Thursday, July 31, 2008

Grand Canyon, Day Three

Grand Canyon, Day 3.

My friends shot lots of pictures of us rafting for eight days through the Grand Canyon. I have located those of Barry, Dennis and Harrie. I intend to post some of those incredible photos here. Four more days yet to come.

No, it's not Thelma & Louise. It's B and H. Did you have your coffee this morning with that backdrop? Photo credit Dennis.

We had a challenging hike to start off Day 3. Photo credit Barry.

The Utah company's boat went through the same rough water that we did. Photo credit Harrie.

Dennis merely labelled this photo "Wow." When that man speaks, I listen. Photo credit Dennis.

Approaching Day 3's campsite. This would be the last night on the river for two in our group of 32. Photo credit Barry.

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Grand Canyon, Day Two

Grand Canyon, Day Two. Morning coffee call, 5:30 A.M. I thought that the busy water behind me & Joe could be deadly. Speaking on the subject of death in the Canyon, which apparently is omnipresent, it would play a big role in our trip. (Photo credit Harrie.)

A natural amphitheatre we came across. The place was swarming with tourists brought by the Mormons. See those blue blobs in the center? Those are rafts which could hold 16 people or more. That's why John Wesley Powell, the one-armed Civil War hero (and perhaps murderer) said this cavern could hold 50,000 people in it. Lindsay termed him "J Dub" when she read from his excellent writing of his account of his expedition's first trip through the Canyon shortly after the Civil War. (Photo credit Dennis.)

Oh yeah, we saw natural life in the Canyon. Here's a buck at the waterfront that would make a lifetime NRA member with a full magazine of silicon bullets loaded into his (I won't bother with the obligatory "or her") rapid firing assault rifle ecstatic. (Photo credit Dennis.)

Does this look like a castle on a hill in Medieval Europe? We lay on the boats and imagined so. Do you know, BTW, that a third of the population of Europe died in the first visitation of the Black Plague around 1350? No wonder they were paranoid. Where was the TSA when you really needed them? (Photo credit Dennis.)

So the water on the Colorado could get calm too and make you think that all was right with the world. (Photo credit Barry.)

I think this was the view from the beach we slept on the second night. If not, I know it was a view from the Grand Canyon. And if not for the Sierra Club stopping all those plans to dam up the entire Canyon back in the 60s, well, you wouldn't be seeing these spectacular photographs shot by my friends. (Photo credit Harrie.)

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Grand Canyon, Day One of eight.

Summer 2008 Grand Canyon Trip, Day 1. At Lee's Ferry, MP 0. Two boats, four boatmen, 28 greenhorns. We were all so nervous. Were we worthy? (Photo credit Dennis.)

The Highway Bridge a few miles downriver. The Canyon goes more than 240 miles to the west before you can cross it again by car. Of course with gas at $4.00 a gallon, suddenly we don't think like that anymore. Thanks, W, for war AND high prices! (Photo credit Dennis.)

Here's some perspective for ya. See the little figures to the right near the bottom? We're going to hike in Ryder Canyon. (Photo credit Barry.)

The hike on day one seemed a little challenging to me. Travis gave it a 5 on a scale of ten. (Photo credit Dennis.)

Rapids, day one. I thought sure, you could drown in those rough waters. The rapids got a lot worse. (Photo credit Barry.)

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Noontime Weekday Race

A week ago I ran in the monthly free noontime Tidal Basin 3K race, my 24th consecutive one. It’s my monthly speedwork, running this short furious race around the Jefferson Memorial Tidal Basin with scores of other dedicated runners. I always finish in the bottom half, usually in the lowest quartile. This month I was 37/67, 55%. Among men I was 34/48, 71%. My time was 13:24 (7:11). The only other relevant number was the temperature, 92 degrees.

But there are other interesting numbers, at least to me. Someone made marks on the course to indicate 1K, one mile and 2K.

I passed 1K at 4:16 (6:52). I passed one mile at 7:01. That meant from 0.6 mile to one mile my pace was 7:14. I forgot to note 2K. I ran the last 0.86 miles from the mile marker to the finish line at a 7:25 pace.

I was obviously running myself straight into the ground. No negative splits for this guy. (Above: The "hill" on the 3K course, around the 1K mark. The Tidal Basin is 200M to the right.)

