Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Tipped a canoe and rafting, too

Why, hello there. I don't know where to start. This is almost awkward. Feels like we went on a date three weeks ago and I'm just now getting around to calling.

So what's my excuse? I dunno, post-Blogust fatigue syndrome, maybe? Also, if work gets any more "fun" I'm pretty sure it will be in direct violation of the Geneva Convention. If it makes you feel any better, I've completely let my fantasy baseball team go, too.

But enough of that. If you're still here then I am going to assume there is hope for us. And so, I want to try and catch up on a couple of things I have taken part in over the past few weeks. Today I will recap my whitewater rafting trip on the Ocoee over Labor Day weekend.

This was my first time. And boy, it was quite a whirlwind. Took us about five hours, which was about an hour longer than it was supposed to take. And I remember at least seven or eight times I was pretty sure we were going in the wrong direction. I seriously began to wonder if we were going to make it.

And that was just the drive up.

Rafting itself was fun, if a bit of hard work. Our guide was quite demanding. I should have known something wasn't exactly right when we were getting in our raft and I saw the words "Hell's Dinghy" painted on the side.

Throughout the trip I kept noticing passengers in the other rafts (which, by the way, were passing us as our guide kept getting us stuck on rocks) didn't seem to be paddling half as much as we were. Others noticed it, too. I think I can best describe it as the Grizzly River Rampage meets hard labor camp. So you know, you get wet but you work for it.

Also as fate would have it, I wound up in the front of the raft, which according to our "guide" (so take this with a grain of salt) meant I was integral to helping steer the craft. All the paddlers on my side of the raft were supposed to pace themselves off of me.

Umm, is now the time to mention I tipped a canoe earlier this summer?

(That's me in the helmet. That's me in the front-right, losing my religion...)

Our guide kept making fun of himself and at first I thought it was an attempt at self-deprecating humor. But in the end, I think he was just being honest. He wasn't very good. Then again, he got us to the end, no one fell out, and we all survived, which with me up front was probably no small accomplishment.

I was surprised at just how many rafts and rafting companies were running the river. In my mind, I had pictured it a bit more isolated, where maybe you pass another raft every four or five minutes. But it's nothing like that. There was a line of rafts waiting to enter the river, one right after another, and you were never out of sight of at least three other rafts. It was more like an amusement park, which I think could lure people into a false sense of safety.

In closing, any recapitulation of this trip would be unjust and incomplete without me mentioning the "changing room incident." We got back to the outpost (fancy word for rafting company headquarters) and one of the guides said there were rooms in the back where we could change.

So I went back to the car, got some dry clothes and went into the so-called changing room. I guess I was expecting it to be like Old Navy. You know, several tiny rooms, each with a door, a mirror, and a little bench. Unfortunately, it was not like that at all. There was just this big open room with three shower stalls. No other walls. No partitions. Nothing. I mean, I would have been better off changing behind a tree.

Well, I turned my back to the rest of the guys. There were only three or four of us in there at the time and I figured facing the wall was the best place to start. You know, it wouldn't have been so bad if I had been wearing underwear. I'm completely comfortable walking around in my underwear. But I was only wearing swim trunks, which have the sort of built-in underwear.

Anyway, for some unbeknownst reason, I decided to take a quick glance around. I dunno, I think maybe I was gonna check to see if the showers had curtains and I could change in there. Well that was quite possibly the biggest mistake of my life.

This is why I could never be in prison. Or a porn star. I just can't do communal showers.

Anyway, other than the awkward changing room incident and the possible long-term effects thereof, the Ocoee trip was miles of fun. Literally. It was five miles of rafting. I'm thankful I got to experience whitewater rafting at its most commercial. And also thankful I didn't read this list of rafting accidents and fatalities in the state of Tennessee before the trip. Else I may never have gone.

"Oh life is bigger. It's bigger than you, and you are not me. The lengths that I will go to. The distance in your eyes..."


  1. I have stuff to do this morning and wasn't going to read blogs until later today, but when I caught your title, I got suckered in. I had to read about Bone in a canoe and a raft! I paddled the Ocoee when I was in college, back in 1977, the first year when the water wasn't being diverted into a powerplant. It was wild and there were only three of us on the river and we didn't know any one who had been on it before. There was lots of water--a powerful river that seemed to want to suck up our kayaks and spit us out. I'm glad you survived and are back with us in blog world!

  2. Between the post title and the picture caption you've definitely got the quality vs. quantity blogging happening. I would rather read 1 of your posts than 10 of many others. Even after the game 2 weeks ago.

  3. It's ok to call 3 weeks later if it's to invite me to the perfect date. :)

    Always love what you write

  4. I haven't been canoeing in such a long time (close to 20 years) I should go, but not with DH...last time he steered the canoe into an alligator! The gator was NOT pleased!

    Your telling of the changing room scene brought shudders of horror...which I'm sure you felt too. Yeah, I think changing behind a tree would have been better too.

  5. Cami said exactly what I was going to :)

    I understand your communal showering pain. A whole extra dimension to my fear of swimming is the having to change afterwards. I think women react differently to this situation: they tend to be militantly naked, chatting to other people across the benches, all facing each other and making no attempt to hide behind their towels. Maybe this should put me at ease. But it doesn't.

  6. You suckered me in with the trip up there--great lines Bone
    Loved the rafting part too and think the shower is universal

  7. Seriously, now I have to know what you saw that has scared you for life?

    I have went on multi white water rafting trips, when I lived in Wyo.

