I have a friend who lives in Colorado in a place called Ajax Canyon. A beautiful, inspiring place for sure. A few years ago he lay near death after being "attacked" by a rogue cow on his Montana ranch. Thankfully, his story had a happy ending. He told me that when he was being pummeled by the mad momma cow, with his wife watching in horror, his one thought was, "Is this how it ends"

I want to share a near fatal tragedy that my beautiful wife, Pam, had this week on the Yellowstone River. Maybe you can see yourself in this story or in a similar situation and it may help you or someone you know. I still haven't discussed with Pam if that were a question she had time to ask herself. Truth of the matter, there is a whole lot of gratitude in our hearts and minds today. It wasn't her time.

Life happens fast. It was an absolutely gorgeous day in a canoe on the mighty Yellowstone River. A big blue sky, fluffy clouds, slight breeze, old cottonwood trees doing what they do best this time of year, turning green to gold. The river was running a bit high for this time of year from a couple of feet of snow in the western Montana mountains days prior. Pam and a couple of girlfriends who go back a scant 30 years were enjoying a day on the river. One of her friends, Lisa, was in the kayak; Pam and her friend Laynne were in the canoe.

They were enjoying the trip, looking for good spots to hunt agates on the islands and river bank and letting the current make paddling easy for a few miles down to our beloved, Ghost Ranch. Lisa was ahead in the kayak and enjoyed a quick freefall as the kayak slipped over a submerged cottonwood limb. Pam and Laynne tried to veer and steer the canoe around the limb but the current was too swift and the canoe turned sideways briefly before ejecting them. It was such a close call. Pam was sucked down in the current under the log and thankfully there was no debris to grab her life jacket and drown her. Laynne was sucked under as well, both popped up unscathed.

The speed at which the canoe flipped and the speed at which the current suctioned both girls and the canoe down under the log were in near nanoseconds.

Thankfully all is okay. The waterproof bags protected camera gear, binoculars and some lunch. The only thing lost was a cell phone and a few credit cards; I doubt those Yellowstone catfish shop at Nordstrom or Macy's!

On the river of life the moral of this story is simple. Remain vigilant. If at all possible, steer clear of the rough spots ahead of time. Know what to look for. Don't allow complacency no matter how nice the day. For sure, get in the current to make things easy but keep your eyes open. Never stop looking for the rough spots. Many meals for a lifetime in this fall outing to remember.

I am blessed to be enjoying a beautiful October day in Dallas Texas instead of planning my bride's funeral. For her, it wasn't how it ends.


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