The subject of white water rafting was what had brought Sarah and me together in the first place. I had my share of white water rafting since I was a kid. I lived most of my teenage life in Colorado, and my grandfather had shown me all the ropes of the rafting activity, and I had become an expert.
Sarah had advised me to be ready for a white water rafting race against her parents and brothers. She had said that they would love to test me and see if I was strong.
I flew to Arizona and was met by Sarah at the airport. We hugged and kissed, and he drove me to her parents’ place. She gave me lots of pointers about each of her family members and how they would react to me.
Sarah had three older brothers and an older sister. They were very protective of her, and I was determined to impress every one of them.
When we got to the noise, the family members were waiting outside for us. They greeted and hugged me warmly like they had known me for a very long time.
They gave me a room with the youngest son, saying it was not right for me to stay in Sarah’s room. I wondered what they were thinking. Didn’t they know that Sarah was living together?
Dinner was lively as everyone talked about their day. They talked about several topics, discussed my interests and hobbies. Then the conversation shifted to white water rafting, and then they asked if I had ever been involved in the activity.
I told them that I had seen people do it and that I had once rowed a canoe. They said it was too bad but since the concept of canoeing was similar to white water rafting, I would do well.
“There is a competition tomorrow morning,” Sarah’s dad said. “We are racing against my best friend’s family tomorrow in the Grand Canyon. You would be the last person of our team since the guy who was supposed to join us traveled to New York for business.”
“I will try my best,” I said with a smile.
My fiancée invited me over to her parents’ in Arizona. She had grown up over there and spent most of her life there before moving to California where we met. She had always told me how her family members had always loved white water rafting. They so loved it to the extent that they always had competitions amazing themselves and other people.
“Of course you will,” Sarah’s dad said. “Your performance tomorrow will make us know if you deserve our daughter’s love.”
“Dad!” Sarah said.
“George!” Sarah’s mom said.
Sarah’s brothers laughed hard.
“What did I do now?” Sarah’s dad said, staring at the others innocently.
“I am the one marrying him, not you,” Sarah said.
“Well, you know what they say, a man’s worth is shown in his strength,” he said.
“Really? And who said that?” Sarah’s mom said.
“If anyone had never said that, I am saying it now,” Sarah’s dad said.
I laughed. “Well, sir, I will display my strength tomorrow.”
“That’s great,” he exclaimed. “I like this guy already.”
The food was great, and I realized that Sarah must have learned how to cook from her mom. I commented on her mom’s cooking skills.
In the bedroom, I chatted into the night with Sarah’s brother, and we talked about a lot of things. We also talked about Sarah’s older sister, who was married and was in New York.
The next morning, I was good to go. After a wonderful breakfast, we drove to the Grand Canyon. The people were we racing against were already there.
We all dressed in the standard attire of the activity, which included helmets and wetsuits, whistle, rescue harness, and floating rope. I, George and Sarah’s brothers got into a large raft that contained all of us.
The moderator explained how the rave would go down. “So, there is a finishing line,” she said. “The first raft to reach that finishing line is the winner. Good luck and be careful.”
George faced us. “You heard her boys. Let’s go and win.” Sarah and her mom cheered us.
Soon, the race began, and we all began to row hard. I was sitting at the back of the raft, and as I rowed, my past experiences came into force. Soon, both rafts began to speed on the water, and everyone from each raft swung their paddles backward at a very fast pace.
Rafts flew in the air as both rafts tried to overtake the other but no luck. If we kept going this way, the race would be tied. Thankfully, we were all secured in the raft.
Just like I thought, both rafts got to the finish line at the same time, and the race was tied.
“Nice work, boys,” George said.
The moderator came forward and asked each team leader to pick one person who would compete against the other to determine the winner.
George faced me, “Charlie, it’s time to show how strong you are. You are up. Make us proud.”
“I will do my best,” I said.
The last one was a large raft that contained dive people, but now, I would be the only one rowing.
I sat on the outer rim of the craft according to the instructions that my grandfather had given me years ago. I made sure that my feet were not pushed too deeply into the cross tubes. I gripped by paddle in my hand in the proper way, and I was ready.
Sarah kissed me on the mouth and wished my luck. “Be very careful,” she said.
Soon, the moderator blew the whistle and off we went.
I paddled very fast and hard, my arms moving in a blur. Soon, I was gaining on the opponent. When I got to the rapids, I paddled hard like I had been taught and passed safely. The opponent also did. Soon, we saw the finish line a few meters away. I quickly paddled and left the opponent far behind.
We got to a bump, and while I pulled my paddle into the raft and braces myself, the opponent was too slow, and he flew out of the raft. Luckily, he was putting on a protective harness.
I won the race, and George was very happy. I wondered how he would have felt and behaved if I had lost.