Wednesday, August 15, 2007

You’re Going What???

“You’re going what?”

“White water rafting.”

“You? Rafting?” The shock and awe were clear. People did not see me in a raft by choice other than perhaps a faint fantasy to pretend I was Meryl Streep in The River Wild (and note: I do not have that fantasy – although hanging with evil Kevin Bacon and somewhat-uptight-but-no-less-attractive David Strathairn wouldn’t exactly be torture.)

But in case any one hasn’t been keeping up with my life these days…um…I live on a farm in rural North Carolina, drive a truck, and listen to country music. Why should a new found love of the outdoors be so surprising?

Actually, I don’t have a new found love of the outdoors, but I do have a new found love of the new U.S. National Whitewater Center, a completely man-made creation that will thrill outdoor enthusiasts and more, high maintenance, indoorsy type folks such as myself.

The key thing is the pre-rafting information session. The guide spent ~ 20 minutes going through every worst case scenario that could possibly happen. Like: “When you fall out of the boat and…” And there were numerous scenarios here. You fall out and the boat is within reach. You fall out of the boat and it’s not within reach. You fall out of the boat and get stuck underneath the boat. You fall out of the boat and completely panic. You get the picture. The key, he told us, is to be an active participant in your own rescue. No problem dude. He also addressed the river-like aspects of the course (read: man vs. nature) even though it’s man made (so change to man vs. man) like the strong currents and the “we wanted you to think you were really on a river” rocks.

By the time he was done, every neurosis I had was on full alert. As I signed the waiver stating I wouldn’t sue if I was injured, maimed or killed, I wondered if it was “if you fall out of the boat” or “when you fall out of the boat.” I convinced myself it was “if”: even though he had emphasized “when.”

I’ll say this for our raft. We were the special needs raft. Lorraine, a solo rafter and slightly older woman, went over 3 times and lost both of her surf shoes in the process. My friend Karen also went over (further injuring her already injured knee and getting caught in a hard-to-reach location that required an additional raft to help pull her out) as did Chad, who incidentally got stuck under the boat (but thankfully, didn’t panic). We also got stuck in 2 eddies that took us forever to row out of, and despite our request for an aggressive ride, it was clear that our guide, Mark, toned it down making sure that we hit the rapids front on (hitting them sideways or even backwards being more challenging) and not with much speed.

This all said, it was a very fun 2 hours and a great way to spend a steamy Saturday morning in August. I highly recommend you request this as a stop on the J. Peterman Reality Tour when you come to visit.

But the best part of the outing? When Marty “There-Is-No-Way-I-Am-Going-Over” Paris fell out on the second run and in attempt to not lose his brand new Bolles floated halfway down the course (also requiring an additional boat to rescue him and thereby cementing our status as the worst boat on the 11am schedule).

And if that ain’t country, I’ll kiss your…