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Is there any moment better than the “last call” moment? Last call means you must act. If you’re in a bar drinking with your buddies, you must order or forfeit your final drink. When last call is made, a little stream of adrenaline shoots through your body, and it’s a bigger stream when you realize that you’re out of time — you must make your last move to complete the night or you may lose the girl.
Despite the looming deadline, the bittersweet “last call” moment is usually the best moment of the day. It turns out that these moments can stretch far beyond the bar front. There are tantalizing “last calls” for national, state, and local parks. Last calls for fishing, hunting, boating, and river rafting. Hell, after I started thinking about it, I realized there is a last call for every seasonal activity that exists.
When a friend texted me an opportunity to run the last call on the Deschutes River in Oregon, I jumped at the opportunity. I was at a total loss when he told me he still had an extra seat and none of my supposedly manly friends would seize the moment for a free run down the Deschutes. “It will be too cold,” someone said. “I’m scared of rafting,” said another. “I’m too busy,” claimed another. And on and on the excuses went. But was thinking, “Hmm, I’m busy, too, but this is your last call for the year . . . all right, it’s time to put your man pants on and get going!”
Rafting the Deschutes River
The Deschutes River cuts through 252 miles of Oregon, birthing out of Little Lava Lake and dying when it combines with the Columbia River. The rapids for our last call trip tend to be rated as Class III (experienced paddling skills) with one Class IV (advanced whitewater experience) seven-foot drop. The trip we took started in Maupin and finished at the last take out before Deschutes falls. It is approximately 14 miles and takes about 5 hours to finish. A perfect run for just about everyone.
On this last call, I finally got a taker, a rookie. And we lucked out at the launch a got a cool guide. He expertly took us down the center of the rapids and knew each set perfectly. My rookie was the first to “ride the bull” by sitting on the very front of the raft, and to the delight of everyone on board, he ended up swimming.
The second to ride the bull made it out of the rapids nicely, but when the guide jokingly said, “OK you can push him in,” he experienced an instant dunking from the two front rowers — hey, I roll with guys who listen to the guide.
At the Class IV set, our boat made it nicely through; however, the photographer would get some embarrassing shots of my rookie literally ducking and covering into the fetal position in the center of raft. Little did he know that the photo would soon become his computer’s background screen. After we passed through the final section, another raft tipped, dumping everyone into the Class IV water.
A couple of the rafters got recycled, but they all made it out — though the group said no more and left the river on the spot.
My rookie rode the bull one last time to try to redeem himself, but everyone piled into the back of the raft, which lifted him about 15 feet above the water before slamming him back down into a new rapid after each trough. The rookie hung tough though, and he had the balls to create a moment in his life he will remember and talk about for years to come.
The point? When a “last call” comes, grab it and wring everything you can from it.