Monday, July 21, 2008

Runnin' Some

I have been running a little since I got back from the Grand Canyon. On the weekend of the Fourth, I had a RBF hookup with David on the Mall. Those are always fun. We went about ten miles in about 1:40, from Iwo Jima (pictured) to RFK and back. We started at 9:30s but wore down in the heat a little to over 10s. I took David by every war memorial that I could think of, Korea, Vietnam, WWI, WW2, the Civil War (Grant statue), the Revolutionary War (Washington Monument), and the War of 1812 (the White House, which was burned during it). We even went up the stairs into Lincoln and read the two famous speeches inscribed there, the Gettysburg Address and Lincoln’s Second Inauguration Speech. There’s always plenty to do on a Sunday morning in DC if you run.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

More Rafting

Another four foot tall roller ran over my head, submerging me for the third time despite my lifejacket. I was in the Potomac River, in water over my head, traveling down a class three rapids called White Horse. The current was sweeping me downriver through the rapids' forty foot long tube of roiling water.

Passing through the churning wake above my head, I surfaced and sucked air in greedily. I swallowed some water and started to cough. The boat that had preceded me through the rapids was in calm water ten yards away and its crew was calling to me to swim to it. (Right: A boat momentarily disappears in the spray as it navigates the rapids between two rocks on the Shenandoah. Compare this to the picture in the post immediately below of the boat plunging from sight in rapids on the Colorado.)

I had lost a watershoe in the active undertow and it popped to the surface ten feet away in the other direction. I swam to it and grabbed it as a fourth foaming wave rolled over my head, thrusting me underwater again.

On Sunday morning I had driven to Charles Town, WV, with a friend to go rafting on the Shenandoah and Potomac Rivers. After spending eight eventful days two weeks earlier going down a series of class four and five rapids on the Colorado River where it passes through the Grand Canyon, this outing with its class one, two and three rapids was supposed to be a walk in the park. Still, I was on a seven-person paddling boat instead of an 18-person motorized boat, and there were half a dozen series three rapids in the seven mile trip.

(Left: Approaching whitewater on the Shenandoah.) The mid-summer water was low in the Shenandoah and many large river rocks we went over were near the surface. Unlike in the deep Colorado, the bottom was always visible. Whenever a boat got stuck, the guide would hop out into thigh-deep water and manhandle the raft free.

My friend and I had been stationed as paddlers in front because we had taken the trip before and hence, we were considered experienced with rapids. I didn’t tell them about my week in the Colorado rapids.

On one rapids, a half-foot drop into deeper water off a long flat rock just under the surface, we actually got splashed. A few times we were rocked back and forth as we were propelled into submersed rocks by the current. That was how Chris, our veteran guide, was getting us downriver, by catching the front of the raft on underwater rocks and having the flowing river swing the rear of the boat around in a spinning maneuver to get us off obstructions.

He explained it was like being inside a pinball game, pinging down the river. It was fun if uneventful. (Right: A series three rapids on the picturesque Shenandoah.)

When we passed by Harpers Ferry near the end of our ride and slipped into the Potomac, the water got deeper and faster. Coming up on White Horse, which was the fastest, deepest and best rapids, I had asked Chris if I could swim it along with the guide trainee in the boat who was going to swim it as a training exercise. Chris said sure.

I had stepped into the water and after the boat entered the rapids, pushed off into the slipstream. The current had swiftly taken me into the narrow maelstrom.

(Left: Chris. He asked us what was the difference between a river guide and a stock portfolio. Answer: Unlike the guide, the portfolio will actually mature in ten years and make money.) When I came up from my latest immersion, I was past the rapids. Even though I was sputtering from my rough passage through the cresting waters, I had my shoe and I swam to the boat. I took hold of the paddle handle that Chris was extending and flopped into the boat. Wet, bedraggled and coughing, I rolled over and looked up. My friend was looking down at me worriedly.

I smiled at her and thought, Man, life on the rivers is great!

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Raging River Lonely Trail

I love this world you made us
And I love the rivers too

It was billed as the trip of a lifetime, and it was. Maybe it was even life-altering. It was certainly momentous.

