After nearly losing our opposable thumbs in a maze of hybrid farm animals and carnivorous predators, we took it down a notch on Saturday and only risked our lives a couple dozen times.
We arrived at the U.S. National Whitewater Center a little before our whitewater rafting reservations at 11 a.m. It was freezing. And by freezing, I obviously mean it was like 50 degrees. But I was shivering enough to rent the inconspicuous, form-fitting splash jacket. They casually made me an offer to join the promotional models for special events, but I humbly declined. It just wouldn’t be fair for the girls who have been dreaming of modeling adventure sports paraphernalia since childhood.
I would like to describe our raft guide to you so that you fully appreciate how radical this dude was. But I know I won’t do him justice. When he stumbled into the pavilion before our safety talk, I thought he was with a group of rafters and had gotten misplaced. He looked lost, physically, mentally, sober-ly. His face was deep brown, weathered from what seemed like too much sun damage than could be possible for his age, and partially hidden by reflective Oakleys. Unwashed hair poked out in every direction from a carelessly worn beanie.
And then, the clock struck 11, and it was this very guy who got up in front of the group and presented the information that would possibly save our lives. It was hard to take him seriously with the surfer dialect and hilarious explanations: “If you fall out of the boat, just lean back on your life jacket, and you’ll have your own little personal raft trip.”
I didn’t want my own personal little raft trip. I wanted a raft trip in a raft with as little contact with water as possible. I pitied the group that got stuck with this guide. They were certainly in for a wild ride.
As it turns out, yes, yes we were. As two orphans, we were added to a corporate group who, surprise surprise, landed in Captain Dan’s boat. But Captain Dan? Was totally gnarly. Because the river was manmade, the rafts go through a couple of stretches of the same rapids several times during a trip. Captain Dan was hilarious in his questionable sobriety, unmatched in his ability to guide our raft directly into the biggest rapids creating the hugest splash of your life, and even pretty knowledgeable in helping us feel safe and in good hands. It was hella fun. If you ever go rafting in Charlotte, ride with Captain Dan. Compared to our party boat—seriously, after every run through a rapid, we would high-five with our paddles and yell, “Yay rafting!” It’s the Cap’n’s catchphrsae—all the other rafters looked depressed and envious of our rock star group. (Source)
Included with rafting tickets is access to the rest of the activities at the center. We wobbled and dangled above a ravine on two ropes courses and ziplined through the jungle. Totally average day, whatevs. Oh, and the center rescinded that modeling offer for some reason.
I was exhausted from planning a whole five-day excursion (#firstworldproblems), so I gave the task of finding a restaurant for our last dinner to Clayton.
Fast forward to a few hours later and we are decked out in our fancy pants ensembles and walking up to a sports bar where a couple was exiting wearing sports team sweatshirts, jeans and tennis shoes. We could see the 58 flat-screen televisions through the front door. We pretended like this was what we were expecting and hoping for, but a few steps before going inside, Clayton pulled the plug, and I didn’t stop him.
We made quite a few attempts to find a suitable restaurant that was open. Since we’d taken (another) nap after our Day O’ Adventure, it was late. We went Uptown, thinking places there would be open later. Wrong. It was after 10 p.m. and we still hadn’t found a place to eat and were wandering aimlessly through the city. Not speaking, obvi. We finally settled on Mimosa’s, paid about three times more than we were planning for dinner, decided McFlurry’s were the only thing that could salvage this night, and went to bed.
We headed home on Sunday. I picked Bryson up on Monday and let him take the tour of forbidden upholstery since I felt so guilty for leaving him. And I am still finding food pellets in my car. All in all, exactly what we pictured. Or something.