Arizona Service Trip June 22: Thrill and Chill on the Colorado River

Sleeping in is one of the best things in the world. Knowing that there is no need to rush always makes my morning pleasant and relaxing. I am so glad that our group finally got a chance to sleep in because our service at the summer school has officially ended. Waking up at around 9:00 a.m., I washed and got ready for the float trip. We first went to a restaurant for brunch, which was delicious. I ordered the breakfast special and I was surprised by the size of my pancakes. They were HUGE and I couldn’t finish the last one. By the time we walked out the restaurant, everyone was well-fed and satisfied. After a 15-minute drive through downtown Page, we arrived at a gift shop, where we were supposed to wait for the float trip bus. It’s 12:30 pm and the heat was already unbearable. Our group registered at the front desk and sat in the shade to apply sunscreen. Some went into the gift shop. About half an hour later, we boarded the bus and the guide told us to be ready to get wet. Everyone was very excited. The bus went through a long and dark tunnel that brought us from the top of canyon to the bottom, near the dam. After we got off from the bus, we were told to put on hard hats. “Why?” Some asked. The guide explained that people tended to make wishes on the Colorado River Walking Bridge by throwing coins and other stuff. To avoid any “unexpected gifts from the heaven,” all the rafters were required to wear a hard hat. Imagine a group of teenagers in beach clothing wearing hard hats. We are just cool like that, YOLO (You Only Live Once). Anyway, we boarded the float and our river guide Laura was very helpful and nice. She gave us some insights about the Glen Canyon Dam and Glen Canyon, which is much smaller in size than the Grand Canyon. The river water is normally only 47◦F since it is released from hundreds of feet below the lake surface and isn’t warmed by the sun. It was very difficult for me to associate the heat in the air with the chill of the water. When I put my feet into the river water, however, it felt like I was sliding through a glacier in a sweat lodge. Floating in this fire-and-ice combo actually felt amazing after a while.

Watching the humongous sandstones on the two sides of the river, I was amazed by this miraculous river. The mix of desert on top of the canyon and the oasis near the river was very fascinating to me. After a several minutes of introduction and casual chatting, Laura finally started the engine and the cool and comfortable breezes blew our sweat away.

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After a 15-minute drifting on the green river, we anchored at a beach where we had a chance to actually jump into the freezing river and chill. All of us got off the float in a hurry, but no one dared to be the first to dunk himself/herself with the Colorado River. All of sudden, a huge black shadow flashed by and dove into the water. “Joe!” Someone shouted. Then, everybody realized that Joe had made the move and courageously let himself sink into the moving glacier. Following Joe, one by one, we all rushed to get a first-hand experience in the 47-degree water. Most of us went multiple times into the river and ran out of it screaming. Vincent, the only one who stayed in the river more than two minutes, won cheers and admiration from the whole group—a guy that can endure the challenge of 47-degree water. Exceptional!

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Although watching Vincent and Joe was fun, for most of us our favorite moment was when our cold feet were buried by the warm, sun-kissed sands. That feeling was PARADISE. After we boarded the float again, I think everybody agreed that the thrill and chill at the beach was the highlight of our river float trip. We relaxed and enjoyed the nice weather on way back to the dam. We were all still pretty wet when we boarded the bus again and went through the tunnel, but, by the time we gathered at the gift shop, our clothes were all dry again. How incredible was the Heat (Miami Heat!!!!!)! After a fun day of river-floating and pizza-feasting at the nearby pizzeria at night (with Michael’s “scandalous” lifejacket photo at the pizzeria), we all settled back into our motel rooms and drifted away in our dreams, just like when we were on the float on the Colorado River.

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