Let Me Tell You About the Time I Almost Died in The Forks, Maine
The other day while I was scrolling through Facebook waiting for my truck to be serviced, I came across this amazing picture, posted by Susannah Warner in the Everything Maine page on Facebook.
What a beautiful shot, right? Actually, if you want to see some great pictures from around Maine, Susannah routinely posts amazing shots in that group. But anyway, in her caption for it, she explains that it was taken in The Forks, Maine. A place that I have a very interesting history with.
Because 7 years ago, I almost died there. Yet still had one of the best weekends of my life.
Back in 2013, my cousin Pat (who is more like my brother since we basically grew up in the same crib together since both sets of our parents used to babysit us so much) proposed to his now-wife Ashley while they were in Ireland. Which is honestly a funny story in itself, because FROM IRELAND, Pat sends me a text that read, "I'm officially off the market."
Now, in my defense, before I tell you my response, I was in the middle of doing a ton of work at a former station I used to work at. So my brain was already distracted as it was. Now, factor in that Pat and I very RARELY send serious texts to each other (life is too short to be serious all the time, so we decide to goof off 23 1/2 hours of every 24 hour day), and I assumed he was just being sarcastic talking about how he and Ashley were in a relationship. (I know it makes no sense, but trust me, if you how we talked with each other, you'd get it.) My response?
"Oh, that's too bad, sorry to hear."
YUP. THAT'S RIGHT. My cousin text me FROM IRELAND, fresh off getting the best "yes" of his life, and that was my response. He text back "Thanks." -- AND YOU KNOW WHEN THERE'S A PERIOD AT THE END OF A TEXT, THAT'S STRAIGHT ANGER! But not "Work Mode Jadd," he still thought it was a joke and dropped the ole "LOL" back.
Eventually, my idiot brain put 2 and 2 together about 60 seconds later and I realized he was saying he proposed and she said yes, so I congratulated him (and apologized) profusely. And somehow, after that whole train wreck, he still made me his best man. And that's where our tale begins.
I wanted to do something epic, but also realistic, but also fun. After bouncing ideas off a buddy at work, I came up with a whitewater rafting weekend trip through Three Rivers Whitewater in The Forks. We got up there laterish on a Friday night, dropped our stuff off in our cabins, and ended up going to the main dining hall area, where they happened to have drinks and dancing.
A couple hours of sleep and massive headaches later, Saturday was the day we set out on the Penobscot River. IT. WAS. AWESOME. We navigated rapids like pros, laughed along the way, joked around -- it was great. Then our guide told us we were at a point where the rapids were so weak that we could hop in the water and float down for a bit if we wanted.
And that's where I almost ruined everything. I mean, I listened to the guide -- dive in the water upstream, swim for about 10 seconds or so and then turn around and start floating. So, like a dolphin gliding in the ocean, I swam upstream for 10 seconds. Seriously, Michael Phelps would've been proud. The man with the wingspan of an eagle would've been proud of my wingspan of a T-Rex.
One problem, though. As I was turning around after my 10th second upstream, I made the mistake of opening my mouth too soon and inhaling -- except it wasn't the ole O2 I was looking to breathe in, it was straight up H2O. For whatever reason, after I inhaled and swallowed a mouthful of water, I sank like a rock and hit the bottom of the river.
No problem, right? I've done that TONS of times while riding waves at Wallis Sands, Hampton Beach, Salisbury Beach, Short Sands, Long Sands -- all the beaches. I was still okay in my head -- I'd just re-surface, grab the oxygen I needed, cough up the river water, and be good to go.
Except I did THE SAME THING AGAIN, inhaled at the wrong moment and took in ANOTHER mouthful of river water, and that's when I started freaking out. Once I hit the bottom AGAIN and resurfaced, that's when the thought popped in my head that I was going to drown. I couldn't steady myself to take another breath in, and I was honestly worried I'd do the same thing again, and I wasn't sure I could take in more water and resurface again (sounds dramatic, but seriously.)
Thankfully, I wasn't that far from the raft, so I swam as fast as I could with my little T-Rex arms back to the raft, and instantly went from looking like a gliding T-Rex to a beached whale while a couple of the guys that stayed in the raft hauled me back in. And honestly, they did it at just the right time because I was getting a little lightheaded and dark by the time I got back on the raft.
So, clearly I lived to tell the tale since, well, I'm telling the tale. And actually, after I recovered for a few minutes and went through some more rapids, I was back to 100% and ended up jumping back in during the next floating opportunity and even managed to leave the river water in the stream instead of my lungs.
But in all seriousness, I'd go back there in a second and do it all over again, minus the almost accidental drowning. The sites during the rafting trip were incredible, there was relatively ZERO phone service so it was a really fun getaway that we were all present in the moment for, and it was a great way to set my cousin down the path to marriage.
10/10 stars, highly recommend!