Tag Archives: Ocoee River

Fourth of July Fun

My friends and I made full use of our four-day Fourth of July weekend, with the highlight being our whitewater rafting adventure. We traversed across the state Friday after work, rolled up to our Ocoee cabin late in the evening, and climbed into our bunks to get a few hours of rest in preparation for the next day. Mere and I awoke early (on vacation, mind you!!) and went for a pleasant 3-mile run through the gorgeous mountainous landscape, which provided us with a healthy dose of hill work (and the leeway to eat everything in sight for the rest of the day).

We then met up with our 28 man/woman crew to kick off our whitewater rafting experience, which was absolutely thrilling. For a more detailed account of the rapids, adrenaline, and excitement, click here. That post includes a slew of rafting pictures, but you can never have too many of those, so here’s another for good measure:

After we were forced to retreat from the river, we reconvened at our campsite to recuperate and eat our specially prepared sack lunches (thanks, Tina!).

Then a few of my girls and I jumped around and cheered about how much fun whitewater rafting is, and how great our friends are, and how we love weekends at the Ocoee River, and how thankful we are for the freedom that Fourth of July represents, and how much we love our lives:

After we had jumped off every available surface, we headed back out to the water for the floating portion of our trip, which was infinitely more relaxing than the whitewater rafting part, but fun just the same. We sprawled across our individual inner tubes, linked arms, and chatted our way downstream. Think lazy river, but with better scenery.

The next morning, a few of us went to my dear Minda’s dad’s house, where he cooked us delectable blueberry and chocolate chip pancakes. These were no ordinary pancakes, no sir – they were massive, and delicious, and perfect. We had a delightful visit and can’t wait to make our way back and spend more time with them. P.S. I’m promised an authentic home cooked Italian meal upon my return, and I will be taking up this offer.

 After being sufficiently stuffed, we headed on to Nashville, where we spent the day and into the evening poolside, then it was off to ooh and aah over Nashville’s impressive firework display (ranked among the best in the country, I’m told). The next day, we ate a delicious meal at Genghis Grill (now open in Cordova and coming soon to Germantown!), which is an interactive build-your-own Mongolian Stir Fry restaurant. From there, we wandered around Nashville for a bit before reluctantly heading back home. Fortunately, our car ride was filled with laughter over the events and memories of the weekend, so the time flew by!

Thanks to all who made this weekend extraordinary!

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Ocoee River Whitewater Rafting

Whitewater rafting is insanely fun. I’ve canoed and floated and skied and tubed and kayaked, but never have I whitewater rafted. Until this past weekend, that is, when Jax and I were lucky enough to hit the Ocoee River with twenty-eight of our thrill-seeking friends. I’ll share insight into the entirety of our Fourth of July weekend later, but for now I want to dedicate a post specifically to whitewater rafting, because IT IS AWESOME!

Here’s our Ocoee crew, geared up and ready to attack the river:

Whitewater Rafting

We divided into groups  of five or six, then paired up with a guide and went through some basic paddling and safety drills. My group got lucky and had an awesome guide, whom we dubbed Stan the Man. From the start, we clarified that we wanted a “wild, not mild” ride, and he surely delivered. We rafted the Middle River, which is five miles of continuous Class III and Class IV rapids with ominous (and aptly descriptive) names like Grumpy’s Ledge, Broken Nose, Diamond Splitter, and Hell’s Hole.

For clarification purposes, Wikipedia breaks it down like so:

CLASS III – Medium to moderately difficult rapids with high irregular waves, narrow channels, rocks and holes; some maneuvering required.
CLASS IV – Difficult to very difficult; long turbulent rapids with powerful waves and holes, many obstacles requiring precise maneuvering

Stan the Man did everything he could to give us a thrilling, adrenaline-pumped experience; we surfed and spun our way through the turbulence, purposely crashing the raft headfirst into rocks and projecting into the water, pulling moves with names like Dump Truck and Dukes of Hazzard. We laughed and cheered the entire way (boomshakalaka) and weren’t even close to being ready for the ride to be over.

Here are some hilarious action shots as we make our way through Double Trouble:

Interesting fact: The Ocoee River was the site of the 1996 Olympic Whitewater Competition and ranks as one of America’s Top Ten Rivers. And I love it. And I want to go back next year. And the year after that, forever and always.

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