This past week, I was privileged to travel with a group of about 30 youth and a few adults to Jackson Hole Wyoming for a youth conference.

In my mind I tell myself that I am an adventurous soul, but then some situations I get in I truly ask myself, “What were you thinking?”

Our first day we embarked on a river raft trip down the Snake River. I was all stoke for this until we actually got to the river. All of a sudden, I remembered the time I almost drown as a kid and I started getting really nervous. Not to mention that the entire boat contained young girls between the ages of 12 and 18. Then there were four women and on guide. In my mind I kept thinking, “Shouldn’t we have at least one more guide so if I fall in someone can help me back in, while the other guides the boat?” No, no more guides just Alex.

As we started off down the calmer part of the river, Alex was good as relieving our fears and told us he hadn’t lost anyone yet. This particular sentence wasn’t very comforting because I had a doctor tell me he had never had any problems with a certain surgery and guess what…I was his first problem and nearly died. So I kept thinking to myself, I will be the first of Alex’s “losses”.

I realized that as we conquered each wave, how I relaxed more and actually started enjoying it even though the water was only 48 degrees and I had lost all feeling in my right foot.

I came on this trip with three of my children, one daughter and two sons. I knew two of my children were the adventurous type, but my one son really surprised me. You could get a bracelet for jumping into the river at a certain point. He actually jumped into the water. My daughter was the first on our boat, which was not surprising, to jump in and my other son… He had to do it three times. I am not sure I would have been that adventurous at their age.

At one point my “safe” son was actually “riding the bull” at the front of the boat through the waves. This really surprised me. After we got on the bus, my younger “crazier” son informed me that he had ridden the bull through the lunch counter. This almost gave me a heart attack. I guess he figured it was better to do it and then ask for permission later. This kid will be the death of me.

By the time we ended the trip I was really wanting more river to conquer as was most of the girls. The whole trip was designed to get us out of our comfort zone and try new things. I was definitely out of my comfort zone and would in fact do this again. It was very fun.

That night we drove in to Jackson to play night games at the high school. I actually found this to be more out of my comfort zone than almost anything else we did just because of what happened there.

I am an extremely jumpy and paranoid person. Because of experiences growing up, I am extremely cautious when put in some situations. A couple of weeks before coming on this trip, we had a retired police officer come and speak to the girls about being safe and how to avoid bad situations. It was very informative and added to my paranoid nature.

While we were playing night games, I started to get really thirsty. I noticed a building by the football field where we were playing. I decided that I would walk over and see if there was a drinking fountain. Now it was dark and the only light came from a couple of street lights and some flashlights the kids had.

When I got to the building and noticed it was restrooms, I decided I was use the facilities while there. As I approached a door to see which bathroom I was at, a voice came out of the dark asking me what we were doing. I nearly died. I couldn’t see anyone and could only tell in what direction the voice was coming from. I knew the voice was not attached to anyone I knew so I was extremely startled. I explained that we were playing capture the flag and the person asked a couple of more questions. At this point I had a few red flags going up in my head. I decided to leave the conversation and continue on to my destination…the lady’s room. When I got to the back side of the building, I started getting more and more nervous. I realized that I had just put myself in an extremely volatile situation. I was behind a building, in the dark and a stranger knew I was there and I was pretty sure that a few or anyone even knew the stranger was there.

I decided to go into the bathroom anyway because at this point I really had to go and couldn’t wait. When I entered the bathroom, the light automatically came on, which kind of scared me because I was already on edge. I got in the stall and did my duty and as I was getting ready to go out of the stall, the lights went off. I nearly had a heart attack. I kid you not, I thought I was about to get involved in a smack down and no one would a hear a thing that happened. I stood there with hand on handle listening and waiting to see if I could hear anything.

After a couple of minutes had passed, I knew I couldn’t stay in the stall all night and that I had to come out. I slowly opened the door and tried to look in the dark for any movement. Because the stall door next to me was opened, it blocked any dim view I had of the exit. I stood there for what seemed an eternity before I finally shoved the stall door next to me hoping that if someone was on the other side of it, I would knock them out on impact.

After the door stopped swinging, I listened for noise and didn’t hear anything, so I decided to head for the exit. I took about four steps when the light came on. I stood there with a deer in the headlight look thinking I was going to see the perp in front of me who had shut off the light, but there was no one. After my heart slowed to 300 bm I realized it was possible that the lights were automatic in some way. This did not remove the fear I was feeling. I stood with hand on the exit door handle for about five minutes trying to figure out what I should do. Do I slowly open the door and look side to side or do I just bust out like the flippin’ john was on fire. I came to the conclusion that if someone was out there, they would be surprised by my bolting out of there and thus giving me an upper hand.

It was probably about 5 minutes before I had the guts to bust out. I swung that door open and flew out of there like there was no tomorrow, not looking what was behind me.

I later found out that this guy ending up being obnoxious and thus ending the kids’ night of fun. Which confirmed my suspicions of the guy to begin with. I shook for quite a while afterwards.

The next day of our adventures took us to a ropes course at in the middle of nowhere in Idaho. Here we would be facing our fears on a rock wall and zip line. I was really stoked for this and thought it would be fun. When we arrived, I soon noticed how secluded it was and how some of the trails were hard to see.  Now we had been seeing bear warning signs along the road, so in the back of my mind there was a small thought of perhaps running into one. As we were walking along this trail to a hidden pavilion, all of a sudden I see a giant brown head. I nearly dropped dead right there until I realized it was a brown lab. I told myself what a stupid idiot I was to get so scared and the chances of seeing a bear would be slim to none.

Well that fear was intensified when the advisors of the course told us that a black bear had just come through there earlier that morning. Geez! Are you kidding me? Now to add to the anxiety of the zip line, I was freaked out over seeing a bear. My mother’s cousin was mauled by a bear in Alaska and the story was published in a book. I had been reading this book earlier this year and decided that I would never come within 100 yards of an Alder bush. This whole book was about grizzly bears coming out of Alder bushes.

When we finally got to the rock wall, I was nervous but I had done a rock wall a couple of times before so it wasn’t too bad. It was when I got to the top and realized that the only way down was the zip line. I don’t know how I had ever talked myself into this, but me and heights have never been bff’s and it wasn’t about to start this day either.

I stood there in almost a frozen fear of how high I was and how it was intended for me to get down. I shook as the advisor hooked me up to the zip line, thinking how stupid I was to agree to this. We were at least 30 feet in the air and one had to walk out on this plank that was no wider than 2 feet and perhaps 2 1/2 long. It looked like 4 inches square from where I was standing. I climbed out on the plank holding on to the telephone pole behind me like a stinkin’ cat. I stood there with everyone cheering me on and trying to get up the nerve to go. I just could not get myself to jump. I kept telling myself to do it and just get it over with, but I couldn’t. Then I looked below and there stood my two sons, yelling at me “You can do it Mom!”. I knew at this point, I had to jump. They had to see that their mother was not a wuss.

I truly believe I passed out on the jump because it was a blur and then I am pretty sure I woke up the entire community of Driggs from my scream. I screamed, and screamed and screamed. Was it fun? In a sick sort of way. Would I do it again? Not entirely sure. As we were leaving the course to go to the cars, it was getting dark and I realized I was on a trail that was surrounded by what looked like Alder bushes. I nearly plowed over those in front of me trying to get to the cars. If there was anything that scared me more than that dang zip line, it would be something coming out of those bushes and getting me. So did I face my fears? I felt like I was the entire trip. Do I think I handled them well? Perhaps some of them, others not so much so.

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