Running the Gauntlet

The Missouri and the Kansas Rivers converge near downtown Kansas City. About a mile up the Kansas River from the convergence there was a natural dam that spanned the 200-yards that the river was wide. During normal water levels only a little water crested the boulders and began the 40 yard descent dropping a total of about 15 feet. In high water there were no rocks to be seen. On the south side of the river was a spillway of sorts, where water rushed through over large boulders and rapidly reached the lower level.

Several times each week we passed over the bridge above looking down on that dam. One day in the summer of 1987 we decided to scout the area to see what it looked like up close. From about 100 feet away the roar of the water was intimidating and the swells were huge. And there were snakes everywhere. Water moccasins mostly. Some were on the concrete perch and others on the exposed boulders gathering warm sun to their bodies. We kept our distance.

But the lure was too great for two 16 year old boys. The challenge was as plain as day. We had to run the gauntlet, and we would do it with dad’s aluminum canoe. So the very next day we put in about a mile up the river and started paddling. I suspect he wanted to quit too, but of course neither of us would say it. About a half mile out, we could see the water’s horizon just end. That was the drop off. The plan was to stay on the south side and hit the roughest water.

The last 300 feet seemed to take an eternity. The swells were much bigger than they appeared from shore. But now only 50 feet out there was no turning back. Silently we entered, facing our biggest fears (drowning, snakes, failure), not knowing the outcome.

Tara is still in the middle of her battle. Today was chemo and meeting with the Oncologist. For the most part things are looking good. We both would love to quit, and we are not afraid to say it. But that just isn’t one of the options. In the meantime, God will continue to sustain us.


One thought on “Running the Gauntlet

  1. Since moving to Spirit Lake in 2006 we have known and loved Nan and Larry and had a chance to visit with you, Jay, at their 50th wedding anniversary. Ray and I are praying every day for the very best outcome for Tara, you, and your beautiful family.
    I’m so glad she is feeling better!

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