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Sunday, September 13, 2009


by JC Leahy, Washington, DC

If you want an exciting day-trip with friends, white water rafting is definitely something to consider. From the Washington-Baltimore area, it makes an easy day trip. I tried white water rafting for the first time recently and it was breathtaking!

(Nurses, with yellow helmets, left to right in above photo: JC Leahy, Janice Zarrabi, Carole Daley, Peggy Cannon, and Nell)

Unless you're really experienced, your best bet is to sign on with any number of guide companies. Some of these are better than others. For example, my daughter and her husband have rafted with several guide companies. One of them sent the raft full of inexperienced rafters out into the rapids and the guide shouted instructions from the shore. That's not a real confidence builder, and not really that helpful. My son in law said that one of the rafting guide companies did a very safe and professional job. When Peggy, my nurse co-worker, got the itch to go rafting, I phoned my son-in-law and got the name of the rafting company he liked. It was Laurel Highlands River Tours, in Ohiopyle, PA.

Five of us left early on a Saturday morning. Laurel Highlands had told us we would spend 6 hours on the river, including a company-provided lunch. My GPS said that Ohiopyle, PA, was 3 hours driving time away. I allowed a half hour to get lost or delayed. With a 10am rafting start time, that meant departure from my house at 6:30am. We departed on time.

It was an interesting ride. Janice and Nell sat in the back seat of my Explorer with Carole between them. All the way to Pennsylvania (and back) they debated something...politics, marriage, sexual issues, and on and on and on. I wish I could talk without any gaps of silence like that. Carol sat between them and as each spoke, Carole looked very interested and earnest, turning her head from one to the other as each spoke. I thought her neck would get sore. Peggy and I sat in the front chatting.

When we arrived, we were given lifejackets, paddles, and an introductory speech that led us to believe that death awaited us on the river. We were offered a chance to back out without shame. As a matter of fact, it's probably safer to fly a commercial airliner; the speech is mostly just a part of the excitement package. At least, that's what I assured the 4 nurses in my party.

We paid a few buck extra to have a guide in the boat with us. Good move. Really good move!! Unless you're experienced, don't go without a guide inside your boat, please. Nell sat in the back of the boat a bit sour that the rapids weren't bigger. She expected more and she wanted to let us all know. Wouldn't you know --- it was Nell who fell out of the boat into the raging rapids. Our guide grabbed her and dragged her back into the boat before the rest of us noticed she was missing.

Lunch was nothing fancy -- sandwiches and juice. I was rafting with 4 women, and I felt a little put-off when the head guide announced that ladies would go first to the food. "Ladies first!! Ladies first, please!! I'm sorry, ladies first --- PLEASE!!! Ladies, kindly fall in line here, make a sandwich and bring it to your man. Then make one for yourself!" LOL! That's river humor. Let me know if they use the same joke when you go.

When we finished, I tipped our guide $20. Nell paid extra.

This company is Laurel Highlands River Tours. The river is the Youghiogheny River.

(At left: JC Leahy and Peggy Cannon on the Youghiogheny River.)

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