We got picked up for our white water rafting trip really really early in the morning. Fortunately, we got plenty of time to sleep on the bus as the Tully river is quite some distance from our hotel. The other neat thing was that they were renting Tevas, so we didn't have to get our sneakers soaking wet. I was prepared to, but hey, to be able to borrow sandals was better. We got life jackets, helmets, and a guide and got on the river. Unlike every time I've been white water rafting in the US, this guide actually prepared us for everything. We practiced what to do if we fell out of the boat. We practiced various commands (forward paddle, backpedal, get down, etc). Beyond that, he would tell us before we went over each rapid. Unlike all of the rivers I've rafted in the US, where you just basically go, in the Tully, you go over one rapid or set of rapids, then park and wait. The guides kept getting out of the boats to go stand on the rocks and play lifeguard for the following boats. It was a pretty slow process with not a lot of action, but it did prove that they were committed to safety. It also gave us a chance to be one of the first over some rapids, but one of the last over others. Despite all precautions, it is inevitable that people will get tipped into the river- that's part of the fun of it. However, I wasn't planning on being the first one dumped in. It actually was a pretty elegant slip compared to some of the flips people end up doing. I have been rafting many times before and as the boat tilted, I knew I was getting thrown out. I even had the mind to inform everybody on the boat "I'm over," a second before I actually was. I also was able to hold onto my paddle and assumed the "overboard" position almost immediately. I think that helped set the tone for some of the other folks on the boat. In addition to the guide, me, Mike, and Shanaenae, we had 2 Brits and one chick from Holland in our boat. They were pretty nice. During the 5 hours we went down the river, we got to know everybody and their personalities pretty well. The Brits were first timers. The guy was full of the spirit of adventure and was willing to try all of the "risky" things that would get you to fall in. There was one particular rapid that was basically an inclined waterfall, or rock waterslide, that both he and Mike ended up out of the boat on because the guide told them to sit on the edge of the boat and not hold on. The chick, on the other hand, was pretty scared of everything until near the end when our guide intentionally instructed us to maneuver in a way that would tip her side of the boat. She fell in, which she had been nervous about the whole time. When she got back on the boat, she was pretty happy that she fell in because it got her over her fear. Towards the end of the trip, we got to a big rock that everybody was jumping off of. I was pretty nervous, but the British chick encouraged me to do it, even though she wasn't going to. After I jumped, I got back to the boat. The first thing I said was "Thanks for pushing me to do that." I'm really glad I did it under those circumstances. The guides assured me the water was deep enough so that we wouldn't hit bottom (which I didn't). We were wearing life jackets and helmets. Most importantly, the rock didn't really have much of an angle on the side that we were jumping off of. My two biggest fears of cliff diving were that I would hit my head on the way down or hit something sharp under water. According to the people watching, I did jump closest to the rock of anybody there, which makes me glad I was wearing a helmet, even if I didn't end up needing it. However, it also means that I'm not likely to ever do it again, as I'm not likely to be confident of not hitting my head. Perhaps that's for the better. Personally, I had a great time and would recommend the RnR Tully river trip to anybody. The only part about it that upset me was the guide at the end. He was splitting up things to carry up the hill and asked to borrow some guy from one of the other boats. When I volunteered to help carry the boat, he kept pushing me to carry the paddles, clearly implying that it was a man's job to carry the boat. If he had picked men who were stronger than I am, I wouldn't have minded. But when he chose two scrawny men who would never have been able to complete some of the firefighter training I did, I was a little peeved. Whatever, he sexisted his way out of a tip. We got back up to the rafters building and had some snacks as we got a chance to look at the pictures and video the photographers had taken of our tour. It was neat to watch what it looked like as we went over the rapids. Some of the faces the British chick made were absolutely hilarious! Plus, we got to see our spills, graceful and not. I did have to buy one of the overpriced photos they took, both because of the hilarious faces and in case my disposable water camera failed for some reason. Again, it would have been nice to have the digital water camera, but oh well. It was late dinner time when we got back to our hotel, so we went back to Cafe De Lema, as we knew that the food was tasty and reasonably priced. Usually, I'm opposed to going to the same places repeatedly while on vacation, but the food was so good and I'd had such a hard time deciding what to get the other night that I was ok with it. This time I got the other dish I was debating on getting before- the pasta puttanesca. It was just as good as I expected it to be. I was happy.
Tomorrow: Last day in Australia, first day in New Zealand