    It is a bit scary at first, but LOVE the rush you get from it.

    SO glad to see you back. Was missin you.

  8. The picture caption had me rolling!

  9. Sage - Well, I guess that just goes to show you can't judge a blog entry by its title.

    I bet that was pretty wild before it was all commercialized.

    There were quite a few kayaks out the day we went. There were times you couldn't swing a paddle without hitting one.

    Susan - Aww, well that's very nice of you to say. I wasn't going to say anything about the game. We still have to come to PA next year.

    Cami - The perfect date? That would include a Bama game, right?

    Renee - Alligator? Yikes. I forget you used to be a bayou girl :)

    Shudders, yes. I think I must have been trying to block it out of my memory, because right before I hit publish last night, I realized I had left out the entire part about the changing room.

    J Adamthwaite - Funny, that's pretty much exactly how I always pictured the women's locker room :)

    Pia - Oh good, because after re-reading it I wasn't sure that part made sense.

    If it's not universal, it certainly should be.

    SoccerMom - Oh no, I don't want to relive that. I'll just say it could have been worse. Much, much worse.

    Aww, thanks. Hopefully I'll get back around to reading blogs this afternoon.

    Mama Zen - I figured it was one of those so-bad-you-can't-help-but-laugh things.

  10. Soccermom--I can't count the number of times Bone's been scarred for life. Sometimes I think that's why his screenname is Bone though of course it's something to do with Seinfeld

  11. Life is certainly bigger. Glad you are enjoying it. I love the whitewater rafting, haven't done it since Costa Rica though.

    "I'm thankful I got to experience whitewater rafting at its most commercial." Love that line.

  12. J Adamthwaite: I don't know where you heard that, but most women go change in the toilet stalls in the locker rooms! It's not some naked party in there...trust me!

  13. OH MY GOODNESS! You made my morning. This put a smile on face, made me laugh out loud, and reminded me of why I love reading your blog. GREAT post! Lots of great comments.

    It looks like a fun trip. I'm happy you had fun, besides the changing thing, which was pure comedy for the rest of us. :)

  14. "And that was just the drive up." LOL...oh, Bone, I loved this post. You could not PAY me to go river rafting...too scary for this wimpy soul! Water and I have a wary relationship. And the communal showers? *shudder* That brought back vivid memories of junior high school and the dread of P.E. Thanks for telling us about your rafting adventure! You've been sorely missed. :~)

  15. You had me in splits! About the communal showering thing, most females too aren't very comfortable about that. At least I speak about those in my circle. I might be wrong though, looking at all those people bathing in the river Ganges during Hindu festivals! To each his own!

  16. And that was just the drive up.


    Why do I have a feeling that part of the day could have been a post all its own? :)

    I haven't been rafting since Alaska, where, just when you have yourself convinced it's completely safe and nothing bad could ever dream of happening to you, they tell you that even if with the wet/dry suit you have on, if you fall in, you have seven minutes in the water and you're dead. Lovely.

    (Actually, it is beyond gorgeous, but that's beside the point.)

    Also, I must say that I don't know what things are like in England, but how J Adamthwaite describes women's locker rooms are NOT how they are over here.

  17. I would have been terrified!! White water rafting with a guide that admittedly didn't know what he was doing. I so would have been freaking out. It sounds fun. Looks fun, but s-c-a-r-y. Glad you survived...both the trip and the drive up. :)

    my word verification is "irraft" LOL!

  18. Pia - I can't count the number of times Bone's been scarred for life.

    I'd say it happens monthly.

    Maybe bi-weekly.

    Cooper - Thanks, Miss Cooper. I'm not really sure why I hadn't gone before now.

    Renee - Ah, the toilet stalls! Why didn't I think of that? They weren't in the changing room, but I guess I could have just done a walk out.

    OK Chick - Thanks, OKC. As nice as it is to know I made your morning, I love making you laugh out loud even more.

    Sweetest In The Gale - Oh, I know. I never showered in PE. Which could help explain my spotty dating record in high school :)

    Gautami Tripathy - Well, judging by the comments here, we're not the only ones uncomfortable with communal showering.

    TC - Oh, it could have been. And probably would have been had I been blogging more often.

    And FYI, J Adamthwaite is my #1 source for all things England :)

    Carnealian - Well they tell you it's dangerous, but when there are a hundred rafts, one right after the other, I don't think it really sinks in.

    Renee - "Your boys should stay in their neighborhood."

  19. You borrowed a swimsuit???

  20. You're saying that you Bone never or rarely showered after PE in school? I find that hard to believe--for evidence your numerous posts on bodily functions :)

  21. It sounds like an awesome time. I hate having to change at the swim night thing I do with my younger children. There is always a bunch of nudist weirdos in the bathroom who like to gawk while I struggle to pull up my jeans over wet skin.

  22. Ocoee... I've been there. Never rafted it, but I've seen the river.
    Glad you had fun.
    I feel a little awkward too...
    it has nothing to do with you, but on second thought, maybe it does... ;)

  23. 1. I sort of left my blog out in the cold as well. I feel bad but not bad enough to do a post yet. One day...

    2. Rafting is hard work. Your guide was correct in that you steer the raft. I always wonder why the guide isn't at the front.

    3. Changing rooms. Ha. Loved that part.