Like Duck to Water, thats how I have taken to life :). This blog is the saga of love and adventures of a small duck in a large water body called LIFE....

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Tuesday, August 09, 2005

Ain't no small feat :)

White-water river rafting? Sure aint no small feat :) (Note that its feat and not feet. I actually have small feet, but that's not the topic here, so lets leave it for now :-p) Am sure in a nonsense-writing mood today, so beware :-D Maybe I should put a disclaimer here saying "Read on if you are very positive you won't lose your mental stability, blah, blah, blah". Hehehehehe :)) I seem to have become a total somberi (lazybug) as far as blogging is concerned, but (here comes the excuse :-D) I was really busy the whole week with work :( Anyways, today's lecture topic is "River rafting for amateurs" with illustrations. Lets start off without much further ado , or in this case, without much more nonsense :))

Lesson 1: Know swimming

No swimming, better not go rafting. Yup you do get life-jackets, but you should know at the least how to get to one of the shores. I'll stop at that, as the topic is "River rafting for amateurs" and NOT "Swimming for amateurs". By the way, don't come to me for advice on swimming 'cause I'm not an expert on that. For that matter, I'm no expert on rafting either (Get the hint? Don't follow the advice here :-D).

Lesson 2: Choose a good river

Don't ask me what the definition of a good river is. A good river is one which doesn't have level 3, 4 and 5 rapids (this advice is strictly for amateurs only :-D After you are a pro, any river with 3, 4 and 5 rapids becomes the good river ;-) ). Take us for example. Why, Sri and me of course! We chose Hiwassee river which flows in Tennessee. (Hiwassee and Tennessee, nice rhyme, have to come up with a poem sometime.. :-D) {Shakes her head to clear the ideas hovering around and drags them back to the topic} The river is controlled by a dam and has only level 1 and 2 rapids, which are very apt for learning river-rafting :)

Lesson 3: Make sure you have a pro with you

Find one, capture one and take one. Oops, sorry. Find one and go with the pro. A pro is important, after all advice and lessons on a blog won't help you when you are actually on the river :-p What we did was, we went with Sri's colleague Joe, who is a pro, his son Joey, who is a semi-pro and another colleague Jacob. Jacob's wife Janet also joined us. Joe, Joey, Janet, Jacob, Sriram and Deepthi. Which are the odd man and woman out? You figure it out :-p

Lesson 4: Camp the previous night

Don't really know why this advice is required, but since this is what we did, I thought of including it here. Maybe I shouldn't have... Well, this is my blog and I own it, I am gonna do as I please. So, we went to the Hiwassee campsite on Friday the 15th (not 13th :-D) July 2005 night.

Lesson 5: Take food with you

Yup. Paapi pet and all its needs come first!! And if you are the only Indian vegetarian with a group of non-vegetarian Americans, then you better take some food with you ;-) We took puliyogare and curd rice with us and croissants for the next afternoon. They barbequed steak for dinner. See, this advice is realllllly good ;-)

Lesson 6: Think of the tent ground as your comfy bed

If you don't, then be prepared to toss and turn on the hard ground. This advice is purely for those people who need a soft, cuddly bed for sleep to come anywhere near them. Sri was pretty apprehensive about it, but slept like a log once he decided to get on with it :-D I had no such problems, since I have camped twice in India :) Before that we had a nice guitar session from Joe. He played several songs far into the night (not a very good idea but swalpa adjust maadkoli :-D).

Lesson 7: Wake up in the morning!

Extremely important! If you don't wake up, you don't get to go rafting. Simple! And a breakfast is also very neccessary :) So after a breakfast of bread and bananas, we headed towards Hiwassee Outfitters where Joe had booked us a raft. That brings us to the next most important lesson.

Lesson 8: Book a raft

Without a raft, you actually can't go rafting. Many people have tried it unsuccessfully and this statement has been proved several times :-D. Hence you need to find a raft or a place which rents rafts :) Ours was a 2 person tomcat rubber raft. We decided to go for that as I was a bit scared. Sri had done some kayaking in a lake previously whereas me, I was clueless of any sort of boating, except peddle boats of course. So, "If we go down, we go down together" policy :-p. Janet took a 1 person tomcat (brave woman, that one). Joe had other 3 boats for himself, Joey and Jacob of which 2 are his own boats (Tip: thats how you find out whether a so-called pro is really a pro :-D Find out if he owns a boat ;-) ).

Lesson 9: Get into the river on the raft

Yup. Get into the river. But don't go without the raft. Kind of negates the whole purpose. Once you are in the river, simply don't row left and right. Wait for your pro's advice. Meanwhile remember, its a river, its flowing. So it'll take you places whether you wanna go or not. So row only for direction change, so that you don't hit a small island or a tree on the shore ;-)

Lesson 10: Don't lose balance in a rapid

Another extremely important lesson! Follow the rule or get totally drenched. Thats exactly what happened to me. At the first rapid, the boat slid down so fast that I didn't know what to do and fell right into the river. The first moment was really scary as the river was deep and my feet were not reaching the ground. But since I had a life jacket and was able to get back into the boat, there were no more problems. Later Joe told me that you have to bend your body towards the up part of the rapid and not the towards the downside, so that you don't lose your balance. Would have appreciated the advice a bit sooner, buddy!! :-p Anyways the advice was of tremendous help in the several more rapids that came along later :)

Lesson 11: Don't be scared and enjoy the rapids

Again, take the pro's advice. Follow the instructions precisely (or atleast try to row the boat in the direction the pro points to :-p). Joe told us how to tackle each of the different types of rapids. Since I was already once drenched and no more scared, I enjoyed each and every rapid. Only problem was the 2 member rowing. It can get to be damn irritating when you are trying to row in one direction and your partner in another :-p I have already, very firmly, told Sri that next time I'm going in a single member raft grrrr.

Lesson 11: View the tactics of a pro and enjoy

Just don't try them now, they might look easy, but a pro is a pro. You are NOT one!! You can try them out later when you are a bit more experienced. Joe and Joey did many fascinating stuff like, turning upside down in water with the boat, surfing in a rapid etc. We didn't even bother trying. We couldn't have in our boat, even if we wanted to ;-)

Lesson 12: Have lunch at some island on the way

This is just a suggestion. Need not be followed. But stopping in the middle of river to have lunch is an experience that should not be missed :-D We had croissants with jam, granola bars and apple. Later set off again.

Lesson 13: Get back to the shore

Ok you are rafting, ok you are enjoying it. Doesn't mean that you can stay in the river for the rest of your life. You may not feel any cramps when you are rafting, but you may get some later. So stop when and where your pro asks you to. We did about 4 hours of rafting and then got back. Had a bath and got refreshed :)

Lesson 14: Get out of the campsite before it starts raining

One advice we didn't follow :( We had planned to camp saturday night too. So we stayed back. It started raining. It rained, rained and you guessed it, rained again so heavily, that our tent (Only Sri's and mine, nothing happened to the rest) got totally flooded :( Thankfully, our car was parked right next to the campsite. So, we had to sleep in the car. Well, something better than nothing.

Morning we walked on a railway track next to the river, drove to a lake and later drove back home. Yeah, it was an amateurish rafting attempt, but it was lots of fun. You ought to try it sometime :) I really, truly, seriously advice you not to follow my advice but get a pro :) That's it, that was the last lesson :-D

The following week, we went to a fair, later our car broke down and we had to ride a tow truck. But thats another adventure and another topic "How to ride a tow truck" ;-) for another time :-D