Friends, family, those of you who have not had the fortunate opportunity to meet me:
Today I am proud to announce that my cousin, Daniel, has become a man. He has gone where few men are willing to tread -- the Upper Gauley River in West Virginia. Hell, he not only saw the surface, he saw the bottom and all of the layers in between. The above photo will forever be known as Daniel's Upper Gauley Swim Team shot.
Seen here, Daniel finds himself on Volkswagon Rock in one of the many Class 5 rapids we experienced on Sunday. Sure, he may look a bit disoriented but considering the event he just survived, I think he's doing pretty well. Behind Daniel is Pillow Rock, one of the most frightening places on the planet. (other than Albany) The intent is to start from the other side of the river, paddle like their's no tomorrow (because on this river, there is not necessarily a tomorrow), run up the face of Pillow Rock, slap it with a pillow and fly down the chute created by Pillow Rock and Volkswagon Rock. We started well, ran nicely up the face of Pillow Rock and then ran into well... difficulties. The idea is to get all of the weight in the raft to the high side (up against the rock). I was already up there so I got a nice piece of the rock with my paddle. I believe that I have the following events in the proper order -- First, Warren was ejected out of the front of the raft on the high side. Second, Andy was sucked out of the front of that raft on the low side. Third, while Daniel made quite the lunge for the high side, he ran head first into a bit of an obstacle -- namely my face -- so, rather than reaching the high side, he plunged into the river. Trust me folks, this is one of those places that you really don't want to be. The currents at this rapid take you deep when you hit the water. I've been down there before -- not a good time. The water circulated Daniel for a few moments and then spit him out whereupon he landed on Volkswagon Rock. While it doesn't look like much in the picture, it is a car-sized rock with a ludicrous amount of water pouring over it. There is a photographer who sits on the side of the river and waits for rafters to come by because he knows he will always get a good shot. Daniel didn't disappoint him.
For those of you who know the Gauley, especially those of you who have swam at Pillow Rock, join me in a knowing smile as we adopt Daniel into "the fold". As for the rest of you, take Daniel as an example of MAN-dom and consider following his lead next year. To all, next time you seen him, shake his hand and remind him that "He's the man!".
Now, I know that Andy and Warren are probably gnashing their teeth as they also became men this past weekend as well as joined the Gauley Swim Team just prior to Daniel. My hat's off to them as well but -- THEY DIDN'T GET THE PICTURE! (grin)
As for Robb and Josh -- We own the copyright on that knowing smile.
On other fronts, I am quite pleased to announce that Robb has risen from the ashes and regained his masculinity. For those that are interested, we will be posting the transcript of this event as well as pictures on the website over the next couple of days.
The Upper Gauley River -- Where men are men (and so are many of the women) and the sheep are inflatable -- You don't conquer the river, she decides you don't taste good and spits you out.