Well, between the choice of camera (less optical zoom) and my excitement (jittery movie), this wasn’t my best filming of Rio Vista. Regardless of quality, I’ll share the video. Maybe, just maybe, you’ll be able to recognize someone you know despite the quality. Oh, and check out the multi-man aluminum canoe around the 12-minute mark; definitely a rare site and worth seeing.
Bit of story about a soggy hat and groupthink
Towards the end of my filming there was a funny encounter between a spectator, the crowd and a paddler. It’s not entirely in the video; I trimmed off the latter part of it. The paddler in question took a spill after shooting the first rapid (as many do) and lost a few personal effects, namely a hat. Well, the hat ends up washing near the rocks where a spectator, let’s call him Bill, is sitting with his girlfriend. This is clearly Bill’s first experience with the race, and it just so happens that he’s sitting around a bunch of die-hard race fans. When the soggy paddler walks by, the die-hard fans all yell at him that his hat is lost in the rocks at our feet. No one moves to assist, of course, because race rules clearly dictate that racers are to receive no assistance, or run risk of disqualification. Bill hears the commotion about the hat, and Bill, being the courteous person that I know he is, sees that no one is going to help the paddler get his hat. Bill casually reaches for it so that he might throw it over to the paddler. As his fingers stretched out for the hat, a chorus of men yelled “NO!”, “LEAVE IT ALONE!”. Bill, snapped his hand back, and was visibly miffed and confused. He turns to mutter something to his girlfriend, who is also confused. She starts to look around over her shoulder for any clue as to what the heck is going on, and how they ended up sitting amongst the crowd of jerks who won’t help a poor soggy paddler get his damn hat back.
Well, the soggy paddler takes a very leisurely approach to getting back into his boat, so he wanders downstream to get somethings before returning to the spot where we are, to collect his boat, among other things.
Upon the paddlers return to our general area, Bill saw his window of opportunity. With a lightning quick grab and flick of the wrist he flips the hat out into the water near the paddler. In almost the same fluid motion, Bill returned to his normal posture and continues taking pictures, as if nothing ever happened. A very awkward silence immediately follows in our group as the die-hards digest what he just did and whether there is any point in making a scene over a small hat being flicked about 4 feet.
Bill, feeling the disgruntled eyeballs on the back of his head, was smug and happy. I was happy too, honestly. I mean, here’s a guy who clearly wanted to do the right thing, and in the face of a crowd of opposition, stood up to the peer pressure and did the right thing by helping. Having two young boys, those are the kinds of values I am constantly trying to reinforce. At that moment, that guy deserved some applause and maybe a round of cold beer. Seriously.
After some awkward silence, I spoke up and said, “Hey, it’s just that there are rules about not assisting the paddlers in any way.” Another fan near me chimed in, “Yeah, although the officials would really have to be @#$% to penalize that.” Everyone nodded in agreement. Bill’s proud, smug look turned to a shade of embarrassment but he seemed relieved to know that there was hope for mankind and that our cruelty wasn’t born out of some hatred for our fellow man.
I might be a celebrity
As I was leaving Rio Vista, a reporter for the university stopped to ask me to comment on the race. I asked the obvious, “What do you want to know?” to which he replied, “You know, what happened here and what this is about.” He was using very vague language, like what he was reporting on could have been a circus, or a crime scene. I pressed him a little more about what he wanted from me and I seriously don’t think he knew anything about what he was tasked to report on. Oh well. I gave in, and gave my best impromptu description of the event. Towards the end he asked how long the race had been going on. At this point, I had given him absolutely nothing interesting that he couldn’t have learned from the website. This little quiz about historical information, just convinced me that he was a lazy reporter (maybe I’m wrong). I replied “I don’t know. At least more than twenty years or so. You could find out on the website for yourself if you looked” (or something to that rough effect). It probably didn’t come across that snarky on the video, but that’s how it was in my head.
Anyway, if anyone finds the video out on the interweb I’d be curious to know about it.