Monday, March 28, 2005

Whitewater rafting and camping at Chattanooga:

We (Sunil, Jithu, Gaurav, me) started off our weekend trip on early Saturday morning for Whitewater rafting at Ocoee river. It was a beautiful day; it was sunny sky and cool breeze. Winter is over now and I guess it is an ideal climate for camping and outdoor sports.

Rafting is something I thoroughly enjoy, and the Ocoee River is an ideal venue if you want a bit of adventure and lots of fun (this was the rafting route for 1996 Atlanta Olympics, and provides level III and IV rapids. Considering that the Niagara Falls is a level VI rapid, this is not too bad). This time also, it was great fun. We traced almost all the rapids to perfection. It was basically a roller coaster ride on water, especially when we once made a 3-point whirlpool right in the middle of a rapid. Our guide, Shannon, was cool. We had a good time chatting. She holds a Masters in Communication from Appalachian State Univ. This is one thing I like in Americans: they would pursue their hobbies and interests rather sitting at home without worrying about future and money. We have a lot to learn from them.

Jithu was a bit hesitant for rafting initially, as he is hydrophobic and thought that if he falls in water, alligators would eat him. After a lot of convincing, he finally agreed for it. Sunil and I have rafted before as well, so it was OK. Gaurav was as usual hyper and excited.... till he learnt that Shannon was married. After that, he almost refused to follow her instructions. He was visibly upset. I guess his dreams were shattered (they shatter 20 times a day, anyways...)... But only till he saw a group of girls in minimal attire on riverside.

Next destination was Chattanooga. The plan was to do riverside camping and barbeque, and then visit Ruby Falls and Rock City next day. We got a lovely campsite, right besides the Tennessee River. This was my first riverside camping, and was pleasently surprised to see that it can be as enjoyable as camping in thick jungle. After setting up the tent, we started preparations for barbeque.

Chicken barbeque was the best thing I have had in many days. We marinated garlic chicken and fish fillets in Cajun seasoning and curd, and then roasted them on grill. It turned out really delicious. It was followed by Black Forest cake. It probably doesn’t get better that this.

It was a really wonderful but tiring day... and we fell asleep soon. But we had no idea what was in store for us at nite. It suddenly started raining, and then thunderstorms followed. It was raining cats and dogs by midnight... and we realized that our tent was leaking. There was water in tent. We had to vacate the tent and sleep in car. But that was a good experience. I had heard such stories earlier, but I would believe now that things can ACTUALLY get messed up badly if it rains and the tent is leaky.

Something funny happened in the morning. We went to visit restrooms. There were not too many people camping, as it was Easter Sunday. We soon realized that the toilet men's restroom was clogged, and was unusable. As it was an emergency, and there was no one around, we (Gaurav, me) decided to use women's restroom. (This was the first time for me to see women's restroom; and I was terribly excited, Anyways). There were two toilets inside, and one of it did not have the lock. We asked Jithu to stand outside and see that there was no disaster.

Well, Jithu was in photography mood. He saw some ducks nearby, and went to click them. AND at the same time, a lady came. Jithu was not there, he was behind ducks.... Well.... it would be best if the following drama is left to your imagination. Inside conversation was something like this: "Who’s that???", "Oh!! Oops...", "Oh! My god!", “Sorry”. :))). It was bit funny though ;).

Anyways, the next destination was Ruby Falls. They are basically underground caverns (360 ft deep) with a 100 ft underground waterfall. It’s a wonderful site to visit, and the view of Ruby Falls is breathtaking. It was just awesome and was treat to eyes.

My feelings would be best described if I recollect a conversation I overheard. It was between a kid (4-5 years old) and his father. After seeing the falls, the kid exclaimed: “Wow!!.... Those were the best 5 minutes of my life!" It was really astonishing to hear something like this from a small cute kid. But his father's reply was even nicer. He said: "Son, you are yet to live your life. Enjoy whatever you get." :)

All in all, it was a great weekend. Hope there are lots more in near future.

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