you haven’t been on one, would you be up for trying one?