Several weekends ago, about twelve of us (who are regulars at the 42nd Street Oyster Bar in Raleigh) went to a cabin near West Jefferson in Ashe County. It's a cabin that my family has owned for a long time to relax, tell tall tales and then, on Saturday afternoons, go tubing on a three mile section of the New River, the second oldest river in the world.
For years, Zaloos Canoes has sent folks canoeing, kayaking and tubing down the slowly moving river and always markets these trips as fun and relaxing… a great way to spend part of your day.
We always tell each other that one of the great things about being part of our group is that because we are somewhat older, none of us can remember anything from the night before. And so as we sat on our porch overlooking the New River on Friday night, we had a little alcohol and talked of our trip the next afternoon.
There were seven of us on the river… four men and three women. The tubes are large and have bottoms so in theory, one should stay dry. All you have to do is occasionally use your arms to and paddle, making sure to stay clear of the rocks.
About half way through the trip, I got stuck and, try as I could, was not able to free myself. Because the water was not deep, I decided to get out and push the tube free. As I did, I stumbled because the bottom was very rocky and slippery. When I at last stabilized myself, I looked for my tube, only to see it floating down the river, going further and further away. I called to Connie, one of our group, who was ahead of me, asking him to catch my tube.
But I had no way to get there. Walking was out of the question. I would not make it ten feet before falling. Suddenly from nowhere a voice called out to me, wanting to know if I needed a ride. It was a young man from Wilkesboro who was on a white paddle board. He came up to me, helped me slide on and then took me to Connie who was holding my tube and then assisted me in getting into it.
And then he paddled away. When the trip was over, and I was on dry land, a lady said to me, “I saw that nice young man help you.” I told her that he was a lifesaver. She responded, “Oh, he is wonderful! He is the greatest son-in-law in the world.
"If ever you are in Wilkesboro, let us know. We are in the book," she said as she gave me her name.
There are some really great people in this world and that Saturday, as I did a few Saturdays later, I got to meet some of them.
You never know who you might run into by chance that might change the course of your future.