Eight days of white-water rafting down the Colorado River where it flows through the Grand Canyon with 12 of my college roommates and their friends, most of whom I hadn’t seen in decades, and 16 others. One person died. Nine others quit the trip. Four veteran boatmen took us 18 survivors 240 miles to the end. Thanks Travis, Lindsay, Julie and Kelly. Our faith in you was well-placed. (Right: Andy watches as Travis’ boat falls into a raging cauldron in a rapids and momentarily disappears from sight.)

I have posted eight entries about the trip. That’s enough. The most memorable time was the hour we spent trying to save the group member who died of an apparent heart attack on the fourth day. We gave it our best shot, and afforded the decedent her best chance to live. Everyone performed magnificently. It didn’t work out.

I see your walls and canyons
And I feel you very near

(Left: Our fellow traveler's final resting site.) I wish it had been different, and to her family, I’m so sorry. Thanks to everyone who tried so hard. Travis who got the chopper coming and then positively supercharged the rescue attempt with his commanding CPR. Julie whose strong presence was ubiquitous in the rescue attempt. Lindsay whose outstanding capability maintained the airway. Dennis whom I have already spoken about. Mary who took her turn performing compressions. Beth who immediately raised the alarm and got swift first-responder help. Harrie who counted out the compressions aloud for us. Whoever it was that kept wiping the torrent of sweat off my brow with a cool wet rag as I worked. The people who helped land the chopper and secure the campsite from its backwash. The chopper crew. (Just two days later a helicopter coming out of the Grand Canyon on a rescue mission collided with another rescue helicopter and everyone died.) The persons who took care of the family members during their time of bereavement. You all know who you are and what help you were. God bless you all.

Travis came up to me at the end and shook my hand. That’s all. That means the world to me, to earn a measure of respect from a man like Travis.

(Right: This person is already fading into the spectral images of the past, the little boy happy with his strong father, the fast high school athlete getting through boarding school, the quietly confident young man making it in the world, the capable State Patrolman managing every perilous situation, the loving father imbuing his sons with manliness, the athletic runner gracefully traveling down life's paths.) Going down the Grand Canyon, the first four days were spent glorying in the stunning exposition of what the Lord gives to us. The last four days were spent reflecting upon the startling finality of what the Lord takes from us.

I may not be like your other children
But I feel very close to you.
Boatman's Prayer by Vaughn Short

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Tomorrow Never Knows

On the afternoon of the seventh day of our eight-day motorized raft trip down the Grand Canyon on the Colorado River, Travis cut the motor and said that we could all jump overboard if we wanted to. The last rapid had been run and only tomorrow's journey into placid Lake Mead, created by the Hoover Dam, remained.

(Left: The very last rapids boils over our boat.) Since it was 110 degrees, we all elected to go into the water. We hadn’t been allowed to jump off the boats before this due to the danger the many rapids pose to swimmers and the menace spinning propellers create for people in the water.

I swam around for a short bit, then climbed back into the boat under my own power. It took awhile as I pulled and pushed, vaulted and jumped, and finally flopped into the raft like a beached whale.

Then I saw that Andy, our musical prodigy and the youngest member of our group by some thirty years, was bobbing along in his lifejacket downstream, going with the current. He was moving! Boy, that looked like fun.

(Left: The river stretched out before us, finally tranquil.) Back into the water I jumped. Andy and I went sailing along down the middle of the Colorado River in the swift current for about 25 minutes. We put a good 50 yards on the trailing boat. For a full mile, the towering rocky walls, the little side canyons and the silted beaches went by us in practically a blur as we got a water-bug’s view of the Grand Canyon from a mere eight inches above the surface. Little eddies would catch us and spin us around in full 360s before throwing us out, still heading downstream.

(Right: Guy in the river.) Travis was keeping a tolerant but watchful eye on us. Then we started to get cold, so we swam towards the shore to get out of the current and when the boat caught up and went by us, we swam back into the current and allowed it to sweep us by the boat. We reached out to our mates on the boat and strong hands grabbed our life jackets and hauled us back into the boat. There was no getting into the boat on my own this time because I was exhausted from my stay in the swift, deep river.

(Left: Grand Canyon flora.) It was the coolest mile that I ever traversed in my life, scudding downriver in the cool water amidst all that towering beauty shimmering above us in the heat, a riotous multitude of soaring reddish-brown hues. That mile floating downstream was the best little moment I had on our incredible trip down the Grand Canyon.

