Thursday, August 18, 2011

Splishing & Splashing in the Poconos

Have you ever been whitewater rafting? I never had been and now, like after every cool thing I try out, I'm asking WHYYYYYY did I wait so long?!?!

My two good friends from high school, K and R, came up for a visit this past weekend and I was so excited. We planned all the stuff you usually would for a NYC visit (dinner, partying... yeah, that about covers it) but also decided to partake in a completely out of the ordinary (k, for us) adventure. Best decision we could've made!

                                               Meet my girls!
On top, R and me in D.C.  ringing in 2010. Below, me and K visiting Paris in early 2010. 
(Sorry for the blurriness- K, we need more pics together!)

The discount website LivingSocial has recently introduced "LivingSocial Adventures" which are group deals on day-trip getaways (not to be confused with their "LivingSocial Escapes" which are actual vacations). They tend to be outdoorsy type things like rafting, tubing, and kayaking with the occasional wine-tasting offer mixed in. For just $69 each, we received roundtrip transportation to LeHigh River, a guided trip down the river, and lunch. Having now completed this adventure, I can tell you it was completely worth it!

Following a late dinner and catch-up session at Cuba on Friday night, K, R, and I rose early Saturday morning to prepare for our adventure. R had been rafting before but K and I weren't quite sure what to expect. Coffee in hand, we hopped in a cab to take us to Midtown where we were to be picked up on a chartered bus and driven out to the river which is located in Pennsylvania.

Initially, I was a little worried because I hadn't realized it would take approximately 2-and-a-half hours to reach our destination and... I tend to get very bus-sick. Like, BAD. Luckily for me our two guides, Josh and Olivia, were very cool and let me ride in the front seat so I could look out the front window versus watching the scenery flash by on the side window. If you've ever gotten nauseated on a bus or in a car (etc.), you can understand my appreciation! This gave us the chance not only to get to know Josh and Olivia but also Marshall, our super cool bus driver who seemed very concerned about me (though I think more for the sake of his bus than anything!)

Seriously??? Look at this VIEW!

After watching the film
"Old School" and chatting with everyone for a couple hours, we arrived at Whitewater Challengers in Pennsylvania's Poconos Mountains. We were actually running a tad late so Josh and Olivia urged us to hurry to be fitted for our life jackets, hit the restrooms, and meet on a second bus that would drive us to the actual location where we would board our rafts. Like good students, we did but not before taking in the beautiful scenery that surrounded us. It was just green, green, green everywhere! So beautiful (little did I know how much MORE beautiful it'd get). The second bus ride took about 20 minutes and allowed us to take in more great views. I was a little nervous on the roads because we seemed to be on the very edge of the mountains but, obviously, we made it safely. Yay for that.

We broke up into groups and hopped into our inflatable boats. Having already become friendly with the guides while on the bus ride in, K, R, and I got in one with Josh and off we went!

Now, I didn't expect this but our rafting experience was a COMPETITIVE one- and you know I love competition! Every boat had a name (ours was "Sex Boat"... don't ask...) and not only were we all trying to race but the second, if not primary, objective was to splash everyone else. There were buckets and water guns handy to accomplish this and I'd say we were all drenched within ten minutes! So. Much. Fun!

This isn't our boat but it gives you the idea of how we spent our day. 

Our trip down the LeHigh River was approximately 10 miles and took us about four hours to complete (with a 45 minute lunch break). I can't even begin to articulate how gorgeous it was! The temperature was only in the low 80's and though the sun was out some of the time, a cool breeze (... and being drenched) kept us from getting too warm. Shortly after lunch, it did begin to rain but it just added to the bad-assness that comes along with rowing down a river and (water) fighting all day long with a bunch of strangers and two great friends!

As for the workout, I think I underestimated how much work we were actually doing because of all the fun we were having. We each had an oar and sat on one side of the raft to aid in propelling us forward (with the help of Josh sitting in the back to guide us and, of course, the LeHigh waters pushing us forward!) A little past half-way through, I switched to the right side of the boat. I swear, I felt a little tenderness in my hands from holding my oar but I did NOT see the incapacitation that followed. But more on that in a minute.

Except for an unfortunate incident where Miss R fell backwards out of our raft (still LOL-ing, but WITH you R!) and the slight freak out (and subsequent paranoia) after finding a GIGANTIC white spider in our boat, everything was (wait-for-it...) smooth sailing. Even at the end our our tour, as we exhaustedly paddled through the rain and wind, the laughs continued and I was so GLAD we three chicas did it- Truly a great memory with both K and R. :)

The bus ride home was, as you might expect, much quieter than the one in. Most people fell asleep to the sound of "Super Troopers" playing on the TVs overhead and the rain falling against our windows. I took the time to get to know Josh and Marshall a little better and make notes for you guys here at LaFemmeFITalle- it was just a perfect end to a perfect day.

What was not so perfect, though, is the fact that I was practically bed-ridden the following day! I cannot remember the last time I was so wiped out from a workout! Now, to be fair, we did party until mid-morning Sunday which was not the smartest thing to do after such a journey but hey, my two friends were only here for a limited time- Carpe diem! And anyway, I can tell you that it was the river workout that got me- not the partying! I managed to eat lunch and shower on Sunday before hitting the sack for the night at 2:30 PM! Three days later, I'm up and at 'em but can definitely still feel the effects of that workout- Love That!

Would I do it again? Do I really have to ask? YES! I want to do it asap! I'm not sure when (if?) there is a cut-off point as the weather cools down but I'd love to get out there again- The pictures and my words just don't do it justice. If there is a similar deal in your area, I suggest you do it. I don't work for LivingSocial (or any other company I might mention here) so just trust me on this one.

PROS: The workout aspect of this trip is unparalleled compared to everything I've written about here so far. I expected my obliques and arms to be sore but was surprised by how much I was (apparently) using my legs at the time because they are sorer than any other body part! The social aspect of this workout trip was also so great- Having K and R there truly made the trip. I probably would have had fun even if I'd gone solo but everything is more fun with your girlfriends.
Lastly, Josh and Olivia plus all of the other tour guides were so friendly and helpful- I'm not sure what the hiring process is at LivingSocial for these types of things but whatever it is, it works!

CONS: Hmmm... I think the bus ride might have been an issue for me if the location hadn't been so breathtaking. I'm not the most patient person and two- and- a- half hours on a bus is enough to make anyone want to hurl but the Poconos- which I'd never seen before- were definitely worth the trip there and back.

So what do you think? Would you ever take a mini getaway like this one (even knowing you might end up sore for a week?!) What other types of adventure trips do you think would be fun?