We had a delightful weekend of driving, getting a smidge lost, fellowshipping with wonderful people from church, rafting and resting.  But I think it best I turn this post over to the husband (it’s time you  heard from him again anyway, right?!) and let him write this one for fear that I may skew the actual details of one specific incident.  I wouldn’t want to mislead anyone…  and I know he doesn’t want me to either.  So enjoy! – Ashley

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It all began with a quick trip to Target to pick up some obscenely ugly water shoes (and some sandwiches for supper). We would be white-water rafting the next day, and everybody knows that you need obscenely ugly water shoes (that you ironically thought were super-cool in the 7th grade) to do a water sport with any level of professionalism.

The drive from Brentwood, TN to Camp Agape (just past Chattanooga) is supposed to be a little over three hours. That’s what the directions from Google Maps say. But what the directions from Google Maps don’t say is that a certain highway that is clearly called one thing on the map is called something completely different in the real, non-Internet-map world (the only world that matters, in my opinion). So, four and a half hours later, after your routine in-the-middle-of-nowhere breathalyzertest with Sheriff Joe, we arrived at our destination.

Camp Agape 2

After checking into our cabins, we were warmly greeted by our church family from Franklin Fellowship, and for the next couple of hours, we stayed up, watching the stars and telling jokes. Since I had been in the car all day, I was full of biting sarcasm that made for some good laughs. We went to bed, confident that in the middle of a Tennessean summer, we wouldn’t be needing more than a set of sheets to keep us warm (so confident, in fact, that we didn’t bother bringing any back-up blankets). But we didn’t realize that the cabins would be air-conditioned; to add insult to injury, we also forgot our pillows. The coldness combined with the snorefest in my room and the kids falling out of bunks in Ashley’s room, we didn’t get a whole lot of sleep. Such is camping life.

The next morning, it was already humid and sweaty by 9:00, and for some reason, we had really sore necks. We had the bright idea to try to boil water… on a grill… over coals. After an hour of watching water try to boil (it really isn’t that fun), we started a raging fire (thanks to my whole year’s worth of Boy Scouts experience before I dropped out). However, by that time, Pastor Ron had already prepared a brunch of hot dogs and hamburgers (at 10am) for everyone. Yet, that didn’t stop me from trying our friend Ann’s famous “omelettes in a plastic bag” recipe (a truly genius idea). After handing out a few bags full of well-cooked eggs, we allowed the kids to roast marshmallows and make s’mores… all before 11:00 in the morning.

With our bellies full, Ash and I walked back to camp and sweated through our clothes in the process. By the time we got back, all of the rafters were getting ready to leave for Cherokee Rafting. One group stayed behind with the kids to enjoy swimming, fishing, and hanging out, while the other group went to risk our lives on flotation devices barrelling down the Ocoee River at a hundred miles an hour with nothing but an oar to steer us.

Since our group was too large (there were seven of us), two of us had to be put with another group. Since my wife and I are really the uber-spiritual people in the group, we decided to do what we do best — be humble — and ride with complete strangers. We got put in a boat with our guide Jason and four businessmen.

On the Rollar Coater Rapids

Jason mistakenly thought that I was Ashley’s brother, since I look like I’m 16 and Ash looks like she could actually pass for 26 (even though she’s really only 25 and 11 months). I swiftly corrected his error with a witty response, and he must’ve been sore about it, because an hour later, he felt the urge to vindictively catapult our raft into an insurmountable rapid that tossed me head-first into the Ocoee.

Were it not for my cat-like reflexes and expert training as a Ninja, I might have been in bad shape. However, I quickly righted myself, grabbing hold of the rope on the side of the raft and, with one fluid motion, pulled myself back into the boat without anyone’s help whatsoever… not even my wife’s (she definitely did not pull me back into the raft). I don’t know why Jason felt the urge to commit such an evil deed, but since I’m a Christian, I immediately forgave him without question.

On the Ocoee

The rest of the ride was full of Class 3 and 4 rapids mixed with serene lulls that gave us the chance to witness some of the natural beauty of eastern Tennessee. When it was all said and done, we bade farewell to our guide and co-adventurers, downed a glass of lemonade, took a shower, and got ready for the ride home. Having been out in the sun so long, we were exhausted, and I was determined to not be fooled by Google Maps again.

Three hours later, after a brief stop in Monteagle where we bought sodas in a glass bottle (as is our custom), we arrived home. It was Ashley’s first time whitewater rafting, and my second, but it will be far from our last.

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