Monday, May 22, 2006

Going with the flow...

Last week was a steady blur of activity at my new job making sure that everything was ready to go for a big trial scheduled to start this coming Monday up in Newark, NJ. The days just flew by, and before I knew it the weekend was here. First thing Saturday morning, I packed up my tent and sleeping bag and headed up to northeastern Pennsylvania with my son and his Scout troop for an overnight campout, with whitewater rafting scheduled as the main highlight of the day.

Our guide took us on a 10-mile trip through the upper gorge of the Lehigh River. With all of the rain that had fallen earlier in the week, the section of river that we would be going down consisted of mainly Class II & III rapids. The classification system ranges from Class I through VI--the former apparently being the equivalent of a baby pool and the latter commonly referred to as 'the afterlife.'

The whole trip would last 4 hours, with a break for lunch. Each raft held 5 scouts and 1 adult. It was pretty comical seeing the boys shouting commands at each other and spinning in circles shortly after we began, but soon they learned to work together and were able to thread their way through the very large rocks that were present along much of the river. Once we felt comfortable that they could navigate on their own, the three adults regrouped on our own raft so that the kids could enjoy marathon water battles between their patrols while we kept a close eye at a dry distance.

Of course, before I relinquished command of the raft that I had been supervising, I took the opportunity to live to out my own little "Master & Commander" moment. I organized the boys into launching a sneak attack upon the Head Scoutmaster's boat and explained each of their roles in the overall battle plan. We overtook them from the stern and then hit them with a full broadside of buckets and water guns that had been kept hidden in our raft up to that point. Russell Crowe would have been proud.

The trip downstream was a nice mix of scenic stretches of river (like the photo at the top of this post) and very intense sections of churning rapids. The rafts were big and not very responsive to quick maneuvering, so whenever we came upon rapids it required everyone's complete focus and concentration. If you were not paying attention you could suddenly find yourself being propelled towards a large rock that just kept growing bigger by the second, as the raft continued to be swept along caught in the momentum of the unrelenting current. When we finally pulled our rafts out of the river at the end of the 4 hours, we were all pretty exhausted.

Our campsite was actually on the grounds of the company that had organized the tour, and there were a bunch of other Scout troops up there for the weekend as well. A good number of Girl Scouts also happened to be mingled throughout the campground, which probably explained why we didn't have to hound the boys to wash up with actual soap and water like was usually the case. I think one of the older Scouts who actually had packed mouthwash and cologne might have earned his Personal Hygiene merit badge on the spot...

After the kids were all in their tents for the night, I pulled up a seat next to the campfire and got to enjoy an hour or so of uninterrupted reading, surrounded by tall trees and bright stars overhead as a backdrop. Ever since work had started two weeks ago, my reading had been limited to about 30 minutes during my daily commute on the train and a handful of moments over several nights before I fell fast asleep in bed. So it was pure bliss to get lost for awhile and find myself completely drawn into a book again. When the last of the firewood burned down, I discovered that I had covered more than one hundred pages. I was at such a good part of the story that I continued to read for a little bit more by flashlight after I had settled into my sleeping bag.

We woke up early and got our gear packed away after breakfast. Brendan and I actually had another highlight in store for the weekend on Sunday afternoon. My firm is constantly entertaining clients at professional sporting events, and when one had to back out at the last minute, the main partner of the firm stopped by my office to congratulate me on the work that I had been doing so far and to offer me two tickets to see the Phillies play the Boston Red Sox.

Our seats were right along the first base line, and I brought my camera along to snap a pic of our view.
And to top it off, the Phillies won 10-5.

After the game, Brendan went to go see one of his friends play in a student concert, and I stopped back into the office to tie up some last-minute loose ends for the trial. A few hours ago it dawned on me that I hadn't been to the grocery store in over a week, so it looks like Brendan might have to rough it with trail mix and s'mores for lunch tomorrow. In just a few hours, I'll have to drop him off early at his school and then head downtown to catch the 8 a.m. Amtrak train to Newark.

The truth is, I actually kind of enjoy this pace. Whether its steering my way down through the challenging rapids of a river or speeding along a track towards the constantly changing dynamic of a courtroom, I'm just glad to be moving forward in the first place.