I can't say enough about ACE so this review may be rather long winded.
A group of friends and I set out from Oxford, OH on a weekend adventure of camping and rafting. When we arrived, we were surprised to see water slides and blobs in the swimming area, community tents and souvenir/supply stores, and a welcome center with clean restrooms. Apparently, there are bands and a bar on the weekend evenings, if you're into that sort of thing. The staff was super cool, personable, and helpful. Pick up your firewood and ice at checkin.
Our site was in the "festive" area on the mountaintop. This was both a blessing and a curse. Admittedly, we're loud and like to stay up later than your average bear. But, we discovered that there are others who are louder and like to stay up later than us. This made for a difficult night of sleep. Consider this as you choose your campsite.
Each site is supplied with a picnic table and a fire pit. No electric on the mountaintop. If it's important to you, there is a very faint cell signal. It's enough to get a text out, but it will suck your battery dry quickly from searching.
The only "damper" (pun intended) on the site were the puddles that formed everywhere from the monsoon that passed through that weekend. Oh, well. It couldn't be helped. The bathroom facilities were pretty spectacular as campsites go. Each "stall" was a full bath including a shower, sink, and toilet. They were pretty darn clean , but there wasn't hand soap, so bring your own.
There also appeared to be a large community tent within each campground "subdivision". Although it too flooded, it was a decent place to hang out during the afternoon rain.
RAFTING THE LOWER NEW RIVER:
This was the most terrifying and most exhilarating experience of my life! It was my first time, so I was told to sit in the front of the boat. So, awesome! I would highly recommend this if you're a newby. Katy was our guide, and we couldn't have asked for a better skipper. We got lucky. Though I would recommend Katy to anyone, you need to try to find a guide who fits your groups personality. Katy's personality and sense of humor seemed to be in line with our own, which made the trip that much better.
The rapids were amazing. We took the industry standard trip which, if I remember correctly, had three class five rapids, five class fours, and a peppering of twos and threes. The first leg of the six hour tour offered several still pools for swimming, and a class three rapid with a class five wave. It was enough to get us super pumped up. We also saw a bald eagle soaring through the mist filled gorge. T'was majestic.
Lunch was delicious. And, let's face it, we were HUNGRY by lunch time. The entrees (chicken, fish, burgers, veggie-burgers) were grilled and hot. I'm getting hungry just thinking about it. Ace supplied all the fixins, side dishes, and desserts you could want. I don't even eat that well at home!
After lunch the river got very hairy. We were told that it was two and one half times as aggressive it normally is. Although it was extremely exciting and fun, it was also terrifying. Our guide and a buddie were thrown from our boat on middle-kini - one of the most aggressive rapids on the trip. If I could make one suggestion to the guides, tell your crew what to do in case you are thrown. This was the only think that we weren't prepared for. After we lost our guide and our buddie, our boat was headed for a group of rocks called "the meat grinder". Sounds pleasant, right? We fortunately were able to pull off into and eddy and pull our friend back into the raft. Another tour group brought our guide back to us and we were back in business.
Not more than ten minutes later, the sky turned black and opened up. Cold rain poured down onto us. It was difficult to see. That's when Katy said "We're coming up on our next class five."
She explained the necessity of swimming in the correct place to avoid undercut rocks, hydraulics, and certain death. This is when I realized that I wasn't on an amusement park ride, but rather participating in my own survival. Exhilarating and terrifying!
In the end, we all made it safely to shore, and enjoyed a well deserved barley-pop at the finish line.
A recommendation to contact lens wearers: Sunglasses won't keep the water from getting into your eyes. Buy a pair of watersport goggles. You'll thank me later.
Also, make sure to pick up some photos and the video of your trip. You'll be glad you did when you get to show off your adventure to friends and family.
Thanks go to Katy and the rest of the ACE staff for being so great and making out trip and absolutely unforgettable one!
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