Turn off your mind, relax and float downstream

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Cliff diving into the Colorado River

After we repulsed the pirates on the Colorado River on the sixth day of our eight-day raft trip through the Grand Canyon, we celebrated by jumping into the river--from a cliff.

Lindsay showed us how to do it. (Left: This is how you leap off a cliff into the Colorado River. "Aaaaa Hoooo!" Slim Pickens.)

One of the school administrators went next. She liked it so much she did it again. And I think she did it again. And again. Woot. (Right: Thumbing her nose at danger.)

Here's the other school administrator taking the plunge. Tell me, could you ever imagine your school principal engaging in this kind of behavior? (Left: "Hey, what about Major Kong?" James Earl Jones.)

It was a long way down, but no one chickened out. (Right: It was at least 20 feet down into the river. Woo hoo!)

Monday, July 7, 2008


Some of you might know that my life is a search for heroes. Here's one.

Dennis is a single guy who came on our eight-day Grand Canyon trip all by himself. In the original group of twenty-eight, only he and one other person came alone. That's gutsy.

He loved sitting in the front of the boat (First Chair) and absorbing the pounding waves that crashed over the boat in the rapids. We all huddled behind him as he blocked much of the cold, wet sheets of water that swept into the boat during those times.

He's a police dispatcher. He's also what I call an actor, and not a reactor. When bad things happen and something needs to be done, he materializes at the crisis point and helps out in a quiet, non-insistent way. He doesn't stand around on the sidelines wringing his hands when things go south in a hurry, wondering what to do. (Right: Dennis in the front of the boat, taking another one for the team.)

When one of our group went into extreme duress on the fourth day with apparent heart failure (tragically, she died), the guides and a few others did CPR on her for a long time. It was her only chance. We were at the bottom of the Grand Canyon working on a non-responsive person, and we were going to be at it until outside help arrived. (Miraculously, it did in about 50 minutes.) We were going to need to take turns spelling each other.

Dennis came to the working group quickly, and calmly offered his help. He succinctly told us what he was capable of. He knew CPR. (Do you?) We slid him onto chest compressions when I grew tired.

He worked doing that for a long time, performing it steadily and correctly. It's exhausting work if it goes on for an extended period. He was a godsend. When he became fatigued, he informed us and he was relieved. He then stood by, ready to go back in when necessary. That's the way it's supposed to go.

Dennis is a hero in my book.

Sunday, July 6, 2008

Pirates on the river

Waterfight! Travis announced the upcoming ordeal. The crew in Lindsay's boat following us had hoisted their pirate's flag and were coming on.

(Above: These are the colors the other boat unfurled when they came after us.)

They had all the water guns. Water cannons would be a better description, yard-long hollow tubes filled with river water that fired high-pressure streams of water. But we had all the 5-gallon buckets.

"Don't fill them up too much," Travis commanded as he issued them. "You can't throw the water as far if they're too full." Travis had apparently repelled boarders before.

We loaded our water buckets and cleared the decks for combat. Four of our nine crewmembers were non-combatants, being the peaceful couple from the midwest and the two school administrators. The other boat had eight men with their blood lust up.

The fight was on. It was a running engagement. The trick is to be the lead boat, and to drop back to within grappling distance whenever it's strategic to do so. Steady streams from their water cannons soaked us. We heaved bucketfuls of water into their boat, scoring several direct hits. Most satisfying were the full facials.

The boats closed together again. I dipped a bucket into the water between the boats. A burly pirate from the other boat reached out and grabbed its handle. A hand-to-hand struggle ensued.

(Right: The crew of Lindsay's boat donned their battle dress and came after us. I grappled mano-a-mano with the blond pirate on the left.) We glared at each other from eighteen inches away as we fought for control of the bucket. Neither he nor I would let go. He almost pulled me into the river but somebody grabbed my ankles and kept me in our boat. Taking a trick I learned from watching hockey fights, I grabbed his lifejacket with my free hand and pulled it up over his head as far as it would go. We fought on, locked together. The boats separated. We both clung determinedly to the bucket handle as the gap between us widened. The river beckoned to us both.

He let go. The fight was over.

We decided we'd won. (Left: We had pirates aboard our boat too. That's me after six days on the river. Photo credit B.)

That night a pirate from the other boat who was well into his cups commented that he'd never seen the pirate I fought off bested before, going all the way back to our Swell Hall days. "You must be workin' out, man," he declared as he cracked open another one.

