It was always questionable whether or not females would ever make it on a "Boy's Trip Labor Day Extravaganza". Several of the guys always said no way. But I always knew, deep down, the Mrs. would make it and she did. For the record, 2007 was the first year females ever went. It was a blast and they are welcome again next year! Except next year, we are doing up tshirts and it will be called Carnage Fest 2008!
My best friend Brian, who will be my brother-in-law come next year, and my sister-in-law Shay, along with my wife, the Mrs., all headed up to Ocoee, TN this past weekend for a little whitewater fun and adventure. Brian and I had been a couple of times and we stayed at the same place in the past, Adventures Unlimited in Ocoee. This is, in my opinion, one of the best places up there to stay and we have had a blast every time they have handled our trip.
We had originally planned on leaving about 9am because we wanted to go through Atlanta to hit REI. But we are all morons and decided to stay up till 1am the night before "talking" about our trip and seeing what will/won't fit in the truck. Not to mention, we drank all the beer we had planned on taking on the trip (yes, all of it)!!!!! Needless to say, none of us weren't feeling too peppy the morning of departure. But the Mrs. and I were up anyway. The truck/camper were all loaded by 8:30am and we were missing just two things... Shay and Brian.
It was around10am and they finally roll up, looking like death. I don't know how Brian made it to my house cause his eyes were hardly even open. We got everything packed when Shay remembered she had left something at the house she had to go get. We were approaching 11am at this point and decided we would just meet them at their house and leave from there. We get over there and I then remembered I had left the license plate to the camper at the house!!!!! At this point, it was questionable whether or not we would make it to Ocoee, TN that day. So we headed BACK to my house, ran around trying to find the plate, found it, and hit the road. There was no turning back now!
2.5 hours later, we arrive at REI in Atlanta. We were all looking forward to finding a few must-haves for the trip. The wallet was open and I was ready to do some damage! What a waste of time! I ended up with a $10 hat and some Power Bars. I think Brian bought a magazine and some rope. Next time, if there is not something somebody is absolutely dying for and REI is the only place on Earth that sells it, we aren't going. We walked out of REI at 5PM. Yes, 5 o'clock in Atlanta. This was about to turn into a very long trip! We were on the interstate and it turned into a parking lot within 10 minutes!
What normally would have taken about 25 minutes to get to I-75, took about 1.5 hours. It was hell. I cannot tell you how tired I was when we finally arrived at the campsite. Upon arrival, it took about an hour to get the camper set up and the campsite organized. We were lucky that the rain held off until we got the camper set up. We got pretty soaked though setting up the awning but it proved to be very useful. Along with the awning, Brian brought his EZ Up so we were in pretty good shape staying dry.
The Mrs. had seen a recipe on Anthony Bourdain's No Reservations show called Corona Chicken and planned to haave that the first night. She and Shay made up about 8 of them for our dinner the first night. I have to say, these were possibly the best things I have ever tasted... anywhere! And to have something that tasted this good on a camping trip only meant the bar had been raised in a big way! This chicken was going to make the steaks we bought for the next night taste like dog food!
Eventually the rain quit and we sat around the fire enjoying our adult beverages and laughing and carrying on. Finally realizing, this would be the second late night in a row for all of us, and that the next morning we would be doing battle with the Ocoee River, we all settled into our first night's sleep in the new camper.
The next morning the Mrs. and I woke up at our normal 6:30am. Vacation or not, with small kids, your body gets up even when it doesn't want to. She was wanting a fountain coke so I hit the road looking for a gas station. Now it has been a couple of years since I had been up here. I guess in that time span a lot has changed. I crossed over 411 and was surprised to see the infamous golden arches! I got the popularity award when I arrived back at the campsite in less than 15 minutes with Egg McMuffins and fountain drinks for everyone! Needless to say, this helped with ridding all the little men that were pounding away at our skulls with jackhammers.
Fueled up with approximately 250 fat grams each by 9am, we were ready for a little whitewater rafting! After waiting for the usual loud, obnoxious, and serverely overweight, wearing waaaay too small of "rafting attire," yahoos that were almost 30 minutes late, we were off to the put-in, just above the Ocoee Whitewater Center.
Upon arrival, we lost track of Brian for a while. Later we saw him crawling out from a port-a-john in the corner of the parking lot. Nobody cared to ask why he was in there so long. But we a good idea. After a quick lesson on how not to drown on the Ocoee, and what not to do if you fall in, we founds ourselves hitting Class IVs in no time.
For the next 2 hours, I don't think anyone quit smiling and laughing. I was excited we went ahead and did the full river cause I had never done the Upper Ocoeee before. About 12:30pm, we came up on our lunch destination, a gourment lunch provided by the rafting company. I guess gourmet in North Carolina and my definition of gourmet are a little different. A little seared tuna, or maybe some crabcakes, or even a freshly served fish taco would have fallen more in line with gourmet in my book. But I guess ham, turkey and roast beef sandwiches would have to do. We were so hungry at this point, they could have been serving Spam and everybody would have been happy. Some one mentioned that the description for the trip mentioned something about buffet and I guess we were thinking "all-you-can-eat." After a few people in front of us started putting multiple sandwiches on their plates, we did the same... until mountain man by the name of Fred instructed us to "take one and move on down the line." Thanks Fred.
After lunch, the girls were acting like they were 14 and I think Brian and I were just ready to hit the water. We had another 2 hours to go and by the time we got to the bottom, everybody was wiped out. We got back to the campsite about 3pm and the Mrs. and I took a nap to refuel. We knew this was the last night and it would end up being a late one! And it was. But we had a blast! The next morning we were up bright and early and were on the road by 8:30am.
I have to say this was probably the funnest Labor Day I have ever had. I really appreciate the Mrs. having such a good attitude cause I know camping is not her favorite thing. But the camper makes all the difference in the world. I was a little shocked to hear she had already planned next year and working on plans for us to taker the kids at the end of the month to a local state park. I guess I need to start packing!