This is the story of Curious George, made it through Whitewater School but not through the Gorge.
Curious George said he was the star of his school, Could “paddle like Adonis and row like a fool.”
He drove down from Merlin straight to Camp Lotus in a late-model Volvo that was hard not to notice.
“I’m here to guide” he said trying to sound groovy; “Hi” said the Lotus crew, “we’re watching a movie.”
“I’m ready to work, I’m ready to start”; “Shhhh” said the Lotus crew, “this is our favorite part.”
“I rowed Blossom and Grave Creek and even Tyee”; “Shhhh” said the Lotus crew, “It’s The Big Lebowski”
At dawn George’s gear was all sorted and coded, then he put on his sunscreen while the trailer was loaded.
At the Nugget he said, so that no one could miss: “Let me show you. In Oregon, we do it like this.”
He rigged his own boat, for a two-day Camp Wild, loaded the gear, then sat there and smiled.
He took bags, he took coolers, he took boxes with labels, the firepan, the comm and Tom’s brand new camp tables.
He was a professional guide in his own rubber raft, In just a few miles he’d be photographed.
But too cocky can get you in trouble ‘round here, too cocky can end your guiding career.
Too cocky has a way of increasing the odds that you’ll catch the attention of the old River Gods.
Well, he made it to Meatgrinder, which isn’t that far, missed a move, popped an oar and wrapped on Death Star.
He highsided, he scrambled, he gave a good fight, he tugged and he tugged with all of his might.
But the boat it was stuck, as stuck as a pig, and soon traffic was halted by a full-on Z-rig.
And as Curious George sat perched like a toad, the river began picking and stripping his load.
Bags floated out and boxes came loose, the cooler unhinged and lost its produce.
Drink jugs went swimming, out came a pail, the eddy below looked like a white trash yard sale.
And when it was over, when the ropes were re-wound, tom’s brand new camp tables were nowhere to be found.
Gone to the bottom, sunk like a rocker; new kitchen furniture for Davey Jones’ Locker.
But George wasn’t at fault, George had an excuse, “The clip it was bent. the pin was too loose.
The frame it was crooked, the oar has a bent shaft. the sun was in my eyes. Who topped off my raft?”
Well excuses can get you in trouble ‘round here, excuses are things no one wants to hear.
Excuses are easy, excuses are lame, it’s always better to just take the blame.
That night, at Wild Camp, the guides were at work. No one could rest, no one could shirk.
Coolers became tables, decks were suspended, drink jugs were balanced on 20 mils upended.
There were bags to drain, there were tents to dry, there were bagels to salvage and tortillas to fry.
There were things to do and jobs all around, dishes to wash in pails on the ground.
And in the middle of camp, on top of the comm, sat Curious George, thinking ‘bout Tom.
And offering up to all who would hear, his reasons and rations for all the wet gear.
He thought that the drop bag might have a bad strap, he said that a valve might be missing a cap.
He asked if the boats were always so light, he repeated his claim that the pin was too tight
He looked all around for folks to malign and suggested that the lead boat had shown the wrong line.
All night he sat up, crushed and forsaken, working on a story that would redeem his poor bacon.
Well too proud can get you in trouble ‘round here, too proud can make you want to disappear.
Too proud has a way of proving it true that maybe this job just isn’t for you.
Then early next morning, at the crack of dawn, when the guides called “Coffee”, poor George was gone.
Missing were his Chacos, gone was his coat, all of his cams were stripped from his boat.
No bag, no gear, no note, no sign, just a trail through the grass towards Highway 49.
“Well, this is a first,” said someone in jest. “It looks like George won’t pass the Tom Test.”
Then they looked at each other and started to laugh, what would they do; four guides and five rafts?
Well somehow the trip made it down to the Lake, they conquered the problem, they fixed the mistake.
They did what they had to like good river guides, they scraped and they scrapped and of course improvised.
They bonded together, they pulled off the trip, they made it to take-out and got a fat tip.
And the next day they rallied and went back upstream. And rescued the tables then bought some ice cream.
So the tables are here, with a dent and a crack, but George, poor George, has never come back.
So the moral of the story you must understand: Keep your tongue in your mouth and your hat in your hand.
Save your stories, save your tales, save your self-glory fables, And never ever forget to tie in Tom’s tables.
About the author…
Steve is a Bruce Springsteen fan who has also worked for ARTA since 1979. One wife, two sons, no hair, lots of opinions.