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My Almost Amazing Adventure
Only thirty seconds left. My eyes were fixed on the old clock, along with the rest of the class, waiting to be set free. I turned around and grinned widely at Joe. All of our plans were going to come together in just a few short hours. Finally the bell rang and everyone rushed out of the classroom for summer vacation. I lost sight of Joe in the chaos of hundreds of students throwing up papers, yelling, pushing, and shoving. Eventually, I emerged from the throng of kids out into the bright sunlight which was melting away the stress of the school year and began searching for Joe. He was a tall blonde haired guy who almost always had a smile on his face. We met in first grade and had been best friends ever since. Our other great friend, Todd walked over to me near the big oak tree. Todd was just the opposite of Joe: brown haired, and stocky. Finally Joe showed up and we began to walk home. Our houses were all right next to each other in a small neighborhood in town. During the summer, we usually went to some summer camps, like we will this year. Or so our parents think.
No, we’ve got bigger plans, involving traveling out of Minnesota. We’ve prepared to go down the Mississippi River, all the way to the mouth in Louisiana. But to go down a river, you need a boat, right? So about a week ago, we pooled our money together to buy an old aluminum skiff that was about ten feet long and four feet wide; the paddles were included in the deal. We had hauled all of this back to Todd’s house, and hid it behind his shed. Luckily, his parents hadn’t noticed it, nor the tons of food, fishing poles, sleeping bags, and matches stored with it. In total, we spent about $500, yet we still had some money left for bus fare back home. We went over the plan one last time – we were ready. I couldn’t help but feel elated and guilty as Todd reviewed our weeks of planning. I felt guilty because I don’t often lie to my parents, especially about leaving the state for days. But I was going on an adventure – going to live a little. That night at dinner, my parents talked all about Summer Smiles, the camp I would supposedly be attending tomorrow, which just made me feel worse. In bed that night, I thought about what I had planned to do.
At 6 A.M the next morning, I bade farewell to my parents, just as Joe and Todd were. The three of us convened in the middle of the street and set off in the direction of the Summer Smiles bus stop. But that wasn’t where we were headed. We walked down the street, turned the corner, and were out of sight. We hid in some bushes, and watched as all six cars containing our parents pulled off to work. Once they were completely out of sight, we snuck over to Todd’s house. The three of us headed to his backyard and pulled the heavy boat full of supplies out from behind the shed. Then we set off. Luckily it was only about a half mile to the river, which we made in great time. Once we arrived at the bank, we gingerly edged the skiff in. Todd turned around and smiled broadly at us and said,
“We made it gu-,” but he was cut off by Joe, who screamed,
“The ROPE!!” Todd had let go of the rope when he had turned around! I leapt up, and sprinted along the bank, with Todd and Joe on my heels. In a break in the bushes that covered the riverbank, I took my chance and dove into the boat. I landed on my right shoulder, but grabbed a paddle anyway and frantically paddled towards shore. Joe and Todd had waded up to their knees. When I got close enough, I yelled,
“Hop in!” They did, while shaking the cold water off of their legs.
“You trying to sabotage us?” Joe asked smiling. Todd grinned back.
We continued on, hitting patches of fast and slow water while watching wildlife along the banks. At about 1:00, we stopped for a quick lunch consisting of fruit snacks, smoked ham, and Gatorade. Then we left and began to talk about our journey so far. We were underway in no time; it had warmed up quite a bit, and we were hot.
“I’m kinda bored,” Todd complained.
“Okay,” said Joe, “here!” He shoved Todd off the boat creating a massive splash.
“You little… see how you like it!” He pulled Joe in by his shirt. Spluttering, they both, climbed back into the boat.
“Your turn!” Joe said maliciously, with a grin on his face that could make a little kid cry.
“Don’t mind if I do,” I said as I dived in and felt the cooling sensation of the refreshing water all over. I swam awhile, relishing the cool water. Eventually I clambered back in, and we glided along, laughing and joking around. Awhile later, Joe pulled out a map from below the food to check our progress. He determined that we’d gone about 22 miles, and would see the town of La Crescent soon. At about 7:30, we began to search for a clearing to camp out in. Soon we spotted one, and tied up our vessel. Then we went off in different directions, looking for sticks and dry leaves to start a fire. Once we’d gathered enough tinder, Todd used a match to light the fire. Then Joe and I grabbed our fishing poles and tried our luck in a slower part of the river. We were willing to preserve our food supply as long as possible. After an hour or so, we had a seven-inch yellow perch from Joe and, caught by me, a massive fourteen-inch rainbow. Joe tried his best to gut them, and Todd and I unceremoniously cooked them on sticks. The fish turned out okay, and, if nothing else, filled us up. We rolled out our sleeping bags and began to settle in for the night. I was too excited to sleep at first, but eventually succumbed to the sound of the cicadas.
I woke up first the next morning, and my back was sore. For a second, I wasn’t sure where I was. Then I realized I was on a runaway adventure with my two best friends. I woke them up and after a quick breakfast of dry cereal, we were off. All was going smoothly until we saw some big rapids coming up. Really big. And my goodness were they coming up fast. Next thing I knew, we were being thrown around and up and down and all around. The suddenly, CRUNCH! I heard a horribly loud scratch that the other two were completely oblivious to. We drifted out of the rapids.
“Whooo! Yeah!” Joe yelled, “We did it!” He stopped celebrating when he saw my face.
“What’s the matter?” I just looked down at the three-inch tear in the boat spewing water like a fountain, speechlessly. He closed his eyes in disbelief and opened them again, hoping to see our investment in one piece. If only. We knew we couldn’t patch it, so we sadly rowed towards shore as more and more water flooded in. All was silent except for the rushing of the river. Soon the entire boat became submerged. All of our money we had spent on everything, all of the planning we had done, and all of the happiness and excitement of the trip was slowly sinking to the bottom of the Mississippi.
We numbly climbed ashore. It was over – our entire adventure, gone. Dumbstruck about what had just happened, we walked to the nearest town with our sopping clothes and somber moods. We took the first bus we could find back home, with the little money that we had left. Everyone aboard the bus was staring at us, which just worsened our moods. We eventually arrived back in our town, and didn’t say much as we walked home. When I broke apart from the other two and began walking up my driveway, I thought about what a fair punishment would be. It was all over, all worthless. I changed into dry clothes and fell asleep on my soft bed. I awoke a few hours later to the sound of my parents talking directly over me. When they saw I was awake, my dad asked,
“What happened? Was there a problem at Summer Smiles?” I smiled before recounting the entire story, just as it had happened. When I finished, they stared at me and decided a four month grounding was fair. That night, I was sent to bed without dinner. As I lay in my bed, staring at the white ceiling, I thought about my almost amazing adventure.