Tuesday, August 7, 1984

1984 Whitewater Rafting (8/4-7/1984)

Saturday, August 4, 1984
We went to meet at the Howard Johnson’s in Pawtucket, to head to Maine for a whitewater rafting trip. Soon Jane, Kim and Leslie arrived, all friends of Punkin/Maureen, who are each about 24-years old. Then Kent’s friend and mentor, Bill M, arrived with his girlfriend, Punkin, and Punkin’s sister, Mary, with her husband, Steve. They all sat down for a full breakfast, and Kent and I had already eaten! We left at 8:30, with Mary and Steve in a pickup truck pulling a camper that swayed side to side on the highway. Bill and Punkin were behind us, and the three girls zoomed ahead. When we made a lunch stop, Kent wanted to stock up on beer, but then Bill gave him a cooler full of beer! We passed through New Hampshire, and I took over driving in Maine. We left I-95 and got on US 201 into the wild country. Open wilderness, forests on rolling hills, rivers and lakes. In the town of Skowhegan, Kent recognized a little house that Al, the veterinarian, once lived in when interning here. We followed the Kennebec River and passed a couple historical markers about Benedict Arnold. It was 15:30 when we reached The Forks, and the office of the Voyager’s Whitewater Rafting enterprise in a raw clapboard house. The people we needed weren’t there, but we learned the river was “superb” today and should be when we go rafting. We continued farther north to Jackman, until we came to the Old Mill Campgrounds on the Moose River. We checked in for one camper site, and two tent sites. The girls took one tent site, and we shared the other with Bill and Punkin. We paid about $15 for our share of the three days, and got a car pass.

We set up the tent, which we borrowed from Mary Jane, and had been a bit wobbly in Oxford, OH. We put the tent up and were left with four pieces of tubing that looked like they were used for stakes. The tent was still wobbly. So we checked again, and figured the four pieces belonged in the struts, and got the tent up taut, with Bill’s help. Ours was a family tent, and Bill and Punkin had a two-man/person tent.
Tent site
Then everyone started drinking. I had ginger ale.
I helped Mary and Punkin wrap potatoes and start to bake them. Chicken was put on a gas grill, and a camp stove was lighted to steam the clams; littlenecks and steamers, which we had as an appetizer dipped in melted butter or the stew juice. Then baked potatoes with sliced onions, and chicken.
After eating the girls disappeared, and the guys started playing cards. I took a walk around the campground, past the hatchery pond and trout pond, and up the road to the office, where I left a couple letters to be mailed. I ran into the girls on my way back, and we returned to the office to see if they had graham crackers, marshmallows and chocolate. No. We returned to sit around the campfire, and the others had coffee with a coffee liqueur. I tried some of the liqueur in milk. Then I got sleepy, and excused myself. Kent came later with a pocket full of change from playing poker. In the middle of the night when he had to go to the restroom, he spilled the change all over when putting on his pants!

