Friday, July 11, 2014

Moving on...

We had a spare day after CFA grading finished and decided to go tubing on the James River near Spottsdale, some 20 miles south of Charlottesville.  CFA had organized a wine tasting at a Virginia winery called Veritas (actually pretty decent whites and reds) so we needed to go in the morning.

The place itself was in the middle of absolutely nowhere and was one of only 2 still surviving manual ferries in the USA.  The James River at that point is about 50 yards across and 4 foot deep (very low for the time of year) but it is still in service but only at weekends.

The James River Runners company that operates the canoeing, kayaking and tubing from the Hatton Ferry location worked out of a shack that looked like a shack except that it was probably the family home as well.

They seemed professional enough and gave us the safety features talk and ran through a host of things and then we hopped into the van, a 1970's Econoline with doors that didn't really close driven by a guy called Judd who'd just spent 4 and a half years in the military and needed to 'de-stress some' before figuring out what we wanted to do for a career.  Given where the US military has been operating, I imagine he had seen some tough times.

He drove us 3 miles up river and dropped us off by the side of the river and said we should walk out beyond the really shallow water into the faster moving water in the middle of the stream and then hurled out a couple of inner tubes and drove off.

So much for modern technology!

They really were just truck inner tubes.

OK they did have the company's name stenciled on the side but that was it as far as an operator's manual was concerned.

But really it was dead easy.  Once you got down the steep muddy bank you wandered out into the middle of the river and jumped on.

It was actually refreshing to not have waivers and procedures designed to keep you from doing something stupid to yourself and just jump on and float.

This we did and it did take 2 and a half hours to get back having negotiated a couple of gentle rapids and with the only nuisance being when you ploughed into a rock where the water was more shallow.

Great fun and a lovely way to de-stress.  Maybe Judd should do it once in a while.

The final cocktail in Virginia: Cosmo and Pisco Sour... guess who's who's


The only other hassle was getting up at 4 am this morning only to find the plane missing a part and so unable to fly meaning that we jumped in a taxi with 2 others and drove to Washington Reagan airport to catch a plane to Chicago where we arrived around 1 pm, just in time for deep dish pizza at Giordano's followed by a nice Martini at the Peninsula Hotel nearby.

The Pentagon from the air

Chicago's sky line

Giordano's Chicago deep dish styled pizza -- apparently dreamed up by grandma 200 years ago and brought to Chicago because there weren't any decent pizzas to be found.  This was a small but still monstrously heavy pizza pie of dreams.  Really nice too!

Not really that bad a day after all!

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