Back to the Past Through the Future

Page 4

It was a week after we got back from the cruise and Orlando that Mehve, Psycho Weasel, Foxfur, Chef Jax, Good Lenin, and I were to go shooting the rapids at the same place that the 1996 white water Olympic events took place (at the upper Ocoee River in Southern Tennessee/Upper Georgia). I found myself in Alabama the Friday night before the rafting event (I'm not bragging), but had previously looked up Google Maps to see that it would only take me 3 and a half hours to get to the Rolling Thunder Rafting Company's launch HQ from where I would be starting from in Huntsville. I figured hell, I could wake up at 7:30, get on the road by 8, and be there by 11:30, which would be plenty of time before the noon expedition down the Upper Ocoee.

Things of course started to unravel pretty early. I woke up a little late (7:50), ran out the door without grabbing any breakfast, and didn't remember an all important element of my trip until I crossed the Alabama/Georgia border: Alabama is in the Central Time Zone, and Georgia is in the Eastern Zone. I was already an hour late.

What sucked even more is that now at 10:30AM (what I thought was 9:30 because I am a dumbass), I couldn't reach the Greenwood gang by cell phone seeing as they were all probably in the North Georgian mountains, and so I had no way to warn them that they had to do everything they could to HOLD BACK the start time of the trip for as long as they could! Whether that be somebody faking going into labor (I left a message on their voice mail saying that it would cause more confusion if Mehve did this, and that should postpone things longer), or somebody pulling a gun and demanding that they wait for me if they knew what was good for them. And if they did the gun thing they should ask for pizzas to be delivered too, because I was already hungry as hell.

It was at about 11:25AM that I finally got through to Chef Jax (after the crew had thought something must be up when they hadn't heard jack or shit from me by this point, and probably started crying because I wasn't there to calm them down with my awesomeness). It was also at this time that I realized that I was lost in Tennessee. I think I answered Chef Jax's call with an "OH FUCK!"

I told the Greenwood crew what my stupidity had caused, and assured them that I would be there — I wouldn't just call it quits and head home — but that they had to HOLD THE ENTIRE RAFTING PARTY BACK until I got there. I was told that there were about 50 people already waiting for the 12 o'clock trip, and that they would all be very pissed, and that the rafting company would probably lose several thousand dollars by missing their launch time, but that my friends would do their best to stall until I got there. As if on cue I found the right exit I was looking for and I put the pedal to the metal.

Chief Thunder!


After driving into the Appalachian Mountains and losing my own cell signal (while I drove through the Chattahoochee National Forest) cursing, glancing at my watch every 15 seconds, and cursing some more, I finally made it to the Rolling Thunder building. At 12:30PM.

I ran inside and asked the woman at the front counter if the 12 o'clock trip had left yet, and if my party was on it. She looked at me like I was crazy stupid (she was half right), and said, "Yeah, the noon trip left at noon." She told me some yahoos tried to postpone the bus from leaving by claiming that there were crocobears and beaver-sharks found in the river, and that the National Parks and Wildlife Services were "sending in the boys" to take care of things, but they only held it up for about 10 minutes, and everybody who was there left. I cursed at myself some more.

Then I asked if I could somehow transfer my 12 o'clock pass for the next journey, the 2:30 Middle Ocoee trip. The desk lady looked at the desperation and horniness in my eyes, sighed, and said, "sure honey, just fill out this paperwork," she handed me a clipboard, "and make sure you're here by 2. BY 2!" she overemphasized that part as if I was a toddler who couldn't tell time. I was so grateful that I took it. I could play the part of the retard if it allowed me to not lose my deposit and still get to shoot the rapids.

After waiting an hour and a half in pure boredom by the barn in the back of the main building (where they kept all the equipment), watching some college co-eds playing volleyball in skimpy bikinis (okay, maybe not PURE boredom), some company man came out and started calling out names from a list. He stopped when he got to mine and then looked up to see who'd answer. I said, "Here," and he said, "Ohhhh, so you're the moron who forgot the difference between Eastern and Central, huh? Well, we'll get you suited up. Don't get lost until take-off time!" I took that too, because I am a moron.

Long story short, everybody gathered there put on some mildewy life jackets and Spaceball helmets and boarded the bus. I sat next to one of the most annoying frat boys I've EVER met (and seriously, I went to UGA... I met quite a few), and then spent 20 minutes listening to him brag to his buddies about just how wasted he got last night, and how hung-over he was today. Honestly, it was just like that skit from that Adam Sandler comedy album: his "friends" kept assuring him that he only had 2 beers, and that the marijuana that he smoked was really just one of the hand made cigarettes that "the Hoocher" rolled all the time... Plus it was only ONE cigarette anyway, which even if it had been a joint would not have gotten a 250 lb fat ass like him lit more more than 2 minutes.

Anyway, we eventually made it to the giant parking lot along side the River (where they picked up the passengers of the Upper Ocoee trip, and dropped off those of us who were jumping in on the Middle Ocoee), and there they were.

Found them!



So I showed up, and all Team Greenwood would talk about was "Turbo," their river guide on the Upper Ocoee. I was like "Hey, guys! I'm HERE! Isn't that awesome! I'mma gonna do the river too!" And they were all like "Oooooh, Turbo! You totally saved us from the Crocobears! You are teh AW3SOME!" Whatever.


Let's DO IT!

Anyway, the cool good news is that my friends are so awesome that when they saw that I actually did survive my bat-outta-hell trek to the Ocoee, and that I did in fact stick around for the next expedition, they decided to hang around themselves and shoot the Middle Ocoee with me (so that I didn't have to buddy up with Todd the Ultimate Frat-boy Douche from the bus). No, we didn't get to roll with Turbo on this leg of the course, but the new guy was pretty cool. I don't remember his name so I'll just call him "Cooter."

As for this picture, I think this was the first of 6 times that Chef Jax slipped off the raft and into the raging rapids.


Tentacle monster of Georgian Rivers, on the Next Mutual of Omaha Wild Kingdom

The Middle Ocoee River was supposed to be easier than the Upper, but despite the fact that it had fewer class 5 rapids (the bumpiest and wettest of them all), it was almost constant class 4s and 3s. The Greenwood Crew said that more than half of the Upper Ocoee was just straight and level. So, if you want to get fucked over, don't do the Upper, do the Middle. We lost 5 men on my watch... Oh, wait, I'm thinking about the cruise again. And it was 15. And most were screaming children who deserved to go overboard.


It's a gift.

Everyone was amazed later how I seemed to be the only one (other than Cooter) to see the camera woman with the 2-foot long telephoto lens pointing right at us on the giant rock on the side of the roaring river. Well, maybe if I wasn't paparazzi spotting and actually paddled and worked with the team when Cooter demanded it we wouldn't have flipped as we came down that dip and hit that giant boulder, but hindsight is 20/20, my friend, and I wouldn't have looked HALF as awesome as I did in this final shot.


Fucking crocobears...

The whole two-hour ride down the river was punctuated by banjo jokes and tales of the wily crocobears and flesh-devouring beaversharks. Both are vicious and terrifying creatures, but both are easily tricked into going after screaming females who are accidentally pushed into the water when they approach. That's your "Nature Tip of the Day," Jr. Woodchucks!


Land. Of. The. Lost

This is the second time we lost Chef Jax. You KNOW the rapids were bad here when Cooter had that Cooterific Southern grin wiped from his face.