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Moon River

"Get a tripod. You can't take decent pictures without one, especially in a fluid environment like a river. And how're you going to get into the shot without the camera on a tripod?" I enjoy hearing the advice of pros-reminds me there are still giants among us.

So there I was, standing in my hip boots in three feet of winter-cold river water with my camera securely mounted on my ProPhotographer Signature Model tripod. Going to get the "dramatic" shot of the rocks. I shoved the three legs into the gravel and cranked the camera down to within two feet of the flowing surface. Squatted down to look into the viewfinder to insure the upward angle of the dramatic rock shot. Ice water flowed into the backs of my boots. Note to self: Don't squat in hip boots.

Through some challenging gymnastics, I lined up the shot, set the 10-second shutter release, and "raced" to the rock. Stepped in a hole. Waist deep. Didn't make it into that picture. Note to self: Buy a remote control shutter release.

Emptied the water out of the boots a second time and semi-dried my clothes on the rock. Things weren't going well out here in the river so I tried for a dramatic feeder-stream-waterfall-flowing-into-the-river shot. Shallower water there. Going to be much easier. Loaded all the gear into the kayak and paddled to the shallows.

Set the three legs of my ProPhotographer Signature Model. Aimed the camera toward the little waterfall. Carefully bent over at the waist-learned not to squat in hip boots-to peek through the viewfinder...and dunked the camera bag hanging around my neck into the water. Extra film, operating instructions, and a half-eaten pack of Cheetos all blended into a soggy mass in the bottom of the bag. Note to self: Leave camera bag in kayak. Cheetos float... The kayak!

I was so distracted emptying the camera bag and spreading its orange tinted contents on a rock I forgot about the boat. Yep, there it was, languidly drifting downstream. Its progress occasionally hampered by a protruding rock. I took off after it. And took the river with me, half in each boot. Of course I got soaked sloshing down with the current. Note to self: Secure watercraft when not aboard. Purchase chest waders.

By the time I collected the ProPhotographer Signature Model tripod, the camera bag with its mushy contents, emptied water out of the boots the third time, and paddled back to the truck, I was turning blue and shaking. The landing was well below the river bridge so I stripped off the wet clothes before hypothermia set in.

"Sir, why are you nude at a public boat ramp?"
"Deputy, I'm f-f-freezing and I got to get some dry clothes on."
"Have you been drinking, sir?"
"What? No I haven't b-b-been drinking. I was trying to take photographs of the r-r-river rocks."
"Sir, we had two cell phone calls from motorists about a drunk splashing in the middle of the river."
"May I get d-d-dressed, deputy?"

I grabbed a stained sweatshirt from behind the truck seat. Smelled like motor oil, but it was dry. No pants, but I did have a black trash bag kept to collect debris careless people leave around boat ramps. I tore holes in the bottom corners of the bag and stuck my feet through. Tied the yellow drawstring around my waist and was ready to ride. I heard a car door shut and watched a hatless, laughing deputy drive off wiping his eyes. Note to self: Law enforcement should be serious business!

The trip back was going fine until I had to use the bathroom. Pulled into a Burger King. I swished inside and noticed the patrons stopped talking and looked at me kind of funny... but nobody said anything. The two fellows in the restroom left real hurried like. Heck with them! May as well get something to eat.
Note to self: Use drive-through when wearing trash bag.

Submitted by Robert Fulton, Jr., Ph.D. - Monroe, N

For more great stories: See the Archive!


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