Ahhh! Spider Tree!!
“Dear Alcohol, we had a deal. You were supposed to make me funnier, prettier, smarter & put me in a good mood…. I saw the photos – we need to talk.” (I have no idea who said this, it wasn’t me but it is sooo true!)
The infamous day in my history where I discover the existence of a spider tree came in to my life partly because of alcohol consumption.
It all started when my sister and I decided to float the Illinois River in Tahlequah, Ok. This is an 8-hour float trip so we packed a lot of provisions like lots of wine coolers and skittles. The river is very wide and usually pretty mellow. It is a private trip if you go during the week. My sister and I chose a quiet Thursday and the river was magnificent. The first half of the trip was uneventful and we consumed our provisions and enjoyed chatting with each other. We decided we needed to snap a few pictures of us because we are awesome and the trip was awesome.
Well, unfortunately every picture wasn’t exactly flattering so we kept trying positive it was the angle of the phone that gave me the droopy eye and her the half blink, it couldn’t possibly have been how we really looked. We were completely consumed in our self-portrait that we stopped steering and even looking where we were going. The current was decently strong so we kept moving forward despite our distracted and slightly intoxicated demeanor.
That is when it happened our raft hit a very large low hanging tree. At first we were startled and began to try to cautiously move the raft around the tree but then the spiders came. It seemed like hundreds of them and at closer glance the tree was full of large white egg sacks and more spiders than should exist in one area. That is when the screaming and arm flaring started. I dove off the raft and my sister tried to follow but her foot caught the side and flipped it over on top of her. We both were in full panic mode. Not caring that our ice chest, phone and raft were floating down the river. We were still screaming when we found each other and immediately began checking each other for spiders since we are both very arachnophobic. Shaking and in tears our common sense returns to realize we must catch our raft since we were still at least six miles from our destination. We swim for it fast, I find the soaked phone, ice chest and shoes at the bottom of the river and she the faster and less distracted swimmer catches the raft itself.
After we settled back into the raft and assess our damage we sat stunned for at least an hour and that’s when she said it, “this wouldn’t have happened if we brought actual wine instead of beer substitute.”
You would think I would have learned my lesson but of course I did not. Not to far after this event happened my bestie had heard my wonderful tells of floating the river (and all about the spider tree) and decided she wanted an all girls float trip for her birthday. Because of the no glass laws we brought beer again, and we were off. This time there were four of us and we had a large raft. It was a Friday and still pretty mellow when we optimistically entered the river early that day despite the fact that the water was low and the current was almost non-existent. I had consistently warned the other girls of the spider tree and they were sure we wouldn’t hit it. The trip started out good. We relaxed and caught up on all the things we couldn’t chat about with our kids around. It was fun. The water was low enough that we could lay in the rocks and allow the rapids to wash over us, it was great. We drank and laughed a lot. We discovered that without a current we had to paddle often and with strength. It was a lot of work but still fun. We came close to the spider tree and I was over come with terror (rightly so) I point and began to shout, “there it is! Look at all those horrid egg sack!” All the girls were amazed by the infamous tree and finally saw what I had been fussing about for so long! We paddled furiously and worked as a well-oiled team to pass the tree without incident. It was tough because of the wind and lack of current but we did it! We all shouted out in triumph when we successfully avoided the terror of the spider tree. We were tired and decided to rest after our success. We all kicked back, had another drink or two and enjoyed the fresh air. We giggled and laughed at the story of my sister and I hitting the tree pointing out that the river is very wide at that point and avoiding the tree is rather easy if you are paying attention.
We were so consumed in our triumphant success that no one noticed the wind pushing the raft backwards. In the middle of our laughter it hit us, the spider tree was above us and there was nothing we could do about it. We tried to paddle away before the low hanging branch touched us but I started to panic screaming, “ahhhh ahhh its here the spiders tree! It’s here ahhh ahhh!!” I jumped over board before the spiders could get me. I abandoned my friends. One of the three followed me but the other two tried to free the raft but without our help they were screwed. It finally hit them and black spiders fell all over them and our extra large raft. They too abandoned the boat but no one capsized it. The most level headed of our group dunked herself then pushed our raft to safety on the opposite bank. The rest of us were rolling in the too shallow water trying to free ourselves from the panic of spiders. Finally, we regained ourselves and regrouped at our raft. We decided that my sister was right about the wine and never made fun of the spider tree again but of course my reaction was fair game. Still to this day one of my girlfriends randomly texts, “Ahhhh Ahhh spider tree it’s here! Wait no that one is just a tree…”