Sunday 08 August 2010

Mountain Time

Today’s big event was some white water rafting for Corwin, Charles, and me. Alice was too young and Mom volunteered to keep her while they looked at some local attractions / gardens of interest to Mom. Mom drove out to the raft guides which was about 40 minutes from the hotel and dropped us off. We arrived early although so we had a bit of a wait but eventually a reasonably sized group of people were gathered for the trip. We were issued our basic equipment — personal flotation device1, helment, and paddle. The PFD was the standard type except for a little pillow on the neck which would keep your head up out of the water even if you passed out (from, say, slamming your head in to a big rock as your raft tipped over). The guide told us though that “80 percent” of all injuries were paddle related — basically people hitting each other with the paddles, particularly a handle to the jaw. Charles managed to do that to me, fortunately not hard enough to actually damage me (unlike the coffee cup incident).

The group took four rafts and 3 “duckies” which are two foam outboards with a foam seat in between. The three of us, another married couple, and our Brazilian guide “Pedro” were in one raft. I need to point out that you don’t sit in the raft, but on the side so you can paddle. Charles asked me if anyone would be falling out and I said it was likely that at least one person in the group would be dumped in the river.

The trip was interesting but mostly uneventful. There was only a moderate amount of paddling although, as the lead raft, we had to do extra paddling after a rapids to get in to a lee so our guide could provide support should any of the following rafts lose people. Several of the duckies got dumped during the day but only one rafter fell out, a young (10?) girl who followed the guide’s pre-launch briefing and swam back to her raft, grabbing a paddle to haul herself the last bit. On the other hand, one of the rafts was filled with some young girls (roughly Corwin aged) who were a bunch of screamers. They screamed at most anything, including any bumps during the rapids. Our guide commented, when asked by the wife “what’s wrong?”, “I think they just like to scream”.

We stopped for a nice lunch, and also for a jumping spot, a bit of cliff about 10 feet above the water where you could jump off in to the river. Corwin was the second to go, claiming afterwards that he wanted to see someone else survive before he did it. Charles was third and while he hestitated a bit, he did make the leap. After that he and Corwin went three more times and I had to grab him to stop him from a fifth because the lead guide had already declared “last call” so we could move on down the river. There was a girl who went up to jump but couldn’t make herself go off the cliff (it’s a lot higher looking when you’re actually at the edge looking down) but eventually after other people had gone once or twice she managed (with a bit of a Pedro-push) to fling herself in to the river. She immediately queued up for another jump. I predict sky diving in a couple of years.

At lunch, it being North Carolina, the call was “ladies first” yet when I went over to get in line after the womenfolk had gotten their food, there was Corwin finishing off his lunch and looking for seconds. I noted this to him but after he lead the way on the jump I let it slide.

Another sort of stop was a Class I rapid called “swimmers’ rapids” because it was mild enough to swim through. The guide called for volunteers and Corwin, once again, took the lead. So Charles decided he would go too, then the husband, which got the wife to go, and I wasn’t going to be the only lump in the raft with the guide so all of us bailed and floated down the river through the rapids. The water was mostly too deep for me to touch bottom but there were some large rocks there, large enough that I would hit them even while floating on my back with my feet above water. I could tell when this happened to any of the screamy girls because they would, naturally, scream. At one point they started swimming desperately for the raft even though fewer than 20 people die from rock bites every year.

Corwin drifts while Pedro indicates we should get closer to the raft

Both boys had a lot of fun. Even Charles admitted that he had at least one minute of fun during the day and expressed his enthusiasm for the Class III rapids, although the Class I and II rapids were nice as well. Corwin even managed to keep his burned hand bandaged until we were back at the base.

After we were done we called Mom to come pick us up, which interrupted her day. We had about an hour wait before she was able to retrieve us and didn’t get back to the hotel until after 5. After resting a bit Mom decided she hadn’t been out and about enough during the day and took us all off to the Asheville Arboretum so we could walk among the trees. Charles went barefoot because he preferred that to wearing his river soaked shoes. The kids whined a bit but not too badly.

Alice was mollified somewhat because Mom had finally broken down and taken her to McDonalds. Unfortunately the Happy Meal had the wrong toy and Alice broke down. This helped Mom convince the staff to exchange the default toy for one of the type Alice wanted so by the time I saw Alice again she was happy. I don’t know if Alice actually ate any of the food.

1 No longer a “life preserver” apparently because too many people thought it would automatically preserve life, rather than simply make you float.

Posted by Dad about Family at 21:51 | Ping URL
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