My plan to get the out-house across the river was one in which I had little options. I tied a long rope on the out-house, and coiled it over my shoulder. I would swim across the river, tie the rope on the pick-up truck, and then drive ahead and tow the out-house across the Baptiste river.
I was ready to jump in and start swimming when I was stuck with an inspiration which I hadn't thought of before. Perhaps the cold water was partly responsible for it. "Toss me that canoe paddle, I'm going to paddle this thing across." We were at the part of the river where it was deep, and the current slowed down quite a bit. This is where we took the raft across, and that is why the paddle was there. Just below this the river divided into several channels which were raging torrents in the high flood waters. One channel was a new one that the flood had carved as a shortcut, because the main river made a 90 degree bend a little farther on. I must have really wanted to try this out, so I probably didn't think it through as I should have. One thing in my favor was that part of the river ran into a dead river channel on the other side and down where the rest of the river made a 90 degree bend. This meant that when you crossed in the raft, you didn't have to paddle all the way across to be safe. If you could just get through the current far enough, you would sail into the dead river channel, and that is what I hoped to do with the out-house
We pushed the out-house off the bank into the river with a big splash. I jumped on and started to paddle. It only took a few seconds before I had the feel of things. The structure wasn't designed to be a boat and couldn't be forced into compliance. When I paddled as hard as I needed to, it rolled. When I corrected the roll it just added momentum to roll the other way. I got in several dramatic oscillations before I went flying into the water. I'm very comfortable swimming in rivers, but the rope got horribly tangled up on me and demanded all my attention. I saw the out-house drifting slowly but surely toward the funnel that marked the beginning of the new chute that had been carved by the flood right through the woods. The valley was sand and gravel from the river moving around over the centuries, and in a big flood it easily cuts these large channels. I couldn't get untangled and back to the bank before it got swept into the chute, and it was off like a shot.
The farther you went in this channel the faster it got. The out-house caught the water better than I did, and the rope was pulling so hard on me that I was sort of like a porpoise, going up and down. I was so tangled in the rope I couldn't swim, and all I can remember is going down to the bottom and pushing myself up, going along bouncing off the bottom. The sudden change from a serene, boring day into this wild scene in just a few seconds was dramatic. Previously, we had lived on this river for about 4 years, and it was like part of our living room. This was kind of like a close friend going crazy.
I was trailing the out-house by some distance, at least the length of a house, probably more. I saw it crash into the bank ahead where the channel made a sharp bend, and there was a tangle of brush and driftwood. It got hung up, but just before I crashed into it, it broke loose and was off again. But it was hung up long enough for the rope to slacken allowing me to crash into the pile of brush, and now I was really tangled up, but not for long. The out-house quickly gained the greatest velocity of it's sailing career, and with a mighty yank that almost felt like it was tearing my arm off, it violently plucked me out of the brush back into this fastest current of all. But I felt the rope sliding away, around my body, and I was quickly set free. This chute now was a rocket. Up ahead was a poplar tree the boys had cut to bridge this channel through the woods. I went down to the bottom and used my legs to spring up high enough to catch this tree with my hands as I was sweeping under it. The current took me straight out, but I was able to hold on, and inched over to the bank, and got out. All of our older children had a grandstand view, and remember all of this very well.
I remember it as one of those instances you look back on that makes you feel like you lived your life, rather than just being a spectator watching time slip by. As long as it turns out as well as this did, it can always be described as 'fun'. Well, so much for that project, it was well out of our hands and now it was time to serve a delicious chicken dinner. We went back to camp and transported the huge pile of fried chicken, pot of rice, and jello, back to the crossing and rafted it over to the pickup truck.We drove the 3 or 4 miles up the hill to the VBS camp, but when we arrived, nobody was there, just a note on a fencepost. The team had left during the night, and retraced their 500 mile trip back to the States! The local O'Chiese folks were somewhat confused by their sudden departure, and were greatly disappointed that they wouldn't be having VBS. They knew a couple hapless fellows had been drinking that night, and driving around, so they concluded these fellows must have been to blame, and without a trial, some of them caught these two and beat them up!
For us, it meant we got to rest up a little bit from the entire week of flood ordeal, and enjoy the 'fried chicken'. I think this illustrated Romans 8:28.