My First Camping Trip, Part II

Catch up on Part I here


  • We boarded a bus that took us upriver. Before we'd gotten on the bus, our rafting guides were announced, and we were placed with the only female guide on the river, Emily (henceforth known as Guide Emily for clarity). 
  • When we got to the river, we realized why Guide Emily was the best one: most passionate and strong as a freakin' ox. Seriously, her arms were like tree trunks. 
  • James and Brittany, our fifth and sixth riders, were placed at at the back of the raft. Emily and I were in the middle, Parker and Jordan were up front. 
  • Right when we put our raft in the water, Emily started giggling uncontrollably from pure joy. 
  • Within about 3 minutes, we hit our first major rapid and got sucked into some kind of terrifying whirlpool vortex death machine. 
  • Brittany, back right, started choking a little on the water that was cascading in and over our raft. 
  • We followed Guide Emily's instructions and finally managed to free our raft from the pocket of suction, but not without everyone having been SOAKED to the bone and a little frightened of just how powerful water can be. 
  • We learned that white water rafting was a niche sport until the movie Deliverance came out, which started a booming tourism industry. 
  • I will NEVER UNDERSTAND why anyone would ever ever ever ever want to white water raft after seeing Deliverance. 
  • That's like saying, "Space travel?? SURE!" after seeing Gravity or The Martian. 
  • That's like saying, "Dinosaurs?? YES, PLEASE!" after seeing Jurassic Park. 
  • That's like saying, "Abandoned hotel through the winter?? WHY NOT!" after seeing The Shining. 
  • What part of that movie makes you say, "Hey, YEAH! I'd like to do that!" 
  • Is it the part where that little inbred boy follows them down the river? 
  • Is it the part where the only nice and conscionable man on that trip gets his arm snapped in half while rafting? 
  • Or was it this charming fellow that people wanted to see more of? 
  • Or MAYBE people were hoping to see these dance moves instead. 
Just adorable. 

Just adorable. 

  • Or maybe it was Burt Reynolds' open scuba vest that, to my 2016 eyes, looks like something that a gay man would wear to a nightclub on Bear Night. 
  • Either way, I don't get it. 
  • We got about halfway down the river when Guide Emily asked if anyone wanted to "ride the bull." 
  • This entailed someone passing their paddle back to her, climbing to the very tip of the raft, grabbing onto a little piece of fabric, and going through a Class 4 set of rapids with nothing else to anchor them to the boat. 
  • Obviously, I was game. 
  • I will now provide you with a series of pictures taken by the Ocoee Rafting Photographer - please note the change in everyone's faces as we start, then actually see the rapids, then get hit by them. Jordan is a particularly good one to watch. You can actually see him realize that his wife is probably going to fall in (I didn't) and start death-gripping my vest - meanwhile, I'm smiling like an idiot. 
  • So it was really, really fun. By the end of the trip both Emily and I had ridden the bull, though sadly her time didn't get photographed (which is a real shame because she had it way worse than I did). 
  • After rafting, we tried to go get lunch at the Tanning Salon/Pizzeria (no, I am not making that up), but it was closed. 
  • So we went to the only other restaurant in Ducktown: Hardee's. 
  • There, a very surly teenage girl took our orders. And when I say "took our orders," what I really mean is that she took one order and then walked away mid-sentence of the next one. 
  • #ducktown 
  • After we ate (and got milkshakes), we stopped by the gas station for some cold beer and headed back to our little home in the woods. 
  • Parker immediately resumed his work of trying to start a fire. 
  • Emily and I were more interested in lounging. 
  • Jordan went fishing and actually caught a fish on his first cast. But we still picked on him a little bit because he was dressed like a mix between Prison Mike and Survivor Man Michael Scott from The Office. 
  • Finally, after about three hours, the fire starter Parker bought, that had come pre-loaded with 1,000 strikes, broke in half. No more strikes. Struck out. So stricken. 
  • So Jordan came over to offer his support, and within minutes, the two of them had a fire started. 
  • We FOR SURE were singing "Parker started the fiyAH!" over and over. 
  • Just look at that thing! 
Such pride. 

Such pride. 

  • For the rest of the afternoon, we sat around, drank, made s'mores, talked, ate hot dogs, talked some more, drank some more. 
  • As night fell, we started to hear this long, high-pitched scream that sounded very human. 
  • Every 30 seconds or so, we'd hear it. That was scary enough until we heard the second scream from behind us, far off in the distance. 
  • Whatever these things were were talking to each other. 
  • WERE THEY HONING IN ON US?! We (Emily and I) were very unsettled by this. 
  • Jordan theorized that they were coyotes. But they sounded like women. Or like maybe this guy. 
  • We didn't hear anything for about ten minutes, then, suddenly, the howl was RIGHT BEHIND OUR TENT. 
  • ...
  • ...
  • ...
  • ...
  • was Emily. Trying to play a prank so she wouldn't be so scared. But then she scared herself by imitating the coyotes, which was funny, but when the laughter died down we were all scared again.  
  • We all carefully crept into our tents and prayed for no coyote attacks. 
  • They spared us. 
  • The next morning, Jordan made "cowboy coffee" (pouring the ground straight into the boiling water) and, surprisingly, it was some of the best coffee I've ever had. Very impressed. 
  • We packed up the campsite and thanked it for providing such a great weekend. All I could think about on the way home was how thankful I am to have such an awesome husband, and sibling, and for Parker to have chosen a significant other so well. The four of us always have a great time together. 
  • 'Til next time, Ducktown!