This sophomoric episode had a very cathartic effect upon us after we had lost 10 of 28 passengers on the Grand Canyon trip due to the death of one of our members two days earlier. It pulled us out of our doldrums.

Saturday, July 5, 2008

Last hours

She had never seemed well. Always quiet, she was pale and subdued. She was the very last of the group of twenty-eight that I got around to meeting. It turns out that I never got to meet her.

She was 65, the mother of three children. She had come on the eight-day Grand Canyon rafting trip with her husband of 48 years. They apparently were inseparable at home. Sweethearts since age 15, married at age 17, on the trip they were always curled up together at the back of the boat.

(We encountered beauty...) On the fourth day she was more languorous than ever. At the lunch break, we put ashore at a little side stream that emanated from a small waterfall 200 yards up the shallow, rock-strewn stream bed. Everyone waded up to it to stand under the warm plunging water.

I was last off the boat. I could see that she was having trouble getting up the stream bed. It was only ankle-deep to the left, but the bed sloped off very gradually to the right into chest-high still water. She seemed caught up in that gradual slope and couldn't get out of it. Further and further to the right she went as I came along, into deeper and deeper water. It was odd. Absolute safety in water only inches, not feet, deep lay a few centimeters to her left.

Suddenly she was in water up to her chest and she seemed flustered. I reached out a hand for her and brought her back to the shallow side. Her husband was twenty feet ahead, waiting for her. Neither one spoke a word to me.

Then she was having trouble manipulating the shallow part of the stream bed so I extended my hand again and guided her a few steps to her waiting husband. I went on ahead to partake in the cascading shower of the waterfall and when I returned, she was seated in six inches of water, resting, while her husband stood guard over her.

She died four hours later.

(...and danger on our journey.) Later I heard that reportedly, she had a bad heart. But she had undergone a battery of tests in preparation for the trip, a stress test, an MRI and others, and passed every one of them.

The Colorado River where it passes through the Grand Canyon, with its boiling rapids and broiling heat, is a harsh taskmaster.

Friday, July 4, 2008

You bet your life

Last month twenty-eight clients started an eight-day motorized boat trip covering 240 miles down the Grand Canyon. Eighteen finished it.

Twelve were in my group, all college roommates or friends of them, most of whom I hadn't seen in decades. Also coming were another group of eight, being three oilmen and their wives and family members, a police dispatcher, two school administrators traveling together, a Canadian, a married couple from the midwest and two business partners. One woman in the oilmen's group died the fourth day, of apparent heart failure. There were four boatmen and two rafts.

(Right: Boatmen Lindsay, Travis and Julie.) We literally entrusted our lives to the boatmen. In charge was Travis, a twenty-something professional boatman who grew up on the river and who goes on hikes and climbs mountains in the extreme wilderness of Alaska when he needs a break from the harsh rigors of crewing boats down the raging Colorado. He was in the lead boat, with Kelly as his crew.

Kelly is the boss's daughter. She wore skirts a lot, and I heard her father later describe her as a city girl, but she grew up around the boats and went on her first river trip at age eleven. She knew what she was doing.

(Right: Julie and Lindsay joined Barry, far left, and Andy, right, in songs on the second night.) Lindsay guided the second boat, with Julie as her crew. Lindsay is from Ohio and has a biology degree. She was a swimmer in school and has powerful shoulders and arms. She knows a lot about the river. Coolly capable, she was apparently tireless.

Julie hopes to captain her own boat next season. She's a darkly beautiful, capable woman, a force to be reckoned with. I never saw her back off from any task.

The last day, Barry and I tried to help Lindsay and Julie place the four detached and deflated outrigger pontoons onto the boats for their final travel into Lake Mead. There is some reason these oversized pontoons, which weigh over 100 pounds each, can't be sailed into the lake. We'd watched the two women hoist the first two pontoons up onto the first boat and wrestle them into place when we solicitously came to their assistance. The four of us made light work of heaving the third pontoon up onto the second boat. Leaving Lindsay and Julie to lock it down, Barry and I went to retrieve the last pontoon. We both lifted, grunted, and dropped the heavy object back onto the beach. "We better wait for the girls to help us," I told Barry.

