Archive for April, 2007

April 20, 11am: It was a gorgeous day for a drive.  I picked Nokie up from the airport, ran some errands, and then got on the road in Michelle's sweet, sweet ride by 11 am.  My friends were so cool that they joined in my search for the best country cookin' restaurant during our drive to Fayetteville, WVA.  (Important criteria of  great country cookin' is that food must be served on skillets.  No matter how good the food was, if it was not served on skillets, they get NO POINTS.)

We were let down, time and time again.  Our greatest disappointment was at the Johnny Appleseed Restaurant.  I mean, how could a restaurant with a giant, terrifying, pot-wearing, apple toting, raggedy short-pant wearing statue be so bad

It sucked hard. It was so bad that I could've gotten better food at my niece's grade school cafeteria.  I won't ruin your appetites by describing the entirety of our miserable meal, but I must share this little tidbit.  On their website, they mention "complimentary apple fritters."  "APPLE FRITTERS?"  Oh, please.  There ain't no apples in those fritters.  Maybe an apple fell next to the bowl filled with pre-made, frozen batter goo.  But there weren't no damn apples in those deep fried balls of fake-cinnamony dough.  Hell to the NO.

The drive should've been about 4 hours, but with our constant stopping, we got to WVA at around 5 pm.  We checked into the Holiday Inn, and went out for some Bob Evans dinner action.  Ok, it's a chain, but I'd neglected to bring my printouts of local, non-chain restaurants.  That, and I really wanted some biscuits and gravy.  The food was alright, but I must point something that was completely foreign to me.

Newsflash:  People are REALLY NICE in West Virginia.

I know, I know.  It's freakin' shocking.  I'm not used to that kind of natural, no-ulterior-motive, perfectly sweet attitudes. I kept suspiciously looking at folks who would say "Hi!" or "How're you doing?" or "Good evening!"  when they'd catch my unwilling eye.  It took a little adjustment – my initial reaction was a paranoid "OMG, what do they want?! Are they SMILING AT ME?  Why are they smiling?  Mommy, I'm scared!"

Then I realized that these folks were just…NICE. 

Talk about culture shock.


April 21, 8:00 am, Morning Run: Time to go, ladiez.  We rolled out of bed and drove to the AW site.  We decided on no breakfast – lack of bathroom facilities and all that while on the raft.  Nicole wasn't around (naked or otherwise), but a very nice lady got us all fixed up and checked in..  We got our wetsuits and got ready for a day of rafting.

We chose to do a double run, just like last year.  I thought it was gonna be cake, just like last year. OH NO. NO NO NO NO NO.  I was so wrong. 

I remembered that there were "warm up rapids" – a little introduction to the later, wilder ride.  Thanks to the higher water levels, there were no introduction rapids this year.  It was a hella ride from start to finish.



The first run is usually for the guide to get a feel for the river, and figure out what to avoid and what to hit to get a sweet ride.  I know it was meant to be a pretty relaxing half of the day, but I was getting crazy nervous because the water was so insane.  I fell into the raft a couple of times – the first time left me stunned and crouched in the raft, at which point Kickass Chad yelled at me to "Get up, get back and PADDLE!"

Nokie, who had never rafted before, was all "Meh. It's fun, but I thought it would be rougher."   Masochist. (cue music)



LUNCH: We actually finished ahead of schedule after our first run.  That was due to the insane waters, plus noone got out of the raft for a bit of swimming (the water was a little too crazy.)  The bus finally caught up to us and drove us back to the launch where we could lunch. Har.

I neglected to mention the MILLION DOLLAR OUTHOUSE that was built where the rafts launched.  It's state of the art and environmentally friendly.  Each toilet room had a skylight, a toilet seat positioned over a giant hole in which you launched your waste.  The neat thing was that there are worms and sawdust and other things in the deep hole which would convert waste material into compost.  There was absolutely no smell.

Ok, let me rephrase that.  There was no funky poo smell, but someone had smoked some really shitty ganja.  I got a contact high just from walking in to use the facilities.

Lunch was delicious.  I know it was meant to fuel us for our second run, but all I wanted after eating was a long nap.  Oh delicious potato salad, you were my downfall.



