My first experience on a river ended up being a Mother’s Nightmare. No kidding.
The year was 1985, and I had been bicycling and backpacking in New Zealand when, near Queenstown, a rafting trip on the Shotover River beckoned. What made the river remarkable was a tunnel used by rafters and kayakers.
Back in New Zealand’s gold rush heyday, the miners built the tunnel to divert water from the river so that they might recover goal from the riverbed. More than a century later, I was one of eight people in a raft barreling through that 560-foot tunnel to plunge several feet at the end through rapids that our guides called “Mother’s Nightmare.” My 15-year-old son is still impressed with the photo that someone took from the riverbank. The 5×7 photo shows several red and orange helmets punctuating the sprays of water, the raft barely visible. We made it through Mother’s Nightmare, all in the raft and all unscathed. I’ve loved being on the rivers ever since.
My first real river cruise was along the Nile. It would have been a spectacular cruise had I heeded the warning not to eat unpeeled vegetables. At least I think that was the cause of my four-day illness when I was confined to the cabin and the toilet. I eventually recovered and, even ill, I enjoyed seeing the ancient monuments at Karnak and Luxor, the Valley of the Kings (and Queens), and following the cruise back in Cairo, the Pyramids of Giza. I’d go again. I just wouldn’t eat the salad.
My next river cruise retraced the route of Lewis and Clark on the Columbia and Snake rivers. The eight locks between Portland and Lewiston caused us to lose a lot of time. Ours was supposed to be an active cruise, with lots of kayaking and hiking. We kayaked once and hiked once, because our vessel was constantly behind schedule. It was the first time for the company, now out of business, to cruise the river.
In 2006, I cruise another vessel that went defunct. Too bad too, because this was Peter Deilmann River Cruises, a venerable company that began to deteriorate when the