Monday, July 06, 2009

Impromptu Rafting

This weekend I found myself reintroduced to the world of 4AM, driving east across the state, bleary-eyed, a single passenger in my Jeep and a motley variety of music blasting from the speakers (Mr. Roboto - a road trip staple - curiously missing from the track list) as we raced to our destination. For most of the week (and the prior), Rhetoric and I had been planning to take advantage of the long weekend with a little bit of kayaking. It turns out however that pretty much everyone else had the same plan and, hard as it may be to believe, we were unable to find any available kayaks that we could procure.
Giving up the idea as a failure, we had accepted our grim and uneventful fate when inspiration struck my friend and he suggested whitewater rafting. I almost didn't go; the idea of driving 2 hours to his location and another 3 to the river was daunting, tired as I was. I again (re)learned a lesson that I already knew but often forget, and that is simply that when I look back at life later on, I'm not going to be regretful about the things I did do but rather the things I didn't. And sure, you may say "it was only rafting", but I am often skipping opportunities like this, to enjoy life, enjoy my friends, and end up sitting around, living uneventful moments and doing unimportant things. It's small steps like these that I need to take more often to get where I really want to be.

Ideally, I'd have liked more friends to join us, but due to the last minute nature of our reservations, that wasn't really possible. Having forgotten the time change from central to eastern, we still managed to arrive early and with plenty of time to spare, most of that time filled with fretting over who we would get stuck with for the other 4 members of our rafting team.
There was a pretty unique mix of people there and I think we were probably exceptionally lucky in who we ended up with, both with our team and our guide. Speaking of which, if you ever go where we went (Wildwater Rafting on the Ocoee), you should request Ashley for your guide.
Sure, one of the people in our raft may have hit me in the back of the head EVERY time we did paddled forward, and two of the people may have been confused with the concept of paddling in general and tried to paddle by putting their oar blades inside the raft instead of in the water at first, but you should have seen the OTHER people we could have been stuck with! And our group made the most ridiculous faces and poses for the camera, so they win.

It was a good time on the water. None of us were thrown from the raft which, despite the danger, I feel is a fun event, though my tone will change the next time it happens to me and I land spine first on a giant boulder. I imagine the tiny lady we had to pull from the water 15 seconds into the trip probably wasn't a fan. But she wasn't one of us so she doesn't count. Even our 90lbs Russian girl managed to stay on-board, though a few times when she was rocketed into the air, I assumed she done for. It was troubling to look over and her be nowhere in sight, only to see her plop back down from the sky a moment later. The raft full of kids didn't drown as I fully expected them to do, what with the way every time we looked their direction they had all been thrown out of the raft like it had exploded. The girl behind me didn't give me a concussion with the T-grip side of her paddle. And I have yet to develop any sort of disgusting fungus in my hair from wearing the helmet that smelled like a pair of feet and was slowly beating down my will to live. All in all, a successful trip.
I fully intend to go again - soon - and with a little more planning so I can include a few more people. Of course, if anyone feels the need to drop everything and go randomly some weekend, I'm up for that as well.

Maybe The rest of the weekend resulted in some unexpected fun for the 4th. Firework viewing with Rhetoric, the geese and their fellows. Some good grilled action. Meat on a stick. Falling asleep on their floor and not waking up with an awkward yet dashing mustache drawn on my face.

Maybe next time I'll get the mustache, then the weekend will be perfect.

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