We were asked by my brother-in-law, a film producer in California, to be in a river trip movie on the West Coast. It was to be sponsored and paid for by a national river rafting company.

Asked by her brother-in-law to be an extra in a river rafting marketing movie, Carole Cochran requested only “that there would be bathroom facilities at each camping site.” Irving Sandoval/Shutterstock.com

Not having been on the Oregon coast, or on whitewater, or in a kayak, or in a movie, we agreed. The five-day trip would be similar to today’s “glamping,” with the production company finding the sites, preparing the food, setting up the tents, breaking camp and equipping the rafts with experienced boaters. We were just along for the ride, as extras, in a marketing movie filmed by my brother-in-law Ted.

My only request of him was that there would be bathroom facilities at each camping site. Check. So we set off with grand hopes for a great experience. At the airport we rented a baby-blue convertible and set off for Oregon and the Rogue River. So far, so good.

We “put in” the river the next morning, assigned to a raft or kayak, each manned by an experienced man or woman. Easy-peasy, down to the first night’s camp. Reservations made in advance, with porta-potty on site. Songs, roasted marshmallows, a roaring campfire. Easily digesting our first-ever California vegetarian food, we took to our prepared mattresses and tents to sleep well for the next day’s adventures.

After excellent instruction, we meandered down to some whitewater, survived the falls and noticed that there were no more telephone poles. This was not “Deliverance” country, but being out of touch with the world was a bit scary. This was an era long before cellphones, and we relied on the expertise of our guides. So far, so good, and all of us were having fun.

At the next camping site, we saw that another group had taken our spot, so we settled for one across the river. That was Surprise No. 1. After another glorious meal, I spied one of our guides walking away from camp with a shovel and a roll of toilet paper. Surprise No. 2.

For three more days, this was our pattern, with reservations made and no “facilities.” Now I am the first to admit to loving my creature comforts, and that I am not an ardent camper or kayaker or whitewater rafter, but it was an experience of a lifetime.

However, when we returned to dry land and checked into a motel, I was the first to lock myself in the loo and look lovingly at the “facility” and abundance of t.p. The film was made, distributed, and showed neophytes having a fun time on a whitewater rafting trip. The back story was mine alone. Surprise No. 3 was that I really did have a great time.

Comments are not available on this story.

filed under: