Things to read...

If time is short, I'd suggest reading at LEAST The Prologue and Legend of The Pinto Bean Posts!

Sunday, July 13, 2008

The long road home!

Well I've been delinquent in posting for a bit because of weather reasons. When I last posted, I was in Jacksonville, Florida and about to head home. I left out and went up the east coast a ways before heading on up towards North Carolina. Well unfortunately for me storms moved in and I had to make the decision to either sit in my truck and watch the rain for a few days, or press on in to Johnson City, and then return to NC a day later. Well obviously steaming in the Bean with RTD making sweet doggy love to my ear as he tried to get me to let him out didn't sound too appealing, so I opted to go home for the night. This also allowed me to clean up the Bean a bit and have a good nights rest in my own bed! Mmmmmmmm bed... Anyhow, I decided Saturday would be Pisgah Day, and early Saturday morning I headed on down there.

Pisgah is a relatively large National Forest that surrounds Asheville, NC and takes up a good portion of the western tip of NC. I opted to head to the area West of Asheville because of an article I'd found in a magazine I'd "borrowed" from a barber shop in Vegas. It detailed several natural water slides, and the Pisgah had one. I've already mentioned how much I like water, but I also enjoy jumping into it, and sliding through it, too. Waterfalls to jump from are easily found. Natural slides are not. What Pisgah offers is a 60 foot solid rock slide that has been worn smooth by eons of water coursing over it. This was bound to be fun!

The road leading up to Sliding Rock is typical of what you'll find in this area of the Appalachian south. Lush green trees overhang a narrow winding road that courses it's way up and down the various mountain valleys, seemingly lost within itself as it slowly leads you to your destination. Alongside the road runs that meandering river that is also almost as lost as the route you're on. Cell phones, satellite radio, and the garminator are all pretty much useless here from the green canopy that perpetually shades the road. After about ten or so miles of this, I arrived at Sliding Rock. Or should I say I arrived at the line to get into SR. After a bit, I finally made it to the front of the line where I paid my $1 admission fee to the redneck riviera. After watering Rockstar I headed down to gaze upon this great rocky wonder. While it's nothing in comparison with Schlitterbahn or other man made wonders, the fact that it's a natural waterslide is still amazing.

I made my way down to where the line began and got my place and began to observe the waterlogged obesity epidemic that surrounded me. I'm not gonna say much because this is a topic that infuriates me, but out of about 200 people there, maybe twenty, MAYBE I say, weren't overweight. Call it whatever you want, fluffy, pudgy, big boned, whatever, but in the end it boils down to "eats too much, does too little." Before the hate mail comes in, let me say that I work my tail off to stay in shape. I have one arm, and still manage! Trust me, I know the effort that's required. Anyhow, back to the line. Basically you stand in line for about twenty-thirty minutes depending on the crowd to slide for ten seconds into a mountain stream. Worth it? Oh yeah.

After a bit of time in line, I'd made my way to the top. On the way I'd witnessed all manner of technique for navigating the slide. I'd also nearly burst an eardrum as a redheaded teenager screamed her whole way down the slide. I think someone had just told her the NC had just enacted a lawn banning twinkies, but I'm not sure. Once at the top, I decided to just go for the standard right down the middle slide. I sat down and pushed off with my one arm and slowly slid a ways. Apparently my swimsuit material was made of sandpaper or something else the kept slowing me down. Finally I hit a steeper pitch which simultaneously allowed me to gain speed and attempt to reverse feed myself my swimsuit. At the end I hit the little drop off into the pool of water where I learned the other secret of mountain water. Despite being shallow in nature, and the air temp hovering somewhere around "spontaneous combustion", the water temperature maintains a balmy 48 degrees. As my toes entered the water, time slowed down as my brain began to prepare for the imminent future that was to come. Quickly my legs went in and my brain began to warn me of polar bears. As my wait and chest went in and the wedgie came out a bit, relief was nowhere to be found as my lungs had apparently gone on strike. About five hours later I was up to my nose and relatively certain the fat little girl across the pool from me was actually a penguin. Finally I was completely submerged where the mammalian dive reflex was in full force allowing me to survive for the hours it seemed to take for me to reach the surface. One at the surface I began my violent thrash for the shore just twenty feet away. Forgetting I was an amputee I found myself swimming in a circle. Again. Correcting my drift got me safely to shore where I renounced all that was warm, and got back in line. Yup, I was going again, atomic wedgie, cold water and all!

My second run down was a bit better. This time I'd studied the curvature of the rock and decided on an off line run. I went left of the well worn path to a slightly bumpier but more moss covered lane and pulled my trunks as far up as I could in a friction saving self induced wedgie. I then took a bit of a sliding start and went down the icy lane to the depths below at a much better clip. The polar bear club experience was once again waiting for me at the bottom, and once again I entered the water full of regret at the error of my ways. Again I semicircled my way to shore gasping for breath and shivering violently. I again forgot all about how cold it was as I got in line for a third trip down. Yup.... dull spoon here!