(Left: Julie and Lindsay kept order in the second boat.) Everybody in my group immediately fell in love with Lindsay and Julie, and took over boat two. I think the initial riders on boat one, who were even older than us, occasionally looked down their noses a little at the rowdy, boisterous passengers on boat two. I often went over to the first boat to balance things out. I liked the way Travis ran things.

Travis told good stories. Here are some examples.

A pirate encountered a shipmate he hadn't seen for awhile in a bar and saw that his friend was now sporting a pegleg, a hook, and an eyepatch. "What happened?" the first pirate cried.

"Arrgh. I be whaling in the Bering Sea when a killer whale jumped out of the ocean and into me boat and bit me leg off!"

"What happened to your hand?"

"Arrgh. I was in the Caribbean stealing coconuts from the natives when they caught me and cut off me hand for it!"

"And how did you lose your eye?"

"Arrgh. I was walking down the dock checking the position of the sun when a seagull flew over and shat in me eye!"

"And that put your eye out?"

"Well, it be the day after they replaced me missing hand with a hook."

Ha ha. Maybe you hadda be there. (Left: Travis reads a boatman's prayer before we shove off one morning.)

Travis told us about his recent ten-day solo backpacking trip in the Yukon. He ran into a grizzly and shinnied up a tree real fast to the top. The bear eyed him for awhile, then started shaking the base of the skinny pine tree for all she was worth. Back and forth the tree rocked while Travis hung on for dear life, being slung around like a slingshot. But the tree held and the bear ambled away.

Only to return presently with her cub. Now the two of them pushed and battered at the tree trunk, whipping Travis around ever more dangerously. But again the tree held and the grizzly and her cub ambled away.

Only to return a third time, this time with a beaver in tow.

Travis swears the story is true, except for the beaver part. (Above: My trip down the Grand Canyon was in many ways a cleansing experience for me.)

The Arizona-based outfit our group used had a friendly rivalry going with its main competitor, a Utah company. Hence we heard an occasional Mormon joke. We never thought of raiding the competitor's camp or trying to trade with them because they obviously wouldn't have had anything we wanted. They are tee-totalers, see?

Anyway, some Mormons are, or used to be, polygamists. Travis once uncorked a funny line when he said, "Brigham Young, more than just a funny name." Only he pronounced it, Bring 'em young.

It's a joke, folks. (Left: Kelly flashes her winning smile.)

Seriously though, despite his small wiry frame and wisp of hair under his lip and high voice and showy tattoos, no matter what the situation, Travis has you covered. You could bet your life on it.

Thursday, July 3, 2008

What goes on on the river...

...stays on the river. (Mooning the competitor's boats.)

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Getting over her

I hope no one on the packed jetliner saw me cry today. I was crying for her even though I barely knew her.

It was on Friday that she passed. She lay down nearby and never rose again. Summoned immediately, our response was swift. We worked on her for almost an hour, a tight circle of people kneeling clustered about her, working in tandem and issuing curt commands to each other which were instantly obeyed. But she didn't come back.

The trip member who had raised the alarm came up to me later that evening and rubbed my back briefly as I stood there glumly, and said we had done all we could in the circumstances. It felt so good to have a momentary physical connection with a living person. I inanely told her that coincidentally, I had taken a CPR course just six weeks ago. I earnestly told her how well everyone in the little group had performed.

On the plane ride back home five days later, as I was writing notes about that day, I became overwhelmed with the grief and disappointment of losing a fellow being. Of having someone die even as my hands were on her for almost an hour, beseeching her to hold on. When it was over, the living just got up and walked away and continued on with their lives.

I put down my pen, closed my notebook and my eyes, and leaned my head far back into my seat. I kept brushing those pesky tears off my cheeks as soon as they trickled down.

At that moment on the plane, I wanted someone I loved and who loved me that I could hold onto as I replayed it in my mind. I wanted to cry out my hurt and pain over the loss of another on a loved one's shoulder. But although I was soon to be home and my three adult sons live in town, they don't care for me nor speak to me. These self-absorbed young men are not persons I would ever look to for help. The rest of my family lives elsewhere.

I wish that lady had lived. I can still see her husband of 48 years, shock etched on his face, kneeling in the sand off to the side, holding her hand as we worked. Damn it all, we worked so long and hard and got such wonderful assistance from everybody there and we had no damn success.