29 June 2010

Where the Buffalo becomes the Buffalo

We had an exciting canoe and camping trip on the Buffalo River in Arkansas this past weekend. We left our house around 8 a.m., rendezvoused with the Turners south of Ozark, then drove to the Buffalo River Outfitters about half an hour south of Harrison. We met the Swan Family there, ponied up the $50 for our canoe, loaded a bus with graffiti on the ceiling (Macauley zeroed right in on one person's note to "Ask Jon about explosive diarrhea"). I think we started the 6-mile float at the Hasty drop a little before noon.

Macauley was a genuine river rat. He repeatedly jumped out of the canoe to paddle along in the water beside it, and for some reason (don't know where he got this line or what it means) he'd call out, "This is where the Buffalo becomes the Buffalo!" before every dismount.

The Buffalo flows along beautiful bluffs, some of which people were jumping from. We stopped several times to swim and let the kids play, and on one of our last stops Macauley and Ryan joined several other people jumping off this smaller rock. Still big, but not a cliff like Jen Swan's college-age cousin Charlie jumped from the top of. Charlie brought his own canoe and helped with the kids a lot. He had just done a 100-mile float of the entire Buffalo the week before.
About 30 minutes from the end of the trip, we saw dark storm clouds rolling in and braced ourselves for a shower. What ended up plowing over us was the most torrential rainstorm I have ever been outside in. The wind was blowing so hard, and there was so much rain, even some hail, that we couldn't even look up to see where to go or what to do. We were separated from our friends, but later found out that all the girls except 10-year-old Ellie bawled as hard as Macauley did through the entire ordeal. His voice was completely hoarse the whole next day. The wind blew our canoe onto a gravel bar, where we left it and waded over to the steep bank for a little shelter from the trees. I had a hard time getting over there as my feet kept sinking into the gravel and one of my flipflops blew out. We huddled there while Macauley cried and cursed the day he was ever born. Really. At one point he wailed, "I wish I had never been born!" What is now very funny is that for a while prior to the storm Macauley had been complaining that he needed to use the bathroom (he is very regular and 5:00 is his usual sit-down time). At the height of the drama on the bank, he finally just had to "go" and did so right there. Not an ideal situation, but what do you do? The rain finally relented and we made it safely to the pick-up point and reunited with our friends. Soaked. Back at the Outfitters we made the call to go ahead and camp for the night despite the chance of more rain. We set up the tents while it sprinkled, but by the time we had taken the kids to shower and sat down for a dinner of (thanks, Yvonne and Ray!) carne asada tacos, cheesy jalapeno rice and mango salsa, the skies were dry. The rain cooled things off enough that sleeping that night wasn't too bad other than that I forgot to pack our pillows. We were up early the next morning, had a hearty breakfast prepared by the Swans then loaded up and headed for home. We all agreed that despite the storm it was a trip we'll have to do again. The facilities were nice and clean and quiet and the river is beautiful and not too wild. I saw several antique stores and flea markets near Harrison that I'd like to go back and check out myself...

1 comment:

Karee said...

It sounds like you had a lot of fun! I went down the Buffalo one year and it is really beautiful. I didn't have to deal with rain though... but I guess it made for a good story and a good laugh when it was all over. I am glad you made it out alive.


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