Once finished there I toured on up and down the road at Pisgah a bit more, scoping out areas to see the next day. I camped at the park campground where beer and hot dogs were consumed, along with smores and other tasty camp foods. Then I laid down for one last night in the Bean. Sadly my bad choice of foods led to a restless night of nightmares as my gut repaid my brain in kind for the evils that I'd laid upon it at dinner. Oh well... gotta have fun, right!

Today I went to a place called Looking Glass Falls where again I swam around in the frigid water. I brought RTD out and threw his toy for him. I beamed with pride as he ran straight into the water to get his toy. No longer does he timidly dance around at the edge before slowly going out after his toy. Unfortunately I threw his toy into the waterfall where it was sucked under and is now probably still on spin cycle at the base of the falls. Fortunately Rockstar was smart enough not to go in after it, so we ended up leaving sans toy. The rest of the drive home was spent on those same mountain roads, overlooking the wonderful views that are just a part of living in the Appalachians. If I had to sum it all up in a word, I know of one that covers it all. Beautiful!

Well everybody, this more or less concludes my trip. The Alaska trip will be from the 28th of July to the 4th of August, and will be made with the Wounded Warrior Project. This is a yearly fishing trip they offer so it will be done by air to Kodiak, Alaska, and RTD will be back here in TN. Last year there were lots of stories from it, so I'm assuming this year will be no different! That said, Daniel's Big Trip will continue, even if in a different vein! Between then and now I will post a few "lessons learned" blogs so keep checking back for those! Also, a calendar SHOULD be coming together so please keep an eye out for that! Until then!!


Anonymous said...

Redneck Riveria -- (no, I'm not laughing at all!!)
Reminds me of being a kid and "going swimming", which meant going down to the "crick" and trying to find some place where the water was at least up to your waist to wade around in. We had so much fun.

Nothing to compare to this slide, tho -- wow.

And no matter how great the trip, the vacation, nothing compares to your home, your bed, your pillow. So you can have that little bit of rest -- then, after a momentary respite, we want to know MORE!!

Glad you're home safe and sound -- take a look at that map, can you believe it?

Sheila said... had been doing so good, in my opinion, up until your last post. I am extremely grateful for your service to our country and for the entertaining blog you've been posting about your travels. Being from the area I have heard of Pisgah but never seen pictures. It looks like it was fun.

I was disappointed to hear your comments on the people in line though and especially about the "fat little girl across from you". No “hate mail” here. I’m just sad because I would have thought coming from someone who has been ridiculed and judged for their imperfections that you wouldn't be so quick to do the same (the girls tanning in the sun that called you a “freak” was so wrong and I’m sure made you feel horrible). I think there is enough hate in this world without making assumptions or ridiculing people we don't even know. They were at the waterfall having fun too, not in front of a TV eating potato chips. So I’m glad that even though they were overweight, they still took their children and themselves out to enjoy nature and spend time together.

Best of luck on your upcoming travels to Alaska. It’s a beautiful place to visit.

Scott said...

Okay, the general fattitude of Americans is annoying. But most of the people in that "standing in line" picture don't actually look fat. Did you spare us the eye-searing nastiness that was the rest of the line?

Long-time RN said...

A beautiful area and the slide looks like great fun! Have a wonderful Alaskan adventure. Yes, I recently went to a mall with my college son (a health and fitness major), and we were both appalled at the obesity epidemic.

LongIslandGirl said...

Can the last picture of you be the cover of the calendar??? :0) Can't wait for the Alaska blogs! Hope you get a chance to relax for the rest of July.....


Becky said...


I really loved catching up with you each night on your blog. I am sorry your adventure, at least for now, has come to an end. One day in the future, I hope to read the novel that will come from this blog and your trip.

Thank you for your service to our great nation. I am only sorry that it had to end in such a manner. However, your return to this counry and all you have done since shows what a determined young man you are, and I have a feeling that no matter what you do in life, you are going to go far and always have a laeckyrge influence on those around you.

From one vet (US Navy) to another..Welcome home. Wish that there was a way that I could give you a big hug as a thank you.


actnymetro said...

Thank you for sharing your trip. You are very funny and I look forward to reading more. Glad you made it home safely and have a blast in Alaska.

Veteran's Wife said...


Please check out Lt. Col. "Taco" Bell has a link to Outward Bound which offers free excursions for OEF/OIF vets.

It would be great if you're selected so we can continue to read about your adventures. :)

pjamas said...

Ok Mr Apache Fighter Pilot, Fit n Trim at 30, come back in another 18yrs & tell us how easy it is to keep that buff shape. Twinkies & having one arm have nothing to do with it. It's all downhill after 45, lol.
Glad to hear you had a great time at Pisgah. Sounds like Slide Rock in Sedona.
Enjoy your trip to Alaska, no doubt WWP will do a great job. Can't wait to see your pictures.
I promise to get RTD's toy back to him this week. Honest. Have had a few interruptions, but he WILL get it back. By the way, our lab Ellie went into heat 4 days after you left. Thank god for small favors!

Anonymous said...

I've been following your blog since the Bean broke down in Baltimore. After reading about your life experiences and hearing your day to day feelings about life - I thought you could become a good doctor -empathetic, motivating, with a great sense of humor. But, after reading your comment about overweight people - I'd say - you might have drive a long way but you really haven't come very far.