I’ve known the expression “Up a creek” and it’s scarier cousin, “Up a creek without a paddle” since I was a little girl. But I didn’t experience this predicament until I was 40. 
Even before I had the harrowing experience of being up the Big Thompson River in a kayak without a paddle. It’s about class 3-4 water. Truth is we should not have been there. I’d studied my guidebook and I knew this was Intermediate water. We needed to be in beginner water, way downstream. 
But Richard met this guy with a steel pipe-lined rubber raft that looked like it was rated “Seal Team 6.” The stranger tells him it’s an easy half-hour ride. “Really, there’s just one shoot.” I’m there with my book. He won’t look at it. 
Then we got in that Class 3-4 water, two 11 year olds (one of whom had never been in a paddle boat before). 
Turned out that stranger told Richard true: there was only one shoot. It started where we put in, and ended where we got out. 
I’ll spare you a full recitation of the experience, but for now suffice to say that yes, I have been up a river without a paddle. Harrowing.

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