You might imagine that, being a rat, I know my way around the sewers pretty well. And you’d be right, especially seeing that I own the best sewer inspection company in all of Ratlanta. It’s common knowledge among the residents of the American Southeast that bodies of water like Lake Lanier and the Chattahoochee River (or the ’Hooch, as it’s called – as much for a convenient shortening to a nickname as it is for the beverage some people imbibe while fording it) flow into the waters that form the municipal water – and sewer – systems of the city.
It’s therefore also common knowledge that if you want to spend any time on the Chattahoochee and not be covered in crap, you’d better do it upstream. (This often slips the inebriated minds of those who’ve imbibed a bit too much of the above-mentioned beverage – to their detriment. Yuck.) Anxious to get an escape from the excrement myself for a while, this weekend I decided to take a trip up north to the Appalachian Trail and do some whitewater rafting on North Carolina’s Nantahala River. The river stays quite busy with weekend warriors scoping out slippery trips all through the summer, its 50°F waters providing a welcome relief from the sizzling heat of the season. (And I’ll admit, even with my thick black rat fur, 50 degrees is a bit chilly … but oh, so refreshing on a hot summer’s day.)
Though the waters aren’t very accommodating to tubers (who essentially ride the river in oversized rubber inner-tubes), kayakers, rafters, and duckies (one-person inflatable kayaks) are found all over the rapids. (The duckies are my favorite because they quack back when I squeak at them.)
I decided to hitch a ride on one of the rafts for the eight-mile stretch of open river, sneaking my way around the water-soaked feet of the rafters and lodging myself between the safety rope and first aid kit in the back, underneath where the raft guide sat. I’d have liked to gone down in a quacking ducky, but that would have run me the risk of discovery by the single attentive paddler. As it was, I had a few close calls with the raft guide when we all bounced around on some of the more ratical rapids.
The most aggressive one, Nantahala Falls, lies just nigh of the raft put-in port, and the squeaktacious Falls surely didn’t disappoint on this trip. Our guide took the rapid at very high speed and a bit of an off angle, and the result was what is known in raft lingo as a “dump truck”: every member in the raft – including yours truly – got dumped into the water. It seems pawsitively appropriate that “dump truck” should finish me off, as it provided a poignant reminder that it was time for me to return home to my work in the sewers and deal with “dumps” of a different kind. So I’m back in Ratlanta now … which is more than I can say for my rafting companions, because not having the buoyancy that being made of rubber affords me, all of them ended up – you guessed it – drowned rats.
Keepin’ it squeak,