2nd run:  HOLY SHIT.  The wind picked up.  The water level dropped.  You know what that means, right?  Oh yes, it was the ride to end all rides.  Ok, no not really, but it was scary. REALLY SCARY.  Add our lack of energy due to our carby lunch and we got ourselves a bit of trouble.

I wish I could remember which set of rapids we were riding when I heard Chad yell "GRAB THE OAR! GRAB THE OAR!!!!"  I looked around and was thinking "Where the fuck's the oar?" I turn my head to look behind to see if Nokie had lost hers…but Nokie was gone.  Chad had been screaming "Grab HER!" not "the OAR." 

Nokie was so ninja noone even realized she was gone until Chad yelled.

My head whipped forward and I saw Nokie bobbing along on the white water.  Chad's yelling at us "Hard FORWARD! Stay together, guys! GRAB HER!"  We finally caught up to her, and Michelle and Carlos leaned forward to snatch her. 

Nokie slid into the front of the raft, one hand clutching her oar, the other clutching her sunglasses.

Way to prioritize, Nokie.  ROCK ON!

So, we were trying to get our bearings, letting Nokie get her breath and crawl back to her seat, when Chad commands "Give me two strokes forward."

We look up, and other group's raft flew up.

Flew up as in the fucking raft went perpendicular. In the air. As in HOLY SHIT WHAT THE FUCK?!

It was like a cartoon with all these figures falling out and the raft falling back in slow motion.  Chad screamed for "HARD FORWARD! DAMMIT STAY TOGETHER!" but we were freaking beat.  I was grunting at each stroke.  We were going nowhere – we were out of sync since we were exhausted after our chase after Nok.

Thankfully, a couple of other rafts were near our other group – the group got rescued (one kid got trapped under the overturned raft and was bleeding thanks to a cracked nose.)  At that point, when we finally caught up to the other raft, all I could think was "Damn, I want this over! I'm fucking tired, and my arms are about to fall off."  My feet were asleep as I'd wedged them under the thwarts (sorry girls, I kept calling them ballasts), and my thighs were shaking with strain to keep my legs positioned so I'd stay in the raft.

But we had that last rapid to go over – there was a bit of a backup of rafts waiting, and after all we'd seen, all that waiting was just making me more nervous.

We cut through the water like a hot knife through sweet buttah.  There's nothing like desperation and fear to lend strength. (and RHYTHM).


DAMN, that was one SWEET trip.

Despite the fear (and the painful muscles), I cannot fuckin' wait to do it again.  HELL YEAH!


P.S.:  Check us out – we're on the AW website!  Thanks, Nicole!

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Yes, I am alive! Yes, we survived rafting this weekend, despite the supremely scary and rough waters.  Yes, there will be more to come.

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Show us your favorite work of art (fiction, music, sculpture, painting, architecture, dance, etc).
Submitted by Dean.

This is Jean Baptiste Camille Corot's "Le Lac," painted in 1861.  This oil painting, currently on display at the Frick Gallery, is one of my favorites.  It's an interesting juxtaposition: hyper-realistic detail, especially that large leaning tree on the foreground (the photo isn't that great, unfortunately), combined with the blobby, impressionistic splats of paint that represents the leaves/boughs of the tree behind it.  It was bizzare and eye-catching and really very interesting.

I think that one of the reasons why this particular painting caught my eye was because it exhibited in  a room with very typical, high-realism style landscapes that used very glossy colors and saturated tones.  Then you see this painting with its somber shades: but the painting is oddly bright despite Corot's use of muddy tint. 

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Today, I woke up at 6:16 am, jerked out of uneasy sleep.  My mp3 player/alarm was blasting the tail end of Hotel California, followed by Heaven and Hell, and was 1/4 through A Night on Bald Mountain before I could roll out of bed to shut it off.

I got to work, and got a muffin and a large coffee with caramel. The total came to $6.66.  As I was walking up to my building, a little glimmer of sunlight peeked through the clouds and hit the the railings on the walkway.  Was it a coincidence that the shadows looked like inverted crosses?  I think not.

You know, maybe someone's trying to tell me something. 

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