1981 -- Summer

Went to camp in Tennessee/North Carolina--Camp Nolichucky (link to the current outfitter Mountain Adventure Guides: Nolichucky River Rafting - Summer Adventure Camp, which appears to be indentical to the one I attended but with new owner and name)

            My Uncle and Aunt drove me up to her parent's place in Tennessee

                        Spent a few weeks with my Aunt's family in Tennessee

                                    Learned how to drive a pickup through tobacco fields

                                    Discovered some people really do bury their money in the ground for safe keeping

                        Next several weeks were at Camp Nolichucky (a river rafting and canoeing company)

                        There were a total of three campers: two boys and one girl.

                        Our hiking/camping counselor was one of the most amazing women I've ever known

                                    We did a six-day hike in the Cherokee National Forest along the Appalachian Trail

                                    We ended at Bald Mountain

                                                Shortly before arriving a huge storm came upon us, and the counselor and I were knocked backwards by a lightening strike to a large tree that was near the two of us. We were okay, but it was amazing and terrifying at the same time. One of the last things I remember about the counselor was bathing with her in the Nolichucky River after we had returned from that outing, but to be fair to her and my memory the things we did on the hike where much more impressionable to my development. She taught patience, encouragement, observation, perseverance, cooking, physical preparation, conversation, and teamwork, and many other traits that make a good person                               

                        Three-day whitewater canoe trip

                                    Two canoes, four people, and a lot of supplies, mixed with rapids.

                                    Second day out my boat mate and I were not working well together and as we navigated a huge rapid our canoe flipped; the counselor was not happy, actually he was very pissed. These two canoes carried all our food, clothing, and campsite supplies. He was a little upset.

            Whitewater canoeing is not like regular canoeing with the main difference being the canoe itself; the point is they behave differently than regular canoes and some people have a difficult time understanding that difference.

One of our stops was the birthplace of Davy Crockett. The cabin is on the banks of the Nolichucky River. I was not terrible impressed at the time--a shack near a river, and a small shack at that, but the beauty of the entire picture did sink after I returned to Florida: a home on a beautiful river.

                                    The last day of the trip was spent leisurely canoeing over the wide expanse of river/lake/sandbars created by the TVA dam, Nolichucky Dam. We explored the TVA museum, which is a hands-on type museum; I was able to peddle a flywheel attached to a generator used to make electricity. I fell in love with the idea of alternative energy sources.

                        We did a two-day rock climbing and repelling, and caving.

We had to repel to the cave entrance, but we exited at another location. Spent the night in a cave.

                        We did a day trip down to Georgia to whitewater canoe those freezing waters. I had to keep repeating the final rapid until I made it through correctly. Just wasn't my day.

                        Since the camp's main function was that of an outfitter and day-trip whitewater rafting, we did that a few times.

                        I didn't have much money, but I had planned ahead. Before leaving Vero Beach, I had made some extra money cleaning my Uncle and Aunt's home, and my Uncle said I could have all his old Playboy magazines. They dated back to the sixties. I had five paper grocery bags filled. I took out all the centerfolds and took them with me to Tennessee. At camp I sold them all for about $40. With the extra funds I bought a knife, a really nice underwater flashlight, and a black tee shirt. My Greyhound bus trip back home from Tennessee to Florida was long, very long, and I was very frugal with my remaining cash.

                        When I got back home one of the first things I noticed was the missing paper grocery bags I had left on my top bunk. My mom had tossed them, but I still have the underwater flashlight.


First week back from Camp --

            My friend (and his mom) from Gainesville is down for a week. The very first thing we set out to do as the sun is setting is head for my mom's car to listen to the radio. It's a Toyota Corolla Wagon and my mom had recently upgraded the radio to a stereo system and added four Alpine speakers. While we're sitting there, my friend comes up with the idea that one of use would push the car while the other steers. My mom stated that we were not to start the car. So I was first to push. First I had to push from the front to back the car out of the main parking area of our drive. The driveway was sand, and it ran a long way winding through our property. After the car was positioned to go forward down the drive, we switched positions, but after several feet we swapped and I moved to the back to push. The Corolla was not a very heavy car, and the sand driveway was firmly packed in most places. As we advanced past the first turn around a stand of palmettos and pine trees, my parents and friend's mom were talking back by the house, and as we pasted them casually told us not to do anything stupid.

            So my friend still at the wheel, probably because I was willing to push and found it to be just as fun as driving, turned left off the main drive onto the alternate grassed covered path that larger trucks used when the came out to the house. We kept going and crossed the property line into a field of thick tall grass. Then my friend turned and the car nosed dived into a small lake that, of course, we could not see because it was dark outside.

            The folks must have immediately known something was wrong when they saw use walking back. But as luck would have it, my Uncle just then appeared coming down the drive. Everyone walked over to the call. My mom was pissed. You can imagine the sentences and gestures being directed at two irresponsible teenagers. My Uncle was cool; he backed his van up to the car and pulled out a chain and attached it to the trailer hitch on the Corolla and pulled the car free from the lake. No damage. Later my friend and I had it out about who was at fault for putting the car in the lake. He said I should have known about the lake and warned him, and I said he was driving and I was pushing from the back and couldn't see anything. The Corolla stayed in the family for an additional 12 years.

Boston for more surgery

Started 9th Grade


---------------------------------------------- Back to Main Story Page


Copyright 2006-2016 Christopher Fitts. All rights reserved.