Monday, July 21, 2014

Whitewater Adventures

We're on our first family vacation as a blended family.  My normally unflappable husband got pretty "flapped" about 487 miles into the kids singing a variety of songs like "Dumb Ways to Die," "They're Taking the Hobbits to Risenguard," and the always popular, "Let It Go."  (That last one might have been me, actually."

We're staying in a "cozy" vacation cabin overlooking the Ocoee River that is, sadly, much larger and fancier than our everyday home. I had forgotten just how much I love the state of Tennessee.  If I ever had to leave the Heart of the South, this is where I would want to be.

One thing of note is the fact that everyone (namely, Scotlyn) is complaining of the bone-chilling cold of this area.  She has taken to wearing her Lord of the Rings cloak (yes, she owns one. I know.) wrapped around her to ward off pneumonia. It's 85 degrees, both inside and out. I will admit, it does feel a bit nippy after the high nineties temps we're used to. But, oh, so nice. *sigh*

So, on with my story.  Today we went whitewater rafting!  A first for everyone. We were so excited.  Our guide's name was Baby Huey...

Wait, I got ahead of myself. I requested a reservation over the internet and Dawn from Ocoee Outdoors called me back this morning to confirm a 1:00pm float time. "I know people from Franklinton," she says. Come to find out, she's related by marriage to one of my good friends.  We did the whole "it's a small is so-an-so doing...I heard about that, so sad." and finished making the reservation. And I made a new friend. Then texted my old friend and told her all about it.

Our guide's name was Baby Huey. He was over six feet tall and he was no baby. Mike liked him but I couldn't hear a word he said. No hearing aids, you know, and deaf as a post. They would have been beneficial, especially when Huey said to lean in and I didn't and almost fell out of the raft. Mike let go of the end of his paddle, grabbed the back of my life vest and pulled me in.

And...the unmanned end of his paddle hit me square in the mouth. I have a fat lip. I always knew John Michael had anger management issues, but goodness, to just haul off and whack me in the face with a boat oar?!  Couldn't he learn to communicate a little better when he's upset with me? So aggressive.

Here we are, having the time of our lives.
The river was cold, let me tell you, and those waves wash right over a body. My body.  They didn't go on the other side of the boat - I think Huey planned it that way. He and Mike did a lot of talking that I couldn't hear. Methinks it was a conspiracy.
I haven't seen the kids grin like that this in a while. They sure seemed to enjoy themselves, and the views were beautiful. The hills rose up steep on both sides of us, sometimes sheer rock cliffs, but mostly tree covered mountainsides. We had to guide around rocks in the river and through flumes that seemed to shoot us like from a cannon, then we'd go through a pool where we'd float so slowly it was like we were on glass, barely moving.
At one point, we stopped at Jump Rock and tied all the rafts to each other, forming a bridge, and anyone that wanted to jump off the rock, could.  Ainsley wanted to go and I went with her. Jumping from boat to boat was like what I imagine being in Wipeout was like, and I knew I was going to fall between the boats and die of embarrassment.  I shouldn't say this because it's way tmi, but the main reason I was going to jump off the rock was to get in the water because I'd had too much Dr. Pepper to drink before we'd left the bus, if  you know what I mean? Yeah, well, be grossed out if you want, but you'd do it, too, if you had to. 
Once it was my turn to jump, it looked a lot scarier than I'd thought and I had to way the cost - possible paralysis if I didn't jump far enough out and landed on the outcropping of rock vs the need for relief. I jumped. 

The water was ice freaking cold. And fast.  I didn't even bob to the surface until I was past where I was supposed to start swimming in. The current was strong, too. I was a-swimming and a-swimming when I looked up to see all the guides on all the rafts poised to dive in and save me, lest I keep on floating, all the way to New Orleans.  Don't all rivers lead to New Orleans? Anyway, I made it back to our raft and was planning on hanging out for a bit beside the boat, take care of some business, you know. But Huey grabbed my jacket and hauled me in.
I went through all of that and still had to tinkle. Son of a gun.
Ainsley gets in behind me and bounces up and down. "Can I go again? Mama, wanna come with me?"  I glare at her as I panted for breath, sweating and shivering at the same time.
That's when the Mike leans over and tells me that we're almost half way done. My bladder shrieked in protest.
Epilogue: Both me and my bladder survived the rest of the trip, and we enjoyed it immensely.  I haven't had that much fun in a very long time. I can't wait to go again, and we'll do the Upper Ocoee, which has Grade V rapids!