It’s not too late for your Summer Bucket List (Hint: Whitewater Rafting)

One of my favorite movies of all time is The Bucket List. More than likely you have seen or at least heard of it. It stars two of my favorite actors Morgan Freeman and Jack Nicholson. If you recall these two men end up sharing the same hospital room while undergoing chemotherapy. They become friends and Jack is a wealth guy and creates a bucket list of things he is going to do before he dies.
This concept took off and there have been countless numbers of bucket list books and thousands upon thousands of articles written on the subject. People post all the time on Facebook that they have just scratched off another item on their list with pictures to prove it. I also have, in the back of my head somewhere, a list of things I would love to do or things I want to accomplish before it’s too late. When I was younger I never thought of such things but now, as I age, I have come to appreciate each day and realize that there is limited time on earth. Just this year, while running, I came to realize that I will never play in the English Premier League (one of the best soccer leagues in the world). Some things pass us by and they are no longer attainable. Some things we continue to strive for but in reality will never come to pass and then there are the items on the list that we can realize if we put effort into making them happen.
I took this concept one step further, and the beginning of each year I sit down with my wife and we write down what we want to try to do this coming year. We take it one year at a time. This seems much more manageable. We started this several years ago, and now see, that if you plan for something you can actually make it happen. For example, we wanted to learn to sail, so we started a savings account and slowly saved up the money and this year we have booked our sailing school.
So why the long tangent? Everyone needs to make, at least, a summer bucket list and on that list should be experiences that only summer will allow. Most of these items will be activities that do not take savings just time. Since summer is my favorite season of the year I look forward to getting outdoors and soaking up the great weather. One of the things we do every year is go whitewater rafting on the Ocoee River in Tennessee. It is a great day on the water and is always fun and enjoyable. So sit down and make that list, and at the very top put “whitewater rafting trip on the Ocoee River. See you on the water.

Nothing Beats Experience

Blogs by River Master Rob

Growing up I must have heard this phrase from my mom and dad a hundred times. They drilled this into me as well as hundreds of other clichés over the years. As I matured I came to realize that mom and dad were spot on with most of their sayings and I came to understand that I was not the smart person in the room. Far from it. Then I had kids and I started to use the same words on my children. I would catch myself sounding exactly like my parents, doling out wisdom that had been passed down from generation to generation. Some of it I find funny like “don’t play with that rubber band you are going to put someone’s eye out” or, “don’t run with scissors.” Most of us can relate to these sayings. Some I never really understood like, “after you eat you can’t get back in the water for 30 minutes.” Is this some magical number? Why can’t I go swimming? As a parent I never instituted that rule. There are a few sayings that mom and dad continued to say and only as I grew older and had my own kids did I come to understand fully. “Nothing beats experience” is one of these. As a kid I really did not pay that much attention to it, because everything I did was experience in one form or the other. Kids came along and all that changed. We would sit around and talk about how someday we need to ___________ (you fill it in). I started to come to a new understanding of that phrase and I realized that maybe it was not directed at me so much as it was a reminder to themselves. They continued to say this over and over so they would not fall into the rut of all talk and no action. Over the years I have told this to myself many many times. Always reminding me of action because telling my children about and experience is not living one. As a parent I tried to make sure that my kids got their hands dirty and did not sit by and watch. Now they are grown and I miss planning those experiences and then watching as my kids learned and grew through them. All that said it is “never too late,” (cliché intended) to get out and get dirty. Grab the kids up or call some friends and have an good old fashion experience. Who knows what might come of it. I know a couple things at least; laughter, smiles and connection. It doesn’t have to be a huge vacation either; it can be a day trip, whitewater rafting on the Ocoee River. Getting out and enjoying the great outdoors with friends and family. That is what is all about. See you out there!

7 Downtime Duties at the Ocoee River

The Ocoee River offers a world class ride when it comes to rafting, but it is not the only fun activity in the surrounding area. This is a non-exhaustive list of other things to check out when you are not rafting:

1. The Whitewater Grill – Though not the quickest place in town to eat, this restaurant is considered by locals and visitors alike to be the best food in the area. If they have the ingredients in house, they will make it for you.

2. Miss Bee’s Bus – This is exactly what it sounds like plus more! It is a very cool purple school bus on the side of Copper Head Road that has been converted into a store. You could spend two days in this bus and not see everything that the store has to offer. Go in to get a cool canvas, hacky sack, or to make cool bracelet for a friend, family member, or significant other.

3. Olympic Section – If you decide not to ride the Upper Ocoee during your stay here, then you must at least go to witness some serious CARNAGE at the Olympic Section, which is a man-altered rapid. It is located at the Whitewater Center, which has parking all day for just $3. Bring your bathing suit, a lunch, and a throw rope to catch some guests getting swallowed by Godzilla and Humungous (two features of this rapid). Keep in mind that the Upper Ocoee only runs on weekends.

4. Whitewater Center Hike – The Whitewater Center offers more than just a place to watch rafting. Go inside and ask the cashier at the gift shop or the park ranger for a trail map, which will navigate you through many miles of mountain biking/hiking trails in the area.

5. Mac Point Beach – The Ocoee River flows into and fills up Parksville Lake. This is the premier mountain lake in the area, and Mac Point Beach is a great spot to go grill out with some friends and go for a swim on a hot summer day. It is also a great place to do some star gazing at night.

6. GoForth Creek – This creek runs perpendicular with the Middle Ocoee and actually marks the halfway point on a Middle Trip. At very high water, this creek is “runable” on a kayak with constant Class V rapids all the way through. If you are not looking for something that extreme, just pull off to the side of the road where you will find a free parking area. GoForth at normal water level is a beautiful hike with many different places to camp for free!

7. Benton Falls Trail – Located off the same road as GoForth, Mac Point, and the Whitewater Center, there is about a 2 mile hike to get to these falls. You will come to a decently sized waterfall, but don’t be decieved because this is not the end all be all. Keep hiking up and around this first waterfall, and the views will only get bigger and better. Make sure to pack bug spray on this hike.