Sunday, August 5, 1984
Up at 8:00 for a hearty breakfast of sausage, fried potatoes (from all the leftover baked potatoes), and eggs with orange juice and coffee. The plan was to go canoeing, but there was a lot of milling around. I walked out on the bridge near our site over a shallow stream to watch a boy fishing. He was having better luck catching branches and such. The kid left his pole with me while he ran to get his tackle box. I helped him attach flies and weights to his line, then realized the others were getting ready to leave.
As we walked to the camp office, I nearly stepped on a garter snake and yelled “Snake!’ as I pushed Kent out of the way, which startled him. The girls pointed out another snake with his guts hanging out. There weren’t enough canoes for rent at the camp office, so Kent and I drove into town to look for a place to rent canoes. By the time we got back, they had learned of other possibilities, so we piled into two cars and drove off. First we tried the seaplane port, a bust because the dozen canoes were not for rent. We went to some lakeside cottages, and they had canoes for $10 per canoe plus equipage. We rented four canoes with seat cushions, paddles, and life jackets.
Kent and I got in and started off towards an island, at about 13:00. Slowly the others followed, first Steve and Mary, then Bill and Punkin, with the "jockettes" bringing up the rear. We had to paddle over whitecaps against the wind. We ended up on a couple flat rocks at the island, and had a picnic there.
View from picnic rock, probably Wood Pond
As we were eating, the girls’ canoe got loose and started drifting off, and Jane and Leslie jumped in the water to retrieve it. I tried to take some self-timed photos. But the camera was acting up.
Punkin, Leslie, Kim, Steve
Kent, Tamiko, Mary, Bill (Photo by Jane)
Soon it was time to head back, and Kent and I wanted to paddle to the mouth of the river that led to the seaplane port, but Bill and Punkin called us back, saying that was too ambitious, and we should just get back to the rental place. So Kent and I leisurely paddled, letting the wind and current help us, as we followed the shore.
Helmsman Kent
We got back to the rental place at 14:30, and waited for the others. We saw that the other three canoes had banded together for a beer break, and they just drifted along. They drifted quite a ways, and had to paddle against wind and current to get back.
Punkin and Bill
Mary and Steve
Jane, Leslie, Kim
Finally we unloaded and put away all the paraphernalia, and turned over the canoes.
We piled into the cars and stopped at a market for the ingredients for s’mores. Later Kent offered to take me for a ride and stopped to stock up on beer. Ha! From Jackman, we took the road heading towards Moosehead Lake. We noticed that here and there, people had little pails and were picking berries. There were patches of raspberry bushes. We came alongside Long Pond, and decided to go berry picking. We pulled off to the side of the road, put on long pants, and found empty plastic bags. We picked some teeny raspberries. Kent went off, and came back to ask me to describe poison oak. He thought he probably was picking in one. As we drove along, his hand got itchy with a few bumps. At our next stop he washed his hands in ice. I went to a raspberry bush, but was distracted by some mini-pink fungi on the ground. When I pointed them out to Kent, we examined the the area, and discovered a blueberry bush. So we put all the raspberries in one bag, and Kent began picking blueberries. I continued with raspberries, but then climbed a broken fence to join Kent, in what was a huge blueberry field. The itching in his hand disappeared, but then his lip began to swell from an insect bite. We returned to the camp, where Happy Hour was in progress.
We had chili as an appetizer, and baked potatoes and steak with salad. Mary wanted to give each person two steaks, and they were huge! There was so much food! I passed on the coffee liqueur tonight, and went for my walk, passing the noisy bug zapper that kept us entertained with its mini blue lightning display and electric frying sounds. Around to the playground and past the other camp sites. When I returned, they were making s’mores, so I had one. Then Kent went with me for a walk, and we left the campground, following a company (logging?) road. It was somewhat eerie, and the moon was barely bright enough to see the road. Shadows could be mistaken for snakes and small bears! We heard a screaming, like a wildcat, screeching owl, or human in distress. To both sides of the road it was totally dark except for the white of birch trees. We walked quite a ways, then Kent declared he was being chewed up. So the mosquitoes chased us pack to camp. We did find a shortcut to our camp site, and the party was still going on. We were told about the “child-beating” next door.

Monday, August 6, 1984
Kent and I were up, showered, and Kent had gone to town for milk, when Steve came around to wake us up at 7:15. We had blueberry pancakes, made by Mary, of course. We planned to leave at 8:15 to get to The Forks by 9:00, but didn’t leave until 8:45. We passed slow cars, looking out for the zooming logging trucks. The rafting outfit was very casual, so it didn’t matter that we were 20 minutes late. Besides, the Maine Power Company was not to open the dam sluices until 11:00, so we couldn’t start rafting until then.
Voyager's Whitewater headquarters
We had to sign forms waiving any responsibility of the Voyager's Whitewater rafting company, or the Maine Power Company, should we be injured or die! We paid a total of $52.50 each for the experience. We, along with a couple with their daughter, piled into a van with a trailer carrying the two rubber rats filled with life vests, helmets, and paddles. Because there was plenty of time, we stopped at Moxie Falls, turning off SR 201 and following the Kennebec River, then headed into the hills. Parked with other rafting company buses, and hiked about a mile into the woods, following Brad, the loud boisterous raft guide with the beer belly and Pennsylvania Dutch beard. The owner was also bearded, but quieter. Another John was the apprentice raft guide who would drive the van back after dropping us off. We found the falls, and I went to take a photo, but Brad took me to a better view, and questioned me about the camera.
Moxie Falls
We continued to drive for quite a distance, passing a dam, and taking a gravel road. We raised a lot of dust as we hurtled along. They passed out donuts.
Finally we arrived at the dam of the Kennebec River, where we all ran to the restrooms. We got equipped; the life vests had to be tightened so that there was minimum movement between the vest and your body, and minimum breathing. Then the helmets. We were given instructions on how to paddle, and safety instructions. It was shortly after 11:00 when we hiked down to the water’s edge, picked up the rafts, and put them into the waters below the dam. Brad was with Bill and Punkin, Steve and the jockettes. Mary came with me and Kent, and the family of three. Our raft guide was John, and a Joe came along, too. Once in the water, we practiced the various directions: all front, all back, left front, right back, and vice versa, and “Hold on!” which meant putting the paddle out to the side and slipping down into the boat while holding the safety line.
We started off and in the first set of rapids, the mother-daughter team in the front of Kent and me got knocked down. Mary and the father were behind us, and the guides took up the rear. Another set of rapids, and we were getting thoroughly doused with water, and the boat was filling up with water, which we had to bail out.
We saw a photographer on shore at the first rapids, and as we approached the third, we saw another one.
Professional photo where it looks like Kent and I are in the front!
We followed the directions given as we approached a big one, and just in time began to hold on. The mother and daughter slid back into our laps. Once we got straightened out, we were told we had gone through the “Magic,” the “worst” of the Kennebec rapids. "Was that all?!" was our response! Later slides showed that we were almost vertical; it was more thrilling than it felt! We bailed out the boat after each set of rapids, then we meandered down the tamer rapids, sometimes going backwards. We were given a snack of gorp (raisins, peanuts and M&Ms). Kent and I moved to the front to better experience the rapids. We had some water fights with the other boat, using the bail-out buckets. It hardly mattered since we were all drenched! When the sun was out it was quite pleasant, but when it went in, it was chilly. We took our time going down the gorge, passing other groups who were cooking out or camping on the shore. Just wilderness all around.
In the calm waters, you could jump out to swim or drift along holding a rope, but that proved to be too chilly. We arrived at the wider part of the river and had to paddle to keep moving. Found the side stream to the Voyager’s headquarters, and ended the trip about 14:30. We pulled out the rafts, turning them over to dump out all the water. We had our pictures taken by the raft.
Brad, Jane, Mary, Steve in back, Leslie, Kim, Tamiko in front, Punkin, Bill, Kent
We changed into dry clothes as our cook-out was prepared: steak and boiled potatoes and salad, with dessert of a rich strawberry cake. Then we went in to view the slides taken of us on the rapids. Oh, boy! Kent fell asleep during the slide show. We had the option of ordering prints from any of the slides.
It was nearly 17:00 when we drove back to the camp site. During Happy Hour I took a shower, since I had sprayed myself with insect repellent, and then laid a plastic bag on my leg. The Adam’s Mark logo was then imprinted on my leg! Later we ate leftovers, and sat around the camp fire.

Tuesday, August 7, 1984
I awoke at 6:30 to a pitter patter of rain on the tent. We had shoes and towels outside to retrieve. We went ahead and got up, took down the tent and broke camp. Kent wrote goodbye/thank you notes to Steve and Mary, and a note to Jane to give her some money owed. We had given Mary $30 for our share of the food. Said goodbye to Bill who was up, and drove in the rain back down US 201. We stopped to read one of the historical markers about Benedict Arnold trekking through a storm to reach Fort Quebec. In Skowhegan we stopped for breakfast. We found a New Balance factory outlet, but Kent didn’t find shoes he liked. I bought a pair of shorts for $5, and a pair of running pants for $3 in men’s small. Kent asked about the Bass outlet store, and was told it was in Farmington. In Farmington we happened to see a Bass truck, which said it came from Wilcot. No factory outlet in Farmington, but we did see a huge Victorian house with a landscaped yard full of flowers. We finally got directions to Wilcot, and Kent bought two pairs of shoes at the Bass factory outlet. Saw the family of three we had rafted with.
It was getting hot and humid as we passed through New Hampshire. Kent stopped at a liquor store and bought enough for the minimum $20 to use his credit card. I drove us home, and the car started hesitating. We stopped for Kent to check the tires, but it was probably a wet engine problem. It soon sorted itself out, and we made it home by 15:00.