Stony Rendezvous with Destiny, April 7, 2005

The chatter on the club bulletin board for the Stony Rendezvous started about a week ahead of the event, and by the time the actual event arrived our plans were set and ready for action. A sizable reconnaissance contingent headed out early Friday morning to secure a pavilion for our battalion at the designated campground, with the rest of our forces pulling in later Friday evening. It turned out to be good planning, as the rain started pouring down Friday around midday and didn't let up until dusk. There were lots of alien campers looking at our pavilion with desire in their eyes, but our forward guard kept most of them at bay. With the arrival of the command battalion, our base was secured and the guard detail was able to stand down.

The scuttlebutt going around was that the river was rising and a dam release was expected to augment the already comfortable water level to a better-than-expected 1500cfs. It looked like we were going to have excellent water conditions for our amphibious assault on the Stony. Weather conditions were expected to be only fair, periods of rain with temperatures in the sixties and a slight breeze, but we were prepared for worse and so were not concerned.
The evening hours were spent relaxing at ease. The weather had cleared somewhat, so we passed the time gathering around the fire that young Mr. Petrillo had built or reviewing past battles in the main troop transport, dubbed The Rain Van by its captain, Mr. Laucks. The Rain Van is truly a modern whitewater assault vehicle, an Airstream conversion built upon a time-tested truck/van frame, with comfort and amenities not often seen in forward positions such as ours. We marveled at the indoor plumbing and sleeping loft, and sat mesmerized for hours in front of the video surveillance monitor, enjoying the Rain Van's comforts. The group seemed to circulate between the fire and the Rain Van, but eventually all hands retired to their respective berths to grapple with dreams of the next day's events.

The troops were allowed to lay in the following morning, as the battle was not expected to commence until mid-afternoon. We busied ourselves with a sumptuous breakfast over at the mess tent, which had been outsourced to a local civilian catering service, and then slowly readied ourselves for the afternoon foray. There were some last minute logistics that needed to be attended to, such as the shuttle detail, which was finally determined by general mutiny against the questionable tactics of Commander Iverson. We dropped our vehicles at the takeout bivouac and proceeded to the insertion point.
We had superior troop concentration, with 18 kayaks and one Shredder, which put us in a commanding position over the waterway. The Shredder crew, Ms. Gustafson and Ms. Giroux, were on RTO (Routine Training Op), while most of the kayaks were manned by grizzled, seasoned pros. We hit the water at around 1730 hours GMT (1230 hours local time), and proceeded at a leisurely pace downriver, making good use of the various features that presented themselves. Our first major obstacle to overcome was perhaps the most challenging that we would see this day, a class-III funnel rapid known as Showers. Thankfully, all hands made it through with ease, including our training crew in the Shredder.

We continued downriver until we reached the theatre of operations, a section of the river known as The Surf Laboratory. A number of enemy combatants were waiting there for us, attempting to frighten us into submission with various feats of bravado in the hole of contention. We were not about to be cowed, however, and a platoon of six of us signed up for the Novice competition, against one lone contender. When the competition began however, we were surprised to find that our superior numbers were no match for the level of proficiency displayed by our adversary, a valiant and skilled competitor. We were unable to secure the top position in the competition, even with some excellent paddling by our team, and were forced to accept defeat, such as it was, in the form of second and third place finishes by Mr. Witmer and Mr. Boop, respectively. Our Lady of the Waters, Ms. Boop, did manage to acquire the first place trophy for Women's Novice competition, which helped to substantially soften the edge of our placement in the Men's competition.
The battleground moved downriver for the Intermediate and Advanced competitions, to a much more active and workable hole. As the Intermediate competition began, a light rain started to fall and the temperature dropped by about 5 degrees, and very quickly all contestants and onlookers began to grow chilled. We watched, shivering, as our Mr. Laucks attempted to rise to the challenge of the other Intermediate contenders, but, alas, it was not to be. Regardless of Mr. Lauck's obvious skill paddling his C-1 assault craft, the judges would only see fit to award him third place in the Intermediate competition.

Moving on to the Advanced competition, Mr. Laucks switched to his primary assault craft, a K-1 Radical Aerial Device (RAD) and was joined by Mr. Samms in a similarly equipped RAD. Once again, the rivalry was intense, with strong competitors, some of whom who had already attained world-class status in previous theatres of combat. Now, I have to admit that my own view of the competition may have been skewed by my loyalty to my own troops, but I felt that both Mr. Laucks and Mr. Samms paddled exceptionally well and should have at least placed in the final three. However, the judges, who I suspect of being communist sympathizers and at a minimum to have taken substantial bribes (none of which can be proven, of course), seemed to think that Mr. Laucks only qualified for fourth place and Mr. Samms a totally unrealistic fifth. Granted, the top contender had some impressive battle skills, but the second and third place finishers were, while both certainly quite accomplished rodeo boaters, not as impressive as our own Mr. Laucks and Mr. Samms, at least not in my eyes.

After the competition, we paddled the remainder of the river without incident. There were a few of our company who choose to avoid running Pipeline, which was a perfectly acceptable decision given the cool weather and water conditions, but other than that all hands were in their craft and upright for the duration of the maneuvers. We were all feeling somewhat chilled after being out of our boats during the competitions, so we were happy to see our extraction point when we arrived. We all heaved ho, stowing our watercraft and amphibious assault gear and donning our civilian apparel to better blend in with the locals.
That evening we dined on excellent rations in the mess tent and quaffed many an ale as we recounted the tales of our adventures of the day. We celebrated the winners and commiserated with those who should have won, and quaffed additional ales as we reveled in the glory after the battle. After much laughter and frivolity, and a good deal more quaffing, we retired for the evening to greet the morrow afresh.

Over the nighttime hours however, the winds picked up and the temperature dropped dramatically. We arose the next day to find brisk winds and temperatures in the mid-thirties. There were snow flurries falling as we gathered, bleary-eyed and with throbbing heads, to survey our bleak possibilities. Since nobody seemed to be in any condition to think, we opted to head into town and commandeer the local Eat'n'Park, employing a swarm tactic to completely overwhelm all resistance and devastate the breakfast buffet. After breakfast, back at camp, we seemed to still be affected by some residual haze from the previous night's antics, and it gradually became apparent that 1) all our gear was wet and now freezing cold, 2) the dam release had ended and the river had dropped to its more typical scrapey level, and 3) some of us just wanted to go home now. A few brave souls decided to look for acceptable paddling conditions elsewhere before they gave up on the weekend, but the majority of the troops opted for R'n'R and were granted an early release to return to civilian life with an honorable, if perhaps a bit nasal, discharge.

 

Present and accounted for: Chris Iverson (Commander-in-Chief), Pat Montagne (Lieutenant Commander), Kim Montagne (Quartermaster), John Giorgini (Rear Guard), Barbra Tchida (Short Bus detail), Dave Witmer (Right Flank Commander), Karyn Giroux (Shredder detail), Ken Gufstason (Left Flank Commander), Peggy Gufstason (Shredder detail), Jeremy Laucks (Bravo Team 1), Matt Samms (Bravo Team 2), Kyle O'Reilly (Psy Ops), Mike Betts (Amphibious Assault), Evy Stauffer (Forward Observation), Brenton Petrillo (Attack Battalion Chief), Art Barket (Stealth Ops), Erin Mack (Stealth Ops), Mike Hostetter (inactive duty), Joe Haynes (Cultural Attaché), plus others whose identities cannot be revealed due to ongoing covert ops

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