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Rafting in West Virgina


Well, I did not really have anything cool to do over my fall break and I like doing adventurous cool stuff, so I decided to go with OVC on their sorta-annual trip to go white water rafting in West Virginia.

The Trip

The trip down was quite fun. We planned on leaving at between 7:30 and 8 on Thursday morning. Of course, I set my alarm clock wrong or something, but I somehow manage to wake up on my own at like 6:56. Luckily I had packed my stuff the night before so I just kind of jumped in my car, and made it in plenty of time. Another event that occurred before we left and basically set the tone for the trip was when the Germans showed up for the trip. They are bringing the normal stuff like clothes and sleeping bags, but they also show up with a thirty case of beer for the trip. I do not think it was even five minutes into the drive before they started downing them. Do not get all worried though, no one who drove was drinking (although I know some counties do make it illegal to even have any open alcoholic beverage open in a vehicle, oops) Also, being engineers we packed the pickup truck nice and tight by throwing our stuff in the back (hey, only one bag fell out on the whole trip).

The next semi-interesting event that occurred was when we stopped to eat. We were eating at a Fazoli’s restaurant in Kentucky (which happened to be next to the Can-tucky-diner) and saw this weird drink called Ale-8-One. So we just kind of joked about the stupid Kentuckyians and their weird drinks. What made funny was that as we left the restaurant, there was a bottling factory for Ale-8-One across the street. So some obscure drink that we just discovered, happened to be bottled 100 feet away. FUNNY!

El Broken Trucko

Packed Truck with Broken Breaks

So we continued on with our trip for hours in a fifteen passenger van (where of course I was stuck in the middle of a seat). Everything was going pretty smoothly until we had to stop to pass out the camping permits for the vans. We pulled into some mall parking lot like twenty minutes from our campground, and we did all our stuff and were ready to leave. We began to pull out, when we heard across the CB that the truck’s breaks were out. And it actually ended up that the breaks had been out for about 200 miles, but since a person who did not own the truck was driving, he just thought the breaks were really soft. So they went about fixing the pulley for the breaks (it seemed like that kind of truck where you carry tools incase/when something breaks) and we eventually got back on the road, after turning a five minute stop into an hour.

Perhaps the most entertaining part of the actual traveling occurred on the way back. We were traveling through…some random state…and we passed a pickup truck. Not a big deal you say? Well this truck was evidently driven by one of those people who wear a tinfoil hat to stop MLB from spying on him. There was a big sign on the back of the truck saying that the terrorists have taken over some county in Florida. I do not remember everything that this truck said, but it was something along the lines of the army was taking away his memory with lasers. Also there was something about the military selling excess supplies to other countries. I really with I had a picture so I could show you that this guy was kind of coo-coo. It was also pretty funny because we stopped at a rest stop, waiting for another van that had stopped to pick up a bag that fell out of the well packed truck. Well, guess who pulled up. Yep, that’s right, old crazy-trucko. The guy who got out did not look too crazy (but then again I was trying not to stare). Ah, memories of the trip.


Inside of the 5 Star Hotel
Outside of the 5 Star Hotel

Great Lodging

After this long trip (about eleven hours) we finally arrived at camp and got settled in. Not all this happened the first night, but the campground turned out to be really interesting. First, our accommodations. I knew we were staying in rustic cabins, but these things were really small. The only thing that stood between me and the outside was some wood about an inch thick (thank goodness for the sleeping bag). And we ended up sticking six people in this glorified outhouse. Of course there was lots of stupid graffiti all over the cabin from past people in there. Overall though it was not too bad, and I survived. After all, I was only in the cabin’s mainly to sleep.

Camping == Bar

Red Dog River Saloon

Probably the most interesting part of this campground though, was the fact that the center of attention was a bar (aka Red Dog River Saloon). Then again I guess the center of activity for most places involves a bar. I went camping a lot as a kid, but I did not remember a campground ever having a bar (guess I stayed at too many family campgrounds back then). West Virginia had some interesting laws concerning bars though. You only had to be eighteen to enter a bar, but twenty-one to consume any alcohol. Apparently they had this law to appease some people when the drinking age was switched to twenty-one. This just strikes me as kind of odd since the main thing to do in a bar is drink. Or I guess you could just go in there to socialize and then get made fun of by every person over twenty-one. Then again, I have always loved sitting in a place where the air is filled with enough tobacco smoke that it is hard to see. Oh well, being as I do not drink and hate being around smokers there really was not much for me there anyway.

5 Star Breakfast

Mmm..breakfast in the cold (note the toaster)

All of the drunken hick campers staying at the camp ground also made for an interesting stay. Since during that weekend Bridge Day occurred, it drew a lot of them out of the backwoods. For those of you who do not know, Bridge Day is the one day a year that base jumping off of the New River Bridge is legal. Talk more about it in the rafting section. So back to the hicks, they would stay up till like two or three in the morning drinking beer around their campfires and shouting. There was this enlightening event where one group of people who start screaming really loud, and then the rest of the campground would go about joining them. You must understand that this probably occurred at least once every twenty minutes. It would not be that bad except we actually had to get to bed because we had to get up at like 5:30 every morning so we could get the places we needed to be. Speaking of early in the morning, our breakfast situation was interesting too. The campground provided a continental breakfast, and being on a budget (and also in the middle of nowhere) this was what we ate. All good, right? Not exactly. At six in the morning in October in West Virginia it was quite dark and cold. This would not really matter if it was not for the fact that the breakfast was served under a shelter with open sides…fun eating. This also meant that some of the food was also quite cold (i.e. frozen doughnuts). Good thing they had one of those open-rolling toasters that you could huddle around for warmth. On the plus side though, they did have some of the biggest apples that I have seen (how do you like dem apples?).

Enjoying the campfire

Sitting ’round the fire

One of the most enjoyable things at the campground (and camping in general) was the fires we built. I do not even want to remember how much we spent in firewood total, but it was a lot. I think it was worth it because we had pretty decent fires every night for most of the night. Sitting around campfires dodging the smoke, roasting marshmallows, and telling stories was great fun.


Okay, so we actually came on this trip to do something besides sit around a campground. The first full day we were there we went caving at Organ Cave. Normally, they just gave some crappy walking tour to the public where it was lit and you had handrails the whole way. We, however, were taken off the tourist trail and through some of the other parts of the cave where there really was not much of a path. It was a lot of fun. I went with the intermediate and there was no parts of the cave that were real challenging, but it was still pretty good considering I do not really cave at all. Of course, not everything went smoothly though. After we got out of the cave, we were supposed to have lunch and wait around until the other group finished their expedition. When we finish caving, we left the cave hungry and ready for lunch. What did we find? That for the most part lunch was left back at camp (an hour away). Luckily, we did have some PB&J and bread so we could have a little bit of food on the way back. It was not that bad, but it just once again proves that nothing can go smoothly while on a trip. I will leave you with some pictures taken by people who went with the advanced group.

In the Cave

Climbing around inside the cave
Climbing around inside the cave
The large natural entrance to the cave

White Water Rafting

And now, for the whole basis of the trip…the White Water Rafting. We went down the New River with our camping place. Unfortunately, I do not really have any pictures of us on the river so I guess I will just have to ramble with words. Well, as I mentioned earlier, it was quite cold in West Virginia during September. Also, the temperature of water in a river is usually directly proportional to the temperature of the surrounding environment. And for those of you who did not take physics, water has a higher specific heat than air so more heat is transferred from your body in water than air. Also, evaporation is a cooling process. The end result of this is that going into cold water in cold weather makes you REALLY cold. To help combat this, most of us did rent wetsuits, but that only helped so much. So the trip down the river was cold. Probably the worst part though was when we stopped to each lunch. Standing around on the side of the river in damp wet suits was bad. At least while you were traveling down the river you had some adrenaline going to help you ignore the cold.

So actually doing down the river was pretty fun (except for the cold). Probably the only complaint was the the rapids were too spaced out. When we first started out, we probably had to travel a mile down the river before we hit the first rapids. It did give us time to get used to paddling and stuff, though. Also, it would seem after you went through a really good rapid that you would have to wait like ten or fifteen minutes down the river till you hit the next one. But I must say, when we were going through the actual rapids, they were lots of fun. Unfortunately, no one from my boat was flung into the water against their will. One boat with our group did flip. The people who did go in the river came out looking pretty bad, so maybe it was better we did not go in the water. Also, a little note to people who may be going white water rafting in the future…sit in the front of the raft. I changed from the back of the raft to the front of the raft after we ate lunch, and the front was a lot more exciting that the back. Just the way the angles and lever arms work out, the front moved around more than the back. So sit in the front for a wild ride.

Also, the guides who directed the raft down the river were quite crazy. But I guess you would have to be a little off the edge to pilot a raft with a bunch of inexperienced people down a freezing river. Speaking of crazy people, did I mention it was Bridge Day? There were people continually jumping off like this 900 foot bridge towards the end of our rafting trip. It was actually pretty amazing, because there were five to ten people per minute jumping off the bridge continually. Also, there were people repelling down ropes and things. I do not believe anyone was hurt doing this, but there were quite a few people who landed in the river instead of on the shore. All in all it was pretty cool to see people base jumping and a nice finish to the rafting trip.

Wow, I did not really think I could ramble that much about stuff, but apparently I can. I wonder if anyone actually got down this far. If you did congratulations, you win a cookie.1

1 Cookie can be purchased (